Archive for the 'Human Rights Council (UNHRC)' Category

Shaky road to important peaceful protest resolution

In a year that has seen protests in the Ukraine, Venezuela and Turkey, to name but a few, the UN Human Right’s Council resolution, passed on Friday 28 March, on The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, tried to safeguard this right.

Yet, despite its significance, its road to approval was paved with difficulties and idiosyncrasies: Continue reading ‘Shaky road to important peaceful protest resolution’

States try to silence UN Watch 18 times, but in vain

UN Watch was very active during the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which just concluded. We delivered a total of 10 statements on a variety of issues and we hosted two family members of human rights defenders who are currently in jail, Julieta Lopez, aunt of Leopoldo Lopez of Venezuela and Ti-Anna Wang, daughter of Dr. Wang Bingzhang of China.

UN Watch speakers were interrupted 18 times by states that did not like to hear what we were saying. Most of the time, it was by members of the Human Rights Council who have pledged to “uphold the highest standard of human rights.”

First on the list was Venezuela with 5 interruptions and then were the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia with 3 each. Cuba and Pakistan interrupted UN Watch twice each, and once by Algeria, China and Morocco.  The President stood firm and he allowed the UN Watch speaker to conclude at every occasion.

Continue reading ‘States try to silence UN Watch 18 times, but in vain’

Resolutions and Voting Results of 25th HRC Session

Condemnatory Country-Specific Resolutions:

Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka (A/HRC/25/L.1/Rev.1)
Sponsors: UK, US, Montenegro, Macedonia, Mauritius
Result: 23 in favor, 12 against (Algeria, China, Congo, Cuba, Kenya, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Venezuela, Viet Nam), 12 abstentions

The continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic (A/HRC/25/L.7)
Sponsors: UK, Italy, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, US, Turkey, France, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar
Vote result: 32 in favor, 4 against (China, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela), 11 abstentions

Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/HRC/25/L.9)
Sponsors: Sweden, Macedonia, US, Moldova, Panama
Vote result:  21 in favor, 9 against (China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela, Vietnam), 16 abstentions

The situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (A/HRC/25/L.17)
Sponsor: Greece on behalf of the EU and Japan
Vote result: 30 in favor, 6 against (China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela, Vietnam), 11 abstentions

Situation of human rights in Myanmar (A/HRC/25/L.21/Rev.1)
Sponsor: Greece on behalf of the EU
Adopted without vote

Right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (A/HRC/25/L.36)
Sponsor: Pakistan on behalf of the OIC
Vote result: 46 in favor, 1 against (US)

Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/HRC/25/L.37/Rev.1)
Sponsor: Pakistan on behalf of the OIC
Vote result: 46 in favor, 1 against (US)

Human rights situation in Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/HRC/25/L.38/Rev.1)
Sponsor: Pakistan on behalf of the OIC
Vote result: 46 in favor, 1 against (US)

Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (A/HRC/25/L.39)
Sponsor: Pakistan on behalf of the OIC
Vote result: 46 in favor, 1 against (US)

Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/HRC/25/L.40)
Sponsor: Pakistan on behalf of the OIC
Vote result: 33 in favor, 1 against (US), 13 abstentions

Continue reading ‘Resolutions and Voting Results of 25th HRC Session’

UN expert on Chinkin: ‘a basis for questioning the appearance of bias’

Chinkin 1

Application of Christine Chinkin

London School of Economics professor Christine Chinkin is now slated to replace Richard Falk as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, a position that, despite its title, in fact requires examining only “Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law.”

She had applied for the same post back in 2008, and was then shortlisted in second place after Falk.

Her chances improved this time after she served in 2009 as a key author of the infamous Goldstone Report, a document that effectively exonerated Hamas while excoriating Israel.

When Judge Goldstone later retracted the core accusation of the report, Chinkin joined with the two others to accuse him in all but name of misrepresenting facts in order to cast doubt on the credibility of their joint report.

Chinkin first made her name at the UN by serving with Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the HRC’s 2006 inquiry into the deaths of 19 Palestinians killed in Beit Hanoun by errant Israeli shells. It is widely recognized that Chinkin oversaw the work of the panel.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour had initially tried to convince Canadian MP and law professor Irwin Cotler, a former justice minister, to serve on the inquiry. He immediately declined, however citing the one-sided mandate, which “violated the presumption of innocence.”

“How could one accept a fact-finding mission with a prior determination of guilt, a kind of Alice in Wonderland inquiry, where the conviction was secured and the sentence passed even before the inquiry began?” Professor Cotler later said in a speech before the council plenary. Continue reading ‘UN expert on Chinkin: ‘a basis for questioning the appearance of bias’’

Yemen on behalf of Arab Group demands appointment of Christine Chinkin, co-author of Goldstone Report

UN Watch has obtained a copy of a new Arab Group letter demanding that the UNHRC replace Richard Falk with Christine Chinkin, co-author of the Goldstone Report


H.E Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella
President of the Human Rights Council

26th of March 2014


We are writing to you regarding the nomination of the Special Rapporteur in the OPT. This position was established by the Commission of Human Rights in its resolution E/CN.4/RES/1993/2 (A) of 19 February 1993, which, in detailing the mandate, decided inter alia that the special rapporteur will “report, with his conclusions and recommendations, to the Commission on Human Rights at its future sessions, until the end of the Israeli occupation of those territories” (0P4 (c)).

We would like to draw your attention to the following considerations when appointing the mandate holder:

At the outset, we would like to reiterate the relevant provisions set out in the IB package, in particular paragraph 39, which indicates that the mandate holder appointment should be based on the criteria of (a) expertise; (b) experience in the field of the mandate; (c) independence; (d) impartiality; (e) personal integrity; and (f) objectivity, and paragraph 52, which emphasizes the importance inter alia of broad consultations, in particular through the regional coordinators, in guiding the President of the Council in his/her identification of an appropriate candidate for each vacancy.  Continue reading ‘Yemen on behalf of Arab Group demands appointment of Christine Chinkin, co-author of Goldstone Report’

Palestinians submit updated resolutions to UNHRC

Last week, UN Watch published five unofficial draft resolutions on Israel, drafted by the Palestinians and the Islamic bloc, that had been circulated informally among diplomats at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The following updated texts have now been formally submitted to the Council, for adoption on Thursday or Friday:

  1. Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan
  2. Human rights situation in Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem
  3. Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
  4. Human Rights in the occupied Syrian Golan 
  5. Right of the Palestinian people to self-determination



PA tries to stop UN Watch quoting the PA on need to fire Richard Falk

UN Watch testimony to UN Human Rights Council delivered  by executive director Hillel Neuer, 24 March 2014. The speech was interrupted numerous times by the Palestinian Authority, supported with objections by Cuba, Pakistan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Venezuela.

Mr. Falk, in this, your final report, you address the six years of your now-ending term. Were they a success? Let us consider. Did you promote human rights? We could ask the Israeli people. But the terms of your mandate refused to consider their human rights, so we cannot ask them. Let us ask the Palestinian people. We should hear from their sole legitimate representative. Continue reading ‘PA tries to stop UN Watch quoting the PA on need to fire Richard Falk’

UN rights council plans BDS assault on Israel, but Israeli diplomats are on strike

While Israeli diplomats remain on strike, the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council is planning to launch a massive attack on the Jewish state next week in a series of five resolutions that — expressly citing controversial UN official Richard Falk — include new accusations of racism, along with calls to impose “international criminal liability” on businesses with indirect links amounting to “corporate complicity in breaches of international law related to illegal settlements.”

The following draft resolutions, drafted by Syria and the Palestinian Authority, are scheduled to be adopted on March 27-28, at the end of 25th session of the Human Rights Council:

1. Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan

Analysis: replete with inflammatory and one-sided language including new BDS-themed provisions inspired by Richard Falk’s latest report. Continue reading ‘UN rights council plans BDS assault on Israel, but Israeli diplomats are on strike’

Again: Venezuela interrupts testimony at UN Human Rights Council

UN Watch Statement to 25th Session of UN Human Rights Council, delivered by Kelsey Truman, 14 March 2014.

Human Rights Council Must Listen to the Victims

Thank you, Mr. President. Today we ask: How can this Council protect the rights of the Universal Declaration — the right to life, to equality, to freedom of religion and speech, the right to be free from torture and slavery?

One way is by recognizing the heroes who inspire activists the world over for the cause of human rights.

That is what UN Watch did just a few weeks ago, across the street, at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights. For the sixth year in a row, we organized this annual civil society forum, together with twenty other non-governmental human rights groups from around the world.

Hundreds of dissidents, activists, diplomats, journalists and students participated, helping to place urgent situations on the world agenda. The summit heard from courageous dissidents and activists, many of them former political prisoners, who embody the founding human rights virtues of the United Nations.

Julietta Lopez of Venezuela delivered an urgent message from her nephew, jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. [Venezuela interrupted on a point of order, and attacked UN Watch; the chair defended the speaker's rights and gave the floor back to UN Watch.]

Dr. Rakhshinda Perveen examined women’s rights in Pakistan. Biram Dah Abeid spoke of his struggle to end slavery in Mauritania.

Naghmeh Abedini pleaded for the release of her husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is in jail in Iran for exercising his freedom of religion. Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, who tried to defend women in China from forced abortions, received the Geneva Summit Courage Award.

Finally, Annick Cojean from Le Monde spoke of her recent book , which documents how  thousands of women and girls, including students on campus, were violently raped, over decades and on a systematic basis, by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

We urge everyone to listen to her testimony, which is available at, especially the many countries who, during the Council’s UPR review of Libya, had praised Gaddafi’s record on women’s rights. These include Belarus, DPRK, Iran, Jordan, Myanmar, Qatar, Sudan and Yemen.

Mr. President, When this Council listen to these courageous voices, and take action for victims worldwide?

Top lawmakers, rights activists, NGOs call for suspension of Russia, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia from UNHRC

Campaign to Suspend China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia from the United Nations Human Rights Council

WHEREAS every human being is guaranteed the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948;

WHEREAS, in contempt of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, gross and systematic violations of human rights have been and continue to be perpetrated by the governments of China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia, as documented in evidence collected by United Nations Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies, human rights experts and non-governmental organizations; Continue reading ‘Top lawmakers, rights activists, NGOs call for suspension of Russia, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia from UNHRC’

‘For Russia, protection of human rights and freedoms is a basic priority,’ FM Lavrov tells UNHRC after being elected new member

Sergey Lavrov

Statement by H.E. Mr. Sergey V. Lavrov,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of
the Russian Federation

at the high-level segment of the
25th session of the UN Human Rights Council

Last year Russia was once again elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Council by an overwhelming majority. We appreciate this support which we view as an acknowledgement of our country’s constructive approach to this sphere of multilateral cooperation.

For the Russian Federation, the protection of human and civil rights and freedoms is a basic priority enshrined in its Constitution. As President Vladimir Putin has stressed, the relevant provisions of Russia’s fundamental law establishing these rights and freedoms are unalterable, We continue to work on developing civil society and improving the standards of living of our people.

Continue reading ‘‘For Russia, protection of human rights and freedoms is a basic priority,’ FM Lavrov tells UNHRC after being elected new member’

What do these four countries have in common?

BDS Fail: Falk ally Phyllis Bennis loses UN bid

Today, following the recent announcement by Hamas apologist Phyllis Bennis that she made it to the shortlist to replace UN monitor Richard Falk, her colleague Fiona Dove, Amsterdam-based head of the anti-Western Transnational Institute, enthusiastically tweeted the good news:

Eight minutes later, after she discovered that Bennis has been defeated after her long record of bias was exposed by UN Watch, Dove retracted:

If quoting terror apologists’ own words constitute “scurrilous attacks,” we plead guilty.

UNRWA campaign suppresses Yarmouk victims’ Palestinian identity

The UN agency on Palestinian refugees has launched a major campaign for Palestinians being starved by the Assad regime in the Damsacus-area Yarmouk refugee camp. Curiously and without precedent, however, the campaign suppresses any mention that the victims are Palestinians.

It would seem that because Israel cannot be painted as the villain, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was unable to voice its usual narrative, and instead settled on this bizarre formulation.

Continue reading ‘UNRWA campaign suppresses Yarmouk victims’ Palestinian identity’

Human Rights Council in violation of its founding resolution?

When the Human Rights Council was created, according to paragraph 6 of its founding resolution 60/251, it assumed “all mandates, mechanisms, functions and responsibilities of the Commission on Human Rights in order to maintain a system of special procedures, expert advice and a complaint procedure.” In addition, the Council had to “review and, where necessary, improve and rationalize” all these mandates “within one year after the holding of its first session,” that is by June 2007.

Indeed all of its some 40 Special Procedure mandates went through the RRI process (review, rationalize and improve), apart from one: the mandate on Palestine.

The council’s lead expert on Israel has the title of “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” The position has been held from 2008 to 2014 by Richard Falk. The title is deliberately misleading, designed to mask the one-sided nature of the HRC’s permanent investigative mandate on Israel. The mandate as it actually is applies only to Israeli actions—and with its violations presumed in advance.

Amnesty International has called for the mandate to be subjected to RRI process, like all other mandates in the transition from the commission to the council. The president of the council at the time, Ambassador Doru Costea of Romania, also called for the mandate to be subject to the RRI process.

However, this never took place, and the Council continues to be in violation of its founding resolution.

Academia mirrors UN Watch on effectiveness of UN Human Rights Council

UN Watch regularly comments on how the Human Rights Council (HRC) fails to stand up to its founding principles and protect victims around the world. We often criticize the overwhelming power and influence that non-democracies hold in relation to democracies. Academics from around the world who research the HRC share the same conclusions. Their disenchantment is justified by empirical and qualitative research on a variety of themes. Some of these noteworthy articles are listed below:


The author discusses how notorious human rights violators are elected to the UNHRC in order not only to discourage international and domestic criticism, but to reward their allies with favorable trade and aid agreements. Through a series of regression analysis models measuring economic factors (trade and aid from China to Africa) and political factors (leadership failures rates of non-democratic states that are elected to the UNHRC) he concludes that that non-democratic leaders are Continue reading ‘Academia mirrors UN Watch on effectiveness of UN Human Rights Council’

UN calls out Malaysia for reprisal against “un-Islamic” NGOs

This press release just came in from the UN .

10  January 2014

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville


We are concerned about the recent decision of Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs to declare COMANGO — a coalition compris[ed] of 54 Malaysian civil society organizations – illegal.

On 8 January 2014, the Ministry of Home Affairs declared in a press statement that COMANGO, which consists mainly of non-Islamic organizations, promotes rights which are not in line with Islam and is therefore illegal. The statement also notes that only 15 of the 54 organisations are registered under the Societies Act 1966.

The COMANGO coalition submitted joint reports to both the 2009 and 2013 Universal Periodic Reviews of Malaysia. Since its submission to the second cycle of the UPR, which took place on 24 October 2013, the coalition has reportedly been subjected to a series of harassment and threats, allegedly by both state and non-state actors. The coalition has been accused of attacking Islam and of spreading beliefs that do not conform to Islamic teachings.

We are concerned at what appears to be an act of reprisal against COMANGO for its engagement with international human rights mechanism, notably the UPR. The Secretary-General, the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner Navi Pillay have persistently called for the protection of individuals and members of groups that cooperate with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights from acts of intimidation or reprisal.

We call upon Government of Malaysia to amend the Societies Act 1966, maximise the space for human rights activists and organisations to operate freely, and ensure that they can conduct their legitimate activities without intimidation or harassment.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon speaks out for gay rights

The next step would be for Mr. Ban to actually call out the abusers:

HRW and the Al Qaeda funder: Not even a smidgen of contrition?

By @HillelNeuer

Amazingly, the discovery that a Geneva NGO is in fact headed by an Al Qaeda bagman has not prompted my good friends at Human Rights Watch from severing ties. The Washington Times reports:

Despite the addition of Al Karama leaders to terrorist watch lists, established human rights NGOs are not ruling out working with the group in the future. Human Rights Watch said Naimi’s terrorist designation should not detract from the rest of Al Karama’s work.

“The accused terrorist has resigned from Al Karama,” said Human Rights Watch spokesperson Emma Daly, referring to Naimi, who has not resigned. “Al Karama’s position would suggest it doesn’t identify with al Qaeda despite the unproven allegations against its former non-executive chair.”

Would suggest.



Now that Human Rights Watch has every reason to believe that one of its partners is headed by a terrorist funder — a man already on record advocating war against the Zionist and American aggressors for stealing the wealth of the Muslim Ummah — can the relentless advocate of accountability not show even a smidgen of contrition?

Top 10 Worst U.N. Decisions of 2013

hypocrisy-meter1. The UN Human Rights Council elected Hezbollah supporter Jean Ziegler, founder and recipient of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize, as a top advisor.

2. The UN General Assembly adopted 21 condemnatory resolutions against Israel, compared to 4 on the rest of the world combined.

3. The same UN General Assembly elected China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia to the UN Human Rights Council. The dictatorships will take their new seats on January 1, 2014.

4. UN Human Rights Council official Richard Falk blamed the Boston Marathon terror bombings on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.” Shortly thereafter he was praised by the council.

5. The UN Special Committee on Decolonization, charged with upholding fundamental human rights and opposing the subjugation of peoples, elected the murderous Syrian regime to a senior post.

6. The UN Conference on Disarmament in May 2013 made Iran its president.

7. The UN Economic and Social Council, which oversees the UN women’s rights commission, elected genocidal Sudan as its vice-president.

8. The UN Human Rights Council elected slave-holding Mauritania to be its vice-president.

9. The UN chose Zimbabwe, a regime that systematically violates human rights, to host its world tourism summit.

10. UNESCO, which condemned no other country but Israel, and which was silent as Hamas bulldozed a world heritage site to make a terrorist training camp, allowed Syria to sit as a judge on UNESCO’s human rights committee.



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Spreading the Truth

“I think when you have a total of 10 resolutions on Israel, it’s a bit much, no? I mean… there’s other really bad sh-t happening, but no one says anything 
about the other stuff.”
— UN interpreter caught on open microphone, Nov. 14, 2013
View UN Watch video of the
UN interpreter seen worldwide >>

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Timeline: Democracies denounce UN’s Richard Falk for racism


December 15 – Falk calls Israel “genocidal”

December 16 – UN Watch launches protest, urges world leaders to denounce Falk

December 17 – Canada rips into Falk’s racism and demands that he be fired immediately.

December 19 – Australia joins Canada in condemning Falk’s “disgraceful” comments. Australian Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma is “appalled” by Falk.

December 19 – The PLO mocks Canada and pretends to defend Falk. But then UN Watch revealed how the PLO itself secretly tried to defend Falk, and so they quickly deleted their remarks.

December 20 – USA calls for Falk to go, condemns his “despicable” and “anti-Semitic” remarks, says Falk stooped to new low.

QUESTION: On Israel and the UN, Special Rapporteur – the head of the Human Rights Commission –


QUESTION: – he made these – he kind of reaffirmed his comment talking about Israel as having genocidal intentions. (Click here for Falk video.) Canada has called for him to be removed from his job and, I mean, doesn’t this – now that you’ve rejoined the United Nations Human Rights Council, don’t you think that having a gentleman of this – of saying these type of things, like, kind of flies in the face of what the Human Rights Council is supposed to be –

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me very clear here. We condemn and completely reject Richard Falk’s latest outrageous statements made during an interview with Russia Today. The Administration has repeatedly condemned in the strongest terms his despicable and deeply offensive comments, particularly his anti-Semitic blog postings, his endorsement of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and more recently, his deplorable statements with regard to the terrorist attacks in Boston. His most recent remarks, however, represent a new low. We do not support his mandate or his work, which has been one-sided and biased, nor do we believe he should continue to serve as independent UN rapporteur, and we reiterate our calls for him to step down from this role.

We note that his term as Special Rapporteur ends in March 2014, and he cannot be reappointed to the role after that time.

QUESTION: So basically, he’s just going to kind of skirt by it all March 2014?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve repeatedly called for him to step down. We continue to condemn in strongest terms his steps. Unfortunately, the vast majority of HRC members do not agree on his stepping down.

QUESTION: Well, but what does that say about the kind of relevance of a group like the Human Rights Council? I mean, I know you thought it was important to rejoin, but when the majority of members are siding with country – not just in this instance, but are siding with countries and dictators and leaders who do not espouse the human rights values that you do, what is the relevance of the council?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly we have strongly – we strongly oppose his comments and his role, as I think I’ve made evident. However, there still is good work that the Human Rights Council does. We will continue to press for him to step down, but we felt, as you noted, it was still important to be a member of the organization.

Special Sessions of the UN Human Rights Council

From its inception in June 2006 to date, the UN Human Rights Council has held 19 special sessions. Forty percent of these have been on Israel. They are examined below.

In addition, in the middle of regular sessions, the HRC has three times convened an “Urgent Debate”: one against Israel over the flotilla incident of June 2010, for which the council created the entire urgent debate mechanism itself, and in which a fact-finding mission was created that produced a one-sided report whose conclusions were later refuted by the UN Secretary-General’s own Palmer Commission;  and two on Syria, in February 2012 and May 2013. No other country has been subjected to an urgent debate.

15 Special Sessions that Criticized Countries

FACT SHEET: Why Gross Abusers Don’t Belong in the UN Human Rights Council

Myth 1: Some diplomats, UN officials and NGO activists claim that membership to the Council will serve as an incentive to countries with poor human rights records to improve.

Truth: Wrong. The Human Rights Council’s predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, worked alongside this notion and was doomed, defunct and replaced in 2006 by the Human Rights Council.

In his report In Larger Freedom suggesting reform of the Commission, Kofi Annan wrote: “states have sought membership of the Commission not to strengthen human rights but to protect themselves against criticism or to criticize others. As a result, a credibility deficit has developed, which casts a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole.”

Continue reading ‘FACT SHEET: Why Gross Abusers Don’t Belong in the UN Human Rights Council’

UNGA adopts resolution that undermines Human Rights Council

Gabon Prez

Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella of Gabon,
incoming 2014 President of the UN Human Rights Council

Two days after the Human Rights Council elected the Ambassador of Gabon as its president for the 2014 sessions, the Gabonese delegation in New York, on behalf of the African Group, successfully passed a resolution undermining the authority of the UN Human Rights Council as the world’s top human rights body.

The UN General Assembly “deferred consideration” of a critical HRC resolution titled “Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights” (HRC 24/24). This is a rare instance for the GA to open up a particular HRC resolution. Because the HRC is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, the latter possesses the theoretical power to revise and even over-rule decisions by the former, but this has been seldom exercised. (See 2007 exception discussed below.)

HRC 24/24 seeks to protect the freedom and safety of human rights defenders, and would also appoint a UN official to prevent and address instances of intimidation and reprisals. The Council first adopted the resolution in September 2013 with a strong majority of its 47 member states (31 in favor, 1 against, 15 abstentions).

Continue reading ‘UNGA adopts resolution that undermines Human Rights Council’

Canada condemns UN official for calling Israel “genocidal”

UN Watch applauds Canada for being the first to condemn UN official Richard Falk’s latest remarks calling Israel “genocidal.”

“We hope that U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, EU commissioner Catherine Ashton and UN chief Ban Ki-moon will also speak out,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, who sent letters to world leaders yesterday urging them to take action.  Continue reading ‘Canada condemns UN official for calling Israel “genocidal”’

Showdown at Human Rights Council

Yesterday, the Human Rights Council got a taste of how its 2014 sessions will look like, with the return of Cuba, Russia and China as full members. What was supposed to be a procedural, organizational session to elect the new President and Bureau for the 2014 session, developed into a very controversial and heated exchange.

The cause of this friction was the topic of the high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming to take place in March 2014, most probably with the participation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The President of Human Rights Council, Ambassador Henczel of Poland, tried to bridge the two proposals: one on the role of the UN in the prevention of human rights abuses, proposed by a cross-regional group of states, and another on migration, proposed by the African Group. His compromise proposal was to hold the panel on human rights mainstreaming on the topic of migration in the morning, followed by a high-level panel on prevention in the afternoon.

Continue reading ‘Showdown at Human Rights Council’

Map: the 39 countries that kill or jail gays

How abusers trumpet their HRC election to silence dissent

On November 12, the UN General Assembly elected 14 new members for the Human Rights Council. Among the 14 elected were 6 countries that UN Watch evaluated as unqualified for membership: Algeria, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Vietnam. Their newfound membership of the UN’s top human rights body will be yet another occasion for these abusers to spew propaganda and silence dissidents and civil society – often the only ones who dare to tell the truth about these regimes. Since Tuesday’s election, members of the respective governments and representative of their UN Missions have commented on the election explaining that their victories were due to the international recognition of their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.


“The Chinese government attaches great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights. It has made remarkable achievements and has vigorously developed international cooperation in the field of human rights …China is fully qualified to be elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council. China’s election to the UN Human Rights Council Tuesday also serves as the international community’s acknowledgment of China’s significant achievements in the field of human rights.”

Wang Min, China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, 13 November 2013 (Source)


“Cuba’s selection is nothing less than a recognition of its consistent stance of rejecting double standards and the persistent efforts by Western powers to use the Council for political ends, to manipulate the issue of human rights in service of its interests and to convert this body into an inquisitor tribunal for the nations of the (global) South who don’t submit to their designs.”

Anayansi Rodriquez, Cuba’s UN ambassador in Geneva, 13 November 2013 (Source)

Saudi Arabia

“The Kingdom’s election to the Human Rights Council for the third time in a row is yet another confirmation of its pioneering role in the council and the service of human rights issues.”

Abdullah bin Yahya Al-Ma’alami, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, 12 November 2013 (Source)

“This election confirms the Kingdom’s efforts in the enhancement of justice, equality and the protection and promotion of human rights at both domestic and international arenas, as well as the Kingdom’s firm positions towards issues of fair human rights in the world … This election confirms the Kingdom’s prestigious status and international respect and recognition for its roles in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

Dr Al-Aiban, President of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, 13 November 2013 (Source)


“The UN election was a ‘good result.’ We will work in order to strengthen cooperation and dialogue and create constructive working atmosphere in the council.”

Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, 12 November 2013 (Source)

“This is sound evidence that the international community supports our country’s policy of strengthening the collective base of the U.N. work in encouraging and protection of the human rights.”

Russian Foreign Ministry, 13 November 2013 (Source)


“This determination reflects the Vietnamese Party and State’s view of human rights as a common aspiration of human being as well as their consistent policy of respecting and ensuring human rights, and enhancing international cooperation in this field … Vietnam’s election to the UNHRC with the highest vote is of great significance. It shows the international community’s acknowledgement and appreciation of Vietnam’s policies and achievements in its comprehensive renewal process, including the building of a state of law that offers a better guarantee of citizens’ rights.”

Pham Binh Minh, Foreign Minister of Vietnam, 13 November 2013 (Source)

Results of Elections to 2014-2016 UN Human Rights Council

Nearly half of the 2014 UNHRC membership (47%) fail to meet the minimal standards of a free democracy.

Africa (4 seats)

193 votes, 0 invalid, 1 abstention

South Africa 169
Algeria 164
Morocco 163
Namibia 150

South Sudan 89
Tunisia 2

Asia (4 seats)

193 votes, 0 invalid, 1 abstention

Vietnam 184
China 176
Maldives 164
Saudi Arabia 140

Jordan 16
Iran 1
Singapore 1
Thailand 1

East Europe (2 seats)

193 votes, 2 abstentions

Macedonia 177
Russia 176

Slovakia 1
Latvia 1

Grulac (2 seats)

193 votes, 0 abstentions

Cuba 148
Mexico 135

Uruguay 93

WEOG (2 seats)

193 votes, 1 invalid, 14 abstentions

France: 174
UK: 171

Andorra 1
Greece 1
Luxembourg 1
Portugal 1
San Marino 1

Why Cuba should not be elected to the UN Rights Council – by Rosa Maria Payá

Today the UN will elect 14 out of 16 candidate countries to be new members of its top human rights body. UN Watch heads an international campaign of MPs and NGOs urging nations to oppose the election of Algeria, China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. The other candidates are France, Macedonia, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Uruguay. Click here for UN Watch’s comprehensive report, analysis and comment.

Following are the remarks of Cuban dissident Rosa Maria Payá, delivered at UN headquarters on November 4, 2013, at a press conference organized by UN Watch and the Human Right Foundation.


On September 20, the Cuban government declared, in the Human Rights Council, that they would not allow democracy in my country. They reject democratic values, and they pretend to redefine them with twisted principles, in order to remain in power forever.

The Cuban mission declined all recommendations to stop political apartheid, and to ensure fundamental freedoms, among many rights requested by the Cuban people from the government.

My father Oswaldo Payá is the founder of the  Christian Liberation Movement. He won the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament, and he struggled peacefully for the recognition, in law and practice, of the right of all Cubans to have rights. He promoted a referendum known as the Varela Project, which has the support of more than 25,000 citizens, more than the number requested by our Constitution. Ten years later, the Cuban government still refuses to answer this citizen call for a plebiscite, violating its own Constitution.

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