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UN Faces Controversial Human Rights Council Elections

  • VOA News

FILE - The General Assembly hall during the 67th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 27, 2012.

FILE - The General Assembly hall during the 67th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 27, 2012.

The United Nations General Assembly is set to vote Tuesday on new members of the Human Rights Council, while rights groups are speaking out against some controversial candidates.

New York-based Human Rights Watch is one of the groups speaking out against such candidates as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Algeria, saying their poor rights records at home would prevent them from becoming useful members of the council.

The Geneva-based U.N. Watch, which operates as a watchdog on U.N. activities overall, says allowing such nations to participate on the Human Rights Council amounts to "making a pyromaniac into chief of the fire department." It includes Cuba among the candidates to which it objects.

One of the most common complaints against these candidates is that they clamp down on political dissent. Other complaints stem from laws on organized labor, objectionable practices by security forces, and maintenance of a monopoly on power by a single political group.

Members of the Human Rights Council are elected by region. Candidates in some cases are running unopposed.

The United States is currently on the Human Rights Council. Its seat expires in 2015.
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