Switzerland optimistic over adoption of UN human rights council

Switzerland remains optimistic that a proposed UN human rights body will be adopted despite opposition from the United States, Swiss Radio International (SRI) reported on Tuesday.

The US has stated it will vote against the latest blueprint for the Human Rights Council unless negotiations are reopened to address what it considers serious deficiencies.

But officials at the Swiss Mission to the UN in New York believe the latest resolution should be adopted in its current form, SRI said.

Natalie Kohli, human rights expert at the mission, told SRI that Switzerland was not in favor of reopening negotiations, adding that all the arguments had been heard already.

"Right now the situation is rather confused and phone calls are going back and forth between the delegations. It's very unclear what's going to happen but we are convinced the text is the right way forward," the expert said.

Kohli said it would be "very bad" not only for human rights reform but also for the entire UN reform program if the council was blocked at this stage.

But she added that it would be unwise to try to proceed without the US, which is the UN's largest financial contributor.

"If the US sticks with this position, it would be very risky to put the resolution to a vote. That wouldn't be a good outcome at all. We want the US on board and we remain optimistic," she said.

The proposed Human Rights Council was expected to replace the existing Human Rights Commission, which has been widely criticised for "allowing some of the worst offending countries to escape sanction".

Discussions on the new rights body have been continuing since early last year and the UN hopes to have a final resolution in place by March 13 when the commission is set to start its annual six-week session in Geneva.

The new body, also based Geneva, is expected meet three times a year for a total of 10 weeks, with the possibility of emergency sessions.

Source: Xinhua

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