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Help Ensure the Human Rights Council Votes ‘No’ on Belarus

Update: (New York, May 18, 2007) – On May 17, the United Nations General Assembly rejected Belarus’ candidacy for the Human Rights Council. The 'no' vote came after a global coalition of nongovernmental organizations highlighted Belarus' appalling human rights record.

(New York, May 10, 2007) – On May 17, the United Nations General Assembly will hold elections for 14 of the 47 seats on the new Human Rights Council. Shockingly, among the states seeking election is Belarus, a state that does not come close to meeting the requirements for membership on this human rights body. Human Rights Council members are required to uphold the “highest standards” of human rights and “fully cooperate” with the council. Belarus fails on both counts.

Send a fax or email today urging your country’s UN ambassador to vote against Belarus in the May 17 election. Find the information at the United Nations website.

Belarus’ Human Rights Record

Only four months ago, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted Resolution 61/175 sharply criticizing Belarus for a long litany of human rights violations, including:  
  • Failure to hold free and fair elections;
  • Arbitrary use of state power against opposition candidates;
  • Routine harassment and arrest of political and civil society activists;
  • Harassment and detention of journalists;
  • Implication of government officials in the enforced disappearance or summary execution of opposition politicians and journalists;
  • Forced closure of the University of Belarus; and
  • Harassment and closure of civil society organizations, and harassment and prosecution of human rights defenders.

Belarus’ Record of Non-Cooperation  
In the same resolution, the General Assembly cited Belarus for failing to cooperate with the Human Rights Council. Belarus has refused to allow the UN expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to address the human rights situation in the country to visit, a fact which alone should be sufficient to deny Belarus a seat on the council. The General Assembly also called for Belarus to cooperate with “all the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, in particular with the Special Rapporteur.”  
No Votes for Belarus  
Election to the Human Rights Council requires an absolute majority of the General Assembly – 97 members – to write in the name of the candidate on the ballot. UN member states should commit themselves to cast votes only for candidates that meet the standards for membership on the council. On that basis, no state should write in Belarus on its ballot. The Human Rights Council and victims of human rights abuses worldwide deserve that much.  
UN Documents  
General Assembly resolution 61/175 on the situation of human rights in Belarus (December 9, 2006)  
Report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus (2007)  
Reports by thematic Special Procedures  
UN webpage on the 2007 Human Rights Council election  
European Documents  
Council of Europe statement opposing Belarus' candidacy
OSCE report on Belarus' 2006 presidential election  
Office for a Democratic Belarus  
International Helsinki Federation report on Belarus  
Additional Research on Human Rights in Belarus  
Human Rights Watch webpage on Belarus  
Amnesty International webpage on Belarus
Related Campaigns
Say No to Egypt

Numerous organizations, including HRW, are also strongly opposed to Egypt’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council.
Nineteen Egyptian Human Rights Groups Say Egypt Unfit for Council Membership

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