UN urges Myanmar to grant access to aid workers

June 19th, 2008 - 3:58 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva, June 19 (DPA) The UN Human Rights Council asked the government in Myanmar to grant immediate access to aid organizations in a resolution approved Wednesday in Geneva. It urged the military junta to stick to the promises made to the UN Secretary-General on humanitarian aid as it concluded its eighth regular meeting.

It also strongly urged Myanmar to desist from politically motivated arrests and to release all political prisoners without delay in a resolution drawn up by the EU group of countries.

The Council adopted a total of 14 resolutions, created 13 new mandates for special rapporteurs and independent experts, and approved the first reports reviewing the human rights records of member states under the Universal Periodic Review.

The first 32 countries were scrutinized in April and May.

The Council also approved an international agreement on economic, social and cultural rights that grants individuals the right to petition UN groups about violations of their rights for the first time.

It was the last meeting of the Council for the UN’s high commissioner Louise Arbour, who stands down at the end of the month.

In her final comments Wednesday she said she regretted the US decision to step back from the council completely where it could have played an important role.

The US had rejected full membership when the body was launched two years ago but had nonetheless been actively involved through its observer status. Earlier this month it announced it was renouncing even this minor role.

“I always regretted that the US chose not to be elected to the council”, said Arbour. “The US attitude weakens the western camp,” she added.

The 47-strong Council has been strongly influenced by the Islamic, African and Asian states that dominate the membership.

The US had accused the Council of imbalance in repeatedly denouncing Israel in an echo if its predecessor, the much-criticized Human Rights Commission.

The ninth regular Council session is due to be held in September.

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