Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan in Damascus March 10, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird calls it a "sick joke" that the government of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad could get a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.
"It would do irreparable damage to the United Nations and likely would be the biggest blow that the United Nations has taken since its formation," Baird said during a teleconference Friday after the Friends of the Syrian People meeting in Paris. "What Assad needs to be facing is the International Criminal Court to face charges for committing crimes against humanities, he and his henchmen."
Syria is a candidate in the 2013 election for seats on the council.
The council condemned Syria on Friday for human rights violations, but UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer says it watered down a U.S. proposal to specifically rule out Syria's candidacy.
"We had a reference that all countries need to the meet the standards of membership, but there was no express rejection of Syria's candidacy," Neuer told QMI Agency. "At this point, the possibility that Syria will run next year is still on the table."
Neuer says it's also worrisome that Canada and other western governments haven't spoken out about Pakistan and Venezuela likely winning council seats in November.
Human Rights Watch has repeatedly criticized the governments of both countries.