Kuwait will replace Syria as a candidate for a seat on the UN's top human rights body in this month's election but Syria will run in 2013.
The Kuwaiti and Syrian ambassadors announced the deal after the 53-member Asian Group met behind closed doors Wednesday and endorsed the change.
Kuwait was supposed to be a candidate in 2013.
Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told reporters his government's decision to delay its candidature for a seat on the Human Rights Council had nothing to do with the current unrest in the country.
Yet Asian diplomats that had endorsed Syria's candidacy claim that Ja’afari told them that Syria was “reprioritizing its candidacies in the UN organization in light of the number of reform measures that the government has started to implement.”
Kuwait agreed to take Syria’s place when the UN General Assembly votes in New York on May 20 for 15 new members to the human rights council. Kuwait, India, Indonesia and Philippines will fill out the slate of Asian candidates for four seats on the 47-member panel that go to nations from that continent.
Syria will be a candidate in 2013 for a three-year term on the council, Ja’afari and Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi said.
“This election had become a referendum on Syria’s violent suppression of protests, and Syria withdrew rather than face a resounding defeat,” Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
“Syria needs to do more than keep its head low to avoid further condemnation, though; it needs to change course and stop the violence.”
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