UNHRC headquarters 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The UN General Assembly on Friday will elect 15 new members to the UN
Human Rights Council.
The 17 candidates for membership in the
Geneva-based body are Austria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo,
Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kuwait, Nicaragua,
Peru, Philippines and Romania.
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Syria had been slated to run for a seat,
but in the face of opposition of nongovernmental organizations in light of
Damascus’s violent crackdown on protesters, Syria negotiated with Kuwait to take
its place on the slate.
UN Watch, a Geneva-based nongovernmental
organization that led the opposition to Syria’s candidacy, released a report
assessing each candidate country’s record of domestic human rights protection
and its UN voting record, based on the criteria for UN Human Rights Council
membership established by General Assembly Resolution 60/251 (2006).
find that only 10 out of 17 candidate countries are qualified,” the report
“Three candidates have poor records and are not qualified to be
council members. Four countries fall somewhere in between, with qualifications
that are questionable.”
The NGO deemed Congo, Kuwait and Nicaragua not
qualified, and Burkina Faso, India, Indonesia and Philippines as questionable,
on the basis of their human rights records.
“We urge all member states to
fulfill their obligations by selecting only those candidates which meet the
criteria established by UNGA Resolution 60/251 (2006),” an e-mail circulated by
UN Watch stated.
“Candidates with questionable credentials should be
asked to pledge improvements prior to the election.”
The Human Rights
Council is to consist of 47 member states, elected directly and individually by
secret ballot by the majority of the members of the General
Membership is based on geographic distribution, with the Group
of African States occupying 13 seats; the Group of Asian States occupying 13
seats; the Group of Eastern European States occupying six seats; the Group of
Latin American and Caribbean States occupying eight seats; and the Group of
Western European states and other countries sharing seven seats.
of the council serve for three years and are not eligible for immediate
reelection after two consecutive terms.
In Canada’s The National
newspaper, Steven Groves, analyst for US think tank The Heritage Foundation,
noted that despite recent outcries about Libya and Syria, the Human Rights
Council still has serious flaws because of “extremely dubious” hard-line regimes
that use it as a vehicle to bash Israel.
“You have to have people getting
gunned down in the streets before a country’s membership on the Human Rights
Council is called into question,” Groves told the paper. “How can the
replacement of Syria with Kuwait be seen as anything but the most marginal of