Iran, Syria Seek Human Rights Council Seat

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The United States and Israel oppose Iran's and Syria's bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council this fall when the General Assembly will hold its annual membership elections.

U.N. member nations will vote for 14 available seats in the five regional councils. Iran and Syria each hope to win a three-year term on the Asia group, which includes the Middle East and has four open seats.

Hillel Neuer, head of the advocacy group UN Watch, which monitors U.N. activities, said with both Iran and Syria winning seats on U.N. rights panels recently, anything's possible.

"We need to fight these candidacies," he said.

Iran currently heads the U.N.'s largest voting bloc, the non-aligned movement, and was recently elected to the Women's Rights Commission. Syria, meanwhile, secured a spot on UNESCO's Human Rights Commission.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been accused of using chemical weapons against his own people in the two-year civil war in his country that has killed more than 100,000 people. Hundreds of thousands more have fled the country.

The Israeli and U.S. ambassadors both spoke out against Iran or Syria winning a seat on the Geneva-based council.

Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, who replaced Susan Rice as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., called the bids "highly inappropriate."

"Attempts by either country to join the Human Rights Council are highly inappropriate given existing Human Rights Council mandates to investigate human rights violations in these countries, their egregious records on human rights, and their ongoing collaboration to suppress the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people," DiCarlo said.

Israeli U.N. Ambassador Ron Proser labeled it the height of "lunacy."

"This might be a new world record for lunacy at the United Nations," Proser said in an email to Reuters. "Putting Iran and Syria on the Human Rights Council is like putting the Godfather in charge of a witness protection program."

In May, Iran was elected rotating president of the Geneva-based U.N. Conference on Disarmament.

Neuer said electing Iran to chair the Disarmament Conference was "like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women's shelter."

YNet contributed to this report.

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