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    UN Watch testimony at UNHRC interrupted by Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, Bangladesh

    UN Watch testimony at UNHRC interrupted by Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,
    China, Iran, Bangladesh
    By UN Watch —— Bio and Archives March 21, 2017

    GENEVA— Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Bolivia, UAE, Iran,
    Bangladesh, and Venezuela today attempted to silence UN human rights
    council testimony by the head of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights
    non-governmental organization, after he criticized or called for the
    removal of these countries from the council.

    However, Neuer thanked the USA, the UK, Canada, Germany, Netherlands,
    and Latvia for successfully defending the right of UN Watch to speak.
    Full text of the speech and interruptions below.

    UN Human Rights Council, debate under Agenda Item 8, Vienna Declaration
    of Human Rights

    delivered by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch

    Today we ask: Is the world living up to the Vienna Declaration, which
    reaffirms basic human rights?

    We ask the government of Turkish President Erdogan, if it cares about
    human rights, why did they just fire more than one hundred thousand
    teachers, university deans, judges, prosecutors, religious figures and
    public servants?

    We ask Pakistan, when will they release Asia Bibi, the innocent,
    Christian mother of five, now on death row on the absurd charge of

    We ask Saudi Arabia, when will you end gender apartheid? When will you
    stop oppressing all religious practice that is not Wahhabist Islam? When
    will you release Raif Badawi, serving 10 years in prison for the crime
    of advocating a free society?

    We welcome the Secretary-General’s new pledge of UN reform. That is why
    today, pursuant to Article 8 of Resolution 60/251, we call for the
    complete removal of Saudi Arabia from this Council.

    So long as 1.3 billion people are denied their basic freedoms, we call
    for the removal of China. So long as human rights are abused by
    Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, and UAE, we
    call for their removal.

    So long as the Maduro government imprisons democracy leaders like Mayor
    Antonio Ledezma of Caracas, and causes its millions of citizens to
    scavenge for food, we call for the removal of Venezuela.

    So long as the Castro government jails Eduardo Cardet, a prisoner of
    conscience, we call for the complete removal of Cuba from this Council.

    [Cuba interrupts on a point of order, followed by 8 other countries]

    Cuba: We are taking the floor under Article 13 of the UN General
    Assembly Rules, Point of Order. We heard the speaker, he has just taken
    the floor in this debate and questioned the membership of the Human
    Rights Council, particularly our membership but also other countries.
    The decision on granting membership is up to the member states of the
    United Nations alone, pursuant to which they freely decide and elect who
    will be a member. And bear in mind resolution 96/31 of ECOSOC and
    resolution 60 of the UNGA, we would ask you to call the speaker to order
    and that we should confine our comments to what is on agenda. It’s
    important that they are called to order, bearing in mind the
    prerogatives that NGOs enjoy.

    Bangladesh: We also have the same position as Cuba with regard to the
    intervention made by the NGO, UN Watch. We note with very high concern
    that the language used by this particular organization is not only
    unacceptable, it is abhorrent. The basic premise of questioning the
    membership of the Human Rights Council with regard to a number of states
    is out-hand rejected. We believe that this is a matter of serious
    concern, the continued participation of this organization in the
    proceedings of this Council is, to our view, not desirable, and we would
    ask the Human Rights Council to take a unified view on this matter.

    Venezuela: I wanted to support the points of order raised by Cuba and
    Bangladesh. My delegation would also like to state in writing its
    position. We reject what has been said by this political organization
    called UN Watch. They use this session to address political issues which
    have nothing to do with promoting human rights. Vice-President, we are
    under agenda item 8, the general debate, this is a thematic debate, it
    has to do with the Vienna Action Plan. We therefore reject the fact that
    this political body violates the spirit of cooperation that needs to
    prevail in our work. President, I agree that we need to respect freedom
    of expression and freedom to disagree with a country, but at the same
    time we demand respect, and we cannot accept offensive terms used
    against our country and our government. I would, therefore, president,
    ask you to call the speaker to order. Thank you.

    Pakistan: We would support the well articulated arguments already given
    by Cuba, Bangladesh, Venezuela, and we would also align ourselves with
    their viewpoint, that this organization is way out of line, and the
    honor and respect of the Council should be always at the top of the
    agenda, and to target continuously particular countries by the
    organization, which we saw in the last agenda item also, and again in
    the last agenda item we had to take the point of order on the same
    organization, it is not in line, and we urge the whole Council to take a
    unified position on this, and we respectfully request the Vice-President
    to take Point of Order on this.

    United States: Without addressing the substance of the speaker’s
    statement, we are of the opinion that what we have heard of the
    intervention is indeed addressed to the subject matter at hand before
    this council and is within the UN rules and IB package. I believe that
    the speaker has already finished speaking as I understood it but if the
    speaker has not, we respectfully ask that you rule that the speaker be
    allowed to finish his presentation.

    China: I support the statement made by Cuba, Bangladesh, Venezuela and
    Pakistan. Members of the Human Rights Council were elected by the member
    states, and this is an NGO which is making this kind of attack, which is
    totally unacceptable, and therefore I would respectfully request the
    Vice-President to end the speech that has been made by this NGO. And I
    would also call on this NGO to respect the rules of the Council in this

    United Kingdom: NGOs should be allowed to speak openly and freely in
    this forum. The NGO should be allowed to conclude their statement,

    Netherlands: We highly value that civil society be able to speak. We ask
    you to allow the speaker to finish their statement.

    Canada: Canada deeply believes that accredited NGOs should be authorized
    to take the floor in this council. What we heard from this statement is
    relevant to our ongoing discussions.

    Saudi Arabia: I won’t be long. We support the points of order raised by
    Cuba, Bangladesh, and China. Thank you.

    Iran: We would like to support the point of order made by our
    distinguished Cuban colleagues, followed by Bangladesh and other
    distinguished members of the Council. Thank you.

    Latvia: It is very important that we allow NGOs to express their views,
    even if we may sometimes disagree with what they say. That enriches our
    human rights dialogue. It is the better of courtesy to ensure that NGO
    statements should not be interrupted. I call on you to allow NGOs to

    Vice-President (Egyptian ambassador Amr Ahmed Ramadan): Actually NGOs
    were given the chance to speak, we have been listening to them since

    Germany: Like others before us, we would urge upon this council to
    listen to the voice of NGOs, even if we do not always agree with what
    they say.

    Bolivia: Thank you, brother Vice-President. We feel compelled to second
    what has been said by Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, etc. We are not
    questioning freedom of expression, it is the content of what has been
    said which discredits the NGO. We are clear in how this NGO operates.
    Thank you.

    United Arab Emirates: President, the Emirates would also like to endorse
    the point of order raised by Cuba, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and
    others. Thank you.

    Vice-President: Distinguished members of this council: we have wasted
    more than 10 minutes, we listened to 15 countries whether to allow UN
    Watch to continue with this statement. We need all to recognize that we
    are short of time in this session. So with that in mind, we need to work
    in an efficient manner, to finish the agenda. With that in mind, I will
    ask the representative to respect member states, and more importantly to
    respect this Council.

    UN Watch: Mr. President, we have the right to cite the suspension
    provision of this council’s own charter. They can silence human rights
    defenders at home, but they cannot do so at the United Nations.

    UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to
    monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is
    accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special
    Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and
    as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI).

    Source: UN Watch testimony at UNHRC interrupted by Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi
    Arabia, China, Iran, Bangladesh –

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