Saturday, September 22, 2007

UN Council to review Bahrain human rights record

UN council selects first nations for unprecedented rights spotlight

Bahrain, Ecuador and Tunisia will be the first UN members to have their human rights records reviewed next year under a crucial new process implemented by the world's body's rights council on Friday.

The three countries are the first among 16 who will be scrutinised at a session of the UN Human Rights Council scheduled for February 2008, according to a list released by the United Nations.

The selection for the "Universal Periodic Review" was made by a random draw on Friday. It lays out a timetable for the systematic review of all 192 UN member states by the end of 2011.UN human rights chief Louise Arbour last week urged the 47 countries in the Council to speed up the process, warning that the credibility of the United Nations human rights system was at stake.

"We are acutely aware that the credibility of the United Nations human rights system hinges upon satisfactory implementation of the review," Arbour said. Three batches of 16 nations are due to be scrutinised a year.

The other countries due for review in the two week session in February are Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Britain, the Czech Republic, Finland, India, Indonesia, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland and South Africa."They say that the proof of the pudding is eating it... we have to see how it works," Council president Doru Costea of Romania told journalists."It will be very important to have a well prepared and well managed process," he added.

The Council agreed in June to adopt the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), whereby all countries have their human rights record reviewed once every four years.It will be the first time in the UN's history that all members come under the spotlight, without exception. However, the bid was marred in recent weeks by wrangling about how the order should be determined, and when the process should start. Non-aligned countries and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference had rejected the previously agreed January 2008 start date.A UN spokesman said the February start was still tentative.The Council was set up last year to replace the widely discredited Human Rights Commission.