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Human Rights Council "Deal" Predicted for Sri Lanka by Co-Candidate Japan

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 19 -- In the run-up to Wednesday's election of Human Rights Council members, much of the debate has centered on Sri Lanka. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch directs member states and the public to a website dedicated to opposing Sri Lanka's re-election.

            But in a recent on-the-record briefing of the press, Japan's Deputy Permanent Representative Takahiro Shinyo put forth a different perspective, referring with candor to possible deals or exchanges of promises impacting upon the vote. Such deal making played a role in putting Libya on the Security Council, and also kept Venezuela off it.

Mr. Ban with Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister, in NY to campaign for HRC

             There are six candidates, including Japan, for Asia's four seats on the Human Rights Council. Ambassador Shinyo was asked about his country's chances, as well as Sri Lanka's. He answered at length:

 As far as the election issue is concerned, I think we are not speculating the other countries' chance, and I think it would not be pertinent to say that Sri Lanka will win or lose. So I would like to [garbled] this question. Of course, I know that there has been criticisms coming from the international community to that country, and so of course this issue must be handled, must be addressed, and I understand that there has been a committee already created between some foreign governments' expertise and the Sri Lankan government, to which I think one Japanese professor was also a member of. And they have been discussing and advising the Sri Lankan government, how to see and how to handle the issue, how to protect the minorities and so on...

   But most of the NGOs are saying that it is not enough. And so, let's see whether this will affect the Sri Lankan position. It will be of course, be clear, on the 21st of this month. No country has a perfect record with regard to human rights. There is no country free of this issue, including my own country, including also the host country here. No country is free of human rights abuse. So that's the reason why we have to make every efforts to overcome or try to cooperate with the other international organizations and also be transparent to the NGOs. We receive, of course, very frankly, the criticism. And we have also such issues... If the election could be made in order to comply with the highest standard of the UN charter then I think it's fine, but election is a give-and-take process. And so something inconvenient, something inappropriate, could also happen, through the exchange of the promise. Because every country wants to become a member, and then I think there will be a deal, so to speak. So this deal does not necessarily represent the highest standards."

            We'll see.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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