On May 13, 2010, the UN General Assembly will vote to fill 14 of the 47 Human Rights Council seats in the annual rotation of membership. Fourteen countries have presented themselves as candidates for the 14 open seats, including Libya for one of the four open Africa seats. The election of Libya and other notorious human rights abusers, however, is not a foregone conclusion, as each candidate must receive the affirmative votes of 97 other countries (an absolute majority of the membership of the UNGA).
In order to preserve a possibility that the Human Rights Council may one day be able to live up the ideals expressed in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Member States are urged to vote "No" in regard to the most conspicuously unqualified states in the secret ballot, in order that other, better qualified candidates may come forward. In order to successfully block an unqualified candidate, according to Rule 94 of the UNGA Rules of Procedure, a majority of states must vote against the country on three successive ballots. As the Rule explains, ―after the third inconclusive ballot, votes may be cast for any eligible person or Member‖ – which would open the process to other states not already on the ballot. Moreover, the UNGA could make clear to hesitating governments that there is a realistic prospect of their election by casting write-in votes for the best-qualified alternatives eligible.
UN Watch and Freedom House call upon the Member States of the UN General Assembly to refrain from voting in favor of Libya, Angola, Malaysia, Mauritania and Qatar. In the Africa group, better alternatives would include Botswana, Cape Verde, Mali and Tanzania, among others. In the Asia group, better candidates include Papua New Guinea and Micronesia.
Up to the release date of this report (May 4), in each of the regional groups exactly the same number of countries have put themselves forward as candidates as there are seats available. Thus, 4 Asian countries have presented themselves for the 4 available Asian seats; 4 African countries for the 4 available African seats; 2 countries from the Latin American and Caribbean Group (―GRULAC‖) for the 2 available GRULAC seats; 2 Eastern European countries for the 2 available Eastern European seats, and 2 countries from the Western European and Others Group (―WEOG‖) have presented themselves for the 2 available WEOG seats.
These ―closed lists‖ deprive the Member States of the UNGA of the opportunity to exercise the responsibilities described in the 2006 UNGA Resolution creating the Council and – because of the records of many of this year’s candidates – threaten to further weaken the Council, which still struggles to establish a reputation superior to its widely disparaged predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission.
Read the full report here.