25 Jan 2011

UN defends Ban against human rights criticism

7:27 pm on 25 January 2011

The United Nations has defended its Secretary-General against accusations that he has failed to speak out on human rights issues.

Ban Ki-moon has been singled out for harsh criticism by lobby group Human Rights Watch in its annual report, which says he has been notably reluctant to put pressure on abusive governments.

Mr Ban's office denies this, saying he uses quiet diplomacy and public pressure to promote human rights.

The BBC's reports Mr Ban's style is noticeably more discreet than that of his predecessor Kofi Anan. Mr Ban has often opted to work behind the scenes to pressure governments on human rights issues.

But Human Rights Watch says Mr Ban's "disinclination to speak out about serious human rights violators means he is often choosing to fight with one hand tied behind his back".

It says that while Mr Ban has made strong comments on human rights when visiting, for example, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, he has failed to do so with Chinese officials.

The lobby group criticised the Secretary-General for failing to condemn repressive actions in China, Sudan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.