Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: (202) 225-5021, September 1, 2006

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UN Human Rights Council Review
Rep. Chris Smith Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing 

BACKGROUND Ė In response to the generally-recognized failure of the Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations General Assembly voted on March 15, 2006 to create a new Human Rights Council for the purpose of promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and addressing situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations.  In electing members for the Council, countries agreed to take into account the contribution of candidates toward the promotion and protection of human rights.  In May, the General Assembly proceeded to elect such notorious human rights violators as China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia.  In its first session, the only country-specific resolution adopted by the Council targeted Israel and the human rights situation in the occupied territories, ignoring such ongoing atrocities as those being committed in Darfur and other violations being committed against millions in other parts of the world.  The two special sessions held by the Council since then also have focused on Israel, raising serious concerns in the international community about the Councilís objectivity and balance in the fulfillment of its mandate.   

Subcommittee Members will examine the warning signs indicating that the Council may be repeating, or further regressing from, the Commissionís failures.  They will also assess how the Council is being assisted by the United States and others to fulfill its mandate, the areas in which further assistance and reform are required, and the standards which the Human Rights Council will need to meet in order to qualify as a credible human rights body. 

WHAT:                         Subcommittee Oversight Hearing: 
United Nations Human Rights Council:Reform or Regression? 

Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations
                                      U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Chairman

WHEN:                         2:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 6, 2006.

WHERE:                       2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:             Panel I:
                                      Mark Lagon, Ph.D.,
Deputy Assistant Secretary,
                                      International Organization Affairs,
                                      US Department of State;

                                      Ms. Erica Barks-Ruggles
                                      Deputy Assistant Secretary,
                                      Bureau of Democracy,
                                      Human Rights and Labor,
                                      U.S. Department of State;

                                      Panel II:
                                      Mr. Brett Schaefer,
Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs,
                                      The Heritage Foundation;

                                      Mr. Hillel C. Neuer
                                      Executive Director,
                                      United Nations Watch; and

                                      Ms. Jennifer Windsor
                                      Executive Director,
                                      Freedom House.

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