United Nations General Assembly Members have voted for Cameroon to join the UN highest human rights body, the human rights council, as part of a block of African countries, including Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Togo and Somalia, to serve a three year term.
The decision has been widely criticized by rights and non-rights groups. In a report this week, Irwin Cotler, the head of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and a former Canadian minister of justice, said: “Regrettably, when the UN itself ends up electing human rights violators to the human rights council, it indulges the very culture of impunity it is supposed to combat. The world’s democracies must join in the preservation and protection of the council’s mandate and not end up accomplices to its breach.”
States elected to 3-year terms on the UN Human Rights Council. Not all have stellar human rights records.
— Sherwin Bryce-Pease (@sherwiebp) October 12, 2018
Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch in Geneva, said the creation of the council in 2006 by the late Kofi Annan, then UN secretary general, was intended to weed out the worst abusers, whose presence had discredited the council’s predecessor, the now-defunct UN human rights commission. “Sadly, this was never respected … This year, there is not even the illusion of competition,” Neuer said.
Cameroon has come under heavy criticism for human rights abuses perpetrated by its military. Soldiers have been filmed killing citizens without judgement. However, the government of Cameroon has argued it soldiers are operating within the law and those who break the law are persecuted.