UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Human Rights Council passed a resolution on Darfur yesterday, its first on the region in its five-month existence. The resolution faulted no one for violating human rights and was so noncommittal that Europe and Canada opposed it. On more familiar ground, the council also passed two new anti-Israeli resolutions.
The Geneva-based rights council's record — six resolutions condemning Israeli violations; none criticizing any other country — was criticized even by Secretary-General Annan yesterday. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, and other independent organizations have also expressed disappointment with the council recently.
"Hallelujah," the American ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said in response to Mr. Annan's criticism of the council.
Today the 47-member body will open its third regular session since it was established in June to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission. At the time, its inauguration was hailed as a monumental achievement realized through the efforts of Mr. Annan.
The council's new resolutions are "another example of why it's not performing anywhere close to the high expectations that were held by those who voted in favor of it," said Mr. Bolton, who has fought to keep America off the council, saying it will do no better than the now defunct commission.
The council's regular sessions have been dedicated mostly to Israeli violations, while three separate emergency meetings have dealt with Israel exclusively. Yesterday, with only Canada opposing, it passed two new resolutions censuring Israeli settlements and Israel's presence in the Golan Heights.
"Obviously not everyone is entirely happy with the way they have started," Mr. Annan said. "Since the beginning of their work, they have focused almost entirely on Israel, and there are other crisis situations, like Sudan, where they have not been able to say a word."
The U.N. human rights commissioner, Louise Arbour, will convey a similar message today in Mr. Annan's name. However, she also will update the council "on her recent activities, including her trip to Gaza," a spokesman for Mr. Annan, Stephane Dujarric, said.
Yesterday's resolution on Darfur called on "all parties" to immediately end "violations of human rights and international humanitarian law." Sudan is a member of the African Union, which sponsored the resolution. It passed by a majority of 25–11, with 10 abstentions. Earlier, a European-sponsored resolution calling on Khartoum to try accused rights violators was rejected by a 22–20 margin.
Separately, the U.N. General Assembly today will hold its annual "international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people," marked symbolically on the anniversary of a November 29, 1947, resolution that divided British-mandated Palestine into two states. Next week, the assembly's 10th emergency session will convene for the 17th time since it was established in 1997 to deal solely with Israeli violations. A proposed resolution would establish a new U.N. body to register Palestinian Arab complaints about damages suffered as result of Israel's construction of a defensive barrier, as well as unspecified future complaints.