For Immediate Release:
May 1, 2010
Contact: Anne Bayefsky
Latest UN Authority Figures
Iranâ€™s election to the UN Commission on the Status of Women on April 28, 2010 wasnâ€™t the only UN shocker that day. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe are among the dictatorships and human rights basket-cases elected to UN leadership roles and positions that entail responsibilities diametrically opposed to their qualifications.
UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations: Sudan, Cuba, China, Pakistan
UN Commission on Social Development: Cuba, Egypt, Zimbabwe
UN Commission on the Status of Women: The Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran
UN Commission on Sustainable Development: Angola, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia
UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Governing Council: Iran
UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations
The UN job description for the NGO Committee: "The main tasks of the Committee are...The consideration of applications for consultative status and requests for reclassification submitted by NGOsâ€¦[T]he monitoring of the consultative relationship." (Committee on NGOs web-site) In plain language, this Committee gets to decide what NGOs are permitted to get UN passes, passes which will allow them into the UN, to lobby governments and to participate and speak at UN meetings. Who gets to choose the right and wrong NGOs? On April 28 the UN re-elected Sudan, Cuba, China and Pakistan.
Their qualifications for the job?
(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Sudan) "[T]he government expelled 13 humanitarian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from the country. The government also shut down three Sudanese NGOs in March...As of year's end whereabouts [of the cofounder of the NGO Darfur Forum for Reconciliation and Peaceful Coexistence] were unknown...Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained...NGO members...[G]overnment forces frequently harassed NGOs that received international assistance; restricted or denied humanitarian assessments; did not approve technical agreements; changed procedures; copied NGO files; confiscated NGO property; questioned humanitarian workers at length; monitored humanitarians' personal correspondence; delayed the issuance of visas and travel permits; restricted travel; and publicly accused humanitarian workers of being "spies," "Western agents," and "workers for Israel."
(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Cuba) "[T]he government did not recognize any domestic human rights groups or permit them to function legally...There are no officially recognized, independent NGOs that monitor human rights...The government continued to deny human rights organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross access to political prisoners and detainees."
(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, China) "Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), both local and international, continued to face intense scrutiny and restrictions...[T]he government maintained a task force aimed at blocking political change advocated by NGOs involved in social, political, and charitable activities, and also by groups dedicated to combating discrimination against women, persons with disabilities, and minorities...To register, an NGO must find a government agency to serve as its organizational sponsor, have a registered office, and hold a minimum amount of funds...The government did not permit independent domestic NGOs to monitor openly or to comment on human rights conditions...The government...increased scrutiny of NGOs with financial and other links overseas."
(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Pakistan)"Criminal groups, some with ties to militant groups, engaged in extortion and kidnapping activities throughout the country...NGO workers were among those targeted... NGOs are required to register with the government...Security was a problem for NGO workers...By year's end seven NGO workers had been killedâ€¦and several others had received threats...[S]ecurity agencies blocked issuance of visas for international staff of NGOs..."
UN Commission on Social Development
The UN job description for the Commission: "...the Commission has taken up key social development themesâ€¦These themes are...Promoting full employment and decent work for all...Improving public sector effectiveness....National and international cooperation for social development...Integration of social and economic policy" (Commission for Social Development web-site) ) On April 28 the UN chose Zimbabwe and re-elected Egypt and Cuba as social development authorities.
Their qualifications for the job?
(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Egypt) "The country was a source, transit point, and destination for women and children trafficked primarily for the purposes of forced labor...The law prohibits strikes...[E]mployers abused, overworked, and generally endangered working children...There were reports of employer abuse of undocumented workers, especially domestic workers."
(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009,
Zimbabwe) "The government's campaign of forced evictions and the demolition of homes and businesses continued during the year under the land reform policy, which affected more than 5,000 farm workers and their families. Approximately 3,300 families were forcibly displaced, sometimes violently, during government-condoned takeovers of commercial farms...[C]hild labor was common...[T]he incidence of children who worked in the informal sector continued to increase...Children often lacked access to necessary safety equipment and training. Children worked...in illegal gold and diamond mining, as street vendors, and as car-watchers. There were continued reports of large numbers of girls subject to sexual exploitation."
(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Cuba) "The law does not allow workers to form and join unions of their choice. The only legal labor union in the country was the CTC, whose leaders were chosen by the CP [Communist Party]...Virtually all workers were required to belong to the CTC, and promotions frequently were limited to CP members who took part in mandatory marches, public humiliations of dissidents, and other state-organized activities...The government can determine that a worker is "unfit" to work, resulting in job loss and the denial of job opportunities. Persons were deemed unfit for their political beliefs, including their refusal to join the official union, or for trying to depart the country illegally. Several small independent labor organizations...were subject to police harassment and infiltration by government agents and were unable to represent workers effectively or work on their behalf...The law does not prohibit forced or compulsory labor by adults...Authorities also often imprisoned persons who refused to participate in mandatory work...[T]he government required children to work in various situations."