Annan Calls for New UN Human Rights Body

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says the current UN Human Rights body is harming the institution and should be replaced.

Yahoo! News – Annan Says Rights Body Harming UN, Urges Reform (Reuters)

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the conduct of the United Nations’ human rights body was undermining the credibility of the entire U.N. organization and urged governments Thursday to support his plan to reform it. “Unless we re-make our human rights machinery, we may be unable to renew public confidence in the United Nations itself,” he told the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which is holding its annual six-week session at its Geneva headquarters. “We have reached a point at which the commission’s declining credibility has cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system … and where piecemeal reforms will not be enough,” he said, in the text of a speech to be delivered later.

Launched some 60 years ago, the commission is the U.N.’s main mechanism for monitoring respect for human rights around the world. But critics say in-fighting and its inability to act firmly in the face of clear abuse have eroded its authority.

Annan has called for the commission, at present made up of representatives from 53 countries nominated by regional groupings, to be replaced by a smaller Human Rights Council, whose members would be elected by the U.N. General Assembly.

Annan’s right. A human rights body that includes the worst human rights offenders is simply untenable. Although he’s been dragged kicking and screaming to this point, he seems to finally realize that the cronyism that has defined the U.N. for most of its existence is undermining its legitimacy, at least in the West.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael says:

    And I’m sure that not allowing dictatorships and oppressive regimes to become members of the Human Rights body will be Annan’s first priority.


  2. bindare says:

    Kofi is right, but if he truly wants to restore the credibility of the UN, he must resign himself. We have found out, because of the revealations in this blog and others like it, that the UN itself leads the world in human rights violations and is totally ineffective against violations by others. Kofi comes with too little, too late. The UN’s problems are deep and systemic but they begin with him.

  3. Just Me says:

    And it only took him how long to figure this out?

    I think they should deny any thugish, human rights violating dictatorships votes/positions/any power in the UN.

    Right now the UN just lends a legitimacy to their actions that it shouldn’t.

  4. Maggie says:

    Things must be REALLY BAD…Kofi is finally doing things he should have done when he first took office.

    Wow, he is so desparate he is now willing to do anything to placate the US…..Think the Congress reducing funds to the UN peacekeeping organization had anything to do with this?

  5. The Reuters article singles out North Korea and Cuba as common targets.

    Nope. Do the math. It’s a country that starts with I.

  6. Matt says:

    Hey, no retractions on your bogus post about the Schiavo memo being forged?

  7. mike says:

    I want Kofi to stay on as long as possible so that the UN becomes weaker and weaker. The next step is to start cutting US payments. The UN is completely ineffective and it is time to admit this and move on.

  8. McGehee says:

    Matt, scroll down. (speaking of words that begin with “I”…)