- President Vaclav Havel deplores lack of competition for Human Rights Council
Calls upon international community to withhold votes from repressive regimes

- Human rights groups around the world call for Azerbaijan's defeat candidacy

- Human rights groups across regions oppose Saudi Arabia's candidacy

- 107 Cuban human rights activists urge Cuba’s defeat

- Arab civil society says vote no on Saudi Arabia

- UN: Elect Rights-Respecting States to Human Rights Council
General Assembly Members Should Not Reward Rights Abusers with Votes

- NGO Coalition for an Effective Human Rights Council calls on UN to elect states committed to human rights to the Council

- Azerbaijani civil society says vote no on Azerbaijan

- UN: Hold Competitive Voting for Rights Body
Regional Groups Should Honor the Spirit of Council Membership Standards on Human Rights

The venue for the Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva. © 2008 Reuters

Choose states committed to human rights for the Human Rights Council

General Assembly Members Should Not Reward Rights Abusers with Votes

On May 12, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly will hold elections for 18 of the 47 seats on the Human Rights Council. As a coalition of human rights NGOs from around the world, we engage with the elections to try to ensure that the elected members of the Council abide by the highest standards of human rights.

This year, the absence of competitive elections in some regions deprives UN Member States of a real choice to select the best candidates from each region of the world. Each candidate still needs 97 affirmative votes to be elected, though. UN Member States should cast their votes conscientiously. With this goal in mind, we have chosen to highlight several candidates running for re-election to the Council – Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia – whose domestic human rights records fall short of the "highest standards" of human rights.

Read more


Azerbaijan has harassed and intimidated journalists and human rights defenders, tortured and ill-treated people in police custody, and detained political prisoners. The human rights situation in the country has deteriorated, and the government has demonstrated that it is unwilling to address and prevent human rights abuses.


Concerns include: the government’s control and direction of judicial institutions and decisions, the use of “re-education-through-labor” and administrative detention, forced confessions and torture, sanctions on journalists, harassment and prosecution of human rights defenders, repression of ethnic Tibetans and Uighurs, and discrimination against rural citizens.


Cuba remains the one country in Latin America that represses nearly all forms of political dissent. The Cuban authorities use vague and overbroad criminal laws to silence government critics; harass and arbitrarily arrest and detain dissidents and journalists; and place excessive restrictions on freedom of movement within the country.


Almost three years after inviting the Special Rapporteur on torture to visit, the government has refused to set acceptable terms for the visit. Russia’s human rights record similarly falls short of the “highest standards.” Concerns include: restrictions and attacks on civil society, abuses in the North Caucus, racism, xenophobia, and abuse of migrant workers, and violations of the right to health in treatment of HIV and drug dependence.


The government systematically suppresses the rights of 14 million Saudi women and of its minority Shia communities and fails to protect the rights of foreign workers. Thousands of people receive unfair trials or are subject to arbitrary detention. Curbs on freedom of association and expression remain serious concerns, as well as limits to peaceful assembly and political participation.

African Democracy Forum Human Rights Watch