Scorecard: Half of UN Human Rights Council Members Opposed Action for Victims

GENEVA, June 14, 2021 — Nearly half the countries on the UN’s top human rights body—which the U.S. is now seeking to rejoin, and which opens a 3-week session on Monday, June 21st—are using their membership negatively, opposing instead of supporting action for victims of arbitrary detention, torture and other abuses, according to a new report released today by UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights organization in Geneva that monitors the world body.

UN Watch’s scorecard measured all 47 UN Human Rights Council member states based on their 2020 votes on resolutions concerning victims in such places as Belarus, Burundi, Eritrea, Iran and Yemen, as well on resolutions that define human rights concepts.

Thirteen countries were rated as having “Destructive” voting records, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Libya, Namibia, Nigeria, Qatar, Senegal and Somalia.

Another 10 council members were rated as having “Very Destructive” records, including Eritrea, Mauritania, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sudan and Venezuela.

“When 60 percent of the UN Human Rights Council is composed of tyrannies and other non-democracies—absurdly, China, Cuba and Russia this year joined existing members such as Libya, Pakistan and Venezuela—we should not be surprised that so many use their votes to oppose action against the world’s worst abusers, or to support counterproductive resolutions that legitimize dictatorships and terrorists,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

“Even worse, most of the world’s worst situations of widespread abuse never even come to a vote, with major violators of human rights such as China, Cuba, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Zimbabwe enjoying complete impunity at the UNHRC, escaping any censure or scrutiny in the form of council resolutions, inquiries or special sessions,” said Neuer.

Only 24 of the 47 Council members had mixed or positive records. Twelve countries received a “Constructive” score: Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, and Ukraine. These countries contributed constructively to the council’s work between 70% and 89% of the time.

Four countries received a “Very Constructive” score: Australia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Marshall Islands. This means that these countries contributed constructively to the Council’s work more than 90% of the time by supporting key council actions that promoted human rights and democracy, and opposing those that were counterproductive.

Eight countries received a “Mixed” score—Argentina, Armenia. Bahamas, Chile, Fiji, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay—meaning that their contribution was positive only some of the time, and they also supported counterproductive council actions or abstained.

According to the UN Watch scorecard, more than a third of key council resolutions that were adopted last year were prejudicial and counterproductive.

These include two Cuban-led resolutions categorizing Western sanctions on Syria, Russia, Venezuela and other dictatorships as human rights violations, a Chinese-sponsored resolution “promoting mutually beneficial cooperation” which erodes protection of individual rights in deference to “the priorities set by the states concerned,” and a series of resolutions on the Arab-Israel conflict, sponsored by Islamic states, which promote the narrative of Hamas and of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime.

Click here for the scorecard.

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UN Watch in the News — June 2021

UN Watch was quoted in multiple media outlets during June 2021 on topics including: Geneva Summit gives a voice to human rights dissidents; Russian opposition