NGO: Saudi Arabia refusal to take seat on UN Security Council is “victory for human rights”

UN Watch now calls on Saudis to drop bid for next month’s election to Human Rights Council

GENEVA, October 18, 2013 –Saudi Arabia’s refusal to take its seat on the UN Security Council, announced today via the Saudi Press Agency, is a “victory for human rights,” said a Geneva-based human rights group today.

“A country whose legal system routinely lashes women rape victims rather than punish the perpetrators never belonged in the UN Security Council in the first place,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the non-governmental human rights group UN Watch, which has for years reported on Saudi Arabia’s oppression of women and its other gross human rights abuses.

UN Watch also noted that Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist terrorist groups (see below), and was an “absurd choice” to legislate for the world on combating terrorism.

“While the Saudi statement invoked UN ‘double standards’ as their grounds for refusal, the truth is that Saudi Arabia’s entire system is a double standard. Under Saudi law and practice, there is one standard for men, and another for women, who cannot vote, drive a car, or travel without a male guardian; one for Muslims, and another for Christians, 53 of whom who were arrested this year by religious police for praying in a private home; one for heterosexuals, and another for gays, where homosexuality is punishable by death, and where gays have been publicly beheaded,” said Neuer.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

“Saudi Arabia has an abysmal human rights record, and by logic and morality never belonged on a Security Council where members need to address critical human rights and humanitarian issues. Saudi Arabia continues to rank as one of the worst places on the planet when it comes to the rights of women, freedom of religion, and other fundamental liberties,” said Neuer.

“We are now calling on Saudi Arabia to also pull out of next month’s election to the Human Rights Council. The Saudi bid is the height of hypocrisy.”

“Council members not only decide UN action on international peace and security, but also shape global legislation and enforcement of hot-button issues concerning the protection of civilians in wartime, sexual violence as a weapon of war, accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, international justice, and counter-terrorism and human rights.

“The Saudi pull-out is a relief for the cause of justice in Darfur, given Saudi Arabia’s despicable record of repeatedly praising and shielding Sudan. Anyone who cares about Security Council action on Darfur — including the ICC arrest warrant against the Sudanese president for genocide — ought to be gratified to see Riyadh excluded from this situtation.”

“The UN Charter provides that “due regard” be “specially paid” to candidates who contribute to the purposes of the world body, which are defined as “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

“Saudi Arabia never qualified under any imaginable interpretation of the UN criteria, said Neuer. “Women are subjugated in Saudi Arabia. They suffer gross and systematic inequality, and discrimination in law and practice. It is shocking but true that technological progress in Saudi Arabia means that the government now sends male guardians automatic text messages on the cross-border movements of female dependents.”

“Freedom of religion does not exist under the Wahabist regime. Saudis are required by law to be Muslims, while the practice of Christianity and other religions is completely forbidden.”

Saudi Support for Terrorism

Neuer welcomed the facts that the Saudis will not be legislating for the world on vital issues like combating terrorism, given its egregious record.

According to a December 2009 diplomatic cable signed by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as revealed by Wikileaks and The Guardian,Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist terrorist groups.

“Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida … and other terrorist groups,” Clinton said. “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” she said.

“And Saudi officials are reluctant to act. Clinton complained of the “ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist funds emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.”

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