Arabia has a mixed record of engagement on country-specific situations
discussed at the Council. Its selective involvement is of particular concern.
Voting Record in 2016
Voting Record in 2015
Saudi Arabia’s engagement at the Human Rights Council raises serious questions about the double standards and selectivity of its approach to the Council. It strongly opposes actions directed at its allies, but leads the charge on council engagement against its opponents, irrespective of grave human rights violations on the ground. Saudi Arabia has remained a bystander on many country situations, abstaining on the votes on Iran, North Korea, Belarus, and Ukraine. It also voted against the Sri Lanka resolution after supporting a hostile non-action motion presented by Pakistan. In March, Saudi Arabia put forward a joint declaration that backed the government crackdown in Egypt, despite the massive rights violations it entailed.
Saudi Arabia expressed strong support for all the resolutions on Syria – for which it is playing a leadership role in the core group of drafters – and on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.
It also intervened in the Council’s country specific debates only to address the situations in Syria and in Palestine, and during the special session on Iraq. On a positive note, Saudi Arabia supported the calls for the three special sessions held by the Council this year.
Saudi Arabia should review its position on country situations at the Council, refrain from offering political support to governments that blatantly violate their human rights obligations, and support more resolutions that denounce abuses beyond the situations in Palestine and Syria. As one of the co-sponsors of the draft Security Council resolution on Syria defeated by Russian and Chinese vetoes on May 22, 2014, Saudi Arabia should also express greater support at the Human Rights Council to call for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court.
Voting record in 2014
Support for key joint statements in 2014
While Saudi Arabia was a strong supporter of the Council’s numerous resolutions on Syria and voted in favor of all the resolutions focusing on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, it did not support any of the other country resolutions put to the vote. Saudi Arabia voted against the resolutions on Sri Lanka and abstained on the resolution on Iran and Belarus. It also voted against amendments to improve the Libya resolution in March 2012.
Saudi Arabia did not support any of the key joint statements made on country situations at the Human Rights Council.
Saudi Arabia co-sponsored 21 country-specific resolutions. Saudi Arabia also participated in several country debates at the Council.
Saudi Arabia can improve its performance at the
Council by strengthening its support for country-specific action at the Council
beyond the Syrian crisis and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It should
revisit its position on Sri Lanka, Iran and Belarus and continue to broaden its
co-sponsorship of country-specific resolutions.