Over the last couple days at the UN Human Rights Council, abusive States praised one another’s rights records during the sessions to adopt reports on human rights violations in countries under review. This is not surprising considering that the same phenomenon was evident during the working groups for these Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reports, where rights-abusing countries played a tit for tat strategy of mutual praise, rather than undertaking genuine efforts to review and critique one another’s rights records. (Click here for UN Watch report, entitled “Mutual Praise Society,” detailing this trend).
A clear example of such politicization of the process regards the recent statements of Sri Lanka during the adoption of reports on Russia, Cuba, and China-key actors within the Council who played large roles in securing passage of Sri Lanka’s self-congratulatory resolution last week.
On Russia, Sri Lanka stated that it “recognizes full well that this discussion on human rights and these institutions-none of this would have been possible if not for the sacrifices made by Russia and the Russian people,” explaining that “if not for Russia’s role in breaking the backbone of fascism, the rest of the world would have found our discussion on human rights postponed by decades and a dark age would have fallen on the world.” Sri Lanka also expressed its sympathy to Russia for the numerous traumatic events of the country’s past, noting the “fact that Russia has found ways of safeguarding human rights while not weakening the state or the nation.”
Sri Lanka also bestowed lavish praise on Cuba:
Sri Lanka would like to salute the role played by the ambassador [of Cuba] who has been a militant combatant and field commander in the battle of ideas in the Human Rights Council. He has combined maturity and sagacity with militancy and fought against each and every attempt to use human rights selectively and hypocritically as an instrument. He has fought to make sure that the Human Rights Council is a level playing field for everyone and that human rights are a patrimony of us all. The council has full faith in the abilities of his worthy successor, but may I say we will be diminished by his absence from Geneva next month.
Sri Lanka went on to condemn the U.S. embargo on Cuba:
Cuba has discharged its responsibilities under conditions of extreme hostility, pressure and siege. This longstanding and unreasonable siege has not prevented cuba from being a model of generosity and altruism. Cuba has not only been a model of the practice of social and collective rights within its country, it has also been the enabler of such rights throughout the developing countries.
May I say that Cuba’s contribution is not limited to collective rights because, Mr. President, imagine the exercise of the rights of the individual when one who did not have sight has been given sight through Cuba’s operation Milagro, and one who was illiterate has learned to read through the program of “Yes I can,” the literacy program.
Therefore Sri Lanka salutes Cuba’s human rights performance and strongly endorses the adoption of its upr report.
After China rejected all 50 of its report’s recommendations on Tibet, Sri Lanka praised the “great contributions” of the Chinese Communist Party in the “elimination of serfdom and slavery in China, including in Tibet.” Sri Lanka said it is pleased China “has rejected those [recommendations] that could contribute to ethnic extremism in a country so important to global stability,” adding that “Sri Lanka is particularly admiring of China’s policy concerning matters of ethnic identity.”