The UN defended the human rights record of Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon [official websites] Monday after criticism from Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. HRW released [JURIST report] an annual report [text, PDF] Monday, which claimed that EU member states and the UN have failed to adequately respond [press release] to human rights abuses and violations. The report criticized Ban for not putting pressure on countries with poor human rights records. Ban affirmed [press release] his commitment to human rights Tuesday when addressing the Human Rights Council:
The General Assembly established this Council nearly five years ago to put human rights on a par with development and peace. Some worried this Council would become biased, others saw it as a great hope for solving every human rights challenge that confronts our world. Two years ago, I came here and issued a challenge. I called on the Council to promote human rights without favour, without selectivity, without any undue influence.Ban's remarks to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, were made in anticipation of the Council's upcoming five-year review.
The HRW report criticized the UN, the Human Rights Council and Ban for failing to adequately enforce human rights. The report specifically mentioned Ban's reluctance to put pressure on abusive governments, and substituting dialogue and cooperation for public pressure to promote human rights. HRW's report highlighted the UN's deference toward atrocities in Sri Lanka [JURIST report] as an example of the UN's human rights shortcomings. Sri Lanka faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of its 30-year civil war. In May, HRW announced it had acquired new evidence [JURIST report] supporting allegations of war crimes. Although Ban affirmed his commitment to set up a UN panel investigating the human rights violations in Sri Lanka, HRW was dissatisfied with the UN's response.