GENEVA, December 16, 2020 – Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights organization based in Geneva, issued the following three comments after the United Nations General Assembly concluded its 2020 agenda on “promotion and protection of human rights” by adopting resolutions on only five specific situations—Iran, North Korea, Crimea, Syria and Myanmar—while ignoring human rights abuses in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, and 175 other countries.
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Three Comments by UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer:
1. Iran Resolution Includes 9 Sections of Praise
Today’s UNGA resolution on Iran, co-sponsored by Canada, UK, France, Germany and all other EU countries, opens with nine separate sections of undue and false praise for the oppressive regime, even as the rest of the text calls out Tehran’s abuses.
The sections of praise include:
• The resolution’s Paragraph 5 showers praise on Iran’s “continuing efforts…to host a large number of Afghans,” even as Iranian border guards tortured and drowned dozens of Afghan migrants in May.
• Paragraph 6 “welcomes the commitments made by the Iranian authorities with regard to improving the situation of women,” even though the regime systematically represses women with the compulsory hijab law, and just sent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotudeh back to prison to complete a 38-year sentence for defending women who removed their headscarves.
• Paragraph 8 “welcomes the engagement” of Iran with different UN human rights bodies, even as the regime has denied entry for a decade to the UNHRC’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran.
• Paragraph 3 commends Iran’s “reduction in number of executions” even though in September it executed wrestler Navid Afkari for protesting the regime and, just last week, hung dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam in what France called a “barbaric” act.
This excessive and undue praise supported by the EU co-sponsors is especially inappropriate just days after EU leaders postponed an online Europe-Iran Business Forum in protest of the killing of Ruhollah Zam.
2. UNGA ends 2020 session with no action on China
With today’s votes, the General Assembly concluded its 2020 legislative session on specific country situations without adopting a single resolution on China’s gross and systematic violation of human rights.
In October, this same body absurdly elected China’s Communist regime to the Human Rights Council, which it will formally join as a voting member beginning January 1st.
The UNGA is failing to uphold the world body’s own human rights declaration when it turns a blind eye to China herding more than 1 million Uighurs into camps, giving a free pass to a regime that arrested, crushed and disappeared those like Dr. Li Wenliang, who tried to sound the alarm about the coronavirus, and which is suffocating freedom in Hong Kong.
Even after the UN committee against racial discrimination found credible reports of China’s restricting Uighur cultural and religious practices, and of disproportionately targeting them with mass surveillance, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances, the General Assembly in 2020 chose to remain silent on Beijing, and instead installed the regime on the UN’s highest human rights body, starting on January 1st. It’s morally obscene.
3. UNGA turns blind eye to gross abuses worldwide
Wrapping up its 2020 agenda item on “promotion and protection of human rights,” the UN General Assembly today addressed only five country situations, while ignoring human rights abuses in more than 175 other countries around the globe.
While nearly all EU countries backed 13 out of 17 UNGA resolutions singling out Israel this year, they failed to introduce even one resolution for women’s right activists jailed and tortured in Saudi Arabia, dissident artists arrested in Cuba, journalists thrown behind bars in Turkey, religious minorities attacked in Pakistan, and opposition members persecuted in Venezuela, where more than five million people have fled government repression, hunger and economic collapse.