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FA urges UN Member States to vote based on the specificity of pledges and human rights record

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The United Nations Human Rights Council elections will be held tomorrow in New York, Tuesday, 9 May 2006, at 10am (GST – 5.00). FORUM-ASIA is urging all Member States of the UN to consider the specificity of the pledges issued by the Asian candidates, to see if they are qualified to be in the Council. Read FORUM-ASIA’s ranking of Asian candidates, from those with the most number of specific pledges to the least. The analysis focuses on the 11 Asian candidates that fall under the scope and mandate of FORUM-ASIA and its members and partners.Tomorrow, the first historic step may be taken towards better implementation of human rights standards worldwide. The election of the 47 inaugural members of the newly established United Nations Human Right Council (Council) will take place at 10:00am (GMT -5:00) in the UN General Assembly Hall in New York.

“These members will not only determine the legitimacy of this new international human rights body, but will also play an influential role in enunciating the working methods of the Council and the ways that it responds to situations of human rights violations globally”, said Anselmo Lee, Executive Director of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA).

FORUM-ASIA has been monitoring and analysing the pledges by eleven Asian candidates, which includes four countries from South Asia: Bangladesh India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka; four countries from South East Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand; and three countries from North East Asia: China, Japan and South Korea.

To objectively compare the commitments contained in the eleven Asian candidates’ pledges, FORUM-ASIA has created three simple tables that provide comparative information on (1) who submitted the most number of specific commitments; (2) which pledges have been most commonly supported by Asian candidates; (3) what specific pledges the eleven candidates have made at national and international levels.

“Our research has shown that Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia and China rank as the bottom four among the eleven Asian candidates, with the lowest number of specific commitments they have made in their pledges”, said Lee. “In particular, China has obtained a full house score of zero on this matter”, he added.

The inaugural members of the Council are supposed to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”. In order to demonstrate their suitability as a potential member of the Council, all of the candidates have submitted voluntary pledges to elaborate on the ways that it will promote and protect human rights domestically and internationally.

“However, we are disappointed by the vague and paltry pledges made by the Asian candidates”, said Lee.

“When the pledges are stripped of the rhetoric and we look at the actual commitments that have been made, it becomes clear that there are four main commonalities between the Asian candidates—they are adverse to vigilant human rights mechanisms, non-governmental organisations, scrutiny of their human rights record, and are disinterested in establishing a regional human rights mechanism”, stated Lee.

FORUM-ASIA appeals to all Member States to examine the pledges objectively and consider the human rights situation of the country as a basis of their voting decision tomorrow.

The results of FORUM-ASIA’s research and analysis of the Asian candidates’ pledges are available at the Asian Campaign on the Human Rights Council website in its briefing paper for the United Nations’ Member States.

For more information, please contact UN Advocacy Programme focal point, Momoko Nomura at [email protected]