.... “It spent the entire year slamming Israel,” Mr. Burns told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday. He noted that the council had conducted formal hearings against Israel “but not against Burma and not against Zimbabwe and not against North Korea and not against Iran.”
Mr. Annan’s successor, Ban Ki-moon, told a human rights gathering in December that he was “worried by its disproportionate focus on violations by Israel.” The council, he said, “has clearly not justified all the hopes that so many of us placed on it.”
The new session is the fourth formal meeting in the last nine months, and an immediate issue attracting attention as a measure of the council’s purposefulness is what it will do about an assessment mission to Darfur that was barred from entering Sudan last month. The options are to publish a factual report, publish a report with recommendations or take no action.
“What they do with the Sudan mission will be a bellwether for the future of the council,” said Peter G. Splinter, the Amnesty International representative in Geneva. He indicated that he was not optimistic.
“Sudan took the floor last week and said they rejected the mission entirely, and they are going to have the backing of the Organization of the Islamic Conference,” he said. “If the council ducks the situation in Darfur, that’s not going to speak highly to its credibility.”
The Islamic group is expected to cite the fact that Israel barred an assessment mission from entering the Gaza Strip in December and that its leader, Desmond Tutu, the former South African archbishop and antiapartheid campaigner, decided to make no formal recommendations.
“It was a mistake for that mission not to write a report, but if you allow governments to prevent a report by simply not admitting a mission, then you’re giving them a way of silencing the council,” Mr. Roth said....