Vice-Chair of UN Rights Panel Works for Saudi Gov’t, Defends Misogyny

What the UN forgot to mention today is that the Vice-Chair of the committee accusing Israel of violating children’s rights works for the Saudi government and has a despicable record of apologetics for her country’s misogyny.

About half the members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child come from non-democracies, many of whom take unfriendly or hostile positions against Israel at the UN, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Russia.

Although the Committee on the Rights of the Child is supposed to be made up of independent, objective and professional experts on human rights, Vice-Chair Aseil Al-Shehail — like too many of her peers on the panel — is none of those things.

Not Independent

According to the updated 2013 UN register of diplomats, “Mrs. Aseil AlShahail” (spelled differently, but same person) is listed as First Secretary for the Saudi Mission to the UN. This means she is bought and paid for by the House of Saud.

This constitutes a gross breach of the United Nations Guidelines on the independence and impartiality of members of the human rights treaty bodies (“the Addis Ababa guidelines”), namely:

  • Treaty body members shall not only be independent and impartial, but shall also be seen by a reasonable observer to be so.” (Secton 2)
  • “They may not be subject to direction or influence of any kind, or to pressure from the State of their nationality or any other State or its agencies, and they shall neither seek nor accept instructions from anyone concerning the performance of their duties. (Section 5)
  • “The independence and impartiality of treaty body members is compromised by the political nature of their affiliation with the executive branch of the State. Members of treaty bodies shall consequently avoid functions or activities which are, or are seen by a reasonable observer to be, incompatible with the obligations and responsibilities of independent experts under the relevant treaties.” (Section 12)

Not Objective

If you think Mrs. Al-Shehail (aka Alshahail) acted objectively as committee Vice-Chair during Israel’s review, consider what she told the UN on behalf of her Saudi paymasters on 15 October 2009:

ASEIL ALSHAHAIL ( Saudi Arabia) said her country regarded the child as a pillar of the community and maker of the future at both the national and international level…. The Department of Justice was also poised to launch a framework that would manage the marriage of minors and all related issues… Saudi Arabia shared the international community’s concern for the child [and] participated with the Arab League in drafting the Arab Charter for Human Rights… Saudi Arabia also supported the Rights of the Child in Islam… Drawing attention to the torture and killing of Palestinian children in the occupied territories, she said the international community must interfere and protect the rights of these children, according to international conventions.

Not Professional

On professional human rights expertise, Mrs. Al-Shehail has a shameful record of telling lies to protect Saudi Arabia’s gross and systematic violations of women’s rights.

Representing Saudi Arabia on 12 October 2010, she told the UN:

The women’s issue was a matter of deep concern for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the development of women was an integral part of a general strategic plan that conformed to magnanimous Sharia.  That was especially the case in education, health, social services and participation in social development.  Several resolutions have been adopted concerning gender equality, including equality on the career ladder and retirement.  Saudi women also participated in various fields with full support from the government.

Similarly, in 2007, she also expounded on Saudi Arabia’s stellar record on women’s rights:

ASEIL AL-SHEHAIL (Saudi Arabia) said that steps had been taken by her country for the advancement of women, with special attention being attached to the status of women based on the principles of Shari’a law, which set out the rights and duties of women. All the rules, laws and regulations in Saudi Arabia, including the Bill of Rights, emanated from the Holy Koran and the Prophet Mohammed…  great attention was being given to ensure the advancement of women.  Saudi Arabia signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 2000; its content was in line with the Kingdom’s policy of preserving women’s rights. Saudi Arabia was determined to care for the human rights of women, she said… Saudi Arabia’s march to advance the status of its women continued in line with the values of its Holy Religion.

Below is the slick brochure the Saudis used to lobby for her election to the UN committee.

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