An official press release of the Kingdom of Bahrain, about the election of Said AlFaihani to the United Nations Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, is evidence that Bahrain views his election as being on their behalf.
The title of the release is ‘Bahrain elected to UN Human Rights Panel’. They later state ‘Bahrain’s election to the UNHRC Advisory Committee follows over 10 months of progress implementing prescribed reforms’. Furthermore they use the same statement to discuss Bahrain’s implementation of both the BICI and UPR recommendations, conflating local issues with the election.
It was to be expected that they would use the election of AlFaihani as political capital and to argue that the UN is pleased with the human rights improvements in the country. However by doing so they could contravening the rules of the Committee. Membership of the committee is made up of individual ‘experts’ and not representatives of states. Each continent is prescribed a number of members, but in no way should any member act on behalf of their home country.
Before his election AlFaihani was asked to stand down from all positions within the Bahraini Government, further exemplifying the need for the committee to be impartial and non-biased.
But Bahrain’s statement in which they name the state rather than the individual as being elected directly contravenes this principle. It means the Government of Bahrain explicitly view AlFaihani as their representative, doing their work on the committee.
AlFaihani announced his candidacy in the wake of the huge criticisms the state received in May at the first session of the UPR. Many believed his nomination was in order to deflect from similar situations arising in the future as well as to give Bahrain international standing in the leading human rights forum.
The fact that the Government of Bahrain view AlFaihani as their representative should be deeply worrying for those involved with the UN and subsequently the authenticity of his election could now be challenged.