GENEVA, September 5, 2022 — Qatar, a petro-dictatorship where 6,500 migrant workers have died since the serial human rights abusing regime was awarded the World Cup tournament, has nominated its envoy to chair a UN forum dedicated to promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law, prompting strong protests from UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights group based in Switzerland.
Qatar’s GDP dwarfs that of Bahamas and Togo, its two competitors for the post, and it is expected to easily clinch the appointment to be made in the coming weeks by the President of the 47-nation Human Rights Council, Ambassador Federico Villegas of Argentina.
The UN Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law was created by the UNHRC in 2015 as a bi-annual event to “identify and analyze best practices, challenges and opportunities for states in their efforts to secure respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.”
The forum’s fourth session, mandated in a 2021 resolution, is due to take place on November 24-25, 2022, on the theme of “Strengthening democracies to build back better: challenges and opportunities.”
Qatar, already a member state of the Human Rights Council, has nominated Hend Abdalrahman Al-Muftah, a former member of the regime’s Shura Council who currently serves as Qatar’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, to chair the forum.
The resolution provides that the chair will serve in a personal capacity, but in reality, Ambassador Al-Muftah will do Qatar’s bidding.
The chair is tasked with making human rights-based recommendations in their final report, based on the inputs received and topics discussed during the event.
As UN Watch noted in its recent evaluation of Qatar’s candidacy for election to the HRC, the regime restricts freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and freedom of association, as well as migrant workers’ freedom of movement; there are no free and fair elections; no investigations or accountability for violence against women; homosexuality is a crime; and forced labor is commonplace.
Qatar’s election in 2021 brought the Human Rights Council to a historic low with a composition of two-thirds non-democracies, also including China, Cuba, Libya, Eritrea, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Venezuela.
UN Watch calls on the HRC President Federico Villegas to reject Qatar’s candidate, and to put a stop to the absurd display of oppressive regimes being awarded high positions on United Nations bodies dealing with human rights and democracy.