UN Watch sounded the alarm, filed legal protest, submitted appeal by 30 rights groups to 193 countries, organized online petition sending 3,000 messages to Sudanese UN mission
GENEVA, Sept. 3 – In a rare victory for activists seeking to bar abuser states from the U.N. Human Rights Council, Sudan dropped its bid following a massive NGO campaign chaired by Mia Farrow and organized by the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch.
The UN Watch offensive included the filing of a legal objection, an appeal by 30 human rights NGOs, the dispatch of letters to nine foreign ministers and 193 U.N. missions, a Facebook and online campaign that sent 3,000 messages to Sudan’s UN envoy, and to U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who in turn pressured the Khartoum regime.
UN Watch had also filed an application with the City of New York for a mass protest rally in front of the UN on Nov. 12, the day the UN elects new council members. UN Watch first exposed Sudan’s bid last month, prompting media coverage by FOX News TV, Agence France Presse and Canada’s National Post, among others.
UN Watch commended Mia Farrow, the members of the NGO coalition, and the U.S. government for their role in convincing Sudan that further shaming of the regime, and the prospect of losing in the face of a competing Kenyan bid, was not worth the trouble.
“Regrettably, however, the hypocrisy-ridden council already includes such systematic abusers of human rights as China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Mauritania, which according to a recent Guardian article allows 800,000 people to live in modern-day slavery, is another voting member,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
Human rights groups are also protesting the candidacies of Venezuela and Pakistan, both of whom are running uncontested in their regional groups, and therefore expected to be elected by massive majorities on Nov. 12.
In response to UN Watch’s appeal for diplomatic action to block the Chavez bid, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton reiterated in a letter the council’s membership criteria and vowed to follow developments in Venezuela “very closely.” The U.S. and other democracies, however, have yet to speak out.