Pledges of Human Rights Council Candidates vs. the Reality 2017

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 Afghanistan
    "2... Progressive realization of the human rights principles, such as freedom of expression; inclusive decision-making; women's participation in political, social, economic and security domains; and improvement in social services, such as access to health care and education, are critical gains achieved by Afghanistan... Afghanistan brings with itself a diverse experience acquired from conflict and its consequences, socioeconomic challenges, institutional efforts for peace and justice and democratic aspirations, all of which allow the country to have a practical and exceptional role in the promotion and protection of human rights and human dignity."
    (Voluntary pledge for candidacy to Human Rights Council - Afghanistan, A/72/377)
Some of what Afghanistan neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The most significant human rights problems were widespread violence, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians by armed insurgent groups; armed insurgent groups' killings of persons affiliated with the government; torture and abuse of detainees by government forces; widespread disregard for the rule of law and little accountability for those who committed human rights abuses; and targeted violence and endemic societal discrimination against women and girls.

    Other human rights problems included extrajudicial killings by security forces; ineffective government investigations of abuse and torture by local security forces; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, including of women accused of so-called moral crimes; prolonged pretrial detentions; judicial corruption and ineffectiveness; violations of privacy rights; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, religion, and movement; pervasive governmental corruption; underage and forced marriages; abuse of children, including sexual abuse; trafficking in persons, including forced labor; discrimination against persons with disabilities; discrimination and abuses against ethnic minorities; societal discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and HIV/AIDS status; and abuse of workers' rights, including child labor."
    (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Afghanistan 2016, U.S. Department of State)


The Human Rights Pledge of Angola
    "2. Since the end of its previous tenure on the Council, the Republic of Angola has remained engaged with the international human rights agenda by fulfilling its commitments to advancing human rights, consistent with its constitutional provisions, which broadly embrace the values and principles of democracy and the fundamental freedoms enshrined in key international instruments...

    3... in the previous 15 years of effective peace, political stability, along with the consolidation of the democratic process and the rule of law, have been priorities of the Government.

    4. The promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms are therefore an essential element of the country's diplomatic relations with all its partners at the international, regional and subregional levels."
    (Voluntary pledge for candidacy to Human Rights Council - Angola, A/72/79)
Some of what Angola neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The three most important human rights abuses were cruel, excessive, and degrading punishment, including reported cases of torture and beatings; limits on freedoms of assembly, association, speech, and press; and official corruption and impunity.

    Other human rights abuses included arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life; harsh and potentially life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lengthy pretrial detention; impunity for human rights abusers; lack of due process and judicial inefficiency; forced evictions without compensation; restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); harassment of and violence against women and children; child labor; trafficking in persons; limits on workers' rights; and forced labor."
    (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Angola 2016, U.S. Department of State)




The Human Rights Pledge of Malaysia
    "12. Since its independence in 1957, the efforts by Malaysia to promote and protect human rights at the national level have been reflected in its various laws and regulations, underpinned by the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, which provide the basis for these efforts.

    13. The Federal Constitution contains provisions on equality and equal protection before the law...

    14. In addition, while the Federal Constitution recognises Islam as the religion of the Federation, it further states that other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation. As such, it is clear that key values, which include moderation, tolerance and understanding, inherent in the Federal Constitution, provide the nation's moral compass.

    15. The Government has recently taken further measures with the intention to realize a mature, modern and functioning democracy and further enhance civil liberty in the country. The right to assemble peaceably and without arms is a right under article 10 (2) (b) of the Federal Constitution, and the Peaceful Assembly Act enacted in 2012 introduced precision for its citizens who seek to exercise this right."
    (Voluntary pledge for candidacy to Human Rights Council - Malaysia, A/72/77)
Some of what Malaysia neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The most significant human rights problems included government restrictions on freedoms of speech and expression, press and media, assembly, and association. In the wake of a government financial scandal dating back to 2014, whistleblowers and critics faced censorship, police intimidation, investigation, and criminal charges. Print and broadcast media outlets self-censored news coverage of the scandal. Online media offered more independent and critical perspectives, but were often the target of legal action and harassment, leading one site to shut down. Restrictions on freedom of religion were also a significant concern--including bans on religious groups, restrictions on proselytizing, and prohibitions on the freedom to change one's religion.

    Other human rights problems included deaths during police apprehension and while in custody; laws allowing detention without trial; caning as a form of punishment imposed by criminal and "sharia" (Islamic law) courts; restrictions on the rights of migrants, including migrant workers, refugees, and victims of human trafficking; official corruption; violence and discrimination against women; and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons. Longstanding government policies gave preference to ethnic Malays in many areas. The government restricted union and collective-bargaining activity, and government policies created vulnerabilities for child labor and forced labor problems, especially for migrant workers."
    (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Malaysia 2016, U.S. Department of State)


The Human Rights Pledge of Nepal
    "12. Nepal remains fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and has adopted a wide range of legislative, institutional, policy and administrative measures to fulfil its national and international human rights obligations.

    3. Nepal believes in inclusive, democratic rights and recognizes the interests and aspirations of all segments of society with respect to equitable and just development. Nepal also believes in an integrated approach to democracy, development and human rights and considers them to be essential characteristics of a civilized society. Nepal holds the view that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing and, as such, merit balanced treatment and equal emphasis."
    (Voluntary pledge for candidacy to Human Rights Council - Nepal, A/72/347)
Some of what Nepal neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The most significant human rights problems included the alleged use of excessive force by security personnel in controlling protests, especially in the Terai region, that began in August 2015 in connection with the adoption of the constitution and did not end until February 2016. The government's failure for much of the year to initiate formal investigations into instances of alleged use of excessive force during the unrest was another source of concern. The government's delay in implementing and providing adequate resources for the country's two transitional justice mechanisms, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), as well as the lack of prosecutions for conflict-era crimes, reinforced the need for justice and accountability for human rights and humanitarian law violations during the country's 10-year insurgency (1996-2006). The constitution contains provisions that discriminate by gender, and discrimination against women and girls was a persistent problem.

    Other human rights problems included poor prison and detention center conditions and police mistreatment of detainees. The courts remained vulnerable to political pressure, bribery, and intimidation. There were problems of harassment of media and press self-censorship. The government sometimes restricted freedom of assembly, notably in areas where violent protests against the constitutional process were taking place. The government limited freedoms for refugees, particularly for resident Tibetans. Corruption remained a problem at all levels of government. Citizenship laws and regulations that discriminate by gender contributed to statelessness. Early and forced marriage, and rape and domestic violence against women, including dowry-related deaths, remained serious problems. Violence against children, including reported abuse at orphanages, continued and rarely was prosecuted. Sex trafficking of adults and minors remained a significant problem. Discrimination against persons with disabilities, lower-caste individuals, and some ethnic groups continued, as did some harassment against gender and sexual minorities. There were some restrictions on worker rights. The government made little progress in combatting forced and bonded labor, which persisted despite laws banning the practice, and there was moderate progress in efforts to eliminate child labor."
    (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Nepal 2016, U.S. Department of State)




The Human Rights Pledge of Pakistan
    "4. Pakistan's commitment to human rights emanates in the first place from its Constitution and duty towards its people. We are determined to ensure that every Pakistani citizen lives in equality, dignity and freedom, with complete protection of fundamental human rights without any discrimination. The words of the founding father, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, are the guiding principle of our policy: 'We are equal citizens of one State'.

    5. Human rights serve as the foundation for a harmonious and progressive society. Pakistan attaches high priority to advancing the mutually reinforcing objectives of development, human rights and democracy..."
    (Voluntary pledge for candidacy to Human Rights Council - Pakistan, A/72/88)
Some of what Pakistan neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The most serious human rights problems were extrajudicial and targeted killings; disappearances; torture; lack of rule of law (including lack of due process, poor implementation and enforcement of laws, and frequent mob violence and vigilante justice); gender inequality; violence against gender and sexual minorities; and sectarian violence.

    Other human rights problems included poor prison conditions, arbitrary detention, lengthy pretrial detention, a weak criminal justice system, lack of judicial independence in the lower courts, and governmental infringement on citizens' privacy rights. Harassment of journalists continued, with high-profile attacks against journalists and media organizations. There were government restrictions on freedom of assembly and limits on freedom of movement. Government practices and certain laws limited freedom of religion, particularly for religious minorities. Discrimination against religious minorities, and sectarian violence continued. Corruption within the government and police, as well as rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, honor crimes, other harmful traditional practices, and discrimination against women and girls remained serious societal problems. Gender inequality continued. Child abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of children persisted. Child labor remained pervasive. Widespread human trafficking, including forced and bonded labor, continued. Societal discrimination against national, ethnic, and racial minorities persisted, as did discrimination based on caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status. Respect for worker rights was minimal.

    Lack of government accountability remained a problem, and abuses often went unpunished, fostering a culture of impunity among the perpetrators whether official or unofficial. Authorities seldom punished government officials for human rights violations."
    (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Pakistan 2016, U.S. Department of State)


The Human Rights Pledge of Qatar
    "The promotion and protection of human rights is one of the policy pillars of the State of Qatar, which believes that human rights, peace, security and safety are interconnected and mutually reinforcing.

    That priority is reflected in a constitutional and legislative system that embodies the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and respects and protects everyone. In institutional terms, it is reflected in a range of human rights institutions and agencies that contribute effectively to the promotion and protection of human rights.

    Respect for and promotion and protection of human rights are a strategic choice underpinning the Government's comprehensive reform process. That approach was highlighted in the Qatar National Vision 2030, an overarching vision for development that addresses key human rights dimensions in such areas as education, health, the environment, labour rights, the empowerment of women, children's rights and its national development strategy. The Government of the State of Qatar considers the promotion and protection of human rights to be the cornerstone of its foreign policy.

    It has therefore adopted a forward-thinking policy to consolidate a culture of human rights. Its approach is focused on the rule of law, transparency, justice and human dignity..."
    (Voluntary pledge for candidacy to Human Rights Council - Qatar, A/72/78)
Some of what Qatar neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The principal human rights problems were the inability of citizens to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections, restriction of fundamental civil liberties, and denial of the rights of foreign workers. The monarch-appointed government prohibited organized political parties and restricted civil liberties, including freedoms of speech, press, and assembly and access to a fair trial for persons held under the Protection of Society Law and the Combating Terrorism Law.

    Other continuing human rights concerns included restrictions on the freedoms of religion and movement, since migrant workers could not freely travel abroad. Legal, institutional, and cultural discrimination against women limited their participation in society. Trafficking in persons, primarily in the domestic worker and labor sectors, was a continuing problem. The noncitizen "bidoon" (stateless persons) who resided in the country with unresolved legal status experienced social discrimination."
    (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Qatar 2016, U.S. Department of State)