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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 03:45 GMT 04:45 UK
Protests at Zimbabwe rights role
By Susannah Price
BBC News, United Nations

Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan wants reform of the UN rights body
The United States and other countries have protested about the re-election of Zimbabwe to the UN's main human rights body, the Human Rights Commission.

Zimbabwe was one of 15 countries chosen by members of the UN's Economic and Social Council in New York. All but one were chosen by consensus.

Critics say too many countries with appalling human rights records have been on the commission.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has recommended it should be replaced.

Zimbabwe will sit on the UN Human Rights Commission for the next three years.

It was, like other candidates, put forward by its regional grouping - in this case the Africa group.

There were immediate protests from the United States, with the deputy US representative to the Economic and Social Council, William Brencick, accused Zimbabwe of maintaining repressive controls on political assembly and the media.

He asked how they could expect Zimbabwe to support international human rights at the commission while it disregarded the rights of its own people.

Australia and Canada also objected.

However, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN, Boniface Chidyausiku, said that when it came to human rights no country was beyond reproach.

The Human Rights Commission, based in Geneva, has been widely criticised because of the poor human rights records of many of its members.

Kofi Annan has said that its declining credibility has cast a shadow on the UN's reputation as a whole.

He has suggested that as part of wider UN reforms, the commission should be replaced by a smaller human rights council directly elected by the General Assembly.

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