Arab women in front of UN sign
Arab women in front of UN sign Flash 90

The UN has announced that elections for 14 influential seats on its Human Rights Council will be held on November 12th, with the world body for the first time confirming that candidates include China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and other regimes criticized for widespread human rights abuses.

Iran pulled out of the race after the July 9th revelation by UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights group based in Geneva, sparked outrage worldwide.

According to a new and updated chart published by UN Watch, compiled from the UN website and diplomatic sources, the Assad regime of Syria is still running, as is Cuba.

UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said that Syria's bid is expected to fail. "Yet given that the UN recently elected Syria to the human rights committee of its world agency on education, science and culture, and to a decolonization committee charged with upholding fundamental human rights, we can't afford to take anything for granted," he added. "We need to actively oppose every one of these cynical bids."

"The U.S., the EU, UN chief Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi  Pillay must end their silence over outrageous candidacies from China, Russia, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia, otherwise these and other serial abusers will surely win," said Neuer.

"The world's leading voices for democracy are turning a blind eye as mass murderers and misogynists are infiltrating the world's highest human rights body. Words matter. What is said and done in the name of human rights at the UN affects hearts and minds the world over. It's time for Washington, Paris, London and Berlin to speak out."

"By electing massive abusers of human rights to the very body charged with protecting them, the UN is putting rotten ingredients into the soup. We should not be surprised by the results," said Neuer.

The council already includes Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Mauritania, Venezuela, and other countries with dismal human rights records.

UN Watch is working with dissidents and NGOs from China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia to oppose their bids.

"Candidates like Algeria, China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia have one thing in common: they systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens," said Neuer, "and they consistently vote the wrong way on UN initiatives to protect the human rights of others."

"It's not only that these governments are unqualified; they are the ones who should be in the dock of the accused, not sitting on high as prosecutor and judge."

"It is an insult to their victims -- and a defeat for the global cause of human rights -- when the UN allows gross abusers to act as champions and global judges of human rights," said Neuer.

"When the U.N.'s highest human rights body becomes a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse, the world's victims suffer."

"The U.S. and EU should encourage worthy candidates from each regional group to throw their hats in the ring, and then lobby for their election over the current slate of tyrannies and human rights abusers," said Neuer.

"Countries that murder and torture their own people must not be allowed to become the world's judges on human rights," he added.