'Nicaragua, Kuwait, Congo unqualified for UN Human Rights Council'
New York: Only 10 of 17 candidates to the UN Human Rights Council are fully qualified, a United Nations watchdog group said on Thursday.
UN Watch said that Nicaragua, Congo and Kuwait have poor rights records, making them unqualified to sit on the UN's top human rights body. It encouraged the world's nations not to include any of those three when it selects 15 new members for the 47-seat council on Friday.
"Unfortunately some of the worst violators of human rights get elected" to the body, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said at the group's annual luncheon at UN headquarters on the eve of the vote.
The Geneva-based advocacy group assessed the qualifications of the countries using information and analysis from international reports by nongovernmental groups including Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House.
It said candidates Burkina Faso, India, Indonesia, Philippines have questionable qualifications for council membership.
It deemed the following candidates qualified: Austria, Benin, Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy, Peru, and Romania.
The 192-member General Assembly will vote Friday on the latest slate of rotating council candidates.
Kuwait announced on Wednesday it will replace Syria as a proposed council member amid widespread opposition to Syria's candidacy amid the ongoing crackdown by President Bashar Assad's security forces.
"Kuwait is far better than Syria, but it is not the best replacement," Neuer said.
Also speaking at the luncheon, Syrian dissident Ahed Al Hendi said having Syria on the council was like "being babysat by a paedophile”.
The council was created in March 2006 to replace the UN's widely discredited and highly politicised Human Rights Commission. But the council has also been widely criticised for failing to change many of the commission's practices, including putting much more emphasis on Israel than on any other country and electing candidates accused of serious human rights violations.