Mia Farrow, the film star and human rights activist, today condemned the U.N.’s election of Sudan as vice-president of its 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a top U.N. body that regulates human rights groups, shapes the composition of key U.N. women’s rights bodies, and adopts resolutions on subjects ranging from Internet freedom to female genital mutilation.
The UN’s election of Sudan took place yesterday: click here for UN announcement.
“The election of Sudan as vice-president of this influential U.N. council is incomprehensible and unacceptable,” said Farrow, who last year headed a protest campaign, organized by UN Watch and 30 other human rights groups, that helped pressure Sudan to withdraw its candidacy for another body, the UN Human Rights Council.
“Sudanese president Al Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan,” said Farrow. “President Al Bashir and his regime are orchestrating a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Sudan’s border regions, the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile, where some 700,000 civilians face starvation and are denied access to humanitarian aid because of incessant aerial bombardments.”
“It’s an outrage,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, the Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group.
“Electing genocidal Sudan as leader of a global human rights body is like choosing Jack the Ripper to guard a women’s shelter,” said Neuer.
“This diminishes the credibility of the United Nations human rights system and casts a shadow upon the reputation of the organization as a whole.”
ECOSOC is the sole principal organ under the UN Charter mandated to adopt resolutions for the purpose of “promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.”
UN Watch called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon, rights commissioner Navi Pillay, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice and the EU’s Catherine Ashton to condemn today’s U.N. election of “genocidal, misogynistic and repressive” Sudan to ECOSOC.
“Sudan, whose leader was indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity, will now play a major role in choosing members of the Commission on the Status of Women, the executive of UN Women, and UNICEF, which protects children’s rights,” said Neuer.
“Perhaps most importantly, ECOSOC is the body that accredits and oversees human rights groups at the UN, deciding who can participate at the UN Human Rights Council. The dominant influence of non-democracies has often led to the rejection or expulsion of human rights groups that dare to criticize China, Cuba or other repressive UN member states, and they have often barred gay rights NGOs.”
“There is no question that Sudan’s leadership role will be a malign influence. This is a terrible decision — and world leaders, who failed to prevent it, must speak out for basic decency and morality in UN bodies.”
Recent ECOSOC annual sessions debated resolutions on the treatment of prisoners, Internet freedom, discrimination, gender equality and female genital mutilation.
ECOSOC decides which nations will sit on, among others, the UN Commission for Social Development, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.