New Report: UNHRC Candidates China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan, Vietnam are “Not Qualified”; Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, South Sudan, Uruguay are “Questionable”
GENEVA, November 4, 2013 – As the U.N. prepares to elect 14 nations next week to its highest human rights body, a coalition of non-governmental human rights groups sent a letter today to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and EU foreign affairs commissioner Catherine Ashton urging them to oppose the candidacies of China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan, and Vietnam, which were found to be “Not Qualified” under the U.N.’s own membership criteria, in a report being presented right now at a UN breifing in New York before media, diplomats and human rights activists.
The qualifications of Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, South Sudan, Uruguay were deemed “questionable” based on problematic human right records or in their UN voting records.
The evaluations were published today by two non-governmental organizations, the Geneva-based UN Watch and Human Rights Foundation, and are being presented this afternoon at a UN Headquarters briefing before diplomats, journalists, and NGO activists.
“China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, “and they consistently vote the wrong way on UN initiatives to protect the human rights of others.”
“For the UN to elect Saudi Arabia as a world judge on human rights would be like a town making a pyromaniac into chief of the fire department.”
With the release of the report, an international coalition of 20 NGOs and MPs today appealed to the U.S. and the EU to take action.
“Regrettably,” said Neuer, “so far neither the U.S. nor the EU have said a word about hypocritical candidacies that will undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the UN human rights system. By turning a blind eye as human rights violators easily join and subvert the council, leading democracies will be complicit in the world body’s moral decline.”
“It will be an insult to their political prisoners and many other victims — and a defeat for the global cause of human rights — if the UN helps gross abusers act as champions and global judges of human rights. When the U.N.’s highest human rights body becomes a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse, the world’s victims suffer,” said Neuer.
Today’s press briefing by UN Watch and Human Rights Foundation — under way now and being tweeted live here — is featuring courageous champions of human rights pleading against the election of their oppressors:
- Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese civil rights activist who escaped house arrest in 2012 after being detained for organizing a lawsuit against Chinese authorities;
- Ali al-Ahmed, a Saudi scholar and political analyst who was arrested as a teenager because of his family members’ political activity;
- Masha Gessen, a Russian journalist, author, and LGBT rights activist forced to flee her country with her family after a crackdown on same-sex families;
- Rosa Maria Payá, a human rights advocate from Cuba leading a campaign to launch an investigation into the death of her father, the late civil society activist Oswaldo Payá; and
- Yang Jianli, a Chinese scholar, pro-democracy advocate, and former political prisoner, who presented a petition against China’s bid for a seat on the UNHRC.
Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen and UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer jointly present their report evaluating the countries that have submitted candidacies for the November 12 election of new members to the UNHRC.