Monday, May 07, 2007

Zim to chair post on sustainable development

Zimbabwe is poised to become chair of the United Nation’s Commission on Sustainable Development, while Belarus is set to win a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, in two decisions likely to attract fresh ­criticism of the world body.

A UN diplomat on Wednesday said that Francis Nhema, Zimbabwe’s environment minister, looked almost certain to get the CSD position after being nominated as Africa’s candidate in April.

Zimbabwe government policies are seen as having triggered its most severe economic crisis since independence, with annual inflation at 2,200 per cent.

Qatar holds the chair of the session due to end next week. By tradition the position rotates regionally, with Africa next in line.

The Commission, created in 1993, is the UN’s main forum for discussing the relationship between development and the environment and is expected to issue recommendations on climate change next week.

Meanwhile, a coalition of 40 human rights groups called on the UN to reject Belarus’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council, which last year replaced the discredited Human Rights Commission but has itself faced mounting criticism.

“Belarus’s record on human rights makes [it] a supremely unfit candidate for the . . . Council,” said Human Rights Watch, a New York based pressure group, in a statement issued on behalf of three dozen rights groups. The Belarusan government “severely restricts the activities of human rights groups, and has systematically moved to close them and opposition parties. Peaceful protesters are violently dispersed and arrested, and opposition leaders are jailed,” it said.

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