UN Watch, the Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group, urged UN chief Ban Ki-moon, rights commissioner Navi Pillay, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice and the EU’s Catherine Ashton to condemn today’s U.N. election of “genocidal, misogynistic and tyrannical” Sudan to its 54-member Economic and Social Council, a top U.N. body that regulates human rights groups, oversees U.N. committees on women's rights, and crafts resolutions from Internet freedom to female genital mutilation.
"This is an outrage," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. "On the same day we hear that Sudan is killing babies and burning homes in Darfur -- precisely the kind of dire situation ECOSOC should be urgently addressing -- the U.N. has now made vital human rights protection less likely than ever."
"It's inexplicable that 176 of 193 U.N. member states voted to support the blood-soaked regime of Omar Al-Bashir, failing to recognize that electing genocidal Sudan to a global human rights body is like choosing Jack the Ripper to guard a women’s shelter," said Neuer.
"By granting the seal of international legitimacy to a mass murderer, the United Nations human rights system has today diminished its own credibility, and cast a shadow upon the reputation of the organization as a whole.”
Although the U.S. took important action in September to pressure Sudan into withdrawing from this Monday's elections to the 47-nation Human Rights Council -- boosted by a massive campaign led my film star Mia Farrow and UN Watch -- the Obama Administration has been surprsingly silent on today's vote.
By contrast, in 2004, the U.S. ambassador famously walked out of ECOSOC after Sudan was elected.
The Obama Administration promised that when a country is under Security Council sanction for massive human-rights abuses, "it should be barred, plain and simple, from leadership roles like chairmanships in U.N. bodies. Abusers of international law or norms should not be the public face of the U.N."
Yet even though Sudan's president al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, war crimes and and crimes against humanity -- by virtue of a Security Council referral -- the U.S. voice has been silent, as has that of the European Union.
Al Bashir's regime will now help select the members of the Commission on the Status of Women, the executive board of UN Women, and UNICEF, which protects children’s rights.
Under the U.N. Charter, ECOSOC is the principal organ legislating on matters related to “promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.”
Importantly, ECOSOC is also the body that accredits and oversees human rights groups at the U.N., deciding who can participate at the UN Human Rights Council.
The dominant influence of tyrannies in ECOSOC's notorious 19-member "Committee on NGOs" has often led to the rejection or expulsion of human rights groups that dare to criticize China, Cuba or other repressive U.N. member states, or which speak for minority ethnic groups or for gay rights.
ECOSOC decides which nations will sit on, among others, the U.N.’s Commission for Social Development, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.