UN General Assembly elects new members of HRC

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
[UN PHOTO/Rick Bajornas] 
New York: The General Assembly elected 18 countries to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) for a period of three years beginning on 1 January 2013.

Argentina, Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Montenegro, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, United Arab Emirates, United States and Venezuela were elected by secret ballot during the elections held at UN Headquarters in New York.

After the vote, US Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters that the United States, which was elected for a second consecutive term, made the decision in 2009 to seek a seat on the Council because it believes it "must be at the forefront of speaking out against human rights abuses, and speaking up in favour of those who are suffering and living under the grip of the world's cruellest regimes."

Rice said her government is "convinced that we are more likely and better positioned to strengthen the Human Rights Council by continuing our participation in it."

Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

Ambassador Jorge Valero Briceño of Venezuela to the United Nations told reporters that this was "an unprecedented electoral victory" for his country as there was an "intense and very diverse campaign unleashed against Venezuela to prevent our country from joining the Human Rights Council as a member."

Pakistan's new Permanent Representative, Ambassador Masood Khan, acknowledged "some NGOs in fact gave their observations about Pakistan's candidature."

He said "this was their right to do so" but defended Pakistan's human rights record, saying his country attaches importance to "all human rights, whether they are civil or political, or economic, cultural or social."

For his part, Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany said "all candidates in the Western Group have an excellent human rights record" and all of them actually "deserved a place in the Human Rights Council, but there could be only three winners and we congratulate all of them and we are looking forward to serve with them in the Human Rights Council as of the next year."

The Council, composed of 47 members, is an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution and seats are distributed as follows: 13 seats for African States, 13 seats for Asian States, 8 seats for Latin American and Caribbean States, 7 seats for Western European and other States, and 6 seats for Eastern European States. -UNifeed
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