Iran, Cuba, China, Pakistan, Egypt, Venezuela Urge Silencing of UN Watch
Testimony before U.N. Human Rights Council, delivered by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, 19 June 2014, in the debate under Agenda Item 3, “Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights”
The 2014 Catalog of U.N. Inaction
on Global Human Rights Abuses
Thank you, Mr. President.
The members of this Council have been mandated by the international community to protect victims of human rights violations around the world. Is the Council living up to its mandate?
Let us consider the most fundamental of all human rights—the right to life—by examining what has happened in the world, over the past 12 months:
July 2013, Turkey: Doctors report that in the Gezi Park protests, police killed 5 people, wounded 8,163 and used chemical riot control weapons against more than 10,000.
August, Egypt: Authorities crush the sit-in held by supporters of deposed president Morsi, killing 1,000 people.
September, Iran: One month after President Rouhani’s inauguration, amid promises of human rights reforms, Iranian officials ignore UN appeals, and hang a record 50 individuals.
Did the council respond with any resolutions, urgent debates, or inquiries to determine the facts, and hold perpetrators accountable? No. Its response was silence.
October, Afghanistan: Terrorists bomb a minibus, killing 14 women and a child who were on their way to celebrate a wedding.
November, Libya: Militia kill 31 during protests in Tripoli, injuring 235.
December, South Sudan: BBC reports mass ethnic killings, including 200 shot by security forces.
January, Pakistan: 236 civilians killed by terrorist attacks.
This Council’s response? Silence.
February, Ukraine: Police kill 75 protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square.
March, China: Activist Cao Shunli, who was arrested for trying to travel to Geneva and participate this Council, mysteriously dies in prison.
April, Iraq: 750 Iraqis killed, 1,541 injured by terrorism and other violence.
May, Venezuela: Troops arrest 243 student protesters and kill one of their own, bringing the death toll to 42 since the start of the opposition protests.
Finally, June — a few weeks ago — in Nigeria: Boko Haram massacres 200 civilians while still holding the 276 school girls it abducted in April…
President: Please can I ask you to wait? There is a point of order from Venezuela…
Venezuela: I think this speaker is out of order and I would ask that he confine himself to the agenda items under consideration. He’s also mentioned my country and I will take the floor later on that…
France: France attaches great importance to the voice of civil society which should be able to speak freely in the work of the council and contribute to her work…
USA: Along the same lines as my colleague from France, we firmly believe that NGOs and civil society be heard… What the speaker was saying is consistent with the topic of this agenda item so we urge you to let him continue.
Cuba: I am looking at the agenda, [and] we were never talking about countries as far as I understood. We do not understand why the NGO has been spending its entire time talking about country situations. This is not the agenda item for this…
Ireland: We do believe that the speaker was speaking to the agenda item by providing concrete examples linked to those thematic issues and therefore we would kindly ask that he be allowed to continue.
China: China requests the president to make a ruling to end the speech by this NGO.
Canada: Canada, much like others who have spoke before us, firmly believes that accredited NGOs must be permitted to speak at the council… It is essential to respect the council’s emphasis on open dialogue. This is a question of freedom of speech… The statements that were being made were pertinent to the agenda items that were being discussed.
Norway: This statement should not be interrupted because an NGO mentions concrete examples of human rights violations so we therefore ask you to let the speaker continue the statement.
Iran: My delegation would like to support the point of order made by the delegation of the Venezuela.
Pakistan: My delegation also supports the point of order raised by Venezuela. It is important that we should respect and adhere to the rules of procedure and discuss relevant issues under the relevant agenda items.
United Kingdom: The UK supports the right of accredited NGOs to speak at the UN Human Rights Council… We request that the speaker be allowed to finish their statement.
Egypt: We just want to also add our voice to other speakers who spoke about the appropriateness of speaking under the right agenda item. We don’t believe that what was mentioned in the statement of the NGO here relates to our discussion.. there are certain rules and regulations for this council all of us have to stick to.
President: What I can say is that already I’ve noted that you agree that NGOs do have the right to speak. The issues relating to human rights don’t take place in an abstract context… If a speaker were to refer to relevant human rights issues under the agenda item under consideration, it is possible that the speaker may give examples or illustrations from specific examples from specific situations… I give the floor back to the speaker.
UN Watch (Hillel Neuer): Thank you. Mr. President, if it “inappropriate” to speak about the urgent need to take action for victims of human rights violations around the world, then why are we here?