Victory: Assad Shamed into Pulling Bid for UN Rights Post
Diplomatic Defeat for Syria’s Assad Regime: On March 9th, UN Watch was the first to break the news of Syria’s cynical bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, and to sound the alarm. UN Watch assembled a global coalition of more than 25 human rights groups and dissidents to shame Damascus into backing down. Thanks to U.S. diplomatic leadership, backed by the efforts of France and other major democracies, Syria is now reportedly about to drop its bid — see details below. Regrettably, however, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and many other dictatorships remain on the U.N. council, shielding fellow abusers and fostering selectivity and politicization.
By Associated Press, Tuesday, May 10, 6:21 PM
UNITED NATIONS — Kuwait is going to replace Syria as a candidate for a seat on the U.N.’s top human rights body in what would be a victory for human rights groups and many governments opposed to the ongoing crackdown by President Bashar Assad’s security forces, Western diplomats said Tuesday.
An intense behind-the-scenes campaign has been waged to prevent Syria from being elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council following the government’s attempts to crush a seven-week uprising challenging the Assad family’s 40-year rule…
UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group that has been campaigning against Syria’s bid, hailed the news that Damascus is expected to drop its bid but expressed concern that it might be replaced by Kuwait, which is “far better than Syria, but another non-democracy nevertheless.”
The 47-member Human Rights Council was created in March 2006 to replace the U.N.’s widely discredited and highly politicized Human Rights Commission. The council, however, has also been widely criticized for failing to change many of the commission’s practices, including putting much more emphasis on Israel than on any other country and electing candidates accused of serious human rights violations. MORE
GENEVA, May 9 — UN Watch hailed the breaking news that Syria is expected to drop its bid, but expressed concern that it might be replaced by Kuwait — “far better than Syria, but another non-democracy nevertheless” — and urged against awarding the Assad regime a “consolation prize,” recalling how Iran was given a spot on the UN Commission on the Status of Women in exchange for dropping its 2010 bid for a council seat.
The Geneva-based human rights group was the first to sound the alarm over Syria’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, and heads a global coalition of human rights groups and dissidents seeking to block Damascus. See details at unwatch.org/stopsyria.
“The defeat of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s cynical candidacy is a welcome message to his brutalized population that the world is repulsed by the regime’s ongoing massacres,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
“The Asian states at the UN never should have endorsed the brutal Syrian regime in the first place. And now it would be squandering a golden opportunity if Asia’s replacement for Syria will be yet another Middle East regime that fails to meet the election criteria, which require a genuine record of promoting and protecting human rights.”
According to the State Department, Kuwaitis are subjected to “limited freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion” and women are denied equal rights. Freedom House ranks it as only “partly free.”
Among the UN’s Asian Group ranked as “Free” democracies by Freedom House, India and Indonesia are already candidates for Asia, and Japan and South Korea are outgoing council members. According to Neuer, that still leaves the “preferable options” of Cyprus or Mongolia. Moreover, diplomats should not dismiss the Free-ranked Pacific states of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. In a letter to UN ambassadors sent yesterday (click here), Neuer said small states could assume member duties if others provided support.
The UN Watch campaign against Syria’s bid is supported by more than 25 human rights groups and dissidents, and was recently accepted for publication by the UN General Assembly as an official UN document.
The election of 15 new council members is scheduled for May 20 at the UN General Assembly in New York. On the day prior, UN Watch, Syrian victims and other human rights groups will hold a press conference at UN headquarters in New York.
Dedicated web page at unwatch.org/StopSyria
• Appeal by Human Rights Groups and Legislators | PDF of written statement to UNHRC
• Governments Supporting Campaign to Defeat Syrian Bid — Statements by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the European Union, French Human Rights Ambassador Francois Zimeray, Hungary, UK, Japan, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Slovakia
• About the Election on May 20, 2011
• Election Criteria
• Election Procedure
• Syria’s Human Rights Abuses Disqualify Its Bid
• Text of UN Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/S-16/1 condemning Syrian violations