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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pauses during his third State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City, Manila, Philippines Monday, July 23, 2018.
AP Photo/Aaron Favila
Who can fill my shoes?

The countries in the UN Human Rights Council are terrible at human rights

By Annalisa Merelli

The yearly cohort of countries to join the UN Human Rights Council was voted in today. The new members—Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, India, Italy, Philippines, Somalia, Togo, and Uruguay—were selected in order to achieve an equitable representation of different regions, from the Caribbean to Eastern Europe. 

The only problem: Many of them have dismal human rights records, themselves.

This year, the Philippines (an expert in extra-judiciary killings) and Eritrea (a dictatorship), join pre-existing members like Saudi Arabia (infamous for restricting women’s freedom). Five have such poor data on human rights that they weren’t even ranked on the Cato Institute’s 2017 Human Freedoms Index, a comprehensive report on 159 countries’ respect for rule of law, civil liberties, access to trade, and legal and property rights. Here’s how the rest of the council’s members rank.

Member of the
UN Human Rights Council
Freedom Index Ranking,
from worst to best
Afghanistan n/a
Cuba n/a
Eritrea n/a
Iraq n/a
Somalia n/a
Egypt 155th (of 159)
Democratic Republic of the Congo 152
Saudi Arabia 149
Cameroon 145
Angola 142
Pakistan 141
Bangladesh 133
Nigeria 133
Ukraine 132
China 130
Togo 129
Brazil 120
United Arab Emirates 116
Qatar 112
Tunisia 111
Argentina 108
Senegal 108
Burkina Faso 94
Bahrain 88
Nepal 74
Mexico 73
Philippines 71
South Africa 68
Rwanda 65
Fiji 62
Bahamas 53
Peru 51
Hungary 44
Croatia 43
Uruguay 42
Bulgaria 41
Chile 37
Italy 35
Slovakia 33
Iceland 31
Spain 30
Japan 27
Czech Republic 25
Austria 12
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 9
Denmark 8
Australia 5