NGO condemns UN election of dictators to Human Rights Council

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A Geneva-based nongovernmental human rights group condemned the UN’s election of dictatorships to the world’s highest human rights body, saying it was now dominated by a majority of 53 percent which are non-democracies.

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“The re-election of China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia — regimes which systematically violate the human rights of their citizens — casts a shadow upon the reputation of the United Nations,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.”

“The UN’s election of Saudi Arabia as a world judge on human rights is like a town picking a pyromaniac to be the fire chief,” said Neuer.

However, a positive outcome of today’s vote was Russia’s failure to get elected. Russia only got 112 votes, coming third behind Hungary with 144 votes and Croatia with 114 votes. The East European Group had three candidates for two positions.

The result on Russia comes at the heels of a persistent UN Watch campaign to oppose the election of dictators to the UN’s top human rights body. An op-ed by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer opposing Russia’s candidacy was published in today’s New York Daily News, ahead of the UN vote.

“The non-election of Russia shows that the nations of the world can reject gross abusers if they so choose. This makes the election of Saudi Arabia, China and Cuba even more preposterous,” said Neuer.

UN Watch led the campaign this year with a coalition of NGOs to oppose the re-election of Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and Cuba, as well as the new election bids of Egypt, Iraq and Rwanda, by lobbying governments, and through online petitions, high profile parliamentary events, UN press conferences, university lectures, YouTube videos, and op-eds in the Washington Post and other major newspapers.

UN Watch expressed disappointment at the “deafening silence” from U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and her UK, French, German and other EU allies, who “deferred to dictators by refusing to speak out and campaign against them.”

A 21-page joint NGO report published by UN Watch, Human Rights Foundation and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, and circulated to UN diplomats, deemed China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq and Rwanda, as “Not Qualified” under the U.N.’s own membership criteria. The qualifications of Guatemala, South Africa and Tunisia were deemed “questionable” based on problematic human right records or in their UN voting records.

“Regrettably,” said Neuer, “neither the U.S. nor the EU 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 join and subvert the council, leading democracies are complicit in the world body’s moral decline.”

“When the UN helps gross abusers act as champions and global judges of human rights, it’s an insult to their political prisoners and their many other victims – and a defeat for the global cause of human rights. When the U.N.’s highest human rights body becomes a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse, the world’s victims suffer,” said Neuer.

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