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As Sweden Congratulates ECOSOC Winners Including Sudan, Secret Ballots

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 9 -- How does the UN work? How should it? On November 8, Sudan won a seat on the UN's Economic and Social Council, with 176 votes in favor out of 192 cast.

  Earlier in the year, much pressure was brought to bear to get Sudan to drop out of the race for the Human Rights Council. But for ECOSOC, which controls among other things the accreditation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to operate in the UN, Sudan ran unopposed on a clear slate.

  The Geneva-based NGO UN Watch quickly took to Twitter, urging US Ambassador Susan Rice to denounce Sudan's election, and asking the European Union's Catherine Ashton to explain how at least ten (and probably more) EU members voted for Sudan.

  These are secret ballots, but one might expect countries that are loud on human rights to reveal and brag about their votes. But on November 8, Sweden's Mission to the UN tweeted a congratulations to all those elected to ECOSOC.

  Inner City Press replied, Including Sudan? Was Sweden one of the abstainers? There has been no response.

   At an event in the UN Friday with UN Watch, Inner City Press asked if it or its co-presenter the Human Rights Foundation knew who the abstainers were. The response was a suggestion that an enterprising reporter should spend two or three hours and ask all 192 voters how they cast their ballot.

   Inner City Press covers elections at the UN, for example predicting within two votes the margin of victory for current President of the General Assembly Vuk Jeremic. Click here for the pre-vote tweet. People talk, but on condition of anonymity.

   Why don't the countries which brag about human rights, or that they do not engage in vote trading, make public their votes?

   In the UN's North Lawn building on the morning November 9, a Sudanese diplomat joked to Inner City Press, "We got more votes than the United States." The UN vote tally for the US reads 171. And how DID the US vote?

    In a race of five for three Human Rights Council seats on November 12, the US and Sweden are competing with Germany, Greece and Ireland. How did these five vote on Sudan for ECOSOC?

  In the Fifth (Budget) Committee on November 9, the vote among five African candidates for two seats on the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) went two rounds of secret ballot. Inner City Press had predicted that Eritrea, despite sanctions, would get a seat -- and it did, in the form of its Fifth Committee rep Tesfa Alem Seyoum. Babou Sene of Senegal beat incumbent chairman Collen Kelapile, who got 65 votes in the first round, 64 in the second -- all secret. Ah, rotation. We wish him well, and we'll have more on all this.

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