The UN must have a sense of humour: China and Russia are allowed to join UN Human Rights Council despite appalling records of repression but at least Saudi Arabia is refused
- Fifteen positions were up for grabs on the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday
- Saudi Arabia was the only country up for membership that failed to get elected
- China was reelected for another three years but saw a fall in votes since 2016
- Russia retained its seat unopposed despite poisoning of Alexei Navalny
China and Russia were today re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council despite appalling records on repression.
Saudi Arabia was the only country up for election that failed to secure one of the three-year seats, dealing a blow to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has attempted to put an international sheen on his despotic reign.
China, which is responsible for human rights abuses on an industrial scale, including the arbitrary detention of a million Uighur Muslims and ‘conversion therapy’ for gay people, won 139 votes – a loss of backing from 41 UN member states.
Beijing’s old Soviet ally Russia, which stands accused of poisoning Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critic Alexei Navalny with novichok, was elected unopposed.
Saudi Arabia failed in its bid to become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday as China and Russia were elected to three-year terms. Pictured: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin (right)
Saudi Arabia secured just 90 votes.
Fifteen positions were up for grabs on the 47-seat body which US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of in 2018.
‘Today the UN General Assembly once again elected countries with abhorrent human rights records,’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
He slammed the body’s membership rules, saying they ‘allow the election of the world’s worst human rights abusers to seats on the council.’
Russia and Cuba were among 11 countries elected unopposed. All 193 UN members were able to vote in each region.
Pakistan and Uzbekistan were elected with 169 votes while Nepal was also elected with 150 votes.
The controversial voting system sees countries strike bargains to agree on who will stand, often unopposed.
China called Pompeo’s criticism ‘very absurd’ and welcomed the ‘high recognition’ of its achievements on the international stage.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian attacked Washington’s own record and accused it of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs using human rights as a pretext.
‘This (election) fully reflects the international community’s high recognition of the development and progress of China’s human rights cause and China’s participation in global human rights governance,’ Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.
Rights groups criticised China’s election citing Beijing’s rights violations in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang, as well as attacks on human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and government critics.
Human Rights Watch had pointed to an unprecedented call by 50 UN experts on June 26 for ‘decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms in China,’ a call echoed by over 400 civil society groups from more than 60 countries.
In reference to the sizeable drop in support for China, Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, tweeted: ‘Shows more states are disturbed by China’s abysmal rights record.’
The charity also praised the snubbing of Saudi Arabia.
Human Rights Watch deputy executive director Bruno Stagno said: ‘The Human Rights Council elections today delivered a stunning rebuke to Saudi Arabia under Mohammed bin Salman.
‘Only country not elected, shunned by a majority of the UN. The kingdom reaped what it deserves for its serious violations of human rights and war crimes abroad.’
Deputy executive director of Human Rights Watch Bruno Stagno said: ‘The Human Rights Council elections today delivered a stunning rebuke to Saudi Arabia under Mohammed bin Salman’
Pakistan and Uzbekistan were elected to the council (pictured in a meeting on September 18) with 169 votes while Nepal was also elected with 150 votes
Democracy For The Arab World Now hailed Saudi Arabia’s snubbing.
Executive director Sarah Leah Whitson said: ‘Unless Saudi Arabia undertakes dramatic reforms to release political prisoners, end its disastrous war in Yemen and allow its citizens meaningful political participation, it will remain a global pariah.’
The organisation was founded by Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudi agents at country’s Istanbul consulate two years ago.