Groundhog Day at the UN Human Rights Council

Yes, folks, it's about time for the United Nations to produce its next slate of candidates for election to 14 of the 47 member seats on the UN's Geneva-based Human Rights Council. Not that the UN seems in a hurry to advertise the candidates, but Geneva-based UN Watch has the scoop. So, guess who's in the running...

A) Cuba

B) Saudi Arabia

C) China

D) Russia

E) Chad

F) Vietnam

G) All of the Above (plus maybe Syria and Iran, though these have yet to be confirmed)

A no-brainer, I know. It's obviously G, and in the spirit of the UN brand of human rights diversity, we might well ask what kind of bigotry is at work that the UN has failed to flatter North Korea with a place on this list. Of course, there are other candidates as well. Countries such as France, the UK, Latvia, Mexico and Morocco are also among the contenders. And in an election process that allocates seats by quota to regional groups, there are actually more candidates than seats for some of the regions -- meaning that when the General Assembly votes on these candidates this November, there will actually be a bit of competition.

But it's a good bet that some of the human rights abusers listed above will end up on the council. Even for those who don't win seats, the UN's mechanisms provide a wealth of opportunities to weigh in as erstwhile authorities on human rights, regardless of what's going on back home in the dungeons, the gulag... or perhaps in Evin prison. Here's a choice example of UN Human Rights Council deliberations: Iran weighing in at the Human Rights Council just two months ago to praise -- of course -- Cuba "for its real commitment to human rights." (Iran Statement on Cuba -- UN Human Rights Council -- May 2013 ).