(photo credit: Reuters)
Despite its poor record on human rights, Syria is on course to winning
membership on the UN Human Rights Council, UN Watch reported on
UN Watch, an NGO that monitors the international body’s
activity, cited a draft resolution presented in Geneva in which the US opposed
Syria’s candidacy for a Human Rights Council seat in 2014. The resolution, which
is also supported by the European Union, said Damascus “fails to meet the
standards” for Human Rights Council membership.
President Bashar Assad’s
regime is, however, likely to get a spot on the 47-nation council “due to the
prevalent system of fixed slates, whereby regional groups orchestrate
uncontested elections, naming only as many candidates as allotted seats,”
according to UN Watch.
Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch,
reported that as part of the UN’s 53-nation Asian group, Syria’s candidacy would
be nearly assured of victory due to the system of fixed slates, whereby regional
groups orchestrate uncontested elections.
“That’s how non-democracies
like China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia won their current seats, and how
Pakistan and Venezuela are about to do the same,” Neuer wrote.
Syria will indeed win – in a 2013 election for a position starting the following
year – appear to have mobilized the US and the EU into taking the unprecedented
action of asking the council to declare in advance that a candidate country, in
this case Syria, be declared inherently disqualified to join its
In a strongly worded resolution condemning the Syrian government
for committing atrocities, slated for a vote on Friday, paragraph 14 “stresses
that the current Syrian government’s announced candidacy for the Human Rights
Council in 2014 fails to meet the standards for council membership” as set forth
in its founding charter.
“Shockingly, the perfectly reasonable attempt to
keep Syria away from the world’s highest human rights body was met with strong
resistance,” Neuer said.
“Cuba declared itself ‘totally opposed,’ and
demanded the paragraph’s deletion, a position quickly echoed by
It was for the General Assembly to decide whom to elect, Havana
“We don’t like to speak to country candidacies,” added
Brazil argued that the reference to council membership was
“outside the scope of the resolution.”
Russia insisted that no action be
taken until Syria’s candidacy was formally submitted.
believed the subject was “premature.”
Last November Syria won unanimous
election to two human rights committees of UNESCO, the UN’s Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Despite the suspension of the
Assad’s regime from the Arab League, the same nations’ UNESCO ambassadors in
Paris refused to allow objections to a country’s human rights record to
interfere with their backroom rotation deals, lest one day the precedent be used
against them, UN Watch said. They nominated Syria, and it was duly
After UN Watch campaigned against the move, the US and Britain
attempted remedial action. Yet despite their efforts, Syria remains a full
member of UNESCO’s committee to judge human rights complaints, and of its
committee dealing with human rights organizations.
laudable effort succeeds, Syria may soon win a seat on the world’s highest human
rights body as well,” Neuer said.