UN Should Deny Human Rights Abusers Seats on Council

Washington
The United Nations General Assembly should seize an opportunity to improve the credibility and composition of the United Nations Human Rights Council this week by rejecting countries with poor human rights records. On Wednesday, the General Assembly will elect 15 new Human Rights Council members, or one-third of the body's membership.
 
However, a report released May 6 by Freedom House and UN Watch found that five countries vying for a seat are not qualified—Gabon, Bahrain, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zambia—because of human rights abuses at home and poor voting records on human rights issues on the council. All of these countries except Bahrain are incumbent candidates.  The report also questions the candidacies of Brazil, East Timor and Burkina Faso, whose records on human rights issues are mixed.
 
"Democratic nations that care about basic human rights should not sit idly by and allow these countries to use the UNHRC’s power for their own purposes," said Freedom House advocacy director Paula Schriefer. "This body has the potential to be an important tool for promoting human rights, but not with members whose own actions impede the council’s forward progress." 
 
Schriefer said the council's membership already includes three countries—China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia—listed on Freedom House's Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies 2008 report, a reality that has so far prevented the council from carrying out its stated work.
 
UN Watch and Freedom House evaluated each of the 20 candidates based on its record of human rights protection at home and its record of human rights promotion at the UN.
 
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