People around the world are questioning the objectives of China and Saudi Arabia, who are vying for seats this week on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. The members of the General Assembly elect the members to the council’s forty-seven seats. The inquiry of these countries to the council comes on the grounds that the General Assembly is supposed to take into account the contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, while China and Saudi Arabia may be considered to some, two of the most infamous violators of human rights.

Both countries' human rights records were reviewed by the United Nations and are now under some great scrutiny. China and Saudi Arabia are going to great extents to become part of the council, but perhaps not the correct ones. Similarly the countries were accused of arresting activists, curbing internet use, and suppressing ethnic minorities.  Many countries on the council have been calling for radical changes to the way these two countries are currently doing things, if they want to still be considered for the council. The United States is demanding a second look at the forced labor imposed on migrant workers; Germany is calling for a termination of the death penalty, and Britain called for eliminating the system of male guardianship for women.

The current customs of these countries may make it more challenging to do business within them. Concerned about the rights of women and religious freedom, international companies may choose to do business elsewhere to avoid the conflict all together. Along with China and Saudi Arabia, some of the world’s most oppressive governments including Algeria, Chad, Cuba, Russia and Vietnam, are planning on running in the November election to fill the 14 seats for the 2016 Group. If these countries can change things and protect human rights, the business climate within these countries could really start to look up and more companies may agree to do business in these improving business environments. It is even possible for economic growth to spawn off of their induction into the council.

What do you think is going to be the outcome of these reviews: Will the General Assembly allow countries that are not well known for their acts of supporting human rights to have a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council? If so what do you think the global business implications will be?

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