EVALUATION OF 2008-2011 UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CANDIDATES

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Joint Analysis by Freedom House and UN Watch
Presented at United Nations Headquarters, May 6, 2008

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Background

On May 21, 2008, the UN General Assembly will elect 15 new Human Rights Council members. Twenty countries are candidates. However, each is not competing against all of the others, but rather only against the ones from the same UN regional group. In this year’s election, two regional groups have submitted the same amount of candidates as available seats. The African Group has 4 countries vying for 4 available seats, and the Latin American and Caribbean Group (“GRULAC”) has 3 countries vying for 3 available seats. This does not mean that the candidate countries for these groups will automatically be elected; in order 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 the three other regional groups there is competition between the candidates. The Asian Group has 6 countries vying for 4 available seats; the Eastern European Group has 4 countries vying for 2 available seats; and the Western Europe and Others Group (“WEOG”) has 3 countries vying for 2 available seats.

Methodology

According to Resolution 60/251, General Assembly members are supposed to elect Council by “tak[ing] into account the candidates’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.” The resolution also provides that consideration ought to be given to 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.” Guided by these criteria, Freedom House and UN Watch evaluated each candidate’s suitability for election to the Human Rights Council by examining its record of human rights protection at home and its record of human rights promotion at the UN, based on the following sources of information and analysis:

Rating

Based on the above assessment of each country’s record of human rights protection at home and of its UN voting record, we find that 12 candidate countries are qualified for election to the Human Rights Council; 5 candidates have poor records and are not qualified to be Council members; and 3 countries fall somewhere in between, with qualifications that are questionable.

Qualified: Argentina, Chile, Czech Republic, France, Ghana, Japan, Serbia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

Questionable: Brazil, East Timor, and Burkina Faso.

Not Qualified: Bahrain, Gabon, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Zambia.

 
For supporting information, see the charts below.
 

Candidates from the African Group (for 4 seats)
To replace Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Zambia

 Country  FH Rating FH Press Freedom RSF
Ranking
Economist
Rating
UN Voting
Record
Suitability for
Membership
Burkina Faso Partly Free Partly Free 68 Authoritarian Regime Mixed Questionable
Gabon Partly Free Not Free 102 Authoritarian Regime Negative Not Qualified
Ghana Free Free 29 Hybrid Regime Mixed Qualified
Zambia Partly Free Partly Free 68 Hybrid Regime Negative Not Qualified

 

Candidates from the Asian Group (for 4 seats)
To replace Japan, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka

 Country FH Rating FH Press Freedom RSF
Ranking
Economist
Rating
UN Voting
Record
Suitability for
Membership
Bahrain Not Free Not Free 118 Authoritarian Regime Negative Not Qualified
East Timor Partly Free Partly Free 94 Flawed Democracy Positive Questionable
Japan Free Free 37 Full Democracy Positive Qualified
Pakistan Not Free Not Free 152 Authoritarian Regime Negative Not Qualified
South Korea Free Free 39 Flawed Democracy Positive Qualified
Sri Lanka Not Free Not Free 159 Flawed Democracy Negative Not Qualified

 

Candidates from the Eastern European Group (for 2 seats)
To replace Romania, Ukraine 

 Country FH
Rating
FH Press Freedom RSF
Ranking
Economist
Rating
UN Voting
Record
 Suitability for
Membership
Czech Republic Free Free 14 Full Democracy Positive Qualified
 Serbia Free Partly Free 67 Flawed Democracy Positive Qualified
Slovakia Free Free 4 Flawed Democracy Positive Qualified
Ukraine Free Partly Free 92 Flawed Democracy Positive Qualified

 

Candidates from GRULAC (for 3 seats)
To replace Brazil, Guatemala, Peru

 Country FH
Rating
FH Press Freedom RSF
Ranking
Economist
Rating
UN Voting
Record
Suitability for
Membership
Argentina Free Partly Free 82 Full Democracy Positive Qualified
Brazil Free Partly Free 84 Flawed Democracy Mixed Questionable
Chile Free Free 39 Flawed Democracy Positive Qualified

 

Candidates from WEOG (for 2 seats)
To replace France, United Kingdom
 

 Country  FH
Ranking
FH Press Freedom RSF
Ranking
Economist Rating UN Voting
Record
Suitability for
Membership
 France  Free Free 31 Full Democracy  Positive Qualified
Spain  Free Free 33 Full Democracy  Positive Qualified
 United Kingdom  Free Free 24 Full Democracy Positive Qualified


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