Death sentences for apostasy, arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial killings, and systematic suppression of free speech are just some of the qualifications the countries elected by the United Nations to serve on its 2017 Human Rights Council have.
The Human Rights Council, mind you, is supposed to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,” according to its mandate. Thus, one would think Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, China, Iraq, Cuba, Qatar, Burundi, and Bangladesh probably shouldn’t be members.
- Saudi Arabia Expertise in human rights: Death sentences for apostasy and adultery; corporal punishment including flogging and amputation; judiciary controlled by regime; beheading more peoeple than ever before; arbitrary arrests of dissenters and minorities; no freedom of speech; jails blogger Raif Badawi.
- Venezuela Expertise in human rights: Widespread arbitrary detention; imprisonment of opposition leaders; intimidation of journalists; torture; policies causing mass hunger and health catastrophe.
- China Expertise in human rights: Denial of freedom of speech, religion, and association; extrajudicial killings; repression of civil society; discrimination against Tibetans and other minorities.
- Cuba Expertise in human rights: Systematic violation of freedom of speech, assembly, press; elections are neither free nor fair; threats and violence against dissidents.
- Iraq Expertise in human rights: Pro-government militias commit widespread human rights abuses, including assassinations, enforced disappearances, property destruction.
- Qatar Expertise in human rights: Inhuman conditions for 1.4 million migrant workers; women denied basic rights to equality, denied right to be elected to legislative council; finances ISIS and Hamas.
- Burundi Expertise in human rights: Police killings of peaceful protesters; government forces commit summary executions, targeted assassinations, enforced disappearances; arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence; genocide warning.
- Bangladesh Expertise in human rights: Extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, killing of secular bloggers by Islamist groups, restrictions on online speech and the press, early and forced marriage, gender-based violence, abysmal working conditions and labor rights.
- United Arab Emirates Expertise in human rights:No political parties, no option to change government; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association; arrests without charge, incommunicado detentions, lengthy pretrial detentions; police and prison guard brutality; violence against women; anti-gay discrimination; mistreatment and sexual abuse of foreign domestic servants and other migrant workers.
How can abusers of human rights be “responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations”? They can’t.
As President-elect Trump has said, if the UN doesn’t live up to its potential, “it’s a waste of time and money.” Let’s hope he’s paying attention.