Campaign To Cancel UNESCO Election of Syria to UN Human Rights Committee

RE: Signs of success in campaign to cancel UNESCO’s election of Syria to human rights committee

Jan. 9, 2012

Dear Rivka,

I want to share with you some good news.

As you may recall, on Dec. 15, after UN Watch learned that UNESCO unanimously elected Syria to a committee dealing with human rights—incomprehensibly elevating the murderous regime’s international status and awarding Bashar al-Assad an undeserved badge of international legitimacy—we launched an international appeal with 55 parliamentarians, religious groups and human rights activists to demand that this shameful decision be canceled.

I’ve just now received a reply.

A representative of Alastair Burt, a minister in the British Foreign Office, has informed me that the United Kingdom has joined with other countries in putting forward an item for the first meeting of UNESCO’s Executive Board at which they will seek to “explicitly address Syria’s membership of the body.”

The British government further stated unequivocally that it “deplores the continuing membership of Syria on this committee”—a situation it regards as “abhorrent” and “anomalous”—and “does not believe that Syria’s presence is conducive to the work of the body or UNESCO’s reputation.”

The story has already been picked up by Al Arabiya and Fox News, with the latter reporting that the U.S. government initiated the request to review Syria’s membership on Dec. 16—one day after UN Watch published its appeal.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time in UNESCO history that a dictatorship faces expulsion from one of its committees.

It’s a bit of good news for the innocent citizens of Syria, victims of a bloodthirsty regime that has shown it will kill thousands of its own people to stay in power. Every vestige of phony legitimacy that is removed from Assad’s regime hastens its downfall.

The episode underscores the need for an outside body to monitor the UN—which, left to its own devices, will too often embrace the world’s worst dictators—and the global impact of UN Watch, which continues to achieve concrete results through strong, swift and effective action, building on our international partnerships with pro-democracy friends and allies.

Thank you as always for your support of UN Watch, which makes our vital work possible.

Yours truly,

Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director

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