South Africa blocks UN resolution on Zimbabwe
The UN General Assembly's
Third Committee, which covers human rights, blocked the proposed resolutions
by adopting so-called "no-action motions" filed by South Africa
on behalf of the African group of nations.
Since February 2003, more than 70,000 people have been killed or have died from hunger and disease in Sudan's Darfur region, according to the United Nations (news - web sites), and another 1.5 million have been displaced.
Zimbabwe has suffered more than four years of government-backed political violence, chronic food shortages and one of the world's highest rates of HIV infection.
"The African group remains unwavering in its total rejection of the country-specific resolutions within the UN," said the South African representative, Pitso Montwedi, charged with human rights within the foreign ministry.
Resolutions targetting individual countries run against the principles of "friendly cooperation" that underlie UN actions, he said.
"We don't believe that this kind of resolution can in any way engender the cooperation of the concerned country, which is crucial in the solution of human rights problems," he said.
"The confrontational nature of the resolution as presented by the EU can invariably only exacerbate the problem".
Montwedi said South Africa's moves were "not as a denial of human rights violations in Africa, but only for the purpose of countering the double standard of the EU," which sponsored the measures against Sudan and Zimbabwe.
He accused the European Union of "using the issue of human rights in African countries for political goals."
But proponents of the measures warned of the price of inaction.
"Without unity of international action and international outrage, people will continue to suffer," US representative Gerald Scott said.
He noted that the commission has twice failed to condemn Sudan, whose government the United States accuses of genocide.
"Three consecutive failures of member states of the UN to present a united front against well-documented atrocities would represent nothing less than the complete breakdown of the UN's deliberative bodies related to human rights," Scott warned.
Fears of just such a rejection drew sharp criticism from US ambassador John Danforth on the eve of the committee's votes.
"I can't comprehend why the General Assembly would not take a very strong position on the issue of human rights abuse in Sudan," Danforth told reporters Tuesday.
Amnesty International also condemned the committee's inaction.
"By censoring the debate, political interests have trumped human rights," the rights watchdog said in a statement.
the Third Committee has chosen to ignore the plight of those suffering
human rights abuses in Sudan and Zimbabwe."
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