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Monday, October 5, 2015

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Human rights abusers nominated to UN body

Tags: International
Hillel Neuer

GENEVA — UN Watch is calling on senior United Nations officials and democratic leaders to oppose the election of human rights abusers to the UN Human Rights Council.

“The United States, the European Union, UN chief Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay must end their silence over outrageous candidacies from China, Russia, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, these and other serial abusers will surely win,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Swiss-based NGO.

“The world’s leading voices for democracy are turning a blind eye as mass murderers and misogynists are infiltrating the world’s highest human rights body. Words matter. What is said and done in the name of human rights at the UN affects hearts and minds the world over. It’s time for Washington, Paris, London and Berlin to speak out,” he said.

The UN announced recently that elections for 14 seats on its Human Rights Council would be held on Nov. 12.

The seats are allocated based on region, with candidates including Algeria, Morocco, Namibia for the African group, China, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Viet Nam for the Asia-Pacific region and Russia from eastern Europe,

Neuer, a native of Montreal, pointed out that Iran pulled out of the race after UN Watch revealed its candidacy on July 9.

UN Watch published a chart indicating that Syria and Cuba are vying for seats on the council, though the United Nations does not list the two countries as candidates. UN Watch based its findings on media reports, including an acn Cuban News Agency release.

Syria’s bid is expected to fail. “Yet given that the UN recently elected Syria to the human rights committee of its world agency on education, science and culture, and to a decolonization committee charged with upholding fundamental human rights, we can’t afford to take anything for granted. We need to actively oppose every one of these cynical bids,” Neuer said.

The council already includes Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Mauritania, Venezuela, and other countries with dismal human rights records.

“Politics, not principles, are too often what rule in UN elections,” said Neuer.

“Candidates like Algeria, China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia have one thing in common: they systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens and they consistently vote the wrong way on UN initiatives to protect the human rights of others,” he added.

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