News / Africa

Records of Some New UN Rights Council Members Criticized

Overview of the U.N. Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva. (File)Overview of the U.N. Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva. (File)
x
Overview of the U.N. Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva. (File)
Overview of the U.N. Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva. (File)
Margaret Besheer
— Human rights groups have criticized the election by the United Nations General Assembly of several countries with spotty rights' records to the U.N. 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.  U.S. 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 favor of those who are suffering and living under the grip of the world’s cruelest 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 U.N. 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 to protect religious minorities or repeal 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.

Pakistan’s Ambassador Masood Khan said rights groups are welcome to criticize his country’s bid, saying that is their right.  He added that Pakistan attaches importance to all human rights.

“All human rights - whether they are civil or political or economic, cultural or social. There is no hierarchy, all these rights are part of an integral whole; they can’t be fragmented," said Khan.

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

“The Ethiopian government should take this opportunity to take meaningful steps, for example, to respect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly or to start holding its security forces to account, as well as maybe start really cooperating with the Human Rights Council it is now set to join," he said.

The new members will serve three year terms beginning in January.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sam Amsterdam
November 13, 2012 2:36 PM
Critics have again tried to spread falsehoods about the Republic of Kazakhstan even as it is honored by its fellow governments at the United Nations. Yesterday, Kazakhstan was overwhelmingly elected by the General Assembly as a new member of the UN’s Human Rights Council. We are extremely honored by the appointment and see it as international acknowledgement that we have been improving our human rights record and as an incentive for us to continue to make even more progress. Kazakhstan is an aspiring democracy that lives under the rule of law and takes media freedoms seriously. Erroneous comments only make it more difficult for Kazakhstan to continue to make progress on all of these fronts and should be rejected and ignored by right-thinking people around the world. - Altay Abibullayev, Spokesperson of the MFA and Chairman of the International Information Committee (MFA), Republic of Kazakhstan.


by: Mimi from: US
November 13, 2012 3:52 AM
As always, "non-profit" HRW targets developing countries, while ignoring U.S. record of 2.5 Million people in prison (70% poor minorities), 1 Million more than China.


by: sj from: usa
November 12, 2012 10:15 PM
what about greece they have the worst human right abuse record that anyone else in europe to this day they reefuse to give macedonians albanians and turks living within its borders even the most basic human rights

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid