United Nations: Cuba, China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were among 14 members elected on Friday by the UN General Assembly to the world body’s human rights council, but Russia failed to garner enough votes to win the re-election amid rights groups campaign against its role in the war in Syria.
The 193-member General Assembly voted here to elect Brazil, China, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia, UK and the US to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.
The elected members will serve in the 47-member Council for a three year term beginning January 1, 2017. India is a member of the human rights body and its term will expire in 2017.
China, Cuba, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the UK were seeking re-election to the Council as their terms were set to expire in December.
Russia too was seeking re-election but did not garner enough votes to win.
The Council members are elected directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the members of the UNGA.
The Council membership is based on equitable geographical distribution, and seats are distributed among regional groups of Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin American and
Caribbean, Group of Western Europe and other states. The members of the Council serve a period of three years and are not be eligible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms.
Rights body Human Rights Watch had strongly opposed candidacies of Saudi Arabia and Russia for the Human Rights Council, criticising the two nations for “their widespread unlawful attacks” on civilians in Yemen and Syria.
Human Rights Watch had said accepting Saudi Arabia and Russia’s bids for membership would be contrary to the basic standards for which the Human Rights Council was created 10 years ago, and risk undermining the credibility of the UNs top human rights body and its ability to hold abusers accountable. Human Rights Watch had also expressed serious concerns about the “poor human rights records” of China and Egypt running for three-year council terms.
“The UN Human Rights Council’s ability to successfully expose and hold violators to account is under threat because a number of countries use it to thwart attempts to expose their
own crimes and abuses,” UN director at Human Rights Watch Louis Charbonneau had said.
“Electing council members that are truly committed to improving human rights is the responsibility of each and every UN member country, and Saudi Arabia and Russia don’t honour
the ideals that underpin the UN Human Rights Council.”