Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Zealand's Candidature for UN Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council has had a bad year. Finger wagging at Israel and the UK. Removing monitors from Belarus and Cuba. Writing a requirement to investigate criticism of world religions into the role of the UN's free speech watch dog.

Nevertheless this is a new organisation. New Zealand put a lot of effort into helping to set up the council in place of its late, unlamented predecessor the Human Rights Comission. New Zealand has a long and proud history of involvement in the UN and we stand to gain a lot from the existence of an effective multilateral body like the UN. UN reform is and should be a major goal of New Zealand diplomacy.

Moreover, Canada's term on the Council is coming to an end and Canada and Australia are supporting our candidature as a representative of the CANZ grouping.

The Human Rights Council is far from perfect but I am not ready to give up on the UN as an organisation that can provide leadership on human rights, particularly in this the 60th anniversary year for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We have a lot to contribute and I wholeheartedly support New Zealand's candidature for the UN Human Rights Council.

This WSJ opinion piece on the Council is more negative than I am but it's conclusion seems exactly right.

A forum that serves as a real tool in service of human rights is worth fighting for.

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