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New resource exposes voter records of UN Rights Council's member states on human rights issues

This statement was originally published on on 24 March 2015.

The records of United Nations Human Rights Council members in addressing egregious rights violations in individual countries are scrutinized in the updated “VotesCount” website, Human Rights Watch announced today. The website shines a spotlight on the votes taken by members of the council on situations in individual countries during 2014.

“Countries often hide behind their regional groups or the political dynamics at the Human Rights Council, but each has a role in the council's successes and failures,” said John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch. “Each council member should be held accountable for its votes and for its leadership, which our VotesCount website makes easily accessible.”

The Human Rights Council is the main UN body with a mandate to address situations of gross and systematic violations of human rights and to respond to human rights emergencies. Since its creation in 2006, it has successfully established investigation and monitoring mechanisms for grave violations in North Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Iran. But it has failed to take on abuses in other countries and situations, such as in Egypt, Uzbekistan, Guantanamo Bay, and China.

On March 26 and 27, 2015, the Human Rights Council is expected to adopt resolutions on the human rights situations in North Korea, Iran, Burma, and Libya.

While many council members from all regions are willing to confront governments responsible for human rights violations, a few refuse outright to support any council engagement with specific countries, despite the council's explicit mandate to do so. A large number of countries have been inconsistent in their votes, supporting action in some situations, but opposing steps to deal with even more dire circumstances in other countries.

VotesCount is a unique online resource that reveals how each member has voted on resolutions concerning individual countries during 2014, as well as whether countries have demonstrated leadership or participated in key debates. The website compiles a picture of the performance by the member countries that is difficult to glean from other sources, and provides a perspective about how individual countries have performed.

Countries with a mixed or poor record in addressing situations concerning individual countries should make a commitment to fully carry out the council's mandate and to base their positions on an assessment of the violations committed, Human Rights Watch said. Countries that have a strong voting record should assume greater leadership roles in mobilizing action on situations that the council has not addressed.

“The Council's most worrying trend is the small number of countries that are willing to show leadership in putting situations requiring council action on the table," Fisher said. “More governments need to step up and play a role in helping the council fulfill its mandate to provide real relief to those facing human rights violations in numerous countries across the globe.”

The VotesCount website, which is regularly updated, was created on the Silk platform.

For more information, please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Human Rights Council, please visit:

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