Saudi Arabia: UN GA: Saudi Arabia scrutinised for its massive human rights violations


On 13 October 2020, during the 16th plenary meeting of the 75th session of United Nations General Assembly (UN GA), 16 countries including, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and others stood for election to the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC).

The UN GA elected 15 new members out of 16 candidates for the UN HRC, with  Saudi Arabia as the only candidate not selected. The video here shows the vote count with Saudi Arabia getting 90 votes, the least of any candidate.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has criticised Saudi Arabia’s ambition to hold prestigious human rights positions internationally while being widely condemned for its human rights situation nationally. GCHR in its report on Saudi women human rights defenders (WHRDs) urged “NGOs to push for further pressure and to consolidate efforts to hold the kingdom accountable for violations perpetrated with the utmost impunity and through obvious neglect of its international obligations under the international law.” GCHR further noted that despite all the efforts, “Saudi Arabia continues to retain its stature and to hold international positions such as a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.”

“Today, we believe that by not electing Saudi Arabia to be a member of the Human Rights Council, this may push Saudi Arabia to consider improving its human rights record genuinely, not cosmetically,” said Khalid Ibrahim, GCHR’s Executive Director. “Also, today’s results will motivate the human rights community, including GCHR, coalitions and partners, to additionally exert efforts towards advocacy, as this proved to be a successful tool for scrutinising states,” he added.

GCHR calls on the Saudi government to fully respect its international human rights commitments and adhere to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs). The state should also respond positively to the repeated calls of UN independent experts, UN member states’ representatives and the broader human rights community including international organisations and coalitions to release immediately and unconditionally all detained W/HRDs in Saudi Arabia.

The authorities must allow an independent inquiry into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on 02 October 2018. Furthermore, it must investigate all other allegations of torture such as those perpetrated against Saudi WHRDs, including Loujain Al-Hathloul, and to hold perpetrators accountable through trials that comply with international standards and due process.