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Sunday, May 2, 2010
EYE on the UN slams appointments to various UN commissions

For Immediate Release:
May 1, 2010
Contact: Anne Bayefsky

Latest UN Authority Figures

Iran’s election to the UN Commission on the Status of Women on April 28,
2010 wasn’t the only UN shocker that day. The Democratic Republic of Congo,
Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe are among the dictatorships and human rights
basket-cases elected to UN leadership roles and positions that entail
responsibilities diametrically opposed to their qualifications.

UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations: Sudan, Cuba, China, Pakistan

UN Commission on Social Development: Cuba, Egypt, Zimbabwe

UN Commission on the Status of Women: The Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran

UN Commission on Sustainable Development: Angola, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia

UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Governing Council: Iran


UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations

The UN job description for the NGO Committee: "The main tasks of the
Committee are...The consideration of applications for consultative status
and requests for reclassification submitted by NGOs…[T]he monitoring of the
consultative relationship." (Committee on NGOs web-site)

In plain language, this Committee gets to decide what NGOs are permitted to
get UN passes, passes which will allow them into the UN, to lobby
governments and to participate and speak at UN meetings.

Who gets to choose the right and wrong NGOs? On April 28 the UN re-elected
Sudan, Cuba, China and Pakistan.

Their qualifications for the job?


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Sudan)
"[T]he government expelled 13 humanitarian nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs) from the country. The government also shut down three Sudanese NGOs
in March...As of year's end whereabouts [of the cofounder of the NGO Darfur
Forum for Reconciliation and Peaceful Coexistence] were unknown...Security
forces arbitrarily arrested and detained...NGO members...[G]overnment forces
frequently harassed NGOs that received international assistance; restricted
or denied humanitarian assessments; did not approve technical agreements;
changed procedures; copied NGO files; confiscated NGO property; questioned
humanitarian workers at length; monitored humanitarians' personal
correspondence; delayed the issuance of visas and travel permits; restricted
travel; and publicly accused humanitarian workers of being "spies," "Western
agents," and "workers for Israel."


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Cuba)
"[T]he government did not recognize any domestic human rights groups or
permit them to function legally...There are no officially recognized,
independent NGOs that monitor human rights...The government continued to
deny human rights organizations and the International Committee of the Red
Cross access to political prisoners and detainees."


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, China)
"Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), both local and international,
continued to face intense scrutiny and restrictions...[T]he government
maintained a task force aimed at blocking political change advocated by NGOs
involved in social, political, and charitable activities, and also by groups
dedicated to combating discrimination against women, persons with
disabilities, and minorities...To register, an NGO must find a government
agency to serve as its organizational sponsor, have a registered office, and
hold a minimum amount of funds...The government did not permit independent
domestic NGOs to monitor openly or to comment on human rights
conditions...The government...increased scrutiny of NGOs with financial and
other links overseas."


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009,
"Criminal groups, some with ties to militant groups, engaged in extortion
and kidnapping activities throughout the country...NGO workers were among
those targeted... NGOs are required to register with the
government...Security was a problem for NGO workers...By year's end seven
NGO workers had been killed…and several others had received
threats...[S]ecurity agencies blocked issuance of visas for international
staff of NGOs..."

UN Commission on Social Development

The UN job description for the Commission: "...the Commission has taken up
key social development themes…These themes are...Promoting full employment
and decent work for all...Improving public sector effectiveness....National
and international cooperation for social development...Integration of social
and economic policy" (Commission for Social Development web-site) )

On April 28 the UN chose Zimbabwe and re-elected Egypt and Cuba as social
development authorities.

Their qualifications for the job?


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Egypt)
"The country was a source, transit point, and destination for women and
children trafficked primarily for the purposes of forced labor...The law
prohibits strikes...[E]mployers abused, overworked, and generally endangered
working children...There were reports of employer abuse of undocumented
workers, especially domestic workers."


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009,
Zimbabwe) "The government's campaign of forced evictions and the demolition
of homes and businesses continued during the year under the land reform
policy, which affected more than 5,000 farm workers and their families.
Approximately 3,300 families were forcibly displaced, sometimes violently,
during government-condoned takeovers of commercial farms...[C]hild labor was
common...[T]he incidence of children who worked in the informal sector
continued to increase...Children often lacked access to necessary safety
equipment and training. Children worked...in illegal gold and diamond
mining, as street vendors, and as car-watchers. There were continued reports
of large numbers of girls subject to sexual exploitation."


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Cuba)
"The law does not allow workers to form and join unions of their choice. The
only legal labor union in the country was the CTC, whose leaders were chosen
by the CP [Communist Party]...Virtually all workers were required to belong
to the CTC, and promotions frequently were limited to CP members who took
part in mandatory marches, public humiliations of dissidents, and other
state-organized activities...The government can determine that a worker is
"unfit" to work, resulting in job loss and the denial of job opportunities.
Persons were deemed unfit for their political beliefs, including their
refusal to join the official union, or for trying to depart the country
illegally. Several small independent labor organizations...were subject to
police harassment and infiltration by government agents and were unable to
represent workers effectively or work on their behalf...The law does not
prohibit forced or compulsory labor by adults...Authorities also often
imprisoned persons who refused to participate in mandatory work...[T]he
government required children to work in various situations."

Commission on the Status of Women

The UN job description for CSW: "The Commission on the Status of
Women...is…dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of
women. It is the principal global policy-making body. Every year,
representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in
New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set
global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality
and advancement of women worldwide." (Commission on the Status of Women
web-site, "Overview")

On April 28 the UN deemed The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iran to
be worthy of the job.

Here are the DRC’s qualifications:


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, DRC)
"...[R]ape was common throughout the country and especially pervasive in
conflict areas in the east...[M]ore than 1,100 women and girls were raped
each month...Government security forces, armed groups, and civilians
perpetrated widespread and sometimes mass rape against women and
girls...[M]embers of armed groups, the FARDC [Congolese Armed Forces], and
the police were responsible for 81 percent of all reported cases of sexual
violence in conflict zones...It was common for family members to pressure a
rape victim to keep quiet...to safeguard the reputations of the victim and
her family...After a sexual assault, many young women and girls were often
labeled as unsuitable for marriage and married women were frequently
abandoned by their husbands. Some families forced rape victims to marry the
men who raped them or to forego prosecution in exchange for money or goods
from the rapist."

As to what newly elected member of CSW Iran brings to the table see "Since
When Is Iran a Champion For Women's Rights?"

UN Commission on Sustainable Development

The UN job description: "...to promote dialogue and build partnerships for
sustainable development with governments, the international community and
the major groups…who have a major role to play in the transition towards
sustainable development. These Major Groups include women, youth, indigenous
peoples, non-governmental organizations, local authorities, workers and
trade unions, business and industry, the scientific community, and farmers."
(Commission on Sustainable Development web-site, "Mandate of the Commission
on Sustainable Development"))

On April 28 the UN chose Angola and Lebanon, and re-elected Saudi Arabia as
social development authorities.

Here are their job qualifications:


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009,
"The government arrested and harassed NGO workers...[T]rafficking in
persons, and discrimination against persons with disabilities and indigenous
persons were problems...Domestic violence against women, including spousal
abuse, was common and pervasive...Female inmates informed...that prison
guards regularly raped them... [C]hild labor...remained a problem...Children
engaged in...exploitive labor practices [which] included forced
prostitution, involvement in the sale or transport of illegal drugs, and the
offloading and transport of goods in ports and across border posts...Street
children were common..."


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009,
" Palestinian refugees residing in the country were not able to obtain
citizenship...The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence, and
domestic violence, including spousal abuse, was a problem...Foreign domestic
servants, usually women, were often mistreated, abused, and in some cases
raped or placed in slavery-like conditions...According to the penal code, a
man who kills his wife or other female relative may receive a reduced
sentence if he demonstrates he committed the crime in response to a socially
unacceptable sexual relationship conducted by the victim...[D]iscrimination
against persons with disabilities continued...Discrimination against
homosexual activity persisted...Women from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and
Russia were trafficked and forced to provide sexual or domestic services.
Children…were… subject to forced labor."


(Freedom House Country Report 2009, Saudi Arabia)
"Women...may not legally drive cars, and their use of public facilities is
restricted when men are present. By law and custom, Saudi women cannot
travel within or outside of the country without a male
relative...[D]aughters receive half the inheritance awarded to their
brothers, and the testimony of one man is equal to that of two women in
Sharia courts...[A]llegations of torture by police and prison officials are
common, and access to prisoners by independent human rights and legal
organizations is strictly limited...There continues to be virtually no
protection for the more than six million foreign workers in Saudi Arabia.
Many of these laborers...are forced to endure dangerous working and living
conditions. There continue to be public reports of female domestic workers
suffering regular physical, sexual, and emotional abuse...Substantial
prejudice against ethnic, religious, and national minorities prevails."

U.N. Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Governing Council

The UN job description: "The United Nations Human Settlements Programme,
UN-HABITAT…is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and
environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing
adequate shelter for all. UN-HABITAT's Land and Tenure Section is the
agency's point of reference for land management and tenure systems, policies
and legislation that help achieve adequate shelter, security of tenure and
equal access to economic resources for all, with a specific focus on gender
equality. The main focus areas and mandate are implementation of land,
housing and property rights, and particularly secure tenure for women."
(UN-HABITAT web-site, "Shelter Branch")

On April 28, the UN re-elected Iran as the right country for the job.

Here are Iran’s qualifications for the Governing Council:


(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Iran)
"Provisions in the Islamic civil and penal codes, particularly sections
dealing with....property law, discriminate against women...The constitution
allows the government to confiscate property acquired...in a manner not in
conformity with Islamic law, and the government particularly targeted
religious minorities, especially members of the Baha'i faith...The courts
denied Baha'is the right to inherit property...The government reportedly
continued to confiscate private and commercial properties, as well as
religious materials, belonging to Baha'is...There were widespread reports
that government agents entered, searched, and/or ransacked the homes and
offices of reformist journalists in an attempt to intimidate them."

For more United Nations coverage see www.EYEontheUN.org .

EYEontheUN monitors the UN direct from UN Headquarters in New York.
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