UN WATCH ENDORSEMENTS FOR ELECTIONS TO THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

UN WATCH ENDORSEMENTS FOR ELECTIONS
TO THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

The list of endorsements below is followed by an explanation of the methodology used and a discussion of key facts regarding the May 9th UN General Assembly election of members to the Human Rights Council.

Candidates from the African Group (for 13 seats)

 Country 

 Pledge  

Freedom House
Rating

RSF
Ranking

Voting
Record

 UN Watch
Endorsement

 Algeria

 Yes

Not Free

129

Negative

No

 Angola

Not Free

76

Negative

No

 Cameroon

 Yes

Not Free

83

Negative

No

 Djibouti

 Yes

Partly Free

121

Negative

No

 Gabon

 Yes

Partly Free

102

Mixed

No

 Ghana

 Yes

Free

66

Negative

Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

 Kenya

 Yes

Partly Free

109

Negative

No

 Mali

 Yes

Free

37

Negative

Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

 Mauritius

 Yes

Free

34

Negative

Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

 Morocco

 Yes

Partly Free

119

Negative

No

 Nigeria

 Yes

Partly Free

123

Negative

No

Senegal

 Yes

Free

78

Negative

Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

 South Africa

Free

31

Negative

Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

 Tanzania

Partly Free

74

Negative

Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

 Tunisia

 Yes

Not Free

147

Negative

 No

 Zambia

 Yes

Partly Free

90

Negative

Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

 

Candidates from the Asian Group (for 13 seats)

 Country

 Pledge  

Freedom House
Rating

RSF
Ranking

Voting
Record

 UN Watch
Endorsement

Bahrain

 Yes

Partly Free

123

Negative

No

Bangladesh

 Yes

Partly Free

151

Negative

No

China

 Yes

Not Free
*Worst of the Worst*

159

Negative

No
*Threat to Council*

India

 Yes

Free

106

Negative

Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

Indonesia

 Yes

Free

102

Negative

 No

Iran

 Yes

Not Free

164

Negative

 No
*Threat to Council*

Iraq

Not Free

157

Negative

No

Japan

 Yes

Free

37

Positive

 Yes

Jordan

 Yes

Partly Free

96

Negative

 Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

Kyrgyzstan

 Yes

Partly Free

111

Negative

 No

Lebanon

 Yes

Partly Free

108

Negative

 No

Malaysia

Partly Free

113

Negative

 No

Pakistan

 Yes

Not Free

150

Negative

 No

Philippines

 Yes

Partly Free

139

Negative

 No

Saudi Arabia

 Yes

Not Free
*Worst of the Worst*

154

Negative

 No
*Threat to Council*

South Korea

 Yes

Free

34

Mixed

Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

Sri Lanka

 Yes

Partly Free

115

Mixed

No

Thailand

 Yes

Partly Free

107

Negative

No

Candidates from the Eastern European Group (for 6 seats)

 Country

Pledge

Freedom House
Rating

RSF
Ranking

Voting
Record

 UN Watch
Endorsement

 Albania

 Yes

Partly Free

62

Positive

Yes

 Armenia

 Yes

Partly Free

102

Mixed

No

 Azerbaijan

 Yes

Not Free

141

Negative

No

 Czech Republic

 Yes

Free

9

Positive

Yes

 Georgia

 Yes

Partly Free

99

Positive

Yes

 Hungary

 Yes

Free

12

Positive

Yes

 Latvia

 Yes

 Free

16

Positive

Yes

 Lithuania

 Yes

 Free

22

Positive

Yes

 Poland

 Yes

Free

53

Positive

Yes

 Romania

 Yes

 Free

70

Positive

Yes

 Russian Federation

 Yes

Not Free
*Worst of the Worst*

138

Negative

No
*Threat to Council*

 Slovenia

 Yes

 Free

9

Positive

Yes

 Ukraine

 Yes

 Free

112

Positive

Yes

 

Candidates fom GRULAC (for 8 seats)

 Country

 Pledge 

Freedom House
Rating

RSF
Ranking

Voting
Record

   UN Watch
Endorsement

Argentina

 Yes

Free

59

Positive

 Yes

Brazil

 Yes

Free

63

Mixed

Yes–if commits to
positive voting approach

Costa Rica

Free

41

Positive

 Yes

Cuba

 Yes

Not Free
*Worst of the Worst*

161

Negative

 No
*Threat to Council*

Ecuador

 Yes

Partly Free

87

Positive

Yes

Guatemala

 Yes

Partly Free

86

Positive

Yes

Honduras

Partly Free

76

Positive

Yes

Mexico

 Yes

Free

135

Positive

Yes

Nicaragua

 Yes

Partly Free

68

Positive

Yes

Peru

 Yes

Free

116

Positive

Yes

Uruguay

 Yes

Free

46

Positive

Yes

Venezuela

 Yes

Partly Free

90

Negative

No

 

Candidates from WEOG (for 7 seats)

 Country

 Pledge

 Freedom House
Ranking

RSF
Ranking

Voting
Record

 UN Watch
Endorsement

 Canada

 Yes

 Free

21

 Positive

Yes

 Finland

 Yes

 Free

1

 Positive

Yes

 France

 Yes

 Free

30

Positive

Yes

 Germany

 Yes

 Free

18

Positive

Yes

 Greece

 Yes

 Free

18

Positive

Yes

 Netherlands

 Yes

 Free

1

Positive

Yes

 Portugal

 Yes

 Free

23

Positive

Yes

 Switzerland

 Yes

 Free

1

Positive

Yes

 United Kingdom

 Yes

 Free

24

Positive

Yes

 

Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council was created by  Resolution 60/251 of the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006, and will begin its work on June 19, 2006.  The Council replaces the UN Commission on Human Rights.   To read more about why the Commission needed reform and the process that led to the creation of the Council,  click here

Election Requirements

The election of the first Council members takes place on May 9, 2006.  To become a member, a country must receive the votes of at least 96 of the 191 states of the UN General Assembly (an absolute majority).  In electing Council members, the resolution provides that General Assembly members “shall take into account the candidates’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.”  An additional consideration ought to be whether the given candidate country can meet the obligations of Council membership, which include (a) “to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and (b) to “fully cooperate with the Council.”

The Council will have 47 seats, divided among the UN’s five regional groups as follows: 13 from the African Group, 13 from the Asian Group, 6 from the Eastern European Group, 8 from the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), and 7 from the Western European and Others Group (WEOG). 

Candidates and Their Qualifications

As of May 1, 2006, by our count, 68 states have declared their candidacies for the Council.  Some have done so by writing to the General Assembly secretariat; these countries are listed on the  General Assembly website.  Some have done so in other ways, such as through diplomatic notes or through the press.   

The above list of candidates is compiled from these various sources.  Where a candidate has made a voluntary pledge in support of its candidacy, a link to the pledge is provided.  For each candidate, we also list the following information, which we believe to be highly relevant to assessing a country’s human rights record and commitment:

  • Its rating in Freedom House’s most recent global survey,  Freedom in the World 2006.  This annual study measures political rights and civil liberties worldwide and ranks countries as Free, Partly Free, or Not Free. Where applicable we also noted the Not Free countries designated as the world’s most repressive by Freedom House in it 2005 special report,  The Worst of the Worst.

     

  • Its ranking in the 2005 Worldwide Press Freedom Index by Reporters Sans Frontières. This annual evaluation of global press freedom lists countries from
    best (1 – a rank for which 7 countries tied in 2005) to worst (167). Freedom of the press is not only a key indicator of freedom of speech—the lifeblood of
    democracy—but also a vital check against the power of the state, and therefore a principal safeguard for individual liberty and human rights.

 

  • Its voting record on resolutions against egregious human rights violations in the 2005 session of the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee and, if the country was a member, the 2005 session of the Commission on Human Rights. (Voting scorecards, compiled by the Democracy Coalition Project, are available here.) These resolutions pertained to Belarus, Congo, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. We deemed each country’s voting record to be positive, negative, or mixed based on its willingness to criticize these countries, which are some of the world’s worst human rights violators.

 

Methodology

Based on our evaluation of these factors, UN Watch has decided to endorse, conditionally endorse, or reject each Human Rights Council candidate.

If it is to be credible and effective, and avoid the mistakes of the Commission, the Council needs a quality membership—countries with strong records of and credible commitments to respecting and promoting human rights. Resolution 60/251—not to mention the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – requires no less. In our view, the ideal candidates for Council membership are those rated Free by Freedom House, ranked in the top third (56 and above) of the Reporters Sans Frontières index, and with a positive UN human rights voting record.

In today’s regionally-grouped UN, however, the Council will not be made up only of countries that meet our ideal. We still believe in striving for the ideal, but we recognize this reality. We also recognize that Council membership could encourage a less-than-ideal country to make real human rights improvements. Therefore, we endorsed some countries that, although not our ideal, we deemed to be of acceptable quality, considering all of the circumstances. For example, we might endorse a country that was rated Partly Free, if it had a good RSF press freedom ranking, a positive human rights voting record, and/or a strong and credible voluntary pledge in support of its candidacy.

We also gave a conditional endorsement to certain candidates. This category generally includes countries that are Free but have negative or mixed human rights voting records. These countries tend to base their UN votes on regional or developing world loyalty rather than on their democratic values, and as a result too often ally with nondemocracies to protect egregious rights violators. For example, in the 2005 Third Committee, India, Mali and South Africa all voted with the mostly non-democratic African Group to block consideration of the human rights crisis in Darfur—despite having pledged, as leading members of the Community of Democracies and the UN Democracy Caucus, to work with other democracies to promote democratic values and human rights at the UN and in the international community. The new standards for Council membership require members to put the promotion and protection of human rights before UN politics. As these countries are otherwise qualified, we will endorse them if they pledge to do so when they vote in the Council.

We did not endorse any country rated Not Free by Freedom House. We consider such countries unqualified for Council membership under Resolution 60/251’s standards. In addition, we believe that certain of the Not Free countries pose a particular threat to the Council’s legitimacy. The membership of some of the world’s most egregious and systematic human rights violators poisoned the Commission, and would do the same to the Council. Of the current candidates, we view China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Saudi Arabia as falling into this category.

Share

Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Recent

Top Tweets Feb. 21

UN Watch’s Top Tweets in February 2021

Trending UN Watch tweets from February: China denies abuses against Uighurs, as one year marked since the death of Wuhan’s Dr. Li Wenliang, the COVID-19 whistleblower; Amnesty

In the News

UN Watch In the News — February 2021

UN Watch was quoted in multiple media outlets during February 2021 on topics including: Human Rights Watch head blames U.S. for anti-Israel bias at the