Rights groups oppose bids by Pakistan, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, and UAE
U.N. Election Tomorrow: Chavez & Pakistan to Win, But U.S. May Lose, U.N. Human Rights Council Seats
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NEW YORK,—As the U.N. prepares to name 18 nations tomorrow to its highest human rights body, in an election where the U.S. may lose, human rights groups warned that Pakistan, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, and the United Arab Emirates—all of whose candidacies are uncontested and therefore virtually guaranteed—are unfit under the U.N.‘s own membership criteria, while the qualifications of Kenya and Sierra Leone were “questionable.” Click here for full report PDF—Executive summary below.
The evaluations were published today by two non-governmental organizations, the Geneva-based UN Watch and Human Rights Foundation, after being presented Friday at a U.N. Headquarters briefing before diplomats and reporters from international news agencies.
“Pakistan, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, and UAE systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, “and they have consistently voted the wrong way on U.N. initiatives to protect the human rights of others.”
UN Watch this year led an international coalition of 40 MPs and NGOs that appealed to U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, the EU, and world leaders to oppose the bids by Chavez and Pakistan.
“Regrettably,” said Neuer, “neither the U.S. nor the EU said a word. By turning a blind eye as human rights violators easily join and subvert the council, leading democracies are complicit in the world body’s moral decline.”
“We saw the same indifference last week when Sudan, whose leader is wanted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, was elected by 176 votes—with support from at least 10 EU states—to ECOSOC, a principal U.N. organ that oversees the accreditation and work of human rights NGOs, and decides the composition of U.N. women’s rights bodies.”
“Chavez backs the murderous regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and threw a judge in jail after she released a political prisoner in compliance with a U.N. ruling. Pakistan has a Christian mother of five on death row and coddles the extremists who shot a girl in the head for advocating education for women and girls,” said Neuer.
“It will be an insult to their victims—and a defeat for the global cause of human rights—if the U.N. helps gross abusers act as champions and global judges of human rights.”
“When the U.N.‘s highest human rights body becomes a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse, the world’s victims suffer.”
The Friday press briefing by UN Watch and Human Rights Foundation featured genuine and courageous champions of human rights who pleaded against the election of their oppressors: Eligio Cedeno, Venezuela’s most famous political prisoner prior to his 2009 escape to America; Marcel Granier, a persecuted journalist from Venezuela; Sajid Christopher, a Christian minority rights activist from Pakistan; and Igor Vinyavsky, a journalist from Kazakhstan who was a political prisoner released from jail earlier this year. (See photos on the right, for higher quality photo album click here.)
Questions on candidacies of Kenya and Sierra Leone
INTERVIEWS: UN Watch director Hillel Neuer is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly vote tomorrow, which starts at 10 am, and will be available for interviews.
EVALUATION OF CANDIDATES FOR 2013-2015
MEMBERSHIP ON THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Presented at U.N. Headquarters on Nov. 11, 2012
This report evaluates the countries that have submitted candidacies for the Nov. 12, 2012 election of 18 new members to the UN Human Rights Council. To evaluate qualifications we applied the membership criteria established by UNGA Resolution 60/251, in particular by examining (a) each candidate’s record of domestic human rights protection; and (b) its UN voting record. The report finds as follows:
Seven candidates have poor records and are not qualified:
Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, UAE, Venezuela
Two candidates have problematic records and thus questionable candidacies:
Kenya, Sierra Leone
Only 11 out of 20 candidate countries are qualified to be Council members:
Argentina, Brazil, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Montenegro, South Korea, Sweden, United States
The absence of competition this year in four out of the five regional slates is scandalous, undermining the very premise and rationale for holding elections. Nevertheless, this report reminds UN member states that they have the right to refrain from voting for countries deemed Not Qualified, even if those happen to be running on closed slates. Instead, as detailed in the report, during the ballot they can actually defeat such candidacies, and instead free up the process for qualified alternatives to come forward. We note several alternative candidacies for the relevant regional groups, who have better human rights and U.N. voting records:
- Qualified Alternative Candidates
- Africa: Cape Verde, Ghana, Namibia, Zambia
- Asia: Mongolia, East Timor
- Latin America: Panama, Paraguay
In regard to candidate countries deemed Questionable, they should, at a minimum, be asked to commit to redress the shortcomings identified in this report.