Leaked emails revealed that Belgium instructed its delegates to vote for Saudi Arabia to enter the UN women’s rights commission and make sure that that the fundamentalist regime knew of Belgium’s support. The scandalous revelation by UN Watch caused an uproar and forced Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to issue a statement of “regret” for helping elect the Wahhabist monarchy to an influential human rights body.
According to the leaked internal emails the Belgian delegates were told to follow “clean slate” procedures and “provide its support to the candidates for the various positions”. Even though the decision on Saudi’s membership was conducted using a secret ballot, in which there is no way to find out what countries voted for the candidate, the exposed emails further revealed that Belgium’s delegates were urged to inform different candidates, including Saudi Arabia, of Belgium’s support.
Following a firestorm in Belgium and demands for an explanation, the Prime Minister first said that their UN diplomat didn’t have enough time to think the vote through, and definitely needed further consultations to figure out that Saudi Arabia was not such a good choice. “Last week’s vote came unexpectedly and that a diplomat was forced into a hasty decision without proper consultations with the government in Brussels,” PM said.
Michel later apologized that Belgium supported the new member, also known as “the world’s most misogynistic regime”. “If we could redo it, the government would have advocated that there is no support (for Saudi Arabia), there is no ambiguity about that.
UN Watch which first exposed the shocking U.N.’s election of Saudi Arabia to its women’s rights commission and then revealed the leaked emails of Belgium’s delegate, welcomed the PM’s regret.
“Human rights activists everywhere ought to accept this rare apology,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, “provided that it is matched with a real commitment to ending the U.N.’s routine elevation of gross human rights abusers to influential human rights bodies, which only empowers the regimes, not the victims.”
“Saudi Arabia may have a large part of the world’s oil wealth,” said Neuer, “but their contempt for the basic rights of women should never be legitimized by U.N. bodies or by liberal democracies such as Belgium.”
UN Watch claims that at least 4 other European counties said yes to Saudi Arabia in a secret vote.