UN Watch slams election of Congo & Kuwait to UN rights council, hails defeat of Nicaragua


Urges new members India, Indonesia, Philippines
to improve stance on resolutions for victims

NEW YORK, May 20 —
 UN Watch slammed the UN’s election today of Congo and Kuwait to the Human Rights Council, but hailed the defeat of Nicaragua, after a campaign with other rights groups that spotlighted the poor records of all three countries.  Click here for full report PDF Executive summary below.

“Congo, Kuwait and Nicaragua have poor records in respecting the basic human rights of their own citizens, and have consistently voted the wrong way on UN initiatives to promote and protect the human rights of others,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

“With today’s election, only 20 out of 47 of the new members rank as free democracies, while the rest — a majority of 58% — fail to meet basic democracy standards, rated as either not free or only partly free by Freedom House’s annual survey,” said Neuer.

“With members like Bahrain, China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, joined today by Congo and Kuwait, the Human Rights Council is still a case of the foxes guarding the chickens,” said Neuer.

“Still, Nicaragua’s defeat is important. It’s currently one of the most shameless defenders of Libya’s Col. Moammar Qaddafi and Syrian President Bashar Assad. So two dictators who are killing their own people today lost a key ally. We’re also delighted that Syria was pressured into pulling its bid last week,” said Neuer, who led a campaign by UN Watch and 25 human rights groups (unwatch.org/stopsyria).

Kuwait’s practice of torture and arbitrary arrest was condemned recently in a report submitted to the UN by the Kuwait Society for Human Rights. According to the US State Department, Kuwaiti security forces abuse prisoners. Authorities limit freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion, and limit freedom of movement for foreign workers and stateless Arab residents (called “Bidoon”). Women do not enjoy equal rights. Worker rights are limited, with expatriate workers subject to severe limitations of rights and discrimination.

UN Watch called on new members India, Indonesia and the Philippines and Burkina Faso to improve their voting records. All three last year refused to support UN resolutions for human rights victims in Iran, Burma, and North Korea.

Results of Today’s UNGA Elections to the UNHRC

191 ballots
188 present & voting

Burkina Faso 182
Botsawa 177
Congo 176
Benin 174
South Africa 1
Egypt 1

Indonesia 184
Philippine 183
India 181
Kuwait 166
Syria 5

Czech 148
Romania 131
Georgia 89

Chile 159
Costa Rica 138
Peru 136
Nicaragua 98

Italy 180
Austria 177
Australia 2



Click here for full report PDF

As submitted to UNGA member states on May 17, 2011 and presented in a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters, New York, May 19, 2011.

Executive Summary

This report assesses each candidate country’s record of domestic human rights protection and its UN voting record, based on the criteria for UN Human Rights Council membership established by UNGA Resolution 60/251 (2006). We find that only 10 out of 17 candidate countries are qualified. Three candidates have poor records and are not qualified to be Council members. Four countries fall somewhere in between, with qualifications that are questionable.

Not Qualified: Congo, Kuwait, Nicaragua

Questionable: Burkina Faso, India, Indonesia, Philippines

Qualified: Austria, Benin, Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy, Peru, Romania

The absence of competition in three out of the five regional lists calls into question the very premise and rationale of the election. Nevertheless, UNGA member states can—and should—refrain from casting their votes for countries that are not qualified. Candidate countries with questionable credentials should, at a minimum, be asked to commit to redress the shortcomings—in their human rights record and their UN voting records—as identified in this report.

Click here for full report PDF


UN Watch