Rights activists urge South Africa to ‘vote like a democracy’ on Security Council, recall poor voting record of prior term

GENEVA, October 12, 2010 – UN Watch congratulated Colombia, Germany, India and South Africa on their election as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council for 2011-2012.

In regard to South Africa, UN watch executive director Hillel Neuer said it was “important that a major African democracy be represented on the council.”At the same time, Neuer recalled that during South Africa’s previous term at the Security Council, in 2007-2008, “there were serious concerns expressed by civil society groups regarding that country’s voting record on critical human rights issues. At the time, UN Watch and other human rights groups had objected to a series of decisions where South Africa used its seat on the Security Council to stand with the perpetrators instead of the victims.”

For example, said Neuer, in 2007, “South Africa joined China and Russia as the sole members to oppose a resolution urging Burma to free political detainees and end sexual violence by the military. Pretoria helped hardliners Moscow and Beijing to kill the text, shielding the generals of Rangoon.”

“In that same year, South Africa outdid even Saudi Arabia in opposing or refusing to support resolutions for victims of human rights violations in Belarus, Burma, Iran, and North Korea. When questions arose over this policy-which South Africa’s own Archbishop Desmond Tutu called ‘a betrayal of our noble past’, the government’s reaction was to lash out,” said Neuer.

“We urge South Africa – as a leading democracy with a vital role to play in world affairs – to ensure that this time, whenever vital human rights issues are at stake at the UN, it will vote like a democracy.”


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