The Rosett Report

Now Syria Wants a Seat on the UN Human Rights Council

Here we go again. After horrific scenes of slaughter by Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, the United Nations Human Rights Council finally got around to suspending Libya from a membership it should never have been given in the first place.

Now, as candidates declare themselves for this year’s election to seats coming open on the Human Rights Council, Syria wants a seat. We learn this not because the U.S. Mission to the UN has publicly flagged this outrage — they haven’t. We learn it because UN Watch in Geneva has been keeping an eye on the list of candidates, squirreled away several layers deep on the UN General Assembly web site. UN Watch has just sent out a press release on this latest travesty, which as I write this is not yet posted on their web site, but probably soon will be.

The upshot is that the 47 seats on the UN Human Rights Council are allocated on the basis of geographic groupings of member states — a method that has nothing to do with human rights, though plenty to do with UN politics — and with four seats coming open for the “Asian States,” there are currently just three candidates: India, the Philippines and Syria. Barring a strong campaign by the likes of the U.S. to do something about this, and unless some other candidates enter the list (preferably countries where the governments actually respects human rights), Syria looks like a shoe-in.

Syria, under the dynastic despotism of the Assads — first father, now son — is one of the world’s worst human rights abusers, not to mention a state sponsor of terrorism, and a government caught out in 2007 building a secret nuclear reactor with the help of North Korea (a problem solved thanks only to a strike in 2007 by the air force of Israel — the democracy the UN Human Rights Council spends most of its time condemning).

The UN General Assembly is due to vote on the new candidates for the Human Rights Council in May. Whole rafts of eminent diplomats are now busy distancing themselves from the Qaddafi regime they so recently embraced. Great. So, what are they doing to block Bashar Al-Assad’s Syria?