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DR Congo elected to UN's Human Rights Council

October 17, 2017

Congo's election to the UN's Human Rights Council has been criticized because of the country’s human rights record. "This is like making a pyromaniac the town fire chief," head of the NGO UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, said.

Congo soldier walk past UN peacekeepers
Image: AFP/Getty Images/A. Wandimoyi

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was one of 15 states chosen on Monday after a vote by the 193-member General Assembly as rights representatives for three-year terms starting in January 2018.

Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were also elected.

The Human Rights Council is made up of 47 UN member states elected through direct and secret ballots.

While Congo was elected uncontested to the 47-member Geneva-based council, it still needed majority support. The country – which has been beset by political and militia violence since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down in December – won 151 votes.

Violence in eastern and central Congo has displaced 1.5 million in the last year and reopened fears of civil war.

Conflict in 1996-2003 resulted in millions of deaths and created conditions in which dozens of armed groups emerged.


"This is a slap in the face to the many victims of the Congolese government's grave abuses across the country," Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Of more than 5,190 human rights violations and abuses recorded in the DRC in 2016, 64 percent were committed by the Congolese army and police, according to the UN's Human Rights Office.

"This is like making a pyromaniac the town fire chief," said the head of the NGO UN Watch, Hillel Neuer. 

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, who has been calling for reform to the Human Rights Council, said the council should be "a unified voice of moral clarity with backbone and integrity to call out abusive governments."

"This election has once again proven that the Human Rights Council, as presently constituted, is not that voice," Haley said in a statement.

"Political repression, civilian attacks, mass graves. What happened in DRC last year makes their election to the Human Rights council entirely disappointing," British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft posted on Twitter.

jbh/rc (dpa, Reuters)