24 September 2015
Over the past few days, a highly distorted narrative has been spreading on the role of Saudi Arabia in the Consultative Group.
The Consultative Group is comprised of five ambassadors, who are not elected by the Human Rights Council, or any other U.N. body, but appointed by the five regional groups and serve in their personal capacity. They assess candidates for UN human rights expert positions (known as Special Procedures mandate-holders). On the basis of objective criteria, they then recommend candidates, by consensus, to the President of the Human Rights Council. The President then conducts broad consultations before putting his recommendation before the full membership of the Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council then appoints the relevant candidate.
Clearly, it is patently untrue to suggest that any one ambassador has the authority to decide upon a candidate unilaterally. The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia was nominated by the Asian Group to serve on the Consultative Group from 1 January to 31 December this year, and assumed the chair on a rotating basis during part of this year. The chairmanship does not entail any powers over and above the four other members, who this year come from Lithuania, Greece, Chile and Algeria. The composition of this year’s Consultative Group was made public at the beginning of this year and the Group has already submitted all of its three reports for 2015. It is not expected to meet again until next year.
The appointment of mandate-holders is conducted in a transparent manner following well-established rules and procedures taking into account views from various actors including those from States and civil society. Any candidate not happy with the way the process was conducted may appeal to the President of the Human Rights Council.