This week the U.N. Human Rights Council examined, as part of its periodic review of all countries, the human rights situations in two countries with highly questionable records, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Both attracted the greatest interest of the session, with 99 states wanting to speak on Sri Lanka and 89 for Pakistan. Friends and foes alike took the floor.
On Pakistan, several countries — including the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and Canada — rightly pointed out ongoing violations concerning women’s rights, minority rights and blasphemy laws.
Amazingly, however, while the purpose of the “Universal Periodic Review” mechanism is to scrutinize governments in order to improve the lives of victims, many of the others took the floor solely to praise Pakistan. From the U.N. summary:
- Cuba praised Pakistan’s “numerous achievements in promoting human rights.”
- Venezuela praised Pakistan for “efforts to address challenges, particularly in the areas of the human rights of women, children, health, education, poverty and social exclusion, notwithstanding its economic limitations and natural disasters.”
- Bolivia commended Pakistan for “the ratification of core international human rights instruments.” It appreciated “progress made in enacting a number of laws to eradicate the conditions that impede the enjoyment of the human rights of women.”
- China noted “legislative and administrative measures to advance the rights of women and children, to strengthen its education and public health systems and promote harmony of different religious groups.”
- North Korea commended Pakistan for “creating an enabling environment for the promotion of human rights, such as independent judiciary, free media and a vibrant civil society.”
- Burma commended Pakistan for its “enactment of legislation to promote and protect women’s rights.”
- The Palestinian Authority commended “the enacting of legislations to strengthen the role of women in society and the steps taken to empower the National Commission on women and children.”
- Iran praised Pakistan’s efforts to “enhance the socio-economic situation of its citizens and increase respect for human rights. It praised the progress made in improving the living conditions of the people.”
- Algeria noted Pakistan’s “commitment through the adoption of important laws to the protection of women.”
- Lebanon appreciated Pakistan’s “policy to promote human rights, pluralism, justice and the rule of law. It appreciated “legislative reforms for promotion of economic and social development of women.”
See next post on Sri Lanka.