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Burma is a key test for the U.N. Human Rights Council

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

I was gratified to read the recent comments of Doru Romulus Costea, who heads the United Nations' widely derided Human Rights Council. In an interview with Le Temps, a Swiss newspaper, Costea admitted that the Council had so far "failed" to handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict evenly, and said he agreed with U.S. President George W. Bush that, as Costea spun it, "It is necessary to constantly improve the functioning of the Council."

The AFP's summary of the interview (which was conducted and published in French) adds this context:

[The Council] 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.

It's important to remember that it's the 47 member states that make up the Council, not the U.N. itself, that is the source of the problem. Consider today's comments by Louise Arbour, the U.N.'s top human rights official. She urged the council to hold Myanmar's generals accountable for their actions and support a European Union resolution stating that the Council "strongly condemns the continued violent repression of peaceful demonstrations in Myanmar, including through beatings, killings and arbitrary detentions and urges the government of Myanmar to exercise utmost restraint and desist from further violence against peaceful protesters."

The vote is due to be held later today, and it will be a key test. If the Council can't sign on to this, what, then, is its purpose? 

(Thanks to Passport reader OA for sending this one along.)

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