(CNSNews.com) – Scores of countries, more than half of them in the developing world, are lining up to take part in the first U.N. Human Rights Council assessment of the United States’ human rights record.
A limited number of speakers can be accommodated during Friday’s three-hour “universal periodic review” (UPR) session in
Others high up on the list of 85 countries include
A lawmaker who chairs
Charging that the U.S. holds itself up as the example for others to emulate even while violating rights at home, Elahian told Iran’s Fars news agency that this had “redoubled the importance” of the U.S. review.
As part of the UPR process, every U.N. member state presents its rights record, once every four years, for the rest of the international community to examine, question and offer recommendations. More than 100 countries have gone through the process since it was inaugurated in mid-2008.
Although carried out under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, countries under review as well as those participating are not limited to the HRC’s 47 members.
Of the three-hour UPR, two hours are reserved for statements from country representatives, who usually speak for no more than two minutes each.
Ahead of a particular country’s UPR, diplomats interested in speaking sign up on a first come, first serve basis.
The speakers' list usually is compiled just before the UPR but, according to diplomats cited Wednesday by a Geneva-based NGO, U.N. Watch, Cuban officials “took the lead last week in circulating an advance sign-up sheet.”
“We are concerned that Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and other non-democracies are planning to hijack the session to score propaganda points and drum up anti-American sentiment worldwide,” said the organization’s executive director, Hillel Neuer.
Human Rights Council spokeswoman Claire Kaplun, who provided the list on Thursday, said it was possible the list could change before Friday morning. She also confirmed that due to the large number of signed-up countries, not all would be accommodated.
As such, the fact that countries hostile to the
Since the UPR process kicked off in 2008, the speakers’ list has emerged as a problem, with a growing number of countries raising concerns that the process is being abused and politicized.
In a bid to preempt anticipated criticism from liberal democracies, countries with poor records are reportedly ensuring that their allies sign up in large numbers so as to dominate proceedings with anodyne expressions of support.
Conversely, when a state under review (SuR) is a democracy that for some reason is viewed with antagonism by other countries, the speakers’ list is quickly filled by countries wishing to use the UPR as an opportunity to attack their chosen target.
(A delegate from
A report evaluating the UPR process, prepared this year by a Geneva-based NGO called UPR Info touched on the difficulties.
“Very often the speaking time is taken over by the so called ‘friendly’ states to the SuR,” it said.
“Sometimes these friendly states take a lot of time to praise the SuR’s accomplishments rather than make constructive critiques. Limited speaking time and number of speakers contradicts to the principle of universality of the UPR.”
The U.S. Mission in
It says the UPR format should be changed, even if that means extending the current three-hour session when necessary.
The U.S. will be represented on Friday by a senior delegation led by two assistant secretaries of state, Esther Brimmer (International Organization Affairs) and Michael Posner (Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor), and State Department legal advisor Harold Hongju Koh.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast this week called on countries that are concerned about the human rights situation in the West to take an active part in the UPR session and to urge the
Examples of the “violations” prevalent in the
More executions take place in