The UN has elected Russia, China for its 47-member human rights council, bringing the credibility of the UN Council at stake.

On October 13th, Russia and China were chosen for the UN Human Rights Council regardless of intense resistance from activists and associations all around the world. 

The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday chose 15 new nations for the 47-country board. During a secret-ballot voting in the 193-member UN General Assembly, countries like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Cuba, Russia and China made the cut to be part of the 47-member Human Rights Council whereas Saudi lost the bid by 90 votes. 

This election has called for a global condemnation indeed raising a doubt upon the credibility of the UN body. 

Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of the UN Watch, a human rights NGO, called it a “black day for human rights.”

A week prior to the elections, Hillel had pleaded with members of the General Assembly to vote against the now-elected nations. 

“The United Nations Human Rights Council was founded to protect victims from human rights abuse. And yet they’ve just elected some of the world’s worst abusers,” he said.

Louis Charbonneau, Director, UN Human Rights Watch, defended the decision by blaming lack of enough candidatures for the council. “Had there been additional candidates, China, Cuba and Russia might have lost too,” he said. 

What is the UN Human Rights Council?

The Human Rights Council is an administrative body inside the United Nations framework comprising 47 nations liable for the advancement and insurance of human rights around the world. The individuals from the Council serve for a time period of three years and are not qualified for re-appointment after two continuous terms.

How is it elected?

The 47 nations are elected directly and individually through a secret ballot by the members of the General Assembly. The seats for the council are distributed on a geographical basis. 

The flaw

In spite of the fact that this geological quantity framework tends to the variations in worldwide portrayal, it is additionally the Council’s biggest flaw. With a couple of noteworthy exemptions, the nations outside the Western Europe have defective to-appalling basic human rights and policies. Many are not even democracy.

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) - IAS4Sure

Why the opposition?

China and Russia have known to be the worst offenders of human rights globally. According to a study by the UN Watch, Chinese government sees human rights as an existential threat. China, even though it insists there are no human rights abuses in the country, has constrained approximately 2 million Uighur Muslims into inculcation camps. At first, China denied the existence of concentration camps but eventually described them as vocational training and re-education programmes. Meanwhile, China has also been called out for invading the freedom of Hong Kong. 

Russia, on the other hand, has been accused of breaching and shutting down human rights NGOs by passing problematic laws and putting human rights activists behind the bars for protesting against the government. According to a study by the UN Watch in 2019, the human rights situation in Russia cannot be worse. Countries have also called out President Vladimir Putin’s government over the mysterious poisoning of Russia’s top opposition leader, Alexey Navalny.

How steady is the China-Russia relationship? | ORF

When the culprit becomes the judge

Either of the two countries do not deserve a seat in the human rights council. With the UN electing these two countries to advocate for plights that they have been causing for centuries isn’t just ironic but also highly unethical. This membership can be easily leveraged by the two nations to justify the violation of human rights in their own respective countries. What’s laughable is that Russia and China are both communist countries who see human rights as a threat to their existence. This decision obviously brings the UN Human Rights Council’s credibility at stake.

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