CAIRO: The decision to appoint an Egyptian United Nations delegate as deputy president of the Human Rights Council to represent Africa has been condemned as sending a “wrong message by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS).
Hisham Badr was nominated by the Council s Africa bloc and elected on Friday, according to the state-owned egynews.net portal.
According to the article, the African bloc nominated Egypt “in recognition of the important role played by the Egyptian delegation in the defense of Africa s interests and those of developing nations, in the Council.
Moataz El-Fegiery, executive director of CIHRS, said that the appointment falsely sends a message that Egypt has a positive human rights record.
El-Fegiery pointed to attacks on freedom of association and expression and the continuing state of emergency as examples of the way in which human rights in Egypt have “deteriorated .
“This message will be a false message because human rights in Egypt have deteriorated over the past two or three years. It is the wrong message, El-Fegiery said.
However, Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) disagreed that Badr s nomination sends any message about its human rights record.
“This is a geographical quarter and usually such roles are played by states that have large delegations in Geneva and have relatively more human and financial resources and Egypt enjoys that, which explains why it was elected to the post. It doesn’t send any signals regarding the human rights situation in any country, Bahgat said.
Both El-Fegiery and Bahgat agreed that Egypt has played a “polarizing role in the Council, with El-Fegiery warning that the nomination will intensify Egypt s efforts to “weaken the Council.
“Democratic countries in the Council should be aware of the negative impact played by Egypt in their efforts to weaken it. This election will not help the Council, it will strengthen its politicization, El-Fegiery explained.
Bahgat expressed his hope that Egypt will play a more “constructive role.
“We hope that the government will play a more constructive role as a member of the council than the role it played for the last two years, both as a member of the council and facilitator as a group of African states, a role that has been primarily informed more by a desire to polarize the council than to build bridges and ensure that the council responds effectively to human rights, Bahgat said.
“We monitored Egypt’s role for two years and in these two years Egypt’s role was to polarize the council along political lines and work against any effort to ensure that the council responds effectively to human rights situations on the ground. And we hope that in its new role Egypt will be more constructive in effective intervention by the council. -Additional reporting by Tyler Waywell