United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged member countries to support proposals for a new UN body to replace the existing Human Rights Commission.

The move follows criticism, especially from the US, over the granting of seats on the existing commission to countries such as Sudan and Zimbabwe, which have been criticised for their human rights record. 

The creation of the council is seen as a key component of UN reform.

Ten human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, sent a letter to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in support of the resolution because it represented 'a concrete step in the right direction,' and asked for an urgent meeting.