The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR), claims to lead the world in the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The system is made up of 47 countries each serving for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms. What does the council really do? Plagued by controversy and claiming to serve in an era of unending world wars, some interesting facts have recently come to light.
Saudi Arabia who gained a seat on the council, bribed it’s way to a position by paying for British influence. Leaked documents and global press highlighted the issue, bring light to the transfers and deals between Saudi Arabia and the UK. Saudi Arabia faced more allegations of applying pressure to the council to drop and inquiry over human rights abuses in the Yemen war also including numerous war crimes involving Doctors Without Borders. The Netherlands withdrew a resolution instructing the UN high commissioner for human rights to send investigators to Yemen. It was reported the United States, France and the United Kingdom helped the Saudis bury the international probe. Saudi Arabia then introduced a resolution asking the committee on human rights to condemn Iran and Russia’s involvement in Syria. The resolutions include limits to free speech.
Shortly following the resolutions, Saudi authorities carried out the largest mass execution in decades killing 47 individuals including peaceful critics. Saudi Arabia, who uses crucifixion as a means of death, also executes routinely for juvenile crimes. Human rights organizations around the world are shedding more and more light on the facts involving human crimes committed by Saudi officials.
The Doctors Without Borders bombings brought the UN to release statements calling for open inquiries and stating the bombings of hospitals are war crimes. The US took responsibility for at least one that killed numerous hospital workers, changing accounts of the incident at different times. The Obama administration has still refused an independent inquiry.
The UN Rights Envoy who investigates human rights abuses in Palestine released a special report to the United Nation’s Security Council in October of 2015 regarding the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. The Envoy called upon Israeli authorities to stop using any measure amounting to collective punishment or which otherwise contravenes international law. Within a few months he announced he would resign claiming Israel denied him of repeated requests to access the territories as well as obstructing his investigations into the Israeli war on Gaza. In his resignation the envoy claimed the Palestinian goverment had complied with all requests. In November 2015 it was reported that in the first half of 2015 alone least 600 Palestinian children were arrested in Jerusalem and that roughly 40% were sexually abused. A new report has been issued about the Israeli government torturing children and keeping them in outdoor cages during winter time. Lawyers from Israel’s Public Defender’s Office (PDO) visited a prison in Ramla and published a report.
UN human rights recently pointed out sadistic killings, starvation, abductions, and mass graves of civilians in countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Notably, all areas of war involving NATO and coalition forces destabilization tactics. Civilians involved in the ongoing conflict in Iraq had at least 18,802 civilians killed while another 36,245 have wounded between 1 January 2014 and 31 October 2015. War crimes for the use of starvation as a weapon of war has been called to light in Syria as well as the fact that 250,000 Syrians, mostly civilians, have already been killed. As well as the Doctors Without Borders bombings in Afghanistan involving the US, the UN recorded the first part of 2015 being the highest number of children and women casualties compared to the same period in previous years and documented 4,921 civilian casualties (1,592 deaths and 3,329 injured) for that time alone.
The council’s current membership is based on geographical distribution as follows:
African States: 13 seats
Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
Western European and other States: 7 seats
Eastern European States: 6 seats