(CNSNews.com) – The violent crushing of anti-government protests in
While several U.N. human rights experts have spoken out against the crackdown in
Its inaction contrasts sharply with the way the 47-member HRC has responded to situations in and around
Muammar Gaddafi’s regime is a member of the HRC, a body which since its establishment in 2006 has drawn criticism for the presence and conduct of countries that are themselves widely accused of rights violations.
Reversing its predecessor’s policy of shunning the council, the Obama administration joined it in 2009, acknowledging its imperfections but arguing that it could push most effectively for improvements from within.
Seventy human rights advocacy groups from around the world in a joint appeal Monday called for the HRC urgently to convene a special session to “strongly condemn, and demand an immediate end to,
The session should also send a fact-finding mission to
No member has yet been suspended.
Any HRC member state can initiate a request for an HRC special session in response to a particularly serious situation anywhere in the world, by getting the support of 15 other countries, or one-third of the membership. In the case of the crisis in
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday the
Apart from the
The 70 rights groups appealing for the HRC to meet urgently also called for the U.N. Security Council to be convened to respond to the emergency.
“We urge you to send a clear message that, collectively, the international community, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council will not be bystanders to these mass atrocities,” they said. “The credibility of the United Nations – and many innocent lives – are at stake.”
HRC’s focus on
The Washington-based democracy watchdog Freedom House consistently rates
Although the resolution establishing the HRC stipulated that “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,” Libya won a seat easily when the U.N. General Assembly voted by secret ballot last May. Of the 188 countries that voted, 155 backed its candidacy.
The current membership also includes others widely accused of poor human rights records, including Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, Cuba and Pakistan.
Apart from concern about the presence of right-violating countries on the council, a key reason given by the Bush administration for not cooperating with it was what it said was a disproportionate fixation with
Of 14 special sessions held by the HRC since 2006, six related to the Middle East and concluded with resolutions condemning
Of the other eight, one each dealt with situations in
The Geneva-based non-governmental organization U.N. Watch, which monitors the HRC, noted in a report assessing the council’s activities last year that no special sessions had been called in response to the situation in
Similarly, the council “failed to adopt any resolution, special session or investigative mandate for Belarus, China, Cuba, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Laos, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan or Zimbabwe – all on Freedom House’s list of the 20 world’s worst abusers,” said the report.
Next week the HRC begins a regular, month-long session.
Among items on the agenda are follow-ups to two earlier special sessions on
One agenda item does deal with
The upcoming regular session will finalize
The UPR process is regarded as one of the most important mechanisms of the HRC, ensuring that every country at the U.N. must regularly defend its record before the international community.
In practice, however, democracies’ criticisms of repressive regimes have largely been eclipsed by expressions of praise and appreciation from those regimes’ allies, as was the case when Iran and China went through their reviews.
After Libya’s delegates presented a report stating that citizens enjoy freedom of expression and other freedoms in line with principles enshrined in Gaddafi’s “Great Green Document,” other delegates lined up to praise Tripoli, among them those from Algeria, Sudan, Syria, Bahrain, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Venezuela, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and “Palestine.”
Although there were also critical evaluations by the