UN rights body at new low as democracies drop to 31.9% in “fixed” election

GENEVA, October 13, 2021 – Ahead of tomorrow’s UN election of 18 new members to its highest human rights body, a watchdog group today called on nations to oppose the election of Qatar, Cameroon, Eritrea, Kazakhstan and Somalia, deemed “unqualified” due to their human rights records as well as their UN voting records.

Abuses by those candidates are detailed in a new report card published today by UN Watch, which is being circulated to diplomats at the world body.

However, because there is no competition in any of the five regional groups—with 18 candidate countries vying for the same number of available seats on the UN Human Rights Council—all are nearly guaranteed to win.

According to UN Watch’s report, the virtually-assured result tomorrow will be that the caucus of free democracies at the UNHRC will drop to a new low of only 15 out of 47 members, being 31.9% of the total membership.

“Electing Qatar, Cameroon or Kazakhstan as a UN judge on human rights would be like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer of the Geneva-based UN Watch.

The report also listed Benin, Gambia, Honduras, India, Paraguay, Malaysia, Montenegro and the United Arab Emirates  as having “questionable” credentials, due to problematic human rights and UN voting records that should be improved.

Existing council members already include China, Cuba, Russia, Pakistan, Libya, Mauritania and Venezuela.

“Sadly, all signs are that the UN will disregard its own rules and principles on Thursday by rubber-stamping the election of Cameroon, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Qatar and Somalia—even though these regimes systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens,” said Neuer, “and consistently frustrate UN initiatives to protect the human rights of others.”

UN Watch is proposing a major reform to the election system. “If our own democracies continue to disregard the election criteria by voting for abusers,” said Neuer in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, “then we should just scrap elections altogether, and make every country a member, as is the case in the General Assembly’s human rights committee. Non-democracies could no longer hold up their UNHRC election as a shield of international legitimacy to cover up the abuses of their regime.”

“Regrettably,” said Neuer, “the EU has not said a word about hypocritical candidacies that only undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the UN human rights system. By turning a blind eye as human rights violators easily join and subvert the council, leading democracies will be complicit in the world body’s moral decline.”

“It will be an insult to their political prisoners and many other victims—and a defeat for the global cause of human rights— if the UN helps gross abusers act as champions and global judges of human rights.

“When the UN’s highest human rights body becomes a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse, the world’s victims suffer,” said Neuer.

U.S. to join council 

Only five out of 18 candidate countries were deemed qualified to be council members: Argentina, Finland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and the United States.

“The U.S. has promised to work on reforming the council’s membership, methods and agenda — this will be a tall order,” said Neuer.

 

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