In an unprecedented move, delegates to the annual meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights have agreed to suspend work for a week, while diplomats in New York try to work out agreement on a new human rights body that would succeed the commission.
In announcing the decision, the Peruvian chairman of the Commission praised the delegates for adopting the motion in a spirit of cooperation and compromise.
U.S. diplomat Velian De Pirro welcomed the suspension.
"I think it is a good move at this time. It will allow us more time to see what happens in New York, and to prepare for the work that will come here," De Pirro says.
The commission meeting was suspended to await the outcome of a special meeting of the General Assembly in New York, where a vote is expected on the creation of a new Human Rights Council to replace the present discredited commission.
The United States opposes the draft resolution on the new body. It argues that it will not prevent nations known to abuse human rights from becoming members. Most governments and human rights organizations disagree.
Canada's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Paul Meyer, says he believes this final session of the commission, which usually meets for six weeks, should be short.
"We are just looking here at the commission ... in what could well be the last commission ever, how it could be appropriately conducted, and to help in a sense close this particular chapter of a very important multilateral story on human rights, which we hope will be improved in the future," Meyer says.
Many people here are dismayed that reports on human rights violations around the world will not be given an airing, if the commission does not meet in normal session. Peruvian Ambassador and Chairman of the Commission, Manuel Rodriguez Cuadros, says it will be up to the delegates to decide whether the special U.N. investigators will be given an opportunity to present their reports.
The ambassador says it is his personal belief and personal mission to see that all the reports by the investigators are heard. But, he notes, the ultimate decision rests with the delegates.
He says if the General Assembly fails to create a new Human Rights Council, it is likely that the U.N. Commission will meet for the five weeks remaining in this session. However, he adds, if the new body is approved, the commission session probably will be shortened.