Pledges of Human Rights Council Candidates vs. the Reality – 2012

According to the UN General Assembly resolution that created the Council (A/RES/60/251, adopted March 15, 2006): "when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto;"


The Human Rights Pledge of the United Arab Emirates :
    "The United Arab Emirates ... is an outstanding model of religious freedom. Hundreds of thousands of people of different religious beliefs and ideologies all work and live in the United Arab Emirates in an environment that ensures religious freedom and tolerance...
    The desire of the United Arab Emirates to become a member of the Human Rights Council reflects its firm conviction in respect of the importance of human rights...
    Commitment to the advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the United Arab Emirates: ...
    Continuing efforts aimed at creating a system that provides better protection to children, and ensuring further promotion and protection of women's rights...
    Priorities of the United Arab Emirates in the area of human rights
    A. Women's rights
    Women occupy a prominent place in United Arab Emirates society...The United Arab Emirates believes in the importance of supporting international efforts aimed at empowering women...
    B. Rights of expatriate workforce
    The United Arab Emirates believes in the right of all human beings to enjoy decent living conditions, including temporary contract workers... The Government of the United Arab Emirates has also signed several memorandums of understanding with labor-exporting countries in Asia, with a view to promoting the welfare of expatriate workers, raising their awareness and protecting them from exploitation..."

Some of what the United Arab Emirates neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The legal punishment for conversion from Islam is death... The government defines all citizens as Muslims...Muslim women are not permitted to marry non-Muslim men. Because Islam does not consider marriage between a non-Muslim man and a Muslim woman as valid, both parties to such a union would be subject to arrest, trial, and imprisonment on grounds such as fornication.... Sharia (Islamic law) courts had the option of imposing flogging as punishment for adultery, prostitution, consensual premarital sex, pregnancy outside marriage, defamation of character, and drug or alcohol abuse... the law prohibits criticism of rulers and speech that may create or encourage social unrest... The penal code allows men to use physical means, including violence, at their discretion against female and minor family members... domestic abuse against women, including spousal abuse, remained a problem...female victims of rape or sexual crimes faced the possibility of prosecution instead of assistance from government authorities... Under Sharia the death penalty is the punishment for individuals who engage in consensual homosexual activity... Domestic workers routinely were subject to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. For example, on September 17, local press reported a Filipina housemaid fled her employers' residence in Umm Al Quwain after she was beaten regularly, burned with a hot iron, and forced to work seven days a week without pay for three years."


The Human Rights Pledge of Venezuela:
    "The Venezuelan Constitution provides full guarantees of human rights... the Venezuelan Government aims to ensure that the concept of universal and indivisible human rights is respected, promoted, fulfilled and understood... The Venezuelan Government's achievements in the area of human rights are evident..."

Some of what Venezuela neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The principal human rights abuses included government actions to impede freedom of expression and criminalize dissent. The government harassed and intimidated privately owned television stations, other media outlets, and journalists throughout the year...The government did not respect judicial independence...The government used the judiciary to intimidate and selectively prosecute political, union, business, and civil society leaders who were critical of government policies or forces were accused of committing unlawful killings, including summary executions of criminal suspects... Press and NGO reports of beatings and humiliating treatment of suspects during arrests were common...Torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishments of prisoners were reported during the year. A common method of torture or degrading treatment was the denial of medical care by prison authorities... violence against women continued to be a problem... The press reported on October 9 that according to unofficial statistics from the Prosecutor General's Office, 501 women died as a result of domestic violence during the year...
    There were widespread reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice, including anti-Semitism...For example: On May 24, Jewish leaders filed a formal protest with the Prosecutor General's Office over the "incitement to hate" contained in an April 4 broadcast on the government-owned Radio del Sur. In that broadcast the station's director, Cristina Gonzalez, promoted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a "must-read"... On September 17, in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon in support of Palestinian statehood, President Chavez denounced Israel for committing "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians and called Zionism "racism.""


The Human Rights Pledge of Pakistan:
    "Pakistan is a democratic country with an elected parliament, an independent judiciary, a free media and a vibrant civil society...The National Commission for Minorities is a forum tasked with the promotion of the religious, social and cultural rights of minorities. It actively considers and makes recommendations on issues of concern to minorities, including the review of any discriminatory policies or laws...The National Commission on the Status of Women was established in 2000...The Commission is responsible for examining policies, programmes and other measures relating to gender equality and women's empowerment..As a founding member of the Human Rights Council, it has made a constructive contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights."

Some of what Pakistan neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The most serious human rights problems were extrajudicial killings, torture, and disappearances committed by security forces, as well as by militant, terrorist, and extremist groups, which affected thousands of citizens in nearly all areas of the country. Two prominent political figures, Punjab governor Salman Taseer and federal minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated due to their support for revisions of the blasphemy law and for Aasia Bibi, a Christian who had been sentenced to death under the law. Other human rights problems included poor prison conditions, instances of arbitrary detention, lengthy pretrial detention, a weak criminal justice system, insufficient training for prosecutors and criminal investigators, a lack of judicial independence in the lower courts, and infringements on citizens' privacy rights. Harassment of journalists, some censorship, and self-censorship continued...The number of religious freedom violations and discrimination against religious minorities increased, including some violations sanctioned by law. Corruption was widespread within the government and the police forces, and the government made few attempts to combat the problem. Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, "honor" crimes, abuse, and discrimination against women remained serious problems. Child abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of children persisted. Widespread human trafficking--including forced and bonded labor--was a serious problem. Societal discrimination against national, ethnic, and racial minorities continued, as did discrimination based on caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status."


The Human Rights Pledge of Cote d'Ivoire:
    "Côte d'Ivoire's commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights derives from the policy of peace and dialogue of the founding father of the Ivorian nation...The overall objective of the national human rights policy is to establish a human rights culture in Côte d'Ivoire so as to ensure respect for all aspects of human life...In order to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights, Côte d'Ivoire has established an extensive regulatory and institutional framework..."

Some of what Cote d'Ivoire neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The most important human rights problems in the country included state-sponsored killings under Gbagbo; extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and displacement of persons committed during the postelectoral violence; and disregard for civil liberties and political rights. Other human rights problems under the Gbagbo government included the following: restriction of citizens' right to change their government; enforced disappearances; life-threatening prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; denial of fair public trial; arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, and correspondence; police harassment and abuse of noncitizen Africans; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, peaceful assembly, association, and movement; official corruption; discrimination and violence against women, including female genital mutilation (FGM); trafficking in persons; discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, persons with disabilities, and persons with HIV/AIDS; child abuse and exploitation, including forced and hazardous labor; and forced labor.
    Other human rights problems under the Ouattara government included poor prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrests and detention; and arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, and correspondence. The government restricted speech, press, assembly, association, and movement. Corruption was pervasive. Discrimination and violence against women and children, including FGM, was a problem, as was trafficking in persons. Discrimination against persons with disabilities and persons with HIV/AIDS also was a problem. There were reports security forces targeted LGBT individuals for abuse. Forced and hazardous labor, including by children, was common. Impunity for abuses committed by the security forces remained a serious problem."


The Human Rights Pledge of the Republic of Kazakhstan:
    "Kazakhstan carries out well-established and comprehensive legal reform to ensure civil, political, social, economic and cultural human rights in accordance with internationally recognized norms and principles... At present, the majority of recommendations announced in the Concept of Legal Policy and in the Human Rights Action Plan have already been accomplished. In particular, legislative acts on further humanization of criminal laws and strengthening of legal guarantees in criminal procedure, combating corruption, improvement of the judicial system, providing qualified legal aid, guaranteed volume of medicaid, social support for vulnerable groups, the privacy right, offence prevention as well as consumer rights' protection were enacted... There are about 5,000 non-governmental organizations active in Kazakhstan. To achieve comprehensive political pluralism and strengthening women's role and status in social and political life, legislative measures are being enacted... If elected as a member of the Human Rights Council, Kazakhstan intends to: ...Promote the observance of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights with due regard for the rights of the most vulnerable groups..."

Some of what Kazakhstan neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The police and prison officials regularly beat and abused detainees, often to obtain confessions...a culture of impunity allowed police to use extreme methods, such as heavy beating and asphyxiation, to obtain confessions...the government used a variety of means, including laws, harassment, licensing regulations, Internet restrictions, and criminal and administrative charges to control the media and limit freedom of expression...There were significant restrictions on [freedom of assembly and association] in practice...the government severely limited the right of citizens to change their government...International human rights groups reported that the government continued to monitor the activities of NGOs that worked on sensitive issues and noted government harassment, including police visits and surveillance, of NGO offices and personnel...Corruption was widespread in the executive branch, various law enforcement agencies, local government administrations, the education system, and the judiciary... Other reported abuses included: arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life ... arbitrary arrest and detention; infringements on citizens' privacy rights; restrictions on freedom of religion; prohibitive political party registration requirements...violence and discrimination against women; abuse of children...discrimination against persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities; societal discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons..."


The Human Rights Pledge of Ethiopia:
    "Ethiopia upholds the highest standards of human rights...Ethiopia has been playing an active role in the promotion of regional and international peace and security as well as in the strengthening of the rule of law and good governance and the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national level...Ethiopia reaffirms its commitment to the full realization of all rights enshrined under international and regional human rights instruments."

Some of what Ethiopia neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "[T]there were credible reports that security officials tortured and otherwise abused detainees...In November 2010 the UN Committee Against Torture reported that it was "deeply concerned" about "numerous, ongoing, and consistent allegations" concerning "the routine use of torture" by the police, prison officers, and other members of the security forces--including the military--against political dissidents and opposition party members, students...The government arrested more than 100 opposition political figures, activists, journalists, and bloggers...the criminal courts remained weak, overburdened, and subject to political influence...Opposition political party leaders reported suspicions of telephone tapping and other electronic eavesdropping...The government continued to arrest, harass, and prosecute journalists, publishers, and editors...the country has never had a peaceful change of government...Domestic violence, including spousal abuse, was a pervasive social problem. The government's 2005 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) found that 81 percent of women believed a husband had a right to beat his wife... the government did not punish those who practiced [FGM]. The practice was still widespread..."