Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir regime, with the endorsement of the U.N.’s Africa Group, is now poised to take a seat on the U.N. Humans Rights Council for which it is running unopposed. A situation shocking human rights organizations around the globe. “Electing Sudan to the U.N. body mandated to promote and protect human rights worldwide is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women’s shelter,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
“Technically,” said Neuer, “Sudan must still receive an absolute majority of 97 affirmative country votes in the U.N. General Assembly’s November election for new human rights council members. However, in the history of these ballots, names presented on a closed slate have never been rejected. It’s just the way U.N. ambassadors like to work. Shockingly, the fact is that Sudan’s election is now a virtual certainty.”
Another recent distinction for Al-Bashir is his arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in 2009, the first ever for a head of state. The opening of which reads:
Today, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, President of Sudan, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is suspected of being criminally responsible, as an indirect (co-)perpetrator, for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property. This is the first warrant of arrest ever issued for a sitting Head of State by the ICC.
Casualty estimates for the conflict range from 300,000 to 500,000 dead with millions of refugees displaced. Not the kind of human rights record one would expect from a council member, but with Iran’s election to deputy president of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty Conference in July, it appears rogue states may be currently in vogue at the U.N.
It was only a year ago that Qaddafi’s Libya was suspended from the body. Libya chaired the Human Rights Council in 2003 and was re-elected to membership in 2010, another affront to human rights activists around the world. “For how long must we have the inmates running the asylum?” asks Neuer, a question likely never to be answered. What is certain is that with their long experience in the worst kind of human rights violations imaginable, Sudan should be able to bring a unique perspective to the council.