That Makes Sense: Syria Set to Win Seat on UN Human Rights Council

Kate Hicks

7/8/2012 9:41:00 AM - Kate Hicks

Further proof that the UN Human Rights Council is an utterly farcical waste of our money: a nation guilty of some the most egregious human rights violations is slated to win a seat in 2014. That's right. Syria, come on down!

President Bashar Assad’s regime is, however, likely to get a spot on the 47-nation council “due to the prevalent system of fixed slates, whereby regional groups orchestrate uncontested elections, naming only as many candidates as allotted seats,” according to UN Watch.

Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, reported that as part of the UN’s 53-nation Asian group, Syria’s candidacy would be nearly assured of victory due to the system of fixed slates, whereby regional groups orchestrate uncontested elections.

“That’s how non-democracies like China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia won their current seats, and how Pakistan and Venezuela are about to do the same,” Neuer wrote.

The UNHRC's schtick is that all countries have room to improve their human rights record, although some may have more work to do than others. In that sense, it attempts to put a country like Syria on equal footing with, say, the U.S., which many anti-western regimes just love.

Of course, many countries in the UNHRC recognize that giving Syria a spot on the voting council is a terrible, counter-productive, hypocritical idea, and are trying to block it. But not everyone thinks that's a good idea:

Fears that Syria will indeed win – in a 2013 election for a position starting the following year – appear to have mobilized the US and the EU into taking the unprecedented action of asking the council to declare in advance that a candidate country, in this case Syria, be declared inherently disqualified to join its ranks.

In a strongly worded resolution condemning the Syrian government for committing atrocities, slated for a vote on Friday, paragraph 14 “stresses that the current Syrian government’s announced candidacy for the Human Rights Council in 2014 fails to meet the standards for council membership” as set forth in its founding charter.

“Shockingly, the perfectly reasonable attempt to keep Syria away from the world’s highest human rights body was met with strong resistance,” Neuer said.

Cuba declared itself ‘totally opposed,’ and demanded the paragraph’s deletion, a position quickly echoed by China.”

It was for the General Assembly to decide whom to elect, Havana said.

Would you look at that! Suddenly, Syria and China are just so concerned about the implications that preemptively diqualifying Syria would have on the democratic process. Yes, totalitarian communist regimes, please tell us all about your concern for open, transparent elections.

Does anyone still take the UN seriously?