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UN: Rights Council Records in Spotlight at ‘Votes Count'

Source: Human Rights Watch - Wed, 26 Mar 2014 10:18 GMT
Author: Human Rights Watch
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Facebook Like Email A new website, "Votes Count," will shed much needed light on how member countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council respond to serious violations of human rights across the globe. The website will compile, analyze and expose the positions Human Rights Council members have taken on situations of human rights violations in particular countries.

(Geneva) - A new website, "Votes Count," will shed much needed light on how member countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council respond to serious violations of human rights across the globe. The website will compile, analyze and expose the positions Human Rights Council members have taken on situations of human rights violations in particular countries.

"In the past, governments have been shielded by the distance between Geneva and their capitals, and the belief that few observers monitor the positions they take," said Julie de Rivero, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch. "But what happens in Geneva shouldn't stay in Geneva. This website gives citizens and journalists access to monitor and act on their governments' performance."

The UN Human Rights Council has the mandate to address situations of gross and systematic violations of human rights. Yet a few governments are unwilling to criticize even dire country situations, while others argue that the Council should only act with the concerned country's consent.

This website is a tool that can help anyone assess whether countries are fulfilling the Council's mandate fully and objectively.

The new website focuses on the Human Rights Council's performance in addressing human rights violations in particular countries since 2012. During that time, the Council has made considerable progress in addressing country situations, Human Rights Watch said. Among the reasons for this improvement is the leadership shown by a small number of countries including the United States and Switzerland, strengthened engagement by countries such as Nigeria and Thailand, and the consistent support for Council's action on country situations by Mexico, Brazil, and Chile, among others.

Despite this progress, the Council's response to country situations remains flawed in significant ways, Human Rights Watch said. The Council devotes little attention to some situations with severe endemic human rights problems, such as Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and China, and responds timidly in other cases. The selectivity and double standards of member countries in their handling of situations of violations is also discussed in "Votes Count."

The website, which will be regularly updated, was created on the Silk platform. It is being launched ahead of the Council's votes on several closely watched resolutions, including on:

·         Accountability for North Korea's crimes against humanity;

·         The establishment of an international investigation into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka; and

·         The use of aerial drones and human rights.

"Keeping a running tally on how countries vote at the Human Rights Council exposes hypocrisy and underperformance - but also casts light on those countries pushing for positive change," de Rivero said. "Armed with this information, those concerned about human rights can hold governments to account, and push for the Council live up to its mandate." For more information on Votes Count, please visit: http://votescount.hrw.org

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