Saudi Arabia failed in its bid to become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, when China and Russia were elected for three years.
Human rights organizations hailed the blow to Riyadh and its attempts to improve its image vis-à-vis the international community.
“The Human Rights Council today sent a spectacular rebuke to Saudi Arabia under Mohammed bin Salman,” Bruno Stagno, deputy executive director of the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) wrote on Twitter, with reference to to the crown prince of the country.
“The only country not to be elected, fled by a majority of UN members. The kingdom is harvesting what it deserves for its serious human rights violations and for its war crimes abroad, ”he added.
Fifteen seats were at stake in this council, which has 47 members, criticized by human rights organizations and by the United States, because there are countries accused of violating these same rights.
However, only four of the 15 seats were contested – all in Asia and the Pacific.
China won 139 votes in the secret ballot, a dramatic drop from the 180 votes cast the last time it was elected in 2016.
“This shows that more and more States are disturbed by the disastrous record of China in terms of respect for rights”, wrote on Twitter Louis Charbonneau, head of HRW at the United Nations.
Pakistan and Uzbekistan were elected with 169 votes and Nepal with 150 votes.
Saudi Arabia is the only country to have stood in this election and not been elected, collecting only 90 votes.
“Unless Saudi Arabia undertakes major reforms to release its political prisoners, end its terrible war in Yemen and allow its citizens real political participation, it will remain a planetary outcast,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of Democracy for the Arab World Now.
The organization she represents – founded by Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, killed by his country’s agents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two years ago – has welcomed the result.
Russia and Cuba are among the 11 countries elected without opposition. The 193 UN members were able to vote in all regions.
The controversial voting system causes countries to negotiate and agree on who comes forward, often without encountering opposition.
US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Council in 2018.
“Today, the United Nations General Assembly has once again elected countries with a disastrous record on human rights,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.