UN rights chief Turk calls for greater support, seeks presence in China, India

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The UN Human Rights chief called on Monday for greater political support for his office as he seeks to expand its work by establishing a first-time presence in China and India.

Volker Turk, who took over as high commissioner late last year, used his opening speech to the Human Rights Council to call for greater cooperation and singled out many countries such as Syria, Iran, Israel, Russia, and Eritrea that should do more.

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“We would now like to scale up engagement,” he told the Geneva council, saying he wanted to do more monitoring work in countries like Brazil and the United States. “I also believe that it is important for us to establish a presence for the first time in China and India.”

The UN rights office has a presence in 95 countries.

While there was no immediate reaction from Beijing or New Delhi to Turk’s suggestion, setting up in China might prove difficult.

Negotiations went on for years to clear the way for a 2022 trip there by his predecessor, Michelle Bachelet.

Turk also said he would like to double his office’s budget to step up global monitoring. While human rights are one of the four UN “pilars,” alongside peace and security, the rule of law and development, it gets just 4 percent of a general budget.

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