“With the support of such tireless advocates for human rights, the United Nations need not lose sight of the highest principles on which it was founded.”

Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary General,
in a letter to The Community

The UN Human Rights Council

When the proposal for the new UN Human Rights Commission was under attack, the Nobel laureates spoke up on The Community.
In March, 2006, the term of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights was expiring. A new proposal was on the floor of the UN to established the new Human Rights Council.

In late February, at the vote approached, the resolution for a new Human Rights Council came under attack in the press by the current UN Ambassador John Bolton, who denounced the council in the New York Times and elsewhere. His views were picked up and echoed by the New York Times editorial page.

Without a resolution and a new body, the Commission on Human Rights would have simply ceased to be. The UN would have no human rights body at all.

The Secretary General’s office contacted the UN Foundation for assistance in rallying support for the resolution. UN Foundation contacted the Carter Center and The Community. The three organizations went into action in a cooperative effort to mobilize resources.

The Community drafted an open letter from the Nobel Peace Prize winners in support of the resolution. Within 48 hours twelve Nobel laureates had signed onto the letter and released it to the press. It was picked up by Associated Press and ran internationally.

Read the open letter

After receiving the draft of an Op Ed by President Carter from the Carter Center, and working with the head of Op Ed at the New York Times, The Community contacted other Nobel laureates — Archbishop Desmond Tutu, then former President of Costa Rica Oscar Arias, President of South Korea Kim Dae Jung, and Iranian human rights attorney Shirin Ebadi — to co-sign the piece. The article ran prominently on March 5.

Read the Op-Ed

Ten days later, the resolution was passed by the UN General Assembly by a vote of 107 to 4.

Both the President of the UN General Assembly, Jan Elliason, and Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan, stated that it was the support of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates rallied through this cooperative effort that had swung the vote and allowed the new Human Rights Council to be established.

Producers : José Ramos-Horta, Mary Wald
Date : March, 2006
Participants : José Ramos-Horta, Jimmy Carter, President Oscar Arias, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Jimmy Carter, Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, President Kim Dae-jung, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, John Hume, Mairead Maguire, David Trimble, Jody Williams.