UNITED NATIONS, March 15 (UPI) -- The U.N. General Assembly has approved, despite U.S. objection, the creation of a Human Rights Council to replace the disgraced Commission on Human Rights.
The vote on the resolution was 170-4 in favor, with three abstentions. Joining the United States in voting against the measure were Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau. Venezuela, Iran, and Belarus abstained.
The new 47-member council will sit in Geneva at least three times a year for a minimum of 10 weeks. It replaces the 53-member commission which met once a year for six weeks, also in Geneva.
The manner in which members were selected for the old commission allowed U.N. member states with poor human rights records, such as Zimbabwe, Sudan and Libya, to be elected and frustrate the panel's ability to take action against them.
The new council will conduct a "universal, periodic review" of all states' adherence to human rights norms, starting by scrutinizing its own members, said the resolution.
The United States said criteria for the new panel watered down reform by allowing membership to the council by a majority vote of 96 U.N. members, rather than the two-thirds majority U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan originally sought.
However, Annan eventually supported the compromise resolution's passage.
"This gives the United Nations the chance -- a much-needed chance -- to make a new beginning in its work for human rights around the world," he said in a statement issued at Antananarivo, Madagascar. "No country will be wholly satisfied with every paragraph in the resolution, but such is the nature of international negotiations."