UN rights office chief urges more investment in human rights

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The UN human rights chief called Thursday for financing, saying that her office was being "stretched to breaking point" as funds were not keeping pace with soaring demand for human rights work.

"With the momentous events taking place in the Middle East and North Africa, it has been striking, and heartening, to see how much attention is being given to human rights across the world," said Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Yet, when I look at the amount of money being invested in human rights, I start to wonder how deep the commitment goes," she added.

Of the total budget of $5.1 billion allotted to the UN secretariat, only 2.8 percent or about $70.5 million is given to human rights in 2011.

With commissions of inquiries ordered by the Human Rights Council to Libya, Ivory Coast and Syria, as well as a slew of resolutions passed during the last session of the council, the office would need $150 million dollars worth of voluntary contributions on top of the UN allocation this year.

However, donors are only ready to give between $105 million and $110 million, said Pillay.

Pointing out that her office's annual budget is "the same amount as Australians spend on Easter eggs", the UN's top official on human rights urged states to invest more in human rights.

"The amount Europeans spent on their pets in 2010 alone -- 56.8 billion euros (82.2 billion dollars) -- would fund the entire UN human rights system, including my office, for something like 250 years," she noted.

© 2011 AFP

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