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Syria, under pressure, drops bid for UN rights council. Is that progress?

Syria cuts a deal and gives up its quest for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, for now. Some see a victory for higher standards on human rights, but critics of the body say the selection process is still flawed.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian pro-government supporters carry pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad during a sit-in in front of the US Embassy in Damascus, Syria, on May 11.


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Syria ended its quest to join the United Nations’ Human Rights Council on Wednesday, bowing to pressure from the United States and other Western powers who had railed against a government seeking the seat even as it carries out a repressive campaign against its own citizens.

Syrian and Kuwaiti diplomats announced at the UN in New York that the two countries will switch their candidacies for the council – Kuwait will take Syria’s slot in elections next week, while Syria will now wait and go for the seat in 2013 that Kuwait was expected to seek.

Because of minimal competition for seats on the council, candidates ordinarily are virtually guaranteed election by the UN General Assembly.

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Syria said the switch had nothing to do with the continuing protests shaking the country. But the face-saving arrangement clearly came in response to the growing international controversy over repression in Syria that human-rights experts say has resulted in more than 700 deaths.


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