Kuwait ‘Lesser of Two Evils’ for UN Human Rights Panel
Syria’s killing of protesters has cost it a place on the UN Human Rights Council. Its candidacy is being replaced by Kuwait, where there is no rule of law.
Syria was proposed by the Asian bloc for the United Nations panel, which includes other Muslim nations – most prominently Saudi Arabia – that have disastrous records concerning violations of human rights. The Asian group also is sponsoring the Philippines, Indonesia and India for places on the Council.
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal force against demonstrators caused the Asian bloc to scramble for a different candidate for a seat on the 47-member Council.
Syria has not officially withdrawn its candidacy, but diplomats have said privately that Damascus will not run for the post.
"We understand that Syria will withdraw its bid to become a member of the Human Rights Council," a spokesman for the British Mission to the United Nations was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying. "If true, then we welcome that move and believe it is absolutely the right thing to happen,” he said. "We consider it completely inappropriate for a country conducting such violent repression against peaceful protestors to be seeking membership of the Human Rights Council."
Kuwait’s record on human rights leaves a lot to be desired, according to the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch. Its director Hillel Neuer said that Kuwait is "far better than Syria, but another non-democracy nevertheless. The defeat of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's cynical candidacy is a welcome message to his brutalized population that the world is repulsed by the regime's ongoing massacres.”
The U.S. State Department has reported that Kuwait limits “freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion" and denies equal rights to women.
There is no rule of law except by the emir, who appoints all judges and has the authority to dissolve the National Assembly without reason.
Amnesty International has reported “violence against women in society continues and foreign workers remain vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, particularly female domestic workers, who have virtually no protection at all.