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United Nations15.03.2004

60th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights: the farce continues
25 member-countries have not ratified the conventions they are supposed to enforce

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has lost all credibility since Libya was appointed to chair it last year. Reporters Without Borders has launched a media campaign to expose this farce.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which has lost all credibility since Libya was appointed to chair it last year, will hold its 60th session in Geneva from 15 March to 23 April.

Twenty-five of its 53 member-countries have not even ratified all the conventions and agreements it is called on to enforce. It’s rather like asking thieves to sit in judgment over criminals.

Reporters Without Borders has launched a media campaign to expose this farce. Worst offenders are Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba and Zimbabwe, says the organisation.

Cuba and China are two biggest prisons in the world for journalists, Saudi Arabia is under severe censorship and the Zimbabwean government is doing all it can to stamp out the independent press. Yet all of them are members of the UN Human Rights Commission. They are the most striking examples of the absurd system where countries are both accusers and accused.

Reporters Without Borders last year sent recommendations for an urgent and radical reform of the Commission to the United Nations and to several countries, suggesting that only states that had ratified all the international human rights treaties and conventions be allowed to sit on the Commission. It also called for the dropping of "no action" motions, which block any discussion of countries that extensively violate human rights.

The 25 countries that have not ratified all human rights agreements are: Bahrain, Bhutan, China, Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, United States, Zimbabwe.