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United Nations8.12.2008

United Nations heading for failure on 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

As the world marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December, in a report released today Reporters Without Borders looks at the record of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, the main UN body concerned with such matters.

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As the world marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December, in a report released today Reporters Without Borders looks at the record of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, the main UN body concerned with such matters.

The UN Human Rights Council is doing little better than its predecessor, the now-abolished Commission on Human Rights, which was completely discredited over the years, especially when it named a Libyan as its president. The Council has the failings of all UN bodies, where member-states are both judges and judged. States with repressive governments are elected to the Council and thus tasked with ensuring respect in other countries for rights they themselves are abusing on a daily basis. Until this absurd situation is ended, the United Nations cannot be said to be fulfilling its goal of protecting human rights.

The use of human rights by countries for their own purposes will not end until the UN Security Council and the whole system of world governance is reformed and enlarged. This issue has been highlighted by the present economic and environmental crisis.

If the UN does not manage to end it, the Council will fail in its mission. The Universal Periodic Review, though a good step forward, will not make up for these weaknesses.

Reporters Without Borders looks at the battle between the interests of governments and recognition of victims of human rights violations.