The Corner

Bashar Assad to the Human Rights Council?

The United Nations Human Rights Council is one of the most inappropriately named entities in the world. Rather than fighting human-rights abusers throughout the world, it has exerted much time and energy condemning Israeli actions.

Its website claims that the Council is “responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.” But the truth is that the Council includes some of the worst violators of human rights in the world, including Angola, Libya, Uganda, China, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

To make matters worse, the Council has ignored countless cases of human rights violations; it even issued a statement in 2008 that “acknowledges the steps taken by the Government of the Sudan to strengthen the human rights legal and institutional framework, principally in law reform.” By comparison, from 2006 to 2010, the Human Rights Council passed 33 resolutions criticizing or condemning Israeli actions.

Now, the United Nations watchdog group UN Watch is reporting that Bashar Assad has a good chance to join the Council in 2014, assuming he is still in control of his country:

According to a U.S.-sponsored and EU-backed draft resolution that was debated today during informal meetings at the council in Geneva, the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad is a declared candidate for a seat on the 47-nation U.N. body, in elections to be held next year at the 193-member General Assembly. As part of the U.N.’s 53-nation Asian group, Syria’s candidacy would be virtually assured of victory due to the prevalent system of fixed slates, whereby regional groups orchestrate uncontested elections, naming only as many candidates as allotted seats.

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.

Fears that Syria will indeed win—in a 2013 election for a position starting the following year—appear to have mobilized the U.S. and the European Union 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 ranks.

The Human Rights Council is already beyond the pale of decency and good government, but it’s still heartening to know that the U.S. and the EU are attempting to prevent Syria from joining.


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