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Swiss push for reforms of UN human rights body

Members of Reporters without Borders protested in Geneva against human rights abuses Keystone

Switzerland has called for the creation of a United Nations council of human rights and a pool of human rights experts.

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said reforms of the UN’s top human-rights watchdog were needed to boost its credibility.

She told the annual session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) in Geneva on Monday that Switzerland was willing to contribute to a team of international human-rights experts.

Calmy-Rey said she was in favour of increasing the annual budget of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which currently receives about 1.7 per cent of the overall UN budget.

The Swiss foreign minister also called for the creation of a permanent UN council of human rights.

Discussions about reforms of the UN Commission on Human Rights form part of a six-week session in Geneva.

International non-governmental human-rights groups have said the integrity of the commission is being undermined by the political and economic interests of its member states.

Nepal, Darfur, Guantanmo Bay

Calmy-Rey said Switzerland supported a proposal to condemn Nepal for human-rights abuses.

The resolution urges the Nepalese government to begin peace talks with Maoist rebels fighting to impose a Communist republic, and to put an end to arbitrary arrests.

In February Nepal’s King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency and suspended most civil liberties in the Himalayan kingdom.

Switzerland, which has been providing aid to Nepal for 40 years, was willing to support efforts to end the crisis, said Calmy-Rey.

She condemned human-rights abuses in Sudan’s Darfur province and criticised the United States military-run detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.

swissinfo with agencies

The Geneva-based UN Commission of Human Rights was set up in 1946. It is made up of 53 member countries.
The forum meets annually for six weeks to review the human rights situation around the world.
Switzerland is not a member of the Commission.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR