Geneva, Oct. 9, 2006 — The UN Security Council has recommended South Korea’s foreign minister Ban Ki-Moon to be the UN Secretary-General to succeed Kofi Annan. UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights monitoring organization, today called on Mr. Ban to place protecting human rights victims around the world and improving the UN’s human rights mechanisms at the top of his agenda.
“Mr. Ban’s priorities as Secretary-General must include taking a firm stand against the continued atrocities in Darfur and other areas,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “The world is watching, and Mr. Ban must show human rights violators that the new Secretary-General will not tolerate, and will speak out against, their abuses.”
With last week’s disappointing end to the new Human Rights Council’s second session, there is an even greater need for leadership from Mr. Ban, according to Mr. Neuer. That three-week session concluded on Friday with the Council taking no action on any substantive human rights issue, despite having heard many reports from its independent human rights experts identifying serious situations of violations around the world. “Mr. Ban must send the Council an unambiguous message that inaction is unacceptable,” said Mr. Neuer. “The UN’s primary human rights body cannot get away with turning a blind eye to human rights victims in places like Darfur, Belarus, Burma, and Somalia.” (For a list of compelling situations of human rights violations that UN Watch and a coalition of NGOs asked the Council to address, click here.)
Mr. Neuer also urged Mr. Ban to follow Mr. Annan’s example of speaking out against the Council’s unfair selectivity. “Secretary-General Annan explicitly criticized the former Commission for Human Rights for its counter-productive obsession with condemning Israel, and urged the Council not to follow the same path,” Mr. Neuer continued. “As the Council has, regrettably, shown that it has not abandoned this bias, we urge Mr. Ban to continue to press the Council until it improves.” In its three months of existence, the Council, which is dominated by countries from the UN’s Islamic group, has adopted only three resolutions on country-specific human rights situations, all of which have been against Israel.
“We hope that Mr. Ban will continue Mr. Annan’s tradition of brave and forceful critique of those groups and countries that seek to hijack the UN’s human rights mechanisms to advance their own biased political agenda,” Mr. Neuer said. “Now is the time for Mr. Ban to show the world what he is made of.”