Friday, 4 November 2016

Rogue States

Saudi Corruption and UN Complicity

The UN is a waste of time and space.  It is an inherently corrupt organisation.  One of our local New Zealand blogs posted an article from Middle East Eye:

Saudi Uses UN Human Rights Council to Cover Up its Abuses

Leah Schulz
Middle East Eye

This week, Saudi Arabia will be re-elected to the UN Human Right Council (HRC) for the fourth time, after another non-competitive election at the UN General Assembly (UNGA).  While serving its third term on the council, Saudi Arabia blocked international inquiries into its human rights abuses, punished Saudi citizens who worked in collaboration with the HRC, and threatened to cut critical UN funding after being called out for violating children’s rights.

Saudi Arabia’s presence on the council turns the HRC’s mission on its head.  Given the kingdom’s unrelenting record of repression, Saudi Arabia's continued council membership is an affront to the HRC's mission of promoting and protecting "all human rights around the globe".  It is no secret that Saudi Arabia’s values are at odds with the council's. Religious intolerance, gender inequality and a penchant for public executions are hardly the qualities that the UN had in mind for its council members.
Now, of course, Saudi Arabia is a nation which falls into the category of states which get a "free pass" at the UN.
 Firstly, it is not Western.  Secondly, it has suffered under the hand of Western imperialism.  Thirdly, it has money.  Fourthly, it is Islamic which is currently the "underdog's  badge of honour".  

It would seem that the Saudi government has used its time of membership on the UN Human Rights Commission to double down on its appalling human rights record.  It is taking its free pass and putting it to maximum use. 
. . . instead of incentivising the kingdom to institute reforms to curtail abuses and foster greater accountability, Saudi Arabia’s membership on the council appears to be having the opposite effect.  The number of executions in the kingdom has spiked dramatically since Saudi Arabia was last elected to the council - with 2015 marking the most brutal year in two decades with 157 executions and 2016 closing in with 124 executions as of the end of September.

Meanwhile, the country ignores visit requests from the HRC’s “special procedures” - independent human rights experts who undertake country visits and report back to the council. Currently, Saudi Arabia has seven outstanding visit requests, including requests from special rapporteurs appointed to conduct fact-finding inquiries related to torture, freedom of expression and opinion, and executions.

In addition to resisting human rights investigations by UN experts, Saudi Arabia has sought to prevent its citizens from communicating with the council and other international organisations.  In 2014, the government issued a travel ban against activist Samar Badawi after she spoke at the 27th session of the council on behalf of imprisoned Saudi activist, Waleed Abu al-Khair. Authorities prevented Badawi from travelling to Brussels to attend an EU forum on human rights.

Under the country’s counter-terrorism law, contacting international organisations, such as the HRC, can be deemed a terrorist offence. Several Saudi human rights defenders who cooperated with the HRC have been criminally prosecuted as a result, including members of the now-shuttered Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA).

ACPRA co-founder Mohammed al-Qahtani contributed numerous submissions to the HRC’s special procedures, especially to its working group on arbitrary detention. Saudi officials charged him with “provoking international organisations to adopt stances against the kingdom”. Al-Qahtani and ACPRA’s other co-founders are currently serving lengthy prison sentences for their human rights work.
The UN is a corrupt organisation, openly exploited for the national ends of its member states.  When those ends are barbaric or cruel or murderous, too bad.  The UN then adds gross insult to injury by doing sterling work, covering for its members, appointing such countries to its Human Rights Commission.  

Kiwiblog provides a summary of how human rights work out in the Kingdom of the House of Saud:

Here’s a summary of human rights in Saudi Arabia:
  • Torture by the state
  • rape victims lashed for adultery
  • Sentences of flogging up to 2,500 times
  • Imprisonment for changing religion
  • Women need permission of a man to travel abroad
  • Women not allowed to drive
  • Shia muslims ineligible for many government jobs
  • Illegal to practice any non Muslim religion in public
  • Trade unions banned, and political parties
  • Demonstrations are illegal
  • Capital punishment for homosexuality
A wonderful member of the UN Human Rights Council

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