Nicaragua’s Ortega, supporter of Qaddafi, also a candidate
GENEVA, March 9 – One week after Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s regime was suspended from the U.N.’s 47-nation Human Rights Council for “gross and systematic” violations, the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad declared it is running for a seat, in the upcoming May 20th elections. Click here for link to UNGA website.
“It’s an outrage,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group. “Qaddafi was just ousted by the UN on grounds that a government which brutalizes its own people doesn’t belong on the world’s highest human rights body. Well, the Assad regime runs a notorous police state that denies the Syrian people the right to free speech and freedom of assembly, jails journalists and tortures dissidents. It sponsors some of the world’s most vicious terrorist groups and has assassinated numerous journalists and opponents in Lebanon. The UN and the cause of human rights will be severely damaged if Syria’s Assad regime wins a seat.”
UN Watch called on the U.S. and the EU to lead a vigorous campaign to defeat Syria’s candidacy, and to ensure there will be competition on the Asian slate of candidates. Currently, there are only three declared candidates for the four alloted seats.
“Last year, the democracies fought a successful campaign to defeat Iran, and persuaded other countries to compete. Yet they said and did absolutely nothing on Libya — perhaps due to lucrative oil and business deals — and Qaddafi won by a landslide. It’s vital this year that the US and the EU announce early that they are opposed to having the oppressive Ba’athist regime of Bashar Assad judging the world on human rights,” said Neuer.
Neuer said that Syria clearly failed to meet the criteria of UNGA Resolution 60/251, which established the UN Human Rights Council in 2006. General Assembly members are obliged to elect states to the Council by “tak[ing] into account the candidates’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.” The resolution also provides that consideration ought to be given to whether the candidate can meet the obligations of Council membership, which include (a) to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and (b) to “fully cooperate with the Council.”
If there is competition within a regional slate, the candidates with the most votes in each region win, so long as they receive the affirmative votes of 97 other countries (an absolute majority of the membership of the UNGA).
The frequent use of “closed lists” in the elections, said Neuer, deprive the Member States of the UNGA of the opportunity to exercise the responsibilities described in the 2006 UNGA Resolution creating the Council and – because of the records of many of this year’s candidates – threaten to further weaken the Council, which still struggles to establish a reputation superior to its widely disparaged predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission.
Neuer expressed concern that many regions would not offer any competition, ensuring the election of Syria and also Nicaragua.
UN Watch slammed Nicaragua’s candidacy. “Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, who accepted the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize in 2009, recently renewed his support for the Libyan dictator despite Qaddafi’s ongoing massacre of innocent civilians. By effectively supporting murder, Ortega’s government is clearly disqualified from being an arbiter of human rights.”