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

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Some analysts of global institutions deemed Syria’s stand-down a sign the international community is demanding more rigorous human-rights standards.

“Yes, the US and other Western powers opposed Syria’s candidacy, but if the opposition had stopped there this probably would have gone through,” says Edward Luck, senior vice-president for research and programs at the International Peace Institute (IPI) in New York.

Saying opposition to Syria winning a seat on the council was growing in the General Assembly, he adds, “The larger point is that Syria was publicly campaigning for this, so it’s got to be embarrassing when it’s your peers saying you are not fit. It’s a significant slap in the face.”

Others counter, however, that Syria coming within a week of joining the world’s top human rights body hardly qualifies as progress.

“Do we really have to wait until a government is gunning down its own citizens in the streets before its membership on the council is deemed unacceptable?” says Steven Groves, an expert in international institutions at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

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