June 22: Today at the 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.

Today at the UN Human Rights Council, countries were given the opportunity to deliver statements on anything concerning situations requiring the Council’s attention. Rather than speak about specific human rights situations, however, many states instead protested the singling out of specific countries for opprobrium.

Lies, Damned Lies and Statements at the UNHRC

Cuba criticized the policy of singling out countries for censure, protesting against the “endless allegations against the South by the industrial North.” The delegate asked the Council, “have any countries criticized or said a word against the warmongering of the North around the world?” before providing his own answer: “No.” He continued, asking “why aren’t we hearing about the xenophobia or glorification of fascism in the North?” Contrasting Cuba’s human rights record with that of the developed world, he told delegations that “we continue to work for the promotion and protection of human rights in our nation”
Venezuela joined the attack on the alleged sanctimony of the West, bemoaning the fact that “some countries will try to share lessons about human rights while they are violating human rights.” Advocating an abstracted and non-specific discourse, the delegate suggested that “this council loses credibility when principals pillars are jeopardized by naming and shaming.”
Not to be left out, Egypt lamented the “daily reality” of “xenophobia, racism, hatred and extrajudicial executions in the US, UK, France, Netherlands and Belgium.” These countries, according to the Egyptian delegate, were also guilty of “naming and shaming based on a lack of assessment and knowledge,” and of attempting to “impose their values on others.”
North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), joined the chorus of nations pillorying the developed world. The Hermit Kingdom “has repeatedly cautioned” about the dangers of “racism, discrimination, xenophobia, the refugee crisis” and other evils “prevalent and deeply-rooted in the US and Western countries.” North Korea’s delegate reassured the Council that “the DPRK will continue to reject any politicization of human rights and promote sincere and constructive dialogue in the field of human rights.”
Iran, meanwhile, denounced the “escalation of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia in European countries.
China was scathing of the criticism it received from various states who, “in total disregard of the achievements of China in the human rights field, made groundless and uncalled-for accusations against China.” In truth, insisted the delegate, “our people enjoy more extensive democratic rights and social equity, and justice is stronger than ever before”
Belarus, whose human rights situation received extensive scrutiny yesterday, said that “the politicized mandate of the special rapporteur on Belarus is not actually very helpful.” It would be better to abolish the expert charged with monitoring the country — “the resources freed by this could be spent on a more specific activity with more tangible results.” Casting doubt over the independence of UN experts, the delegate from Belarus said that “the Council supports selective, politicized country mandates because their functions are limited by non-objective monitoring from outside.”

Country Propaganda

Eritrea was last week accused of crimes against humanity by the UN commission tasked with investigating allegations against the government of that country. Today, Eritrea held two meetings on a resolution that it is submitting designed to undercut the much stronger, condemnatory resolution also being submitted at the session.

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

UN Watch