Russia and China were elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the next three years, but Saudi Arabia failed to win a seat on the 47-seat body.
The result is a severe blow to the country’s efforts to improve its image following the acknowledged assassination of Saudi citizen and Washington Post reporter Jamal Hashoghi.
Pakistan and Cuba were also selected in a secret ballot on Tuesday at the UN headquarters in New York to fill 1
Voting largely works from countries in the regions that make private deals with the nation states that will appear – often in order to ensure that all candidates stand without opposition in their region.
All 193 UN countries can vote in any region.
The only contested region in the 2020 election was the Asia-Pacific region, where China and Saudi Arabia competed in a five-point race with Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Nepal for four seats. China attracted 139 votes, unlike the last time it ran for office in 2016, when it won 180.
Saudi Arabia, the current president of the G20, came in fifth with just 90 votes, beaten by Nepal by 150.
UKshadow Foreign Minister Lisa Nandi has pressured Foreign Minister Dominic Raab to state publicly that the United Kingdom will not support China. He declined to do so, arguing that the usual practice followed by previous Labor and Conservative governments was not to reveal how Britain voted or abstained.
The defeat of Saudi Arabia has been followed by intense last-minute lobbying by human rights groups, who have warned that confidence in the body will be restored if Saudi Arabia, Russia and China are elected, given their recent stories.
In recent weeks, the Russian state has been accused of using a military-class nerve agent to poison opposition leader Alexander Navalny. Saudi Arabia has admitted that government officials dismembered Hashoghi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two years ago.
China has been accused of sending hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims to state re-education camps in Xinjiang Province.
Prior to the vote, Luis Charbono, the UN’s director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Non-competitive UN voices like this make fun of the word ‘election.’ Regional plates must be competitive so that countries have a choice. When there is no choice, states must refuse to vote for unfit candidates. “
Each nation state sitting on the council is responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights. Applicants are invited to publish statements to fellow UN members outlining their human rights qualifications.
In a statement, Saudi Arabia acknowledged that it placed “legal restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression to protect public order, national security, public morals and health, and the rights or reputation of others.” The media, publishers and all other means of expression use civic and polite language, obey the laws of the state, contribute to the education of the nation and promote unity. “
It does not mention women activists in prison for campaigning for the right to drive or other members of Saudi Arabia held without access to their families or lawyers.
Russia’s statement said that “the promotion and protection of human rights is an absolute priority of the Russian Federation’s foreign policy.”
He also promised “to counter attempts to use the protection of human rights as a tool for exerting political pressure and interfering in the internal affairs of states, including with a view to destabilizing them and changing legitimate governments.”
In a statement, China placed a strong emphasis on economic emancipation, but said it “guarantees the freedom of all ethnic groups to use and develop their own spoken and written languages.”
The statement added: “There is always room for improvement in human rights. There is no universally applicable model and human rights can only progress in the context of national conditions and people’s needs. “