China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Algeria, all of which have refused U.N. investigators’ visits to check on alleged human rights abuses, are now members of the U.N. Human Rights Council charged with monitoring and investigating human rights abuses around the world.
Three of the five – China, Russia and Algeria, have refused 10 or more requests by U.N. experts to visit their countries, according to the independent Human Rights Watch. Saudi Arabia and Vietnam each has refused seven such requests.
The election of some new members, which is done by secret ballot, angered several human rights groups. All told, the U.N. General Assembly elected 14 new members to the 47-seat council, which is based in Geneva.
“China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens, and they consistently vote the wrong way on U.N. initiatives to protect the human rights of others,” said executive director Hillel Neuer of UN Watch. “For the U.N. to elect Saudi Arabia as a world judge on human rights would be like a town making a pyromaniac into chief of the fire department.”
It bodes ill for the council’s effectiveness if it can’t compel some of its own members to submit to scrutiny. And it adds strong evidence to the arguments of critics who say the U.N. is a bad joke.