Tuesday, July 09, 2013

World's Worst Abusers Vying for UN Human Rights Council Seats

GENEVA, July 9 -- As a United Nations meeting is right now hearing live campaign pitches (webcast link) from the UK, France and other democracies vying for seats on the world body's Human Rights Council, the Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group UN Watch revealed its "List of Shame" -- naming some of the world's worst abusers who are also running in the Nov. 2013 election, and expected to win seats: Algeria, Chad, China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. Though unconfirmed, reportedly Iran and Syria may also be running. Click here for full report (PDF).

"This is a recipe for disaster," said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. "By electing massive abusers of human rights to the very body charged with protecting them, the UN is about to add more rotten ingredients into the soup. We should not be surprised by the results."

The council currently includes Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Mauritania, Venezuela, and many other countries with dismal human rights records.

Recent UNHRC sessions have adopted Cuban-sponsored resolutions antithetical to human rights, attacked Israel in one-sided condemnations, and turned a blind eye to abuses by the countries listed above. Despite some U.S.-led successes, the 47-nation council has not said a word or convened any urgent meetings to address the massive abuses recently perpetrated by Turkey and Egypt, or by terrorists in Nigeria and Iraq. As a rule, China, Cuba, Russia, Zimbabwe, and their friends always get a free pass.

UN Watch is already working with dissidents and NGOs from China, Cuba and Russia to oppose those candidacies. UN Watch successfully led international coalitions of MPs and NGOs to block past bids by Syria and Sudan. However, most abusers win election. "Politics, not principles, are too often what rule in UN elections," said Neuer.

"Candidates like Algeria, China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia have one thing in common: they systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens," said Neuer, "and they have consistently voted the wrong way on UN initiatives to protect the human rights of others. Chad has child soldiers -- how can it be a candidate?"

"It's not only that these governments are unqualified; they are the ones who should be in the dock of the accused, not sitting on high as prosecutor and judge."

"It is an insult to their victims -- and a defeat for the global cause of human rights -- when the UN allows gross abusers to act as champions and global judges of human rights," said Neuer.

"When the U.N.'s highest human rights body becomes a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse, the world's victims suffer."