TEHRAN, Nov. 13 (Press Shia Agency) – Accused of treating foreign low-paid workers like slaves, treating women worse than animals, meddling in foreign election, supporting terrorism, plaguing by nepotism, bribery and a total lack of democracy, Saudi Arabia has recently managed to be reelected to represent the region on the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) despite criticism from human rights organizations.
For the first time since UNHRC’s establishment in 2006, Russia has lost an election to the UN Human Rights Council after being narrowly beaten by Croatia in a vote. Saudi Arabia was successfully reelected.
The move has raised many eyebrows and has stunned global rights advocates and organizations that barely consider taking out the oppressive regime from their blacklists.
Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in a joint statement lambasted Riyadh for “an appalling record of violations” in Yemen, where it has conducted a bombing campaign against Houthi rebels since 2015, which has resulted in the deaths of up to 4,000 civilians. The two organizations called for Saudi Arabia, a member of the apart from a mandatory year-long break after two terms, to be suspended – to no avail.
Saudi Arabia used its power in the council to block an outside inquiry into the campaign last month, while leading a successful resolution that placed the responsibility of investigating human rights abuses in the hands of its allies, the exiled Yemeni government.
As per to the United Nations, the atrocious Saudi-led war in Yemen has relocated more than three million people. The country is already on the verge of famine. More than 21 million Yemenis — 80% of the population — are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Russia Out, Saudi Arabia In
Russia had ended its three-year term and was running against Hungary and Croatia for the two, available seats from Eastern Europe, RT wrote.
Meanwhile, Riyadh won the Asian ballot with 152 votes, and will represent the region on the UNHRC alongside China, Japan and Iraq for the next three years.
South Africa, Rwanda, Egypt and Tunisia were chosen from the African group, Cuba and Brazil from Latin America and the Caribbean, and the US and the UK will represent the Western bloc, which comprises Western Europe and North America.
Apparent War Crime
Saudi officials have repeatedly abused their position on the Council to block any investigations into the atrocities they are responsible for in Yemen and the wider Middle East.
Following an airstrike on a funeral ceremony of Ali al-Rawishan, the father of the Sana’a-based administration’s interior minister, Jalal al-Rawishan in Yemen on Oct 8, which claimed at least 10 dead and wounded over 600 other people, Human Rights Watch blamed the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes and also lambasted the US and the UK for supplying weapons to the Saudis.
On October 8, at least two air-dropped munitions penetrated the roof of a hall containing over 1,000 mourners, killing at least 110 people and wounding 610 during the funeral ceremony of Ali al-Rawishan, the father of the Sana’a-based administration’s interior minister, Jalal al-Rawishan.
“A Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrike on a crowded funeral ceremony in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, on October 8, 2016, is an apparent war crime,” Human Rights Watch said, calling the strike “unlawfully disproportionate”, RT wrote.
Famine in Yemen
According to the UN reports, more than half of Yemen’s 28 million people are already short of food and children are particularly badly hit, with hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation.
Meanwhile UNICEF also has announced that over 370,000 children enduring severe malnutrition that weakens their immune system in Yemen and 1.5 million are going hungry. Food shortages are a long-term problem, but they have got worse in recent months. Half of children under five are stunted because of chronic malnutrition.
A sea blockade on rebel-held areas enforced by the Saudi-coalition supporting the president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, stops shipments reaching most ports.
The sea blockade and daily airstrikes, which have hit civilian targets including hospitals, are part of a campaign to push rebels out of the capital.
There have been widespread calls for an independent inquiry into the conflict, including from senior British MPs. More than a third of Saudi-led bombing raids are thought to have hit civilian sites, and human rights groups say violations are also being perpetrated by Houthi rebels.
One year on, it still remains blurred who is pleasing the war. Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners claim to have regained control of more than 80 percent of the country, but the Houthis remain in control of the key strongholds of Sanaa, Ibb, and Taiz. Moreover, armed groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State are gaining ground and support in the south and southeast parts of the country, taking advantage of the security vacuum to consolidate their power. One thing is clear: Yemeni civilians are losing the most.
Amnesty International and other organizations have presented compelling evidence over the past year that indicates all parties to the Yemen conflict have committed war crimes. But some countries do not want to see the evidence that is staring them in the face. Flooding the region with arms is akin to adding fuel to the fire.
And yet, Britain, the United States, and France continue to authorize lucrative arms deals with the Saudi-led coalition — apparently without batting an eyelash.
According to Foreign Policy website, since November 2013, the US Defense Department has authorized more than $35.7 billion in major arms deals to Saudi Arabia. This includes the announcement of a $1.29 billion US arms sale to Saudi Arabia in November 2015 that will supply Riyadh with 18,440 bombs and 1,500 warheads. Meanwhile, during his time in office, British Prime Minister David Cameron has overseen the sale of more than $9 billion worth of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, including nearly $4 billion since airstrikes on Yemen began.
The fact that Saudi Arabia just got re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council is just another reason why this important institution is in serious need of reform and democratization, in order for it to better live up to the noble and crucial principles of its founding charter.
The UN needs reform at all levels. The UNHRC in particular should set basic standards of human rights which countries must adhere to in order to even be considered for a position on the Council. If this were the case countries like Croatia and Saudi Arabia wouldn’t be let near such an organization.