Credibility of the UN Human Rights Commission as result of Elections in Sudan, Zimbabwe, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia and the Proposal for a new Human Rights Council





Mr D H M Gibson (DA) to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs:

(1) Whether the Government agrees with the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, that the UN Human Rights Commission is failing to uphold the Commission's credibility and that the entire UN system has been undermined by the election of Sudan, Zimbabwe, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia to the Commission; if not, why not; if so, on what basis does the Government agree;
(2) Whether the Government supports Kofi Annan's proposal that a new Human Rights Council replace the Human Rights Commission; if not, why not; if so, why;
(3) Whether the Government agrees that members of the Council must uphold the highest possible standards of human rights; if not, why not; if so, how would this approach determine South Africa's support for nominees in the future?



(1) Whilst we agree that the credibility of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is being undermined, we do not agree that this is the result of the election of any specific country such as those arbitrarily listed by the Honourable Member.

Rather, it is the selective nature and the politicisation of the agenda of the CHR that undermines its credibility.

We consequently agree with the observation of the United Nations Secretary General made in his address to the CHR in Geneva in April 2004 where he stated that the Commission is "undermined by the politicisation of its session and the selectivity of its work".

(2) South Africa subscribes to the common African position contained in the Ezulwini Consensus that "the status quo on the composition and location of the CHR should be maintained".

We also support the view that has been expressed about "the need for further consultations on the proposals related to the CHR".

(3) Yes. South Africa has consistently advocated that member states of the United Nations should promote a culture of human rights. This, we do, conscious of the fact that all member states are eligible to be candidates for all United Nations bodies for which vacancies exist.


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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa