UN Human Rights Council Marks 15th Anniversary Since Promised ‘Elimination of Double Standards’

UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer delivered the following testimony at the UNHRC’s current 46th Session, in which delegates are participating by remote video.

Madam President,

Fifteen years ago today, in a historic vote, the United Nations abolished its Commission on Human Rights, a body that had named Col. Qaddafi’s Libya as its Chair, and which had become so discredited, that even Secretary-General Kofi Annan said it was “casting a shadow on the reputation of the UN as a whole.”

In its place, they created this Human Rights Council, under the promise that the new and improved version would address “gross and systematic violations of human rights,” and ensure “universality, objectivity, non-selectivity, and the elimination of double standards.”

Madam President, fifteen years later, where do we stand? Has the UN kept its promise?

Let’s take a look. In this session, there is one agenda item on the entire world, 193 countries, and then a separate agenda item that targets one country alone: Israel. No other UN member state is singled out.

There is no agenda item on Iran, which massacres its own people for protesting; no agenda item on Russia, which poisons dissidents; no agenda item on Cuba, which throws artists into prison; and no agenda item on China, which herded 1 million Uighur Muslims into camps, persecutes Christians, disappeared courageous men and women who sounded the alarm on the coronavirus, and extinguished freedom in Hong Kong.

On the contrary, China, Russia and Cuba were just elected as member of this Council.

Madam President, is this objectivity?

Let’s look at the reports. In this session, the Council will hear and debate one report on Sri Lanka, one on Myanmar, one on Nicaragua — and four on Israel, more than on any other country.

Yet there are:zero reports on Somalia, where 95% of girls aged 4 to 11 face genital mutilation; zero reports on Pakistan, which persecutes Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Shias, and Ahmadis; and zero reports on Mauritania, which, according to CNN and the Guardian, is the world’s last bastion of actual slavery, with 500,000 black slaves.

On the contrary, all of these countries are members of this Human Rights Council.

And let’s look at the resolutions. In this session, there will be one on North Korea, one on Syria, one on Sri Lanka — and then five on Israel. These resolutions condemn Israel for defending itself against terrorist rockets, stabbings and car-ramming attacks, and incentivize Hamas and Islamic Jihad to continue targeting civilians.

Yet there will zero resolutions on Saudi Arabia, which subjugates women and imprisons pro-democracy activists like Raif Badawi; zero resolutions on Turkey, which purged thousands of academics, journalists and judges, and tramples its Kurdish population, and zero on Venezuela, where brutal oppression and state collapse have caused 5 million people to flee.

Madam President, on the 15th anniversary of the reformed Human Rights Council, we ask: Where is the promised universality, objectivity and elimination of double standards?

Thank you, Madam President.

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