June 21: Politics Trumps Human Rights at UN Human Rights Council

As the UN Human Rights Council celebrates its 10th anniversary with endless self-congratulatory speeches, UN Watch will be reporting daily on the debates of the June 2016 session. Click here for UN Watch’s assessment of the council’s performance over the past decade.


Human Rights as a Political Tool

As the UNHRC heard damning reports from its experts on human rights abuses in Syria, Belarus and Eritrea, dictators cried foul and defended their partners in crime.
While Assad bombs helpless civilians in his own cities, North Korea said “all issues related to Syria should be resolved by the Syrian government and the people themselves.”
Likewise, Cuba said “the Syrian people is capable of resolving its differences itself and we would ask that foreign efforts come to an end. We object to any attempts to encroach on territorial integrity and sovereignty.” The problem is not with “the legitimate government” but rather with “foreign forces which, in one way or another, have helped train armed groups.”
Venezuela took the floor to “warn about the dangers of foreign powers’ continuous warmongering,” reiterating their “support for the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad.”
Belarus, the last dictatorship in Europe, and due to face scrutiny later in the day, said “the Human Rights Council must renounce politicized accusations against the government of the country.”

When Belarus was addressed, Syria reciprocated, saying Minsk showed “a real desire to discharge its international obligations,” and denounced a UN expert’s critical report on Belarus as “an instrument of interference in another country’s affairs.”
Venezuela slammed “the biased report” on Belarus, which “ignores the leaps forward that Belarus has taken in human rights.” Echoing their earlier defense of Syria, the Maduro regime said foreign meddling was liable to “force a change of political system which has been democratically chosen by its people.”

Propaganda at the UN

Sudanese Government-sponsored NGO, the Eastern Sudan Women Development Organization and Society Studies Center, hosted a side event, “honored by Mr. Idris Jazairy,” the UN expert on sanctions and apologist for Sudan’s genocidal regime. This is the second occasion on which Sudan has used the UN for propaganda purposes at this session, after organizing a discussion on the empowerment of Sudanese women last week.

Additional resources:
Hillel Neuer testifies at United States Congress
Previous blog posts from the Human Rights Council

UN Watch