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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:43, May 11, 2006
Election of Human Rights Council marks new beginning: UN rights chief
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UN human rights chief Louise Arbour on Wednesday welcomed the election of members of the new Human Rights Council, calling it a new beginning for the international human rights cause.

"The signs from the election of the 47 members of the council are very encouraging for the future of this new body," said the high commissioner in a statement.

The polls were not "business as usual", as there were genuinely contested candidacies and all those elected made specific pledges and commitments expressing their concrete engagement to promote and protect human rights, she said.

The Human Rights Council, whose members were elected on Tuesday for the first time by a secret ballot of the UN General Assembly, is to formally replace the Commission on Human Rights next month.

The 60-year-old commission has in recent years become largely discredited by political infighting.

"There is good reason to believe we are putting aside some of the difficulties we saw with the commission on Human Rights," Arbour said.

She called on the membership of the new rights watchdog to act quickly ahead of their first meeting, set to start in Geneva on June 19.

"Much remains to be settled in terms of organization in the five weeks remaining before the Council meets," she said.

"For the council to make the most of its first meeting, members must meet and agree promptly on some basic governance and programmatic arrangements," she added.

The high commissioner also urged members to continue to work in the spirit shown in the election process and be inclusive, cooperative and transparent.

"The council belongs to the international community, including civil society. I call on the current membership to work in the global interest in building a strong, effective human rights body, " she said.

Source: Xinhua

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