In becoming a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a country not only takes on greater responsibility for tackling abuses worldwide, but also lays bear its own record for the scrutiny of others, the world body’s top rights official warns.
“Council membership is not a reward for good behaviour. It is a responsibility, one that exposes members to increased accountability before their peers,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay wrote in an opinion piece published today in the International Herald Tribune.
The former South African High Court judge noted that critics of the Council point to the fact that among its 47 members are countries with “less-than-pristine” human rights records, the UN News Service adds.
“To those critics I say two things: Is there any country that has a blemish-free record? Human rights violations are not the bane of any particular country or region. And even if such a thing were possible, what impact would a club of the virtuous have on those outside?”
Pillay called the Universal Periodic Review – by which the human rights record of every country in the world, including its own members, is examined – one of the “true innovations” of the three-year-old body. Almost 80 countries have already been scrutinised.
This week the
“President [Barack] Obama`s decision to seek membership is a welcome step to restoring international trust in
She added that participation in the Council is indispensable if States wish to influence how it develops, and also crucial to confront global human rights challenges and threats.
On terrorism, Ms. Pillay said that, in their countermeasures, the
“Experience shows that if checks and balances are not adequate, the margin of abuse is high.
“Although much more needs to be done, President Obama`s determination to resolve the untenable situation of detainees at
The Geneva-based Council replaced the Human Rights Commission – which faced increasing criticism over the years as being ineffective and not accountable – in 2006.