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“Only a third of countries qualified for UN Human Rights Council”, claim advocate groups

Tuesday, November 13th 2012 - 22:38 UTC
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Human Rights Watch's UN Director Bolopion criticized lack of competition in regional groupings Human Rights Watch's UN Director Bolopion criticized lack of competition in regional groupings

Human rights groups have criticized the election by the United Nations General Assembly of several countries with questionable rights' records to the UN Human Rights Council. Of the 18 countries elected Monday to the Geneva-based body, human rights advocates say only about a third are qualified.

The 47-member Human Rights Council is often the target of criticism for its focus on Israel and its election of some members who are accused of having spotty human rights records.

Seats on the council are allocated according to regional groupings. This year, the only group putting forward a competitive slate was the Western and Others Group, which saw Ireland, Germany and the United States beat Greece and Sweden for three open seats.

The United States won a second consecutive term to the rights council, after in the past choosing not to be a part. US Ambassador Susan Rice said Washington is better positioned and more likely to strengthen the body by continuing to be a part of it.

“We made the decision in 2009 to seek a seat on the Human Rights Council because the United States believes that we must be at the forefront of speaking out against human rights abuses and speaking up in favour of those who are suffering and living under the grip of the world's cruellest regimes,” said Rice.

The winners of the council's other vacant seats were predetermined within their regional groups, which put forward only enough candidates to fill their empty seats.

Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya and Sierra Leone will fill the five vacant African seats. Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates will fill the five open Asia-Pacific seats. Estonia and Montenegro will hold the two Eastern European seats while Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela take the three seats of the group of Latin American and Caribbean states.

Rights groups have expressed doubts about whether at least seven of these countries - Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela - have adequate human rights records of their own.

Human Rights Watch's UN Director Philippe Bolopion criticized the lack of competition and the questionable records of some of the council's new members.

“It is certainly the case of Pakistan, which, for example, needs to do much more to end abuses, including protecting religious minorities or repealing the blasphemy law. It's also certainly the case of Venezuela which falls short of member standards and needs to, for example, restore judicial independence or release Judge [Maria Lourdes] Afiuni. And it is also the case of the UAE, which needs to end rights abuses in the country including the arbitrary detention of 63 prisoners,” said Bolopion.

The five African countries selected to sit on the Human Rights Council have all come under some form of criticism as well. HRW Bolopion singled out Ethiopia's poor rights record.

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • GeoffWard2

    Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela ... claim the right to exercise judgement over the human rights of individuals, organisations and governments of other nations.
    Arguably, hundreds of others are no better but do not claim to be so.

    Though there are no nations where human rights are (or, probably, can be) 100%, why is it that the only ones approaching this are the greater Western democracies?

    Can it be that 'human nature' militates against 'acceptable' behaviour, and that, as population and resource pressures get worse over time, NO nation will be sufficiently ethical to judge others on behalf of the world community?

    Can it be that nations - when the going gets REALLY tough - forgo human rights in order to ensure survival of the state and some semblance of stability?

    So, the real question is ... are 'human rights' the most fundamental bottom line for societies around the world?

    If the answer is 'No', then perhaps we should allow the pariah states - the likes of Venezuela - to sit in judgement of others.

    Nov 14th, 2012 - 01:14 pm 0
  • Conqueror

    @1 There are no such things as “human rights”. Take a look at some of the so-called “human rights”. Let's take a look at the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
    Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
    Let's test your “human rights”. Select a 20-storey building. Go up to the roof. Jump off. Three opportunities. Tell the air about your right to life, or your arms as you flap frantically or, perhaps, shout to that hard pavement. Not one will agree that you have a right to life. In fact, they'll probably ignore you.
    Let's try another one.
    Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
    Personally, I would consider it “cruel” to keep me locked in a cell or prison. It would be inhuman AND degrading if I couldn't go to the pub when I wanted.
    On to the next.
    Article 13: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
    So one-way streets are illegal. I can't be told not to drive on a cycle path.
    Article 17: (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
    Notice that it doesn't say that you have to be able to afford to buy it. I want a house. Where is it? (Actually, I already have one!)
    And so it goes on. These are not “human” rights. They are civil or civic rights. Rights that your society grants you if you act in a reasonable way in that society.

    And what is argieland doing on the Human Rights Council? In the most blatant and internationally recognisable way, it is denying rights to the Falkland Islanders. It doesn't even recognise that they exist.

    So let's start by booting argieland off!

    Nov 14th, 2012 - 02:20 pm 0
  • Nostrolldamus

    That Human rights forum would be taken seriously if they kicked out the USA out of there. UK, they don't matter anyway, no one thinks of them as a “human rights” country really.

    Nov 14th, 2012 - 10:40 pm 0
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