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

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?
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

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
Afghanistann/a
Cuban/a
Eritrean/a
Iraqn/a
Somalian/a
Egypt155th (of 159)
Democratic Republic of the Congo152
Saudi Arabia149
Cameroon145
Angola142
Pakistan141
Bangladesh133
Nigeria133
Ukraine132
China130
Togo129
Brazil120
United Arab Emirates116
Qatar112
Tunisia111
Argentina108
Senegal108
Burkina Faso94
Bahrain88
Nepal74
Mexico73
Philippines71
South Africa68
Rwanda65
Fiji62
Bahamas53
Peru51
Hungary44
Croatia43
Uruguay42
Bulgaria41
Chile37
Italy35
Slovakia33
Iceland31
Spain30
Japan27
Czech Republic25
Austria12
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland9
Denmark8
Australia5

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