CFI’s UN Advocate Takes on Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Record


July 9, 2019

Last week, Andreas Kyriacou, United Nations Advocate for the Center for Inquiry, delivered a statement before the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where he raised the issue of how Saudi Arabia’s membership on the Human Rights Council is “undermining the core purpose of this council,” specifically citing the circumstances surrounding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“The country’s delegation is quoted with the claim that ‘the laws of Saudi Arabia guaranteed freedom of opinion and expression to everyone without discrimination,’” said Andreas. “We of course all know that this is far from true, as the cases of Raif Badawi and the recently imprisoned female human rights activists clearly show.”

Watch the video of his address and read the full text below.


Human Rights Council 41st Session | 24 June 2019 to 12 July 2019


Item 5: General debate

Minimum standards for HRC eligibility

In the previous session, the UPR of Saudi Arabia was tabled. For the report, the country had described the killing of its citizen Jamal Khashoggi a «tragic accident». They promised «to find out all the facts.» Yet since the last session, Saudi Arabia has not provided the world any further insight into the murder.

Sincere investigations have however been carried out by the UN. Special rapporteur Agnes Callamard concludes that the death of the journalist was «a deliberate execution», for which the crown prince is directly liable.

The disinformation about the Khashoggi case is not the only part of the report where Saudi Arabia deliberately misrepresented its practices. In the report the country’s delegation is quoted with the claim that «the laws of Saudi Arabia guaranteed freedom of opinion and expression to everyone without discrimination.»

We of course all know that this is far from true, as the cases of Raif Badawi and and the recently imprisoned female human rights activists clearly show.

The UPR and the interaction with other countries offer great opportunities for countries to reflect on and improve their human rights record. We fully support the inclusion of countries with many areas that demand improvements. However, a country that is unashamed to lie so blatantly during the UPR, as well as here in the house and to the general public is undermining the core purpose of this council and is seriously damaging its reputation.

We urge the president and the High Commissioner to develop minimal standards for countries to be electable into the HRC.

Andreas Kyriacou
United Nations Advocate Center For Inquiry

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.