GENEVA (Reuters) – The top United Nations human rights body called on Sudan on Thursday to tackle human rights violations and prosecute those responsible for abuses.

But in a diplomatic maneuver to avoid a divisive vote, the resolution proposed by Egypt on behalf of African countries acknowledged measures by Sudan to improve human rights even though they had not yet had the desired effect. The 47-member Human Rights Council, in which Islamic and African countries backed by Russia, China and Cuba, have an effective majority, passed the resolution by consensus.

“There has been an acknowledgement of the improvement in the situation of human rights in Darfur and of the steps taken by the government of the Sudan and calling upon the Sudan to expedite our endeavors in this field, and this is what we promise to do during the forthcoming period,” Sudan’s representative told the council.


Canada’s representative said the resolution did not reflect the seriousness of the human rights situation in Sudan, but Canada would not block it.

“We regret that this resolution was not more robust in its response to the evident needs of the people of Sudan. While Canada will join consensus on this resolution we wish to make it clear that the people of Sudan deserve better,” he said.

Only last week the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the joint U.N.-African Union mission in Darfur said in a joint report that Sudanese forces had targeted civilians in air and ground attacks on villages in Darfur this year.

Mostly non-Arab rebels in Darfur took up arms in early 2003, accusing the government of neglect. The government mobilization of mostly Arab tribal militia and rebel divisions have created a chaotic mix of armed groups and a breakdown of law and order.

(Reporting by Jonathan Lynn)