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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 22:35 GMT
New UN rights council put forward
By Susannah Price
BBC News at the UN

UN general assembly
The General Assembly has to approve the new plan
A new proposal for a human rights council has been presented to the UN.

The new council would replace the Human Rights Commission, which has been largely discredited for giving seats to nations with poor rights records.

A new compromise proposal by General Assembly president Jan Eliasson would create a council of 47 members who would be reviewed on their record.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan welcomed the plans and urged members to support the draft resolution.

Key component

The compromise proposal was presented in the form of a draft resolution by Mr Eliasson after months of debate.

The council, if approved by the General Assembly, would replace the commission, which has been criticised for giving seats to countries such as Sudan and Zimbabwe and is often used by opponents of the UN as an example of its ineffectiveness.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan says the UN's credibility is at stake

The creation of the council is seen as a key component of UN reform.

The idea for a new council was backed by September's meeting of world leaders at the UN although there was no agreement then on details.

Instead it was left to the UN membership to debate contentious issues such as the size of the council, with Western countries calling for fewer members.

The divisions led Mr Eliasson to draw up this compromise.

His proposed council would meet for at least three sessions a year and its members would undergo a review of their human rights record and be elected by a majority of UN members.

Diplomats involved in the negotiation said the final structure was a great improvement.

Mr Annan has called for UN members to support the latest text, warning that failure to do so would undermine the UN's credibility.

Mr Eliasson's office said they hoped his draft resolution would be adopted by the General Assembly next week.

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