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UN Chief To Inaugurate New Human Rights Council

Kofi Annan (file photo) (epa) June 19, 2006 -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to inaugurate the United Nations' new Human Rights Council today in Geneva, Switzerland.

The council is the successor to the old UN Human Rights Commission, which was disbanded after it lost credibility when countries with poor human rights records were among its members.

The new council's 47 member states had to win election by a majority in the UN General Assembly. Some countries whose rights records have been criticized, including Azerbaijan, China, Pakistan, Russia, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia, were among those winning seats.

The United States voted against the creation of the council and declined to seek membership on it, saying the council's rules were not tough enough to prevent rights-abusing countries from gaining seats.

The new council has been tasked with systematically carrying out reviews of the rights records of all the United Nations' 191 member states.

(with AFP, Reuters, dpa)