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Last Updated: Monday, 27 February 2006, 19:05 GMT
US rejects UN rights council plan
The US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. File photo
Mr Bolton said the US wanted to re-open the talks on the issue
The United States has rejected a proposal for a new United Nations human rights council as unacceptable.

The US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, said there were "manifold deficiencies" in the draft resolution presented to the UN last week.

He said the US would vote "No" if the resolution was put to a vote this week.

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

The 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 has urged the 191-member General Assembly to support the draft resolution, warning that failure to do so would undermine the UN's credibility.

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

'More time'

"We are very disappointed with the draft that was produced last Thursday. We don't think it's acceptable," Mr Bolton told reporters.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan says the UN's credibility is at stake

"We'll be calling around today and we're making it plain to delegations that we want to re-open the negotiations."

Mr Bolton added that the US was seeking to "correct the manifold deficiencies in the text... or alternatively to push off consideration of the resolution for several months to give us more time".

Last week, the US ambassador questioned whether the proposal would keep human rights abusers off the new council.

Contentious issues

The draft resolution was presented by Mr Eliasson after months of debate.

The council 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.

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 have said the final structure was a great improvement.

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