Here’s a short but powerful speech (two minutes long) given yesterday before the Human Rights Council at the UN. I have no idea who the passionate young woman is (she appears to represent the UN Watch group), but I know of the three incidents of rape she recounts.
The countries she names are, of course, Muslim-majority countries, with an abysmal record of treating women fairly and equally. Saudi Arabia, among the worst offenders, has a seat on the Council as well as a leadership position on one of its panels. As the Washington Post writes, noting that the U.S. also bears the stain of human-rights violations:
Saudi Arabia had earlier this year sought the leadership slot of the entire Human Rights Council of the U.N., a move that drew criticism given the country’s human rights record. The kingdom routinely comes in at the bottom of Freedom House’s rankings of world freedom.
“Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights,” UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said in a statement. “This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief, and underscores the credibility deficit of a human rights council that already counts Russia, Cuba, China, Qatar and Venezuela among its elected members.”
Some observers have questioned why Saudi Arabia has a seat at the 47-member Human Rights Council at all. But many countries on the council have enacted laws that are at odds with the U.N.’s official stances. To take one obvious example, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights advocates against capital punishment, saying that “the death penalty has no place in the 21st century.”
But a number of countries on the council, including the U.S., actively sentence people to death and execute them each year. In 2014, council member countries executed at least 139 prisoners, contrary to the commissioner’s stated position. That doesn’t include executions by China, which also sits on the council and where experts agree that annual execution numbers run into the thousands. Exact numbers on capital punishment in China are hard to come by, as official sources are generally seen to be unreliable.
And of course it’s barbaric that the U.S. is the only First World country (unless you count Japan) that retains the death penalty. What kind of example is that?