Rights abusers win coveted UN rights posts
Elected to ECOSOC: Misogynistic Pakistan, slave-holding Mauritania, gay-bashing Uganda, repressive Zimbabwe
Ban Ki-moon, Samantha Power, EU should condemn
GENEVA, Oct. 30 – UN Watch today called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon, rights commissioner Prince Zeid, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and the EU’s Catherine Ashton to condemn yesterday’s UN election of slave-holding Mauritania, misogynistic Pakistan, gay-bashing Uganda and repressive Zimbabwe to its 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a top U.N. body that regulates human rights groups, shapes the composition of key U.N. women’s rights bodies, and adopts resolutions on subjects ranging from Internet freedom to female genital mutilation.
“The election of abusers to top human rights positions undermines the credibility of the United Nations human rights system and casts a shadow upon the reputation of the organization as a whole,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
“By empowering the perpetrators over the victims, the UN harms the cause of human rights and betrays its founding principles.”
Neuer highlighted the gross and systematic human rights violations of these four new ECOSOC members:
- Mauritania allows slavery. According to a recent report by the Guardian, “up to 800,000 people in a nation of 3.5 million remain chattels,” with power and wealth overwhelmingly concentrated among lighter-skinned Moors, “leaving slave-descended darker-skinned Moors and black Africans on the edges of society.
- Pakistan turns a blind eye to acid attacks against women, and continues to sentence Christians and minority Muslims to death for blasphemy, including its recent confirmation of Asia Bibi’s verdict.
- Uganda‘s president this year signed into law its ‘Anti-Homosexuality Act,’ one of the harshest in the world, imposing life imprisonment against gays in some cases.
- Zimbabwe continues to harass and intimidate human rights dissidents.
“When the criminals are made the judges, when the arsonists are named as fire-fighters, it’s a travesty of justice. These countries will now exercise power over human rights groups within the world body, and will try to silence their voices,” said Neuer.
“Tragically, the UN’s election today of regimes such as Mauritania — where there are hundreds of thousands living in slavery — sends a message that crass politics trumps basic human rights. The UN is letting down millions of victims around the globe who look to the world body for vital protection,” said Neuer.
ECOSOC’s Power Over UN Human Rights Bodies
- Under the UN Charter, ECOSOC is the sole principal organ mandated to adopt resolutions for the purpose of “promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.”
- The elected regimes will now play a major role in choosing members of the Commission on the Status of Women, the executive of UN Women, and UNICEF, which protects children’s rights.
- ECOSOC is the body that accredits and oversees human rights groups at the UN, deciding who can participate at the UN Human Rights Council. The dominant influence of non-democracies has often led to the rejection or expulsion of human rights groups that dare to criticize China, Cuba or other repressive UN member states, and they have often barred gay rights NGOs.”
- Recent ECOSOC annual sessions debated resolutions on the treatment of prisoners, Internet freedom, discrimination, gender equality and female genital mutilation.
- ECOSOC decides which nations will sit on, among others, the UN Commission for Social Development, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.