GENEVA: (AFP-1/10/2007): The UN Human Rights Council has failed to handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a balanced fashion, the council’s chair said in an interview published Saturday.
Costea suggested in the interview with the daily Le Temps that the council was concentrating too much on human rights abuses by Israel, adding that he was dissatisfied.
“On this point, the council has failed,” he said, days after US President George W. Bush attacked the body for perceived anti-Israeli bias.
“The council must remain simple, and concentrate on the human rights dimension, but it must look at the stance of all sides, not only one country.”
Costea said that the majority of the 47 seats held by Asian and African countries on the council “gives a certain power, but that does not mean that this power is always used wisely.”
The council was set up last year to replace the widely discredited Human Rights Commission, but has drawn fire during its first year of work for focusing too much on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and not enough on other conflicts such as Darfur.
It has held four special sessions, three of which have concerned the Middle East and have ended up condemning Israel. The fourth related to Sudan, and one is planned next week following the crackdown on dissent in Myanmar.
On Tuesday US President George W. Bush said the panel needed to focus less on Israel and more on places like Iran, and called for sweeping reforms.
“This body has been silent on repression by regimes from Havana to Caracas to Pyongyang and Tehran while focusing its criticism excessively on Israel,” Bush said in a speech to the UN General Assembly.