China, Russia, Saudi Arabia set to join UN Human Rights Council
China, Saudi Arabia and Russia are poised to join the United Nations Human Rights Council, raising alarms among rights groups, who say the countries are among the world’s “worst rights violators”.
The UN General Assembly is expected to hold elections on Tuesday for 15 seats in the 47-nation council, with the new members serving for three years from January 2021.
“Electing these dictatorships as UN judges on human rights is like making a gang of arsonists into the fire brigade,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, an independent human rights group based in Geneva, said in a statement.
“Serial rights abusers should not be rewarded with seats on the Human Rights Council,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Saudi Arabia was previously on the council until 2019. China, which is under fire over its treatment of ethnic Uighurs in the far western region of Xinjiang and its imposition of a National Security Law in Hong Kong, could also return as a member.
HRW said both countries had a history of using their seats in the council “to prevent scrutiny of their abuses and those by their allies.”
“It’s not good for human rights or for the rights council when the worst rights violators get elected,” Charbonneau said.
Only last month, dozens of nations condemned Saudi Arabia before the council over serious rights violations and demanded accountability for the murder Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post newspaper columnist who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
The council also alleged other serious rights violations in Saudi Arabia, including reports of torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances and HRW noted the Saudi-led coalition also continues to commit war crimes against civilians in Yemen
The conflict has killed more than 100,000 people and created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with more than three million people internally displaced and two-thirds of the population relying on food aid for survival.