UN Human Rights Council 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel on Thursday attacked Iran and Syria’s planned bid for a spot on the
United Nations Human Rights Council.
“Its like placing a mob boss in
charge of the witness protection program,” Israel’s ambassador to the United
Nations in New York Ron Prosor said on Thursday.
He added that for the
UN, this was “a new Guinness Record.”
UN diplomats told Reuters on
Wednesday that Syria and Iran plan to run for open seats on the council’s
47-member body, despite criticism from watchdog groups about widespread rights
abuses in both countries.
The General Assembly’s annual elections for the
Geneva- based Human Rights Council will be held later this year in New York.
There will be 14 seats available for three-year terms beginning in January
From the so-called Asia group, which includes the Middle East and
Asia, seven countries – China, Iran, Jordan, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Syria and
Vietnam – are vying for four seats, UN diplomats said on condition of
One diplomat predicted that Syria and Iran would fail in their
bids to join the UN rights watchdog when the 193- nation General Assembly votes
in the fall, while another said the upcoming election would be a
Hillel Neuer, the head of UN Watch, a Geneva-based advocacy
group that monitors the work of the United Nations, said “countries that murder
and torture their own people must not be allowed to become the world’s judges on
“Because both regimes were recently elected to other UN
human rights panels – Iran on the women’s rights commission, and Syria on
UNESCO’s [UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] human rights
committee – we cannot take anything for granted,” he added.
certainly less popular now, but Iran currently heads the largest UN voting bloc,
the non-aligned movement,” Neuer said. “We need to fight these
Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch said: “Syria’s
candidacy, if maintained, would be a cruel joke, but would almost certainly be
met with a resounding defeat.”
“Iran too falls far short of the most
basic standards expected of Human Rights Council members and sticks out even in
an overall disappointing pool of candidates in the Asia group, with deeply
problematic contenders such as Vietnam, China or Saudi Arabia,” Bolopion
Syria attempted to run for a seat on the rights council in 2011,
but withdrew due to pressure from Western and Arab states. Syrian President
Bashar Assad’s government and rebels are locked in an increasingly sectarian
civil war that has killed as many as 100,000 people, according to UN
Iran withdrew its bid for a seat on the rights council amid
growing criticism of what one rights advocacy group said was Tehran’s “appalling
human rights record.”
Syrian and Iranian diplomats in New York did not
respond to a request for comment.
Neuer said that other candidates with
questionable human rights records include Algeria, Chad, Cuba, China and
Rights advocates have successfully mounted campaigns against
other candidates for the Human Rights Council in the past, including Belarus,
Sri Lanka and Azerbaijan.
Last year the United States was reelected to
the rights council. Washington has often criticized the council for what it sees
as unfair singling out of Israel while ignoring severe rights abuses by other