Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Egypt 'Unqualified' For U.N Rights Body

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

Egypt has been deemed 'unqualified' to hold a position on the UN Human Rights Council, which is set to elect 14 new members this month:
UNITED NATIONS, NY, USA -- Angola, Belarus, Egypt, and Qatar are not qualified to sit on the Human Rights Council, the United Nations' top rights body, two nongovernmental organizations said Monday.

With the Geneva-based council due to elect 14 new members May 17, UN Watch and Freedom House, two groups that champion human rights worldwide, described the four countries as "authoritarian regimes with negative UN voting records and ... not qualified to be members under the applicable standards."

"It's important for General Assembly members to vote against them [the four] or to abstain or to write in the name of another country," Tom Melia, the deputy director of Washington-based Freedom House, told a press conference. "The challenge for democracies is to vote only for democracies."

Fifteen countries are vying for the 14 council seats that are allocated on a regional geographical basis.

Each candidate is evaluated based on criteria such as political rights and political freedoms, freedom of the press, and human rights promotion at the UN, according to Hillel Neuer, the head of Geneva-based UN Watch.

Under those criteria, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, and Slovenia were judged "well qualified" while the qualifications of Bolivia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and South Africa were found to be "questionable."

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