Saudi ambassador appointed to UN human rights role

Hillel Neuer

An ambassador to Saudi Arabia has been controversially appointed as chair of the Consultative Group to the President of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Faisal bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was originally appointed chair of the five-strong group in June. Last week, it was confirmed that Mr Trad would continue to serve in the role.

The appointment has been condemned by UN Watch, a non-governmental watchdog based in Geneva.

According to the organisation, the Consultative Group is an important body with responsibility for nominating independent experts to more than 77 positions in the UNHRC.

Hillel Neuer, UN Watch executive director

said: “It is scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel.”

Mr Neuer added: “The UN often describes these experts as the ‘crown jewels’ of its Human Rights Council, yet the world body only undermines their legitimacy by picking a fundamentalist theocracy that oppresses women and minorities to preside over the experts’ appointment.”

SNP MP Stewart McDonald said: “Many people around the world are rightly concerned about the grave and systematic abuses of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

“The notion that an administration that is itself responsible for such human rights abuses should now be put in charge of overseeing and protecting human rights worldwide is both absurd and deeply concerning.”

He urged the UK government to “use the full resources of the UK delegation to the UN to call for Mr Trad to be removed from his position”.

He added: “Far from directing the appointment of Special Rapporteurs and other high profile UN human rights positions, Saudi Arabia should itself be subject to an investigation by the UN for its human rights record.”

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