CNN Interview: ”UN Watch Chief Calls for Removal Now of Russia from Human Rights Council”

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[April 4, 2022, 06:17:40 ET]

BERMAN: All right. The breaking news this morning, CNN teams finding evidence of mass graves in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv. I know this is difficult footage to look at, but this is the evidence that our teams are finding bodies in bags littering the scene.

This morning, new calls to remove Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council. The group U.N. Watch is drafting a resolution for the U.N. General Assembly to force them out.

And joining me now is the director, executive director, of U.N. Watch, Hillel Neuer. Thank you so much for being with us.

When you see these images out of Bucha, the bodies littering the streets, I’m just wondering what your reaction is?

HILLEL NEUER, U.N. WATCH: Look, one thinks of atrocities that shock the conscience of mankind, and I am here in Geneva, Switzerland, and I’ve been spending the past five weeks at a session of the Human Rights Council — and Russia is sitting there as a member. For God’s sake, Russia cannot be a member of the United Nations’ highest human rights body.

BERMAN: What message does it send to the world when Russia sits on the Human Rights Council?

NEUER: Well, I think it sends a terrible message. Because to be on Human Rights Council, there are criteria. It’s not automatic. It’s not a rotation. It’s not a regional thing that everyone gets. Countries have to show that they have a record — or are supposed to show that they have a record of promoting and protecting human rights. Members are obliged to uphold the highest standards of human rights.

And countries that commit gross systematic abuses can be removed. And in 2010, we campaigned to remove Gadhafi’s Libyan regime. And that succeeded after Gadhafi launched a war against his own people.

We’ve launched the same campaign against Russia. We’ve drafted a resolution. We need a member state to introduce it. We’re turning to the United States. Secretary of State Blinken said sort of obliquely a month ago, but asked the question when he spoke at the Council whether a country that commits terrible acts should sit on the council. The Estonian foreign minister is on the record calling for it. But we need the United States to formally introduce the resolution.

BERMAN: What has been the reaction so far from the United Nations and officials there?

NEUER: Well, sadly, and I would say strangely, when the spokesperson of the United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, was asked last week about this, he said that they have a certain level of concern about our campaign. And he said — and there was 12 U.S. senators that wrote a letter to the U.S. ambassador, calling for her to take action. And the U.N. chief said there’s a certain level of concern. And he said it would set a dangerous precedent.

Now, this is a very strange thing. The U.N. chief is not supposed to get involved. It’s a member state issue. And for them to say it’s a dangerous precedent, we think it’s dangerous to let a government, a regime that is slaughtering innocent people, as we’ve seen on these terrible images from Bucha, that has launched aggression against the U.N. member state, causing millions of people to leave their homes, we think it’s dangerous to have them sitting on the U.N.’s top human rights body. And there was no precedent, because the precedent was set in 2011 when Gadhafi’s Libyan regime was removed. So a very strange reaction, if you ask me, by the U.N. secretary-general.

BERMAN: Look, their presence on this council is farcical. I don’t mean that in a comical way. I mean, literally, it turns the whole notion of having a Human Rights Council on its head.

Hillel Neuer, maybe there will be news today. Thank you very much for joining us, keeping us abreast of this situation.

NEUER: Thank you.


UN Watch