The Top 10 Worst UN Actions of 2020

10.  Syria Retains Senior Post at UN Committee Responsible for ‘Decolonizing’ Gibraltar, Falklands, American Samoa

While it was busy indiscriminately bombing four million of its own civilians in Idlib, Syria’s Assad regime won re-election to a senior post on the UN Decolonization Committee, which is charged with opposing the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples.

UN Watch was the first to reveal the outrage. The story was reported in Canada’s Maclean’s magazine, which quoted Executive Director Hillel Neuer: “There should definitely be an urgent session on the situation in Idlib, but the UN just shrugs its shoulders. The UN Human Rights Council will not act with urgency on Syria.”










9. UN Rights Review Praises Tehran’s Record

When Iran came up for a mandatory UNHRC review of its human rights record, UN Watch exposed the farce of how 85% of the country statements actually praised Tehran’s record.

Syria commended Iran’s “active efforts to increase healthcare.” Russia hailed “Iran’s cooperation with human rights treaty bodies.” China praised “Iran’s efforts to protect the rights of vulnerable groups.” Venezuela cited Iran’s “steadfast commitment to protecting human rights.” UN Watch’s tweets, videos and press release were widely shared on social media and reported in the news.











8. China Joins Key UN Panel to Select Human Rights Investigators on Free Speech, Disappearances, Arbitrary Detention

In April, China was appointed to a United Nations Human Rights Council panel where it will play a key role in picking the world body’s human rights investigators, including global monitors on freedom of speech, health, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention.

The move sparked international outrage after UN Watch broke the story in powerful tweets that went viral, liked and shared by journalists from the The New York TimesThe Washington PostForeign PolicyDer Spiegel, Reuters, Swissinfo and Bloomberg. Thanks to UN Watch’s revelations, U.S. senators sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to demand China’s suspension from the panel.











7. UN Elects China, Russia, Cuba, Pakistan to Top Human Rights Body

The rights-abusing regimes of China, Cuba, Russia and Pakistan were elected to the UN’s top human rights body, raising the percentage of non-democracies on the UN human rights council from 51% to a staggering 60%.

UN Watch published a report evaluating all of the candidate countries, and filed formal protests at the United Nations—published as official UN documents—against the election of ChinaCubaPakistanRussia, and Saudi Arabia.

UN Watch also organized an online press conference featuring top human rights dissidents who urged UN member states to oppose the candidacies of their oppressors.

UN Watch was quoted by the Associated PressBBC NewsNewsweek and other major media. Even as apologists for UN immorality sought to justify the election of abusers, UN Watch’s viral tweets dominated the global conversation.









6. UN’s World Health Organization Praises China for ‘Transparency’ on Coronavirus

As the coronavirus started to spread from the Wuhan region, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus applauded the “transparency” of the Chinese response.

Even as evidence mounted that Chinese officials had silenced whistleblowers and undercounted cases, Tedros extolled the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

When the WHO finally declared a public health emergency of international concern, Tedros said: “The Chinese government is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak,” adding that China had set “a new standard” for outbreak response.











5. UN Condemns Israel 17 Times, Rest of the World 6

In 2020, the UN General Assembly singled out Israel in 17 different resolutions, while it adopted six on the rest of the world combined.

The UK as well as EU states like France, Germany and the Netherlands backed more than two-thirds of the resolutions on Israel, even as they failed to introduce a single UNGA resolution this year on the human rights situations in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, or on 175 other countries.

UN Watch launched a new digital advocacy tool to track and campaign against the biased resolutions.

UNGA vote











4. UN’s WHO Names China Booster Helen Clark to Head COVID-19 Inquiry

When former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark was appointed as co-chair of the World Health Organization’s inquiry into the origins and global response to the coronavirus, UN Watch called on Clark to recuse herself on account of her numerous prior statements praising the WHO for the very actions she is meant to investigat—and due to her extensive and close ties with the Chinese regime, dating back four decades.

UN Watch’s letter to Clark sparked media coverage in her home country of New Zealand, as well as in the UK’s Mail on SundaySky News Australia and the Wall Street Journal. Clark was forced to publicly defend herself, which she did mainly by attacking UN Watch. This story is not over.









3. UN Elects Turkey to Head General Assembly in 2020-2021

Despite its egregious abuses, the oppressive Turkish regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took over the presidency of the UN General Assembly for the 2020-2021 session. Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir was the sole candidate for the post.

The UN rewarded the Erdogan regime despite a crackdown that purged 18,000 civil servants, fired 4,000 judges, tortured journalists, and even as Turkey occupied northern Syria and denied water to its Kurds. The UN also gave a free pass to Turkey after it denied the Armenian genocide in a letter circulated by the UN.









2. UN Rights Council Attacks Western Sanctions, Backs Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba 

Alena Douhan of Belarus, the UN’s new Special Rapporteur on “the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures,” used her first report to the Human Rights Council to complain about Western sanctions that target the regimes of Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba.

Instead of calling out their gross abuses, the UN human rights official blamed problems in those countries on Western sanctions. “The Special Rapporteur notes the selectivity and double standards that arise when such sanctions are introduced in the absence of any valid legal ground.“

Douhan’s UNHRC position was created in a 2014 resolution sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.











1. UN Human Rights Office Handed Names of Dissidents to Chinese Regime, Whistleblower Reveals

The UN human rights office had a practice of secretly handing over names of dissidents to the Chinese regime, revealed whistleblower Emma Reilly, allowing Beijing to know in advance which Uyghur and other activists were registered to attend sessions of the UN Human Rights Council—putting their lives in danger, as well as those of their family members living in China.

Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, and Chinese dissident Yang Jianli, a board member of UN Watch, were two of the names provided to the Chinese government by the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2012 and 2013, according to UN emails seen by the South China Morning Post.

OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville told the Post that the practice of revealing names of participants at its sessions to governments had “discontinued“ in 2015, and in any case, “care [was] taken to ensure that no action taken by OHCHR would endanger human rights activists.“

UN Watch