Sudan: Forces of Freedom and Change – Sudan’s Re-Election to the Human Rights Council must be rejected (06.10.2022)

The next elections for membership of the Human Rights Council are scheduled to take place in the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 11 October to decide which member states will sit on the Council for the next 3 year (2023-2025) membership term.

Sudan is standing for re-election despite a military junta taking over power in a coup on 25 October 2021.

Sudan was first elected to the Human Rights Council in October 2019 after the glorious December Revolution and the formation of the civilian-led government led by former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. However, Sudan was suspended from the African Union after its current unconstitutional regime abrogated the Constitutional Document of August 2019 and toppled the civilian-led government on 25 October 2021, thereby halting the democratic transition and reversing the progress that had been achieved. Despite suspending Sudan and condemning the military coup, the African Union has failed to withdraw its endorsement for Sudan’s re-election and Sudan is still included on the African Group’s “closed slate” of candidates for the African region, which means that there are the same number of candidates as there are seats. Hence Sudan will not face any competition from other African candidates for re-election.

The criteria for Council membership are set out in UNGA Resolution 60/251, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 3 April 2006. Article 8 of this Resolution states that “when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto”. Article 9 of this Resolution states that “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights and fully cooperate with the Council”.

Far from promoting and protecting human rights, Sudan’s current unconstitutional regime has continuously and systematically violated the human rights of its citizens since 25 October 2021. For example, it has committed serious human rights violations against peaceful protestors, routinely using live ammunition. Around 120 peaceful protesters have been killed and thousands more injured. Insecurity, killings, human rights violations and hate speech have increased in Darfur, the Two Areas and eastern Sudan without any effective response from the de facto authorities. Human rights defenders and journalists have been harassed and women protestors have been raped. There have also been arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions and enforced disappearances as well as extended internet shutdowns.

There is still no agreement on a clear plan for Sudan to transit out of the current chaotic situation and return to civilian democratic rule, with a government that commands broad popular support. On the contrary, the military junta has been facilitating the return of political Islamists from the terrorist regime of Omer al Bashir. The junta’s representatives in the Council have refused to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Moreover, the economic and social rights of Sudanese citizens have suffered severely as a result of the accelerating economic crisis since the coup, resulting in a sharp decline in living standards and rapidly increasing food insecurity.

We would therefore call on all UN member states to refrain from voting for Sudan by leaving the ballot blank and only voting for candidates who meet the criteria outlined in the Human Rights Council’s founding resolution 60/521. If Sudan fails to get a simple majority of votes (97) in the secret ballot election, its candidacy will be rejected, Given the regime’s track record of grave human rights violations, Sudan’s re-election for another three years, in current circumstances, would undermine the integrity and credibility of the Human Rights Council, would be a travesty of human rights values and would be a betrayal of the aspirations of the Sudanese people for freedom, peace and justice.

External Relations and Communications Committee – Forces of Freedom and Change

6 October 2022

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