Syria is running for a spot on the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Syrian regime, for over the past year, has ruthlessly engaged in suppressing protesters by murdering and detaining thousands of opposition figures, and now hopes the international body will be more accepting.
"According to a U.S.-sponsored and EU-backed draft resolution that was debated today during informal meetings at the council in Geneva, the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad is a declared candidate for a seat on the 47-nation U.N. body, in elections to be held next year at the 193-member General Assembly," the Geneva-based U.N. Watch group reports.
As part of the U.N.’s 53-nation Asian group, Syria’s candidacy would be virtually assured of victory due to the prevalent system of fixed slates, whereby regional groups orchestrate uncontested elections, naming only as many candidates as allotted seats.
That’s how non-democracies like China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia won their current seats, and how Pakistan and Venezuela are about to do the same.
American and the EU are taking action to prevent Syria from being placed on the Human Rights Council. "Fears that Syria will indeed win—in a 2013 election for a position starting the following year—appear to have mobilized the U.S. and the European Union into taking the unprecedented action of asking the council to declare in advance that a candidate country, in this case Syria, be declared inherently disqualified to join its ranks," says U.N. Watch.
In a strongly-worded resolution condemning the Syrian government for committing atrocities, slated for a Friday vote, paragraph 14 “stresses that the current Syrian government’s announced candidacy for the Human Rights Council in 2014 fails to meet the standards for Council membership” as set forth in its founding charter. That Syria is a contender came as a major revelation.
But some members of the Human Rights Council--countries, such as China, Cuba, and Russia, with their own history of human rights abuses--are defending Syria, suggesting the legitimacy of this organization, regardless of what's decided on Syria, has long been lost.