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
ON INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NUMBER 17 OF 31 MAY 2005
FOR ORAL REPLY
Mr D H M Gibson (DA) to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs:
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?
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
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".
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
(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.