The Vancouver Sun

Critics blast UN Rights Council’s two-faced stance on Syria
The vancouver Sun

The duplicity of the UN’s Human Rights Council could be on full display Friday as the Geneva-based body holds an emergency session on human rights abuses in Syria — even as it appears set to welcome the Arab country as a member.

Canada was among 37 co-sponsors of a Wednesday measure that successfully scheduled the emergency session — but human rights monitoring groups noted that Syria’s candidacy to join the 47-member council for an upcoming three-year term remained intact.

« Choosing Syria to be a global judge of human rights would be like appointing Bernard Madoff to defend victims of financial fraud, » said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch in Geneva, referring to the former Wall Street broker convicted of operating a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

He also warned that the emergency session is not guaranteed to put Syria on the hot seat — recalling that in 2009, the council ended up praising Sri Lanka for its conduct during that country’s civil war, after European countries sought an emergency session to condemn the violence there.

Members of the UN Asian group agreed in January to submit the names of Syria and three other countries to fill four soon-to-be-vacant « Asian » seats on the council, thereby assuring the success of all four with the approval of a simple majority of the 192-member UN General Assembly in a May 20 ballot.