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Testimony at the UN

UN Watch Statement
29th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
June 16, 2015

Delivered by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer


Thank you, Mr. President. The High Commissioner spoke of the need to end impunity. Yet what we are witnessing here at the United Nations is this: Countries that commit gross and systematic violations of human rights are not only given immunity, but they are actually rewarded with high positions.

When member states are silent, the High Commissioner must lead. We urge him to consider, and we ask:

Why is it that Saudi Arabia, which subjugates women, which just expelled a student from university because she lowered her veil on a female-only schoolbus, is rewarded by the UN with a seat on this Human Rights Council?

Why is it that Saudi Arabia, which just upheld the conviction of blogger Raif Badawi, and his punishment of a thousand lashes and ten years in prison for the crime of “insulting Islam,” was allowed to play host in Jeddah, the city where Mr. Badawi was flogged and remains in prison, to a UN-backed conference on “combating religious intolerance”?

Why is it that a country now advertising for more executioners to behead more prisoners than ever before, had the thought that it could be head of this Council?

The High Commissioner spoke of the war in Yemen. Yet the two words “Saudi Arabia” — which has been pounding the country indiscriminately, with 2200 killed, 10,000 wounded, 20 million in need of aid — were carefully omitted.

So too, we heard nothing today on Iran, which has equally played a deadly role in Yemen, as it continues to sponsor the killers of innocents in Syria, Iraq, Gaza and Lebanon, just as it oppresses its own people at home.

Silence is bad enough. Yet given its horrific record on child marriages, forced head-coverings, domestic violence, gender inequality, and the constant harrassment and arrest of women by morality police, by what logic — by what morality — did the UN, just two months ago, reward the Islamic Republic of Iran with a seat on the board of UN Women?

Will any member states speak out against the practice of rewarding the perpetrators?

Will the High Commissioner?

I thank you, Mr. President.

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