GENEVA, May 15, 2019 — Despite Qatar’s gross human rights abuses, nation after nation lined up today at the UN Human Rights Council to laud the government’s track record on human rights, as the country underwent a mandatory review that all UN member states undergo every five years. Qatar itself is a member of the Council. (See quotes below.)
According to a count by UN Watch, 91 out of 104 countries that took the floor this morning at the UNHRC praised Qatar for its human rights record.
An additional 6 countries expressed some praise for Qatar’s alleged progress, in addition to applying genuine scrutiny. If one includes these statements, then 97 out of 104 countries, or 93%, expressed praise for the country.
While the UNHRC’s mandatory review exercise is meant to scrutinize all nations every five years in order to improve the lives of victims, the vast majority of countries who spoke in today’s UNHRC peer review exercise ignored Qatar’s severe restrictions on free and fair elections, forced labor, and criminalization of homosexuality.
Instead, many lauded Qatar’s alleged “progress” in the field of women’s rights, even though it is one of the worst countries in the world for women—ranking 127 out of 149 countries for gender equality by the World Economic Forum.
Representing Qatar at the UN session was Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, Qatar’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, who, along with his delegation, claimed significant strides in the government’s protection of human rights. One member of Qatar’s delegation defended restrictions on the right to assembly.
“Any restrictions to the right to assembly are grounded in the government’s right to maintain public order,” said the Qatari delegate.
Following is a selection of the praise of Qatar at today’s review:
Venezuela: “We welcome the extraordinary progress made.”
North Korea: “We commend Qatar commitments and strenuous efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights.”
Iraq: “Sister country, we appreciate the developments in the area of human rights.”
China: “Welcomes Qatar’s efforts and achievements.”
Brunei: “Commends efforts by Qatar to promote the role of women.”
Kuwait: “We note the progress achieved in the protection and promotion of human rights. We are very pleased.”
Philippines: We “welcome the government’s efforts to uphold women’s political participation and leadership.”
Lebanon: We “express our satisfaction.”
Libya: “We commend the progress and the positive developments in the field of human rights.”
Nigeria: “We commend Qatar for its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.”
Tajikistan: “We welcome measures to protect and promote the rights of migrant workers.”
Malaysia: “We welcome Qatar’s continuing efforts to foster a human rights environment.”
Vietnam: We commend “the strong commitment for the promotion of human rights.”
Afghanistan: “Applauds Qatar’s concerted efforts to make changes to its labor laws and code.”
Iran: “We acknowledge the resilience and perseverance shown in the face of the inhuman blockade and measures imposed on Qatar since 2017.”
Myanmar: “Commends Qatar for its international humanitarian assistance.”
Turkey: “Qatar has achieved progress in the area of human rights.”
Algeria: “We see clearly in this report the huge efforts to protect and promote human rights.”
However, a minority of countries—including Britain, Australia, Norway, Denmark, and Germany—rightly expressed concern for women’s and workers’ rights in the country.