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March 29, 2006

WORLD: Human Rights Council replaces enfeebled Commission

On March 15, the United Nations General Assembly voted 170–4 to create a new Human Rights Council, effectively dissolving the oft-criticized Commission on Human Rights. Candidates for the Council will need to be elected by an absolute majority of 96 votes in order to secure a position, and once elected members can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. Council members will be subject to a review of their commitments and obligations to human rights; those found to have committed "gross and systematic violations of human rights" can be suspended on the order of a two-thirds majority vote of the general assembly. Unlike the Commission, which held a single, annual six week session, the Council is scheduled to meet three times per year for 10 week sessions, with the ability to convene additional sessions. Members of the new Council are set to be elected on May 9, with the first session beginning June 19. While the United States was one of only four member nations to oppose the creation of the new Council, it did commit to full cooperation once the resolution passed.