Human Rights and the UNSG

So far our posts have focused on horse-race aspects of the UNSG race. Elections among small groups can be very clubby and personality oriented. However, as we indicated in our first post, there are many important issues in this race.

One of them is Human Rights and the new Human Rights Council. TPM's Bolton Watch has an excellent account on the current state of the Human Rights Council (HRC) race:

It’s official: the US will not seek a seat on the new Human Rights Council. The decision was reportedly made last night when Ambassador Bolton visited Foggy Bottom. I suppose the bright side here is that should the US have ran for a seat, but failed to garner the requisite 96 votes, the relationship between the new council and the US would be even more strained than it is now. Bolton won this round, but I do hope that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee grills him on this decision.

 As far as I can tell, the only countries here not deserving a seat are Pakistan, Cuba, and to a lesser extent Algeria–(they are trying, but lord knows it's hard.)  Pakistan and Cuba played spoilers throughout the entire UN reform process, and sought to water down the council's power as best they could.  The only reason they seek membership is to protect themselves from criticism.  It will be a test of the new voting mechanisms to see if these two countries make it.   

Human Rights will be a major issue for the next Secretary-General. And one is left to wonder how the candidates are likely to do on this. So far, of the endorsing countries, there are some serial human rights violators. In particular, China (Sathirathai), North Korea, Uzbekistan, and Egypt (Ban) raise real questions. (For that matter, The Committee to Protect Bloggers has a great article on the crackdown on bloggers in Singapore)

How can these new candidates have credibility on Human Rights and other issues? This raises the important question: What is the UN for?

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