Beliefnet
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (RNS)--As the world prepared to mark Human Rights Day Sunday, a new report released Thursday by an international human rightsgroup says global institutions such as the United Nations areill-equipped to handle the issue of human rights worldwide.

"The world doesn't have global institutions with the muscle toadequately address the most urgent human rights issues of our time,"said Kenneth Roth, executive director of the New York-based group HumanRights Watch, in a statement. "We urgently need to remedy theseinstitutional failings."

The group's Human Rights Watch World Report 2001, a survey of humanrights developments within the past year in 70 countries, found that "adisturbing institutional void frequently leaves human rights standardsunenforced," and singled out the World Trade Organization foremphasizing global trade sometimes at the expense of international humanrights norms.

"Stronger institutions are needed to insist that governments andcorporations respect human rights in their global dealings," the reportsaid, noting that "except in extraordinary circumstances," organizationssuch as the United Nations and the International Labor Organization cando little to promote human rights except "encourage treaty ratificationand condemn abusive conduct."

The report chided the World Bank and the International Monetary Fundfor maintaining that human rights were a "political" issue separate fromeconomic matters, and proposed that global financial agencies demand"progressive improvement in respect for rights as part of loanpackages."

In Washington, President Clinton commemorated Human Rights Dayby awarding the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medalof Freedom, to Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi for her effortsto replace military rule in Myanmar (Burma) with democracy.

Suu Kyi's son accepted the award on behalf of his mother, who hasbeen under house arrest in Myanmar since September.

Clinton also bestowed the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rightson five U.S. citizens, including the Most Rev. Theodore E. McCarrick,newly appointed archbishop of Washington, D.C., who is an advocate forimmigrants and debt relief for poor nations.

McCarrick's fellow recipients were civil rights attorneys Elaine R.Jones and Norman Dorsen; Frederick Charles Cuny, a humanitarian aidworker who was kidnapped and murdered in Chechnya in 1995; and TillieBlack Bear, an advocate of rights for Native Americans, women andvictims of domestic violence.

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