The right to life is the most basic right of all. And the UN is the guardian and guarantor of these rights, demanding an annual report from its Secretary General on the death penalty, and in recent years sponsoring several votes on a Universal Moratorium.
Nevertheless, the UN has appointed Saudi Arabia as chair of a key UN Human Rights Council panel, with the power to select top officials who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide, said UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization based in Geneva. Saudi Arabia was chosen to head a 5-member group of ambassadors, known as the Consultative Group, which has the power to select applicants from around the world for more than 77 positions dealing with country-specific and thematic human rights mandates. Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights. “It's scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.” The appointment came in the wake of Saudi’s bid to become president of the entire 47-nation Human Rights Council. Neuer expressed concern that the Saudis may have been handed the position in a backroom deal, in exchange for dropping the regime’s controversial bid.Saudi Arabia is listed as the country that ranks third, after China and Iran in numbers executed in recent years. Over the past few years, reported executions have been almost exclusively by beheading, despite the prevalence of media discussion of the possibility of death by stoning. There are reports that Saudis have exposed the body (with head sewn back on) of the condemned to public indignity, including crucifixion, after execution for the crime of highway robbery resulting in death (Cornell Law School, Death penalty database, www.deathpenaltyworldwide.org)