NEW YORK, September 15, 2023 – Ahead of the UN General Assembly annual opening next week, activists are urging the world body to oppose Russia, China, Cuba, Burundi and Kuwait in upcoming elections to the 47-nation Human Rights Council, deeming them “unqualified” due to their human rights records as well as their voting records on UN resolutions concerning human rights.
Abuses by those candidates are detailed in a new joint NGO report published today by UN Watch, Human Rights Foundation and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, independent non-governmental human rights organizations based in Switzerland, the U.S. and Canada.
“Electing the dictatorships of China, Russia and Cuba as UN judges on human rights is like making a gang of arsonists into the fire brigade,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights group based in Geneva.
“It will be slap in the face to their thousands of political prisoners, and to millions of their other citizens subjected to repression, if the UN makes gross abusers into global judges and guardians of human rights,” said Neuer.
“When the UN’s highest human rights body becomes a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse, the world’s victims suffer.”
Because there is no competition in the Asian and African regional groups, with each fielding four candidates for four available seats, China, Burundi and Kuwait are almost guaranteed to win, despite their poor records on human rights.
Fortunately, there is competition in the Latin American group, with police state Cuba vying against Brazil, Dominican Republic and Peru for three available seats, and in the East European group, where Russia is competing with Albania and Bulgaria for two open seats.
“We need to hear the US and EU member states lead the call to oppose the worst abusers. So far, at least in the public arena, they have been silent.”
The report also listed Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Malawi and Peru as having “questionable” credentials, due to problematic human rights and UN voting records that should be improved.
Currently, more than two-thirds of UNHRC members are non-democracies, including Qatar, Sudan, Eritrea, Algeria, Somalia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Kazakhstan.
Call to Reform Election System
UN Watch is proposing a major reform to the election system. “If our own democracies continue to disregard the election criteria by voting for abusers,” said Neuer, “then we should just scrap elections altogether, and make every country a member, as is the case in the General Assembly’s own human rights committee. Non-democracies could no longer hold up their UNHRC election as a shield of international legitimacy to cover up the abuses of their regime.”
“Regrettably,” said Neuer, “the EU has not said a word about hypocritical candidacies that only 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.”