On Wednesday, I chaired a hearing aimed at bringing reform to the UN's human rights agenda, specifically the United Nations Human Rights Council.  The Council, which was just created earlier this year, is already broken and we need to step up our efforts to repair the body.

The Council was created in response to the generally-recognized failure of the UN's previous human rights body, the UN Commission on Human Rights.  The new Human Rights Council was given the mandate of promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and addressing violations of human rights - including and especially - gross and systematic violations.  However, the Council has failed to exercise its mandate in a fair and equal manner, instead allowing itself to follow the biased and narrow agenda of some of the nations that serve on the Council.

Since the Council's creation, there has been no condemnation of the systematic use of torture by the People's Republic of China, no special session on Cuba's abuse of political prisoners, and no actions against the brutal dictatorship of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.  The Council hasn't even addressed the genocide in Sudan - which if ever a situation called for international intervention - it would be the tragedy in Darfur.  Instead, in their inaugural session - and its only two special sessions since - the Council has unfairly and myopically targeted Israel, most recently placing the blame on Israel for the increased violence in the Middle East, with nary a mention of the egregious actions by Hezbollah or Hamas and the role of Iran and Syria in the conflict.

Victims of abuse throughout the world deserve better than what the UN Human Rights Council has given them and we have an obligation to correct this injustice.  It is critical that the US and other human rights defenders act, as quickly as possible, to reverse the direction in which the Council is heading.