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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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S. Arabia, China and Russia win seats on UNHRC

  • Veeramalla Anjaiah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, November 13, 2013 | 05:09 am

The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday (or Wednesday in local time) elected 14 countries --  including some egregious human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba, Algeria and Russia --- to serve on the  UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The remaining nine countries were France, United Kingdom, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa, Macedonia, Maldives, Namibia and Vietnam. All the 14 countries were elected by secret ballot.   

In a press release, the UN announced through its website in New York that all these countries serve for a  period of three years beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Human rights organizations slammed the election of some ntorious human righters abusers to the top human rights body. They described it as a severe blow to the credibility and efficacy of the human rights body that is already in a bad shape due to the entry of some countries with poor human rights records.

Countries like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and  Algeria, which perpetrate gross and systemic violations of human rights, had refused to let independent UN human rights monitors visit to investigate alleged abuses in their countries.

"Countries that haven't allowed UN experts appointed by the council to visit have a lot of explaining to do," CTV News reported quoting New York-based Human Rights Watch director Peggy Hicks as saying just after the elections.

"It's like hiring someone, then not allowing them to enter the office."Geneva-based UN Watch joined the chorus.

'€œThis is a black day for human rights,'€ the Canada Free Press reported quoting UN Watch executive directr Hillel Neuer as saying.  '€œToday the UN sent a message that politics trumps human rights, and it let down millions of victims worldwide who look to the world body for protection.'€

Surprisingly, Southeast Asia'€™s newcomer Vietnam received the highest number of votes in the election. It received 184 votes in the 193-member UN body.

To couterbalance these human rights abusers, the General Assembly also elected France, United Kingdom, Mexico and Namibia which have better human rights record. Countries like Morocco, a moderate, democratic  Muslim-majority state, Africa'€™s power house South Africa, tiny Macedonia encourage and promote human rights in their countries.

World'€™s three biggest democracies '€“ India, the US and Indonesia '€“ are also currently members of the UNHRC. Indonesia'€™s seat will expire at the end of 2014.

With an intention to promote and protect human rights around the world, the UN General Assembly established the UNHRC -- an inter-governmental body within the UN system '€“ in 2006.  The 47-member UNHRC has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and address situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

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