30 human rights groups file objection with UN Legal Counsel to disqualify Sudan’s candidacy
Activists sent letters to 193 U.N. member states
GENEVA, Aug. 30 – Mia Farrow, film star and longtime advocate for victims in Darfur, heads a campaign of human rights activists that today launched a legal, diplomatic and online campaign to stop Sudan’s controversial bid for a seat on the world’s highest human rights body, in elections to be held on Nov. 12th.
In papers filed today with UN legal counsel Patricia O’Brien, the activists requested the disqualification of Sudan’s UN Human Rights Council candidacy, on grounds that its government stands accused of genocide by the International Criminal Court, which has already issued two arrest warrants for regime leader Omar Al Bashir.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch, which is coordinating the “Stop Sudan” campaign, said that “electing Sudan to the UN’s top human rights body is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women’s shelter.”
The international coalition is comprised of 30 high profile human rights figures and activists in the Darfur movement, including Yang Jianli, the Chinese dissident and former political prisoner; Irwin Cotler, Canadian parliamentarian and former justice minister who heads Canada’s All-Party Save Darfur Parliamentary Coalition; Dr. Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch, and Bernard Schalscha of France’s Collectif Urgence Darfour.
The group also wrote today to all 193 U.N. member states, urging them to oppose Sudan’s bid given its failure to meet the council’s own membership criteria, which require countries to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.”
The campaign also launched a Facebook page and online petition calling on U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, President Obama’s representative to the UN, to lead the diplomatic effort to block Sudan.
“I’m somewhat concerned, because while Hillary Clinton and many other Western diplomats spoke out early and forcefully against Syria’s bid last year, the reaction to Sudan’s bid has so far been muted.”
The appeal is expected to resonate among some of Sudan’s neighbors, who could pressure Khartoum to pull out, after it won the endorsement of numerous African human rights groups, including those from Cameroon, Kenya, Somalia and Zambia. Other non-governmental members hail from Bahrain, Germany, India, Switzerland and the U.S.
Ms. Farrow, who has repeatedly visited Africa to call attention to the plight of millions of Darfuris victimized by genocide, mass rape and displacement, sounded an alarm this week over fresh air strikes by Sudan forces.
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The International Campaign Against Sudan’s Election to the U.N. Human Rights Council
Hillel Neuer, United Nations Watch, Switzerland
Irwin Cotler, Member of Canadian Parliament, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Chair of the All-Party Save Darfur Parliamentary Coalition
Dr. Gregory Stanton, President, Genocide Watch
Adeeb Yousif, Darfur Reconciliation and Development Organization (DRDO), USA
Bernard Schalscha, Collectif Urgence Darfour, France
Thor Halvorssen, Human Rights Foundation, USA
Enrique Sierra, Pax Christi International, Switzerland
Robert R. LaGamma, Council for a Community of Democracies, USA
Atamao T. Kane, Southpanafrican International (SPI), Norway
Bhawani Shanker Kusum, Gram Bharati Samiti (GBS), India
Dr Charles Mwape, Christian Coalition, Zambia
Dr. Francois Ullmann, Ingenieurs du Monde, Switzerland
Faisal Fulad, Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS), Bahrain
Theodor Rathgeber, Forum Human Rights, Germany
Dr. Yang Jianli, Chinese dissident, former political prisoner, Founder and President of Initiatives for China
Hu Ping, Chinese dissident, editor of Beijing Spring, former head of the Chinese Alliance for Democracy
Zhang Xiaogang, Yibao
Christina Fu, New Hope Foundation
Michael Craig, China Rights Network
Priscilla M Achakpa, Women Environmental Programme, Nigeria
G. Jasper Cummeh III, Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives (AGENDA), Liberia
Faisal Hassan, Gulf European Centre for Human Rights (GECHR)
Maria Toledo, Inter-African Cttee on Traditional Practices Affecting Health of Women and Children
Dickson Ntwiga, Solidarity House International, Kenya
Dr Dieudonné Zognong, Fondation Humanus, Cameroon
John Suarez, Directorio Democrático Cubano, USA
Michael Kau, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
Guilhem Papelard, Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme, France
Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Stop Child Executions, Canada
Ali Egal, Fanole Human Rights & Development Organization (FAHRO) Somalia/Kenya
Carlos E. Ponce, Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy
Jean Stoner, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Congregational Representative at the United Nations
Lyda Verstegen, International Alliance Of Women, President