Testimony of UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer before 2019 opening session of UN Human Rights Council. 

Mr. President: Human rights victims around the world look to the United Nations to uphold its founding promises.

Thirteen years ago, in the resolution creating this Council, the UN promised to address gross and systematic violations.

The UN promised that Council members would uphold the “highest standards” of “promoting and protecting human rights.”

And the UN promised that this Council would, “eliminate double standards and politicization.”

Today, victims and supporters of human rights worldwide, have the right to ask this panel: Is the United Nations keeping its promises?

They have a right to ask:

• Why was Venezuela — whose Maduro government just days ago attacked innocent civilians, and burned trucks carrying life-saving humanitarian aid — elected to this Council, repeatedly over the past six years?

• Why is Saudi Arabia, which jails innocent blogger Raif Badawi, and subjugates women under a barbaric guardianship regime, a permanent member of this Council?

• By what logic did the UN also elect China, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Qatar, Eritrea, DRC, Bangladesh, Cameroon and Cuba, as members of this Human Rights Council?

• Why has there never been a single resolution on violations by the government of Turkish President Erdogan, once again named as the world’s worst jailer of journalists?

• Why does this Council turn a blind eye as Zimbabwe crushes peaceful dissent, arresting human rights heroes like Pastor Evan Mawarire?

Finally: hundreds of political prisoners like Morad Tahbaz and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe have the right to ask: why has there never been a single urgent session or commission of inquiry on the abuses of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which oppresses women under a forced Hijab law, tortures political prisoners, and spreads terrorism throughout the Middle East and beyond?

And they have a right to know: by what human rights criteria why did the Council invite the Vice-President of Iran to the dais of this panel?

Is it not the height of cynicism to invite an Iranian official to speak, as she did just now of, “disregard for rules and norms,” when her government—as we speak—shows utter disdain and disregard for the human rights, and lives, of their own people?

Thank you, Mr. President.

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