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UPDATED: 10:54, June 20, 2007
UN human rights watchdog formally adopts new working rules
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The UN Human Rights Council formally adopted new working rules on Tuesday that oblige all member states to submit to periodic scrutiny of their records.

The 47-state Human Rights Council finally approved a compromise proposal on its future work with 46 votes. Only Canada came out against, citing concerns about the permanent mentioning of Palestinian Territories in the council's future agenda.

Under the new rules, all UN member states must submit to periodic scrutiny of their human rights records.

The Universal Periodic Review should be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialog, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity- building needs.

The council also decided to drop Cuba and Belarus from its blacklist, meaning that the two countries would not face further scrutiny for abuse particularly within the field of political rights.

But the watchdog kept nine states on the list of countries that need special attention. These include the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Cambodia, Sudan and the Palestinian Territories.

The final compromise came after a 14-hour marathon debate on Monday, which particularly focused on the use of country-specific resolutions.

Developing countries demanded that measures should be taken to prevent a country-specific resolution to be used as a tool for politicizing human rights issues.

According to the final compromise, any future country-specific resolution must gain "the broadest possible support" - preferably co-sponsored by at least 15 member states - before it can be considered.

The Human Rights Council was formally inaugurated on June 19, 2006, to replace its widely-discredited predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission.

The new council must finish its discussions on new working rules within one year.

Source: Xinhua

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