A meeting of the Security Council is underway. Credit: United Nations
Member states can keep abusive governments out of key UN bodies.
  • Opinion by Louis Charbonneau (New York)
  • Interpress service

On June 6, the 193-nation General Assembly will elect five members to the Security Council for 2023-2024. The delegations can choose between Slovenia and Belarus for an Eastern European seat, and South Korea and Tajikistan for an Asian place. The Western, African and Latin American/Caribbean regional charts all lack competition.

Many delegations and their regional groups prefer non-competitive lists. They say all countries should have a chance to serve on UN bodies. But non-competitive lists undermine the purpose of elections, which is to enable member states to select the most qualified candidates over others.

Example: Belarus wants a seat on the Security Council, the UN body that oversees international peace and security. Despite its chronic dysfunction, it is the UN’s most powerful organ. It can authorize military force and impose sanctions.

Globally, it oversees numerous peacekeeping and political missions, whose staff includes hundreds of human rights officials who monitor and report on abuses.

Look at Belarus. At a 16 May UN debate with the ambassadors of Belarus and Slovenia, Ambassador of Belarus Valentin Ryabkov allegedly recognize the importance of human rights.

But in his country there is an atmosphere of oppression and fear, with widespread violations of rights may involve crimes against humanity. Human rights defenders, including winners of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Ales Bialiatskihave been imprisoned on false charges.

At the General Assembly, Belarus has opposed condemnations of Russian atrocities in Ukraine and helped the efforts to lime China’s crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.

Tajikistan’s rights for rights have deteriorated amid a government-led crackdown on freedom of expression and the political opposition. In addition, both sides in Tajikistan’s border conflict with Kyrgyzstan have committed blatant war crimes with impunity.

Member states cannot vote out Russia, China or the other three permanent Security Council members. But when elections for rotating seats are competitive, member states can and should reject abusive governments. They should do that on June 6.

Louis Charbonneau is the UN Director, Human Rights Watch
(email protected) | www.hrw.org

IPS UN agency

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service