Delegates arrive for the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, February 27, 2017.
© 2017 Reuters
(New York) – United Nations member countries should not vote for the Democratic Republic of Congo in the UN Human Rights Council election because of the government’s widespread human rights violations and lack of cooperation with UN rights mechanisms, Human Rights Watch said today. The annual election for seats on the 47-nation Human Rights Council will be held at the UN General Assembly in New York on October 16, 2017.
“Accepting Congo’s election bid would undermine the founding principles and credibility of the UN’s top rights body and its ability to promote respect for human rights,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch. “It would also be a serious affront to the countless victims of government abuses and to the work of courageous Congolese activists.”
In the UN’s African Group, Congo, Angola, Senegal, and Nigeria are running on a closed slate for the group’s four positions on the council, which virtually ensures a seat for all. But because a majority of votes cast is needed for election, Congo could be denied a spot if half of the member countries voting refrain from casting a vote for it.
Many human rights activists in Congo have spoken out against their country’s candidacy. On October 12, 157 Congolese organizations called on UN member countries to oppose Congo’s candidacy, saying that voting for Congo would “send a wrong signal to a country that is far from exemplary” on human rights. On October 9, the citizens’ movement LUCHA (Struggle for Change) held a sit-in in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi against Congo’s candidacy.
Under UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council, UN member states “shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and…