UN Watch hails Syrian defeat at UN, but opposes reported consolation prize for Assad regime

GENEVA, May 9 – UN Watch hailed the breaking news that Syria is expected to drop its bid, but expressed concern that it might be replaced by Kuwait — “far better than Syria, but another non-democracy nevertheless” — and urged against giving the Assad regime a consolation prize akin to Iran’s receipt of a seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, in exchange for dropping its 2010 bid for a council seat.

The Geneva-based human rights group was the first to sound the alarm over Syria’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, and heads a global coalition of human rights groups and dissidents seeking to block Damascus. See details at www.unwatch.org/stopsyria.

“The defeat of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s cynical candidacy is a welcome message to his brutalized population that the world is repulsed by the regime’s ongoing massacres,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

“The Asian states at the UN never should have endorsed the brutal Syrian regime in the first place. And now it would be squandering a golden opportunity if Asia’s replacement for Syria will be yet another Middle East regime that fails to meet the election criteria, which require a genuine record of promoting and protecting human rights.”

According to the State Department, Kuwaitis are subjected to “limited freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion” and women are denied equal rights. Freedom House ranks it as only “partly free.”

Among the UN’s Asian Group ranked as “Free” democracies by Freedom House, India and Indonesia are already candidates for Asia, and Japan and South Korea are outgoing council members. According to Neuer, that still leaves the “preferable options” of Cyprus or Mongolia. Moreover, he said diplomats should not dismiss the Free-ranked pacific states of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu amd Vanuatu. In a letter to UN ambassadors sent yesterday, Neuer said small states could assume member duties if others provided support.

The UN Watch campaign against Syria’s bid is supported by more than 25 human rights groups and dissidents, and was recently accepted for publication by the UN General Assembly as an official UN document.

The election of 15 new council members is scheduled for May 20 at the UN General Assembly in New York. On the day prior, UN Watch, Syrian victims and other human rights groups will hold a press conference at UN headquarters in New York.

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