Evaluation of 2007–2010 UN Human Rights Council Candidates

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Joint Analysis by Freedom House and UN Watch May 4, 2010

The Report in PDF Form

Background and Methodology

On May 17, 2007, the UN General Assembly will elect 14 new Human Rights Council members.  Fifteen countries are candidates.  However, each candidate is not competing against all of the others, but only against the ones from the same UN regional group.  In the election, the African and Asian Groups will each fill 4 seats and the Eastern European Group, the Latin American and Caribbean Group (“GRULAC”) and the Western Europe and Others Group (“WEOG”) will each fill 2 seats.

To become a Council member, a country must receive the votes of at least 97 of the 192 General Assembly member states (an absolute majority).  In voting, General Assembly members are supposed to “take into account the candidates’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.” An additional consideration ought to be whether the candidate can meet the obligations of Council membership, which include (a) “to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and (b) to “fully cooperate with the Council.”

UN Watch and Freedom House evaluated each candidate’s suitability for Council membership based on the following information:

  • Its rating in Freedom House’s  Freedom in the World 2007, an annual study measuring political rights and civil liberties worldwide that ranks countries as free, partly free, or not free;
  • Its rating in the 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index by Reporters Sans Frontières, an annual evaluation of global press freedom that classifies countries as having a good situation, a satisfactory situation, noticeable problems, a difficult situation, or a very serious situation;
  • Its rating in the Economist’s  2007 Index of Democracy, which considers a country’s electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, government functioning, political participation, and political culture, and ranks it as a full democracy, a flawed democracy, a hybrid regime, or an authoritarian regime; and
  • Its voting record on important human rights issues in the 2006 session of the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee and, if the country was a member, in the 2006-07 sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. Each country’s record was classified as positive or negative based on the Democracy Coalition Project’s  analysis of Third Committee votes and UN Watch’s analysis of Human Rights Council votes.

UN Watch and Freedom House are nongovernmental organizations that monitor human rights mechanisms at the UN and advocate for greater promotion of human rights worldwide.

Ratings of Candidates

Each candidate’s suitability for election to the Human Rights Council was evaluated based on its record of human rights protection at home and of human rights promotion at the UN. Four candidate countries are strong in both regards and accordingly are well qualified for Council membership. On the other hand, four candidates are authoritarian regimes with negative UN voting records and are not qualified to be Council members under the applicable standards.  The remaining seven countries fall somewhere in between—three are free democracies with negative UN human rights voting records and four are countries with problems in either or both areas—and their qualifications are therefore questionable.
Well Qualified:     Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia.
Questionable:      Bolivia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Philippines, South Africa.
Not Qualified:      Angola, Belarus, Egypt, Qatar.

For supporting information, see the attached charts.

Candidates from the African Group (for 4 seats)
To replace Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia

 

 

 Country  FH Rating RSF
Ranking
Economist
Rating
UN Voting
Record
Suitability for
Membership
 Angola Not Free Noticeable
Problems
Authoritarian Regime Negative Not Qualified
 Egypt Not Free Difficult
Situation
Authoritarian Regime Negative Not Qualified
 Madagascar Partly Free Satisfactory
Situation
Hybrid Regime Negative Questionable
 South Africa Free Satisfactory
Situation
Flawed Democracy Negative Questionable


Candidates from the Asian Group (for 4 seats)
To replace Bahrain, India, Indonesia, Philippines

 

 

 Country FH Rating RSF
Ranking
Economist
Rating
UN Voting
Record
Suitability for
Membership
India Free Noticeable
Problems
Flawed Democracy Negative Questionable
Indonesia Free Noticeable
Problems
Flawed Democracy Negative Questionable
Philippines Partly Free Difficult
Situation
Flawed Democracy Negative Questionable
Qatar Not Free Noticeable
Problems
Authoritarian Regime Negative Not Qualified


Candidates from the Eastern European Group (for 2 seats)
To replace Czech Republic, Poland

 Country FH
Rating
RSF
Ranking
Economist
Rating
UN Voting
Record
 Suitability for
Membership
Belarus Not Free Very Serious
Situation
Authoritarian Regime Negative Not Qualified
 Slovenia Free Good
Situation
Full Democracy Positive Well Qualified


Candidates from GRULAC (for 2 seats)
To replace Argentina, Ecuador

 

 

 Country FH
Rating
RSF
Ranking
Economist
Rating
UN Voting
Record
Suitability for
Membership
Bolivia Partly Free Noticeable
Problems
Flawed Democracy Positive Questionable 
Nicaragua Partly Free Satisfactory
Situation
Hybrid Regime Positive Questionable


Candidates from WEOG (for 2 seats)
To replace Finland, Netherlands

 

 

 Country  FH
Ranking
RSF
Ranking
Economist Rating UN Voting
Record
Suitability for
Membership
 Denmark  Free Good
Situation
Full Democracy  Positive Well Qualified
Italy  Free Satisfactory
Situation
Flawed Democracy  Positive Well Qualified
 Netherlands  Free Good
Situation
Full Democracy Positive Well Qualified

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