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Power struggle has lost the leader of the UN human rights agency



Emma Farge

Diplomatic and observers say that Russia and China oppose a candidate in Fiji who is seen as a staunch human rights defender and will lead the highest UN human rights body. This has caused a deadlock, just as Washington might try to rejoin it It is the same for forums that were withdrawn in 2018.

The diplomat said that the term of the chairperson of the Human Rights Council rotates between regions every year and is usually reached by consensus. Any competition is usually resolved quickly and sincerely.

The deadlock means that the Security Council is the only intergovernmental global body that promotes and protects human rights on a global scale. It will resume work in Geneva next week. This is the first time in its 1

5-year history that it has no leaders.

Although their decisions are not legally binding, they have political influence and can authorize investigations of infringements.

Open and secret fighting points to a high-risk game in which power is seeking to preempt the United States, which may return to the team to become President-elect Biden, said Mark Limon of Universal Rights Group, a think tank of future influence.

He said: “Neither China nor Russia wants a human rights-friendly country to be president in a year when the United States may re-engage with the Security Council.”

Observers and two diplomats said that Russia, China and Saudi Arabia (sometimes acting through agents) opposed the choice of Fiji’s ambassador, Nazhat Shameem Khan, or accounted for other last-minute candidates. Got the upper hand.

Phil Lynch, director of the International Human Rights Office, said: “It is understood that Saudi Arabia, China and Russia all support the candidate in Bahrain and oppose the candidate in Fiji.” And Yemen last year.

The NGO has been recognized by the Council and participated in the debate.

A Chinese diplomat said on Friday that he was “happy to see any of these candidates as president.”

The diplomatic missions of Fiji, Russia and Saudi Arabia did not respond to requests for comment.

Diplomats said that Khan did not resign, and other candidates proposed by Bahrain and Uzbekistan have also met opposition since December.

Richard Gowan of the International Crisis Organization said: “This chaos may exacerbate voices that think HRC is anti-democratic and dysfunctional. The United States should not re-engage (or insist on large-scale reforms as a price). ).”

A review that may prompt reform of the forum is underway.

Currently, members of the 47-member council must be elected to vote, but this may be one of the themes considered in any reform. Both China and Russia returned to the Security Council this year.

The chairman of the Security Council has limited powers, although some say that this role has become increasingly politicized.

However, the President did appoint independent experts, such as those responsible for investigating the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Last year, Aman, the coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Organization, tried to resolve the Qatar opposition’s problems through a secret ballot, which caused a diplomat to fall into a deadlock, known as “a mess.”

The diplomat said that one way to resolve the deadlock might be to vote in the Security Council next week.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Alison Williams)


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