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Libya and the Human Rights Council

Call for Action to Thwart Bid by Libya, and other notorious human rights abusers, to join UN Human Rights Council

New York, May 4, 2010 Two UN watchdog organizations today urged the United Nations General Assembly to reject five candidates for the United Nations Human Rights Council–- Libya, as well as Angola, Malaysia, Mauritania, and Qatar.

In a May 13 election among the UN General Assembly membership, 14 of the 47 seats on the Council will be filled as part of the annual rotation of membership. Member States must receive at least 97 affirmative votes in order to be elected. Each regional group is allotted a number of spaces, and individual countries in those groups can declare themselves to be candidates for those seats.

In a report issued today at the United Nations in New York, UN Watch and Freedom House express particular concern for the lack of qualified candidates from the Africa regional group. “At a time when the ranks of African democracies are growing, it sends a terrible message to the world that a notorious human rights abuser such as Libya appears uncontested on the ballot.” said Thomas O. Melia, deputy executive director of Freedom House. “Africa’s positive political trajectory over the past decade can be better represented than by the current list of candidates, which includes such distinctly non-democratic states such as Angola and Mauritania.”

Candidates considered “not qualified” have sub-par human rights records at home and also have consistently voted against or abstained from resolutions condemning serious human rights violations, including those of North Korea, Sudan and Iran. Two other candidate states deemed “not qualified,” both in the Asian region, are Malaysia and Qatar.

“Freedom House and UN Watch urge all UN General Assembly members not to write in the name of Libya or other unqualified states when filling out the four African slots on their secret ballot,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director, UN Watch. “They should instead write in the names of African countries with far greater qualifications.”

Countries in the Africa regional group deemed “qualified” by the two organizations and could be written in include Cape Verde, Botswana, Mali and Tanzania. Countries in the Asia regional group deemed “qualified” include Papua New Guinea and Micronesia.

“It is our hope that better qualified countries in the Africa and Asia groups would formally declare their candidacies before May 13–-and be encouraged to do so by the United States, the European Union, and the rest of the global community that respects human rights,” said Melia, of Freedom House. “Member states should write in any of these better alternatives instead of the notorious regime of Colonel Qaddafi.”

According to the report, of the 14 candidates announced to date, only 5 are considered to be “qualified” to serve on the Council, including Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Guatemala and Maldives. Additionally, 4 candidates are identified as having “questionable” records, including Moldova, Ecuador, Uganda and Thailand.

To view a copy of the report, click here.

ENDS

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