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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK
UN rights agency seeks more cash
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour
Louise Arbour says her commission cannot do a good job at present
The head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission has said the body needs a doubling in staff and funding.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour called for more resources to fill the gap between "lofty rhetoric" and "sobering realities".

The call follows accusations from the UN itself that the commission is ineffective and over-politicised.

Last month UN chief Kofi Annan said the rights body's declining credibility was undermining the UN as a whole.

In a report issued on Friday, Ms Arbour said: "In an organisation pledged to promote and protect human rights, this is a call to action."

She added that current levels of staffing and funding had to double over five or six years if the Geneva-based commission was to function properly.

Scrutiny should be exercised through an effective, fair and transparent system of peer review
Louise Arbour
UN Human Rights Commissioner
"Our objective must be to help bridge the gap between the lofty rhetoric of human rights in the halls of the United Nations, and its sobering realities on the ground," the report said.

She called for more staff at headquarters, as well as rapid-response teams, monitors in peacekeeping operations and a proper follow-up to reports of abuse.

Poor judges?

Mrs Arbour has been in her post for less than a year.

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Bern says Mrs Arbour supports Mr Annan's calls for reform and that he is likely to support her request for more funds.

For years the Human Rights Commission has been criticised as a weak body where powerful countries escape censure.

Mr Annan is proposing a smaller council whose members already have a proven record of upholding human rights.

Nations criticised by the commission do not face penalties - although most governments are keen to avoid being named and shamed.

Critics say the commission cannot function when its 53 member states, among them China, Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe, are in charge of judging themselves.

UN body fails to condemn Sudan
21 Apr 05 |  Africa
Annan urges sweeping UN reforms
21 Mar 05 |  Americas

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