Thursday, September 01, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States is focusing on seven nations as persistent human rights violators, insisting that they should not sit in judgment at the United Nations of other countries' records.

In a reform proposal, Sudan, Liberia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda would not be eligible to serve on a revised human rights council.

The seven countries are subject to sanctions by the UN Security Council for human rights abuses and the United States wants to keep "some of the worst offenders off," Kristen Silverberg, assistant secretary of state for International Organisations, said yesterday.
Forming a new human rights council to replace the "discredited" Human Rights Commission is an important part of the US agenda for reform of the United Nations, she said.

Besides excluding the seven nations, the United States is proposing that appointments to a new council have the support of at least two-thirds of the members of the UN General Assembly.

That would be helpful in keeping some of the worst offenders off, Silverberg said.

Other nations that also seek reform have other approaches, and all will be discussed by UN Ambassador John Bolton and other nations' UN representatives, she said.

"We feel very good about our agenda and on progress we are making in persuading other member-states," Silverberg said.

"There is a lot of support in the UN for this kind of thing," she told reporters.

Reform is a key item on the agenda of the UN General Assembly session. President George W Bush is expected to touch on the problem in the annual presidential speech September 14 and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will spend more than a week in New York, home of the UN, holding talks on human rights and other issues.