Kumi Naidoo, AI secretary-general, told The STAR on Thursday that officials are aware of the “flawed system” in electing members of the UN HRC, noting countries with human rights records worse than that of the Philippines also get elected to the 47-member body.
Petros Giannakouris/AP
‘UN rights seat not a vindication’
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - October 22, 2018 - 12:00am

THE HAGUE — Philippine government officials are delusional for thinking that the country’s election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) is a vindication from criticisms on its human rights record, an official of Amnesty International (AI) said. 

Kumi Naidoo, AI secretary-general, told The STAR on Thursday that officials are aware of the “flawed system” in electing members of the UN HRC, noting countries with human rights records worse than that of the Philippines also get elected to the 47-member body. 

“The statements by the Filipino political leadership saying that the election to the UN Human Rights Council is a vindication that they are on the right track in terms of the human rights record can only be described as delusional thinking,” Naidoo said, claiming the body’s election is “flawed” because done on a “sort of rotational basis.”

Last week, the Philippines succeeded in its re-election bid to the human rights body, prompting government officials to claim it as a vindication of the Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs and its human rights record. 

It is one of 18 countries, including five from the Asia-Pacific region, that vied without opposition for the seats scheduled to be left vacant this year. With no competition, candidate countries only needed 97 or a simple majority of the 193-member UN to secure a new term at the HRC.

The Philippines received 165 out of 192 votes cast, the second lowest overall and the lowest, along with Bahrain, in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Our successful bid to keep our seat in the Council is proof that many in the international community remain convinced the Philippines respects and protects human rights and have seen through the efforts of some to politicize and weaponize the issue,” recently resigned foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said following the vote. 

He dismissed calls from some human rights organizations, including the New York-based Human Rights Watch, for countries not to vote for the Philippines. These groups, he said, are against the Philippines because the country has been instrumental in exposing their supposed moral bankruptcy.

For him, the groups are only making noise because they are seeking more funding.

Despite denials from the Duterte government, Naidoo maintained that the human rights situation in the Philippines is “extremely serious.”

“The attack on women, the extrajudicial killings that even predate Duterte and got worse, and particularly the so-called war on drugs which has become the war against the poor. These things collectively are a catastrophe for poor people,” he claimed.

The AI executive said he is familiar with the Philippines as he has visited the country many times in the past. 

“We’ve learned a lot from the Filipinos’ resistance to Marcos and so on. Duterte and this current government is rolling back the sacrifices that people made and paid with their blood for ending martial law and the dictatorship of Marcos. The only defense is for people to organize and actually bring a political leadership that is more human rights sensible,” added Naidoo. 

Addressing over 1,800 delegates at the One Young World summit here, Naidoo also called on the youth to take on the mantle and be the leaders of today. 

“Do not put faith in the current adult political and business leaders because it is our generation that has led us to the precipice of disaster. If young people accept the slogan that young people are the leaders of tomorrow, there might not be a tomorrow for you to lead given the realities of climate change,” he said. 

According to him, the youth could offer a fresh perspective on how to address problems that continued to worsen through the years. 

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
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