The following written submissions by United Nations Watch have been published by the UN as official documents of the 45th session of the Human Rights Council:
A/HRC/45/NGO/149: Hamas must release peace activist Rami Aman
United Nations Watch is concerned about the case of Mr. Rami Aman who has been arbitrarily detained by Hamas since 9 April 2020 for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association…
Rami Aman is a 38-year-old Palestinian journalist and peace activist in Gaza. He founded a Gaza youth activist group called the “Gaza Youth Committee,” which recently joined the Alliance for Middle East Peace (“ALLMEP”), an international coalition of groups that promote Israeli-Palestinian cooperation.
On 6 April 2020, Mr. Aman and his group conducted a Zoom video call with more than 200 Israeli and Gaza peace activists. The nearly two-hour meeting was part of a series of meetings titled “Skype With Your Enemy,” that had been taking place for the past five years. An invitation to the Zoom conference was posted on Facebook for an opportunity to “open a channel of communication between Gazans and Israelis.” During the call, Mr. Aman encouraged participants to believe in peace and continue advocating for change.
On 9 April 2020—one day after then-Amnesty researcher Hind Khoudari took to Facebook to protest Mr. Aman’s Zoom call tagging three Hamas officials, Hamas authorities arrested Mr. Aman and seven others accusing them of treason. The arrest was announced on Facebook by Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad El-Bozom, who accused the activists of “holding a normalization activity with the Israeli occupation.”
A/HRC/45/NGO/114: The Palestinian Authority and Hamas must be held accountable for international law violations
Both the PA and Hamas systematically repress dissent, including through arbitrary arrest and torture. In October 2018, Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) published a report exposing 86 recent cases of arbitrary arrests and torture of peaceful dissenters by both the PA and Hamas based on personal interviews with the victims and their families.
Torture included beatings, solitary confinement, feet whipping, threats and taunts, and forcing detainees into various painful positions for extended periods. HRW commented that “the habitual, deliberate, widely known use of torture, using similar tactics over years with no action taken by senior officials in either authority to stop these abuses, make these practices systematic.” Similarly, in its report on human rights in Palestine for 2019, Amnesty International found that “Palestinian security forces in the West Bank and Gaza routinely used torture and other ill-treatment with impunity” and noted that in 2019 there were 143 allegations of torture in the West Bank and 156 in Gaza.
A/HRC/45/NGO/117: New UNHRC member Libya is in non-compliance with resolution 60/251
More than half of the current members of the Council (24 out of 47 members) fail to meet the basic standards for democracy according to Freedom House. These include some of the world’s worst human rights abusers: Eritrea, Mauritania, Qatar and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. These countries use their membership in the Council as a false badge of legitimacy in the international arena.
One example is Libya, which took its new seat on the Council in March. Libya commits serious human rights abuses, including armed conflict, arbitrary arrests, human trafficking, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, torture and killings by armed groups. Clearly, Libya does not satisfy the Council’s membership criteria…
A/HRC/45/NGO/118: New UNHRC member Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is in non-compliance with resolution 60/251
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (“Venezuela”) took its new seat on the Human Rights Council in January, elected less than one month after being “strongly condemned” by the Council, in resolution 42/25, for the government’s severe human rights abuses including “targeted repression and persecution on political grounds,” “excessive use of force during security operations,” as well as for “arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances.”
Though one often hears the argument that it is normal for the United Nations to include all manner of countries on its Human Rights Council, even those who commit gross and systematic human rights abuses, the truth is that the presence of abusers on the Council undermines the Council’s legitimacy and contradicts its own charter…
A/HRC/45/NGO/119: Candidacy of the Russian Federation for election to the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2021-2023
The Russian Federation (“Russia”) is running for election to the UN Human Rights Council for the 2021-2023 term. Its candidacy should be rejected because Russia does not meet the membership criteria set out in UNGA Resolution 60/251…
As detailed below, Russia is not qualified for membership in the Human Rights Council according to the above criteria…Russia commits aggression and human rights violations throughout the world, including in Syria—where it is accused of war crimes, Crimea which it has illegally annexed and Georgia—where it committed ethnic cleansing in 2008 and illegally occupies Abkhazia and South Ossetia…
A/HRC/45/NGO/121: Candidature of Saudi Arabia for UN Human Rights Council Membership for 2021-2023
Saudi Arabia is running for election to the UN Human Rights Council for the 2021-2023 term. Its candidacy should be rejected because Saudi Arabia does not meet the membership criteria set out in UNGA Resolution 60/251…
As detailed below, Saudi Arabia is not qualified for membership in the Human Rights Council according to the above criteria…Saudi Arabia is governed by an absolute monarchy and theocracy. Citizens have no ability to influence government through democratic practices. The judiciary is highly influenced by the government and is dictated by Sharia law.
The government and courts systematically deny freedoms of expression and the media, prosecuting and imprisoning dissenters and peaceful critics of government policies or the Islamic religion…
A/HRC/45/NGO/123: Candidacy of China for UN Human Rights Council for 2021-2023
China is running for election to the UN Human Rights Council for the 2021-2023 term. Its candidacy should be rejected because China does not meet the membership criteria set out in UNGA Resolution 60/251…
As detailed below, China is not qualified for membership in the Human Rights Council according to the above criteria…China is an authoritarian one-party political system led by President Xi Jinping who is also the Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party. No Chinese national leader is freely elected. In March 2018, President Xi amended the constitution to eliminate presidential term limits, enabling him to rule the country indefinitely.
Under President Xi, China brutally silences criticism and dissent through a variety of tactics, including torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention…
A/HRC/45/NGO/124: Candidacy of Cuba for UN Human Rights Council membership for 2021-2023
Cuba is running for election to the UN Human Rights Council for the 2021-2023 term. Its candidacy should be rejected because Cuba does not meet the membership criteria set out in UNGA Resolution 60/251…
As detailed below, Cuba is not qualified for membership in the Human Rights Council according to the above criteria…Cuba is an authoritarian state, which until recently was led by Raúl Castro (Raúl), who held the three most powerful governmental positions: president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers, Communist Party first secretary, and commander in chief of the security forces…
Today, under President Miguel Diaz-Canal, Cuba continues to be a one-party communist state with the Communist Party being the only legal party recognized by the constitution. The Communist Party controls all government offices and most civil institutions. Thus, there is no independent judiciary. According to Freedom House, “the overlap between state and party is almost total.”
A/HRC/45/NGO/125: Candidacy of Pakistan for UN Human Rights Council membership for 2021-2023
Pakistan is running for election to the UN Human Rights Council for the 2021-2023 term. Its candidacy should be rejected because Pakistan does not meet the membership criteria set out in UNGA Resolution 60/251…
As detailed below, Pakistan is not qualified for membership in the Human Rights Council according to the above criteria…
Large areas of Pakistan continue to suffer from terrorist violence targeting civilians and the military, mostly perpetrated by the Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistani military and security forces are accused of heavy-handed tactics in responding to the militants, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions and forced disappearances.
In addition, torture by police and security forces is common. In its 2017 concluding observations for Pakistan, the Committee Against Torture expressed concern about widespread police torture to obtain confessions, as well as torture in counterterrorism efforts…
A/HRC/45/NGO/127: Time to reassess the Universal Periodic Review
Unlike the Human Rights Council’s country-specific human rights resolutions, the proposal and adoption of which are driven by the political agendas and alliances of the Council’s 47-member states, the UPR is meant to be universal. This means that each state is automatically reviewed at pre-set five-year intervals. Although UPR was intended to ensure that powerful states which are able to avoid censure in the Council’s resolutions would not completely escape human rights scrutiny, these powerful states have managed to corrupt the process to ensure any criticism is minimal compared to the praise. Thus, instead of accomplishing its intended goal of improving human rights across the board, the UPR has turned into a mutual praise society for the world’s worst abusers. Reform of this process is urgently needed.