September 3, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan has denied that the withdrawal of its candidacy for a seat on the United Nations’ (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) came as a result of pressure from activists, saying that the decision was dictated by "diplomatic considerations".
- FILE PHOTO - Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti (L) meets with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at Khartoum, Sudan on July 8, 2011. (XinhuaMohammed Babiker)
Sudan was due to run unchallenged this November as part of five African countries selected for seats on the 15-member HRC under the UN system of regional voting blocks.
The possibility of Sudan gaining a seat on the Geneva-based body responsible for promoting human rights worldwide has sparked outrage among human rights groups and UN critics over what they saw as a farcical candidacy given Sudan’s poor human rights record and the fact that a number of its leaders including President Omer Al-Bashir are wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for atrocities they allegedly masterminded in the country’s western region of Darfur.
As pressure mounted from a coalition of human rights groups and countries working to upend the candidacy, Sudan quietly announced in a letter dated 30 August that it was pulling out of the competition and asked Djibouti to take its place.
However, Khartoum sought on Monday to dismiss speculation that pressure and lobbying had forced the country to withdraw its candidacy, attributing the decision to “diplomatic considerations” arising from the country’s current economic situation.
The official spokesperson of Sudan’s foreign ministry, Al-Obaied Adam Marawih, said that Khartoum withdrew voluntarily from the candidacy without any pressure exercised on it. According to Marawih, the withdrawal was dictated by diplomatic considerations including the fact that being an HRC member requires tremendous diplomatic work and “that’s something Sudan cannot fulfill in the current situation as the country struggles with financial difficulties.”
In light of these circumstances, Marawih added, the ministry decided in consultation with other relevant bodies to withdraw from the competition and allow another African country to run. He, however, insisted that Sudan reserves the right to run as a candidate for future HRC sessions.
Sudan is one of 12 countries currently placed under HRC’s special procedures with an independent expert mandated to oversee the human rights situation in the country.
Following the withdrawal of its candidacy, Sudan said it was now expecting HRC to end the mandate of the independent expert.