The UN Human Rights Council is seriously flawed

With a Hat Tip to UN Watch, I’d like to introduce you to some of the 2017 members of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The background context here is that nations are selected to sit on this council for a period of three years, and a total of 47 nations have a seat.

Who are some of the notable members on UNHRC?

Meet the 2017 membership of the U.N. Human Rights Council, elected by the United Nations with the mandate to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights“:

  • Saudi Arabia
    Expertise in human rights:
    • Death sentences for apostasy and adultery;
    • corporal punishment including flogging and amputation;
    • judiciary controlled by regime;
    • beheading more peoeple than ever before;
    • arbitrary arrests of dissenters and minorities;
    • no freedom of speech;
    • jails blogger Raif Badawi.
  • Venezuela
    Expertise in human rights:
    • Widespread arbitrary detention;
    • imprisonment of opposition leaders;
    • intimidation of journalists;
    • torture;
    • policies causing mass hunger and health catastrophe.
  • China
    Expertise in human rights:
    • Denial of freedom of speech, religion, and association;
    • extrajudicial killings;
    • repression of civil society;
    • discrimination against Tibetans and other minorities.
  • Cuba
    Expertise in human rights:
    • Systematic violation of freedom of speech, assembly, press;
    • elections are neither free nor fair;
    • threats and violence against dissidents.
  • Iraq
    Expertise in human rights:
    • Pro-government militias commit widespread human rights abuses, including assassinations, enforced disappearances, property destruction.
  • Qatar
    Expertise in human rights:
    • Inhuman conditions for 1.4 million migrant workers;
    • women denied basic rights to equality, denied right to be elected to legislative council;
    • finances ISIS and Hamas.
  • Burundi
    Expertise in human rights:
    • Police killings of peaceful protesters;
    • government forces commit summary executions, targeted assassinations, enforced disappearances;
    • arbitrary detention,
    • torture,
    • sexual violence;
    • genocide warning.
  • Bangladesh
    Expertise in human rights:
    • Extrajudicial killings,
    • forced disappearances,
    • killing of secular bloggers by Islamist groups,
    • restrictions on online speech and the press,
    • early and forced marriage,
    • gender-based violence,
    • abysmal working conditions and labor rights.
  • United Arab Emirates
    Expertise in human rights:
    • No political parties,
    • no option to change government;
    • restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association;
    • arrests without charge,
    • incommunicado detentions,
    • lengthy pretrial detentions;
    • police and prison guard brutality;
    • violence against women;
    • anti-gay discrimination;
    • mistreatment and sexual abuse of foreign domestic servants and other migrant workers.

Further Observations

So what is the history here?

The UN General Assembly established the UNHRC by adopting a resolution (A/RES/60/251) on 15 March 2006, in order to replace the previous CHR.

Why was CHR replaced?

It had been heavily criticised for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members.

And UNHRC is different than CHR in what way exactly?

It’s not, and that perhaps is the key point here.

Rather obviously continuing to appoint the poacher to be the gamekeeper is not going to result in any truly meaningful and effective Human Rights Council and so what we now observe quite naturally leads to a thought that can perhaps be compressed into the term that flows as follows …

“You have got to be F**king kidding me”.


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