Belarusian civil society organizations are courageously speaking out—calling on UN member states to reject Belarus' bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. The statement by Human Rights House is below....

We feel strongly that a representative of this state must not be elected to the Council. There are many reasons for this.

  • No state that does not uphold its international obligations in the area of human rights – violating not only the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but also the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties – should be allowed to have a representative on the Human Rights Council.
  • No state that demonstratively refuses to cooperate with the institutions of the United Nations dealing with questions of human rights should be allowed to have a representative on the Human Rights Council.
  • No state that denies entry to special rapporteurs of the Council it seeks to join should be allowed to have a representative on the Human Rights Council.
  • No state that refuses to let the UN General Secretary’s Special Representative, Ms. Hina Jilani, visit Belarus should be allowed to have a representative on the Human Rights Council.
  • No state that since 1998 has refused to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Committee and has not been submitting periodic reports to the Committee should be allowed to have a representative on the Human Rights Council.
  • No state that in recent years has demonstratively failed to implement any decision made by the UN Human Rights Council should be allowed to have a representative on the Human Rights Council.
  • No state whose government bodies have cynically declared that defenders of human rights can defend only their own rights and that they have no right to defend the rights and freedoms of other people should be allowed to have a representative on the Human Rights Council. A Belarusian court has upheld this position.

The election of Belarus to the Council will do serious damage to the international system for defending human rights and freedoms created within the framework of the UN. We are certain that countries in which human rights are respected will not vote for the candidacy of Belarus. But today that is not enough.

We ask you to exert every possible effort so that countries that do not feel strongly about this problem take a principled position and vote in Council elections against the candidacy of Belarus.

Respectfully and with best wishes,

Boris Zvozskov
President, Human Rights House

Human Rights House is a nongovernmental human rights organization that the Belarusian authorities have denied the right to exist and that has been forced to operate in exile.