On the same week that it was revealed Syria is running 27 torture centers in which detainees are forced to “suck their own blood off the floor,” the apparently not-quite-aptly named UN Human Rights Council is considering Syria as a member.
The UN watchdog group UN Watch is asking if the United Nations is “about to sink to a new low,” while The New York Post is sarcastically describing this latest development as “more Turtle Bay humor,” after the Manhattan neighborhood in which UN headquarters sits.
UN Watch discovered Syria’s candidacy in a draft resolution. It reports:
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.
UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer believes Syria has a good chance of winning a slot due to typical UN back-room dealings. He writes:
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.
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.
The U.S. and EU’s request was opposed by some other countries, including China, Cuba, Egypt, Brazil, Russia and India, according to UN Watch, which says: “Shockingly, the perfectly reasonable attempt to keep Syria away from the world’s highest human rights body was met with strong resistance.”
Syria tried to get on the council last year, but after massive lobbying against the bid, it was decided Kuwait would replace Syria on the council.
This isn’t the first time the UN has considered Syria as an arbiter of human rights. Last November, UNESCO unanimously approved Syria’s membership on two of its human rights committees and to this day the Assad regime remains a full member of the committee that judges human rights complaints and the committee dealing with human rights organizations.
UN Watch describes past unusual activities at the UN:
In the past decade, the U.N. Human Rights Council elected Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya as chair, hailed Sri Lanka’s “promotion and protection of all human rights” after its army had killed thousands of civilians, and convened an emergency session to lament the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of the Hamas terrorist organization.
Even so, historians will now have to decide whether the U.N.’s flagship human rights body is about to sink to a new low.
An estimated 3,000 Syrians were killed in June, making it the bloodiest month since the uprising began, according to the Syria Network for Human Rights. The network estimates some 16,000 have been killed since the uprising began more than a year ago.
Just Thursday, Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood who heads the now-suspended U.N. monitoring mission in Syria said the mission would remain on hold due to the escalation and “unprecedented” violence.