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World Politics

Chinese and Saudis join UN human rights body


The appointment of China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia to the top UN body dealing with human-rights abuses – despite profound concerns over the record of all four nations on safeguarding personal freedoms – has been criticised by campaigners.

The countries were among 14 nations to win seats for a three-year term on the Human Rights Council, which has frequently been accused of hypocrisy in its choice of places to investigate.

Critics said the election of China, Russia and Saudi Arabia was particularly problematic since the three were among new members who have refused to allow UN investigators to enter their territory to seek evidence of alleged infringements. Peggy Hicks, of Human Rights Watch, said: “Countries that haven’t allowed UN experts appointed by the council to visit have a lot of explaining to do.”

UN Watch, which is a frequent critic of the UN’s rights practices, said only four of the new members deserved to qualify as members of the council on the basis of their records: Britain, France, Macedonia and Mexico.