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HomeNewsAmnesty International tasks UN General Assembly on Council members

Amnesty International tasks UN General Assembly on Council members

Ahead of Monday’s election of 18 new UN Human Rights Council members, London-based Amnesty International said the UN General Assembly should only elect on the Council member states that can demonstrate their commitment to
human rights.

Candidate countries for the election, to be held at the UN headquarters in New York, include Ethiopia, Greece, Cote d’Ivoire, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, US and Venezuela.

Council members are expected to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”, but Amnesty International said in a statement on Sunday it was concerned that some candidates ”fall short of this criteria”.

“Some of the candidates commit gross human rights violations, have not ratified core human rights treaties and do not cooperate with the UN’s human rights experts,” its representative to the UN in New York, Jose Luis Dias, said.

”Successful candidates require the support of the majority of the members of the General Assembly. However, just one of the five regional groups is set to have a genuinely open contest,” he noted.

PANA reports that for the Western European and Others Group, in which Germany, Greece, Ireland, Sweden and the US are candidates, there are three vacant seats.

But ,the African, Asian, Eastern European, and Latin America and Caribbean Groups all have presented the same number of candidates as vacant seats, hence candidates in these groups are virtually guaranteed a seat on the Council without real choice for the members of the
UN General Assembly.

In the past, no country has ever failed to gain the required 97 votes.

Voting UN member states are supposed to take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights.

”Electing states should return a blank ballot if they feel a candidate does not meet the high human rights standards expected of Council members,” said Dias.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has written open letters to all candidates urging them to
demonstrate their commitment to human rights in their election pledges.

The organisation is also calling on the Ethiopian government to issue clear instructions to the security services to end their harassment of local human rights defenders and to
remove the barriers to the work of international human rights defenders and journalists in the country.

Amnesty International is also calling on candidates to cooperate fully with the human rights treaty monitoring bodies.

”Cote d’Ivoire, for example, has failed to deliver reports required by the Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for more than 15 years.

”In order to be a member of the Human Rights Council, candidates should show the utmost commitment to promoting and protecting human rights, and we hope that they will seriously consider our recommendations,” Dias said.

The Human Rights Council has 47 members, and seats are allocated to the Regional Groups as follows: African Group, 13 seats; Asian Group, 13 seats; Eastern European Group, 6 seats; Latin American and Caribbean Group, 8 seats; and Western European and Others Group, 7 seats.

To be elected to a seat on the Human Rights Council for a three-year term, a State must achieve the support of the majority of the members of the UN General Assembly, at least 97 votes.

The Council members may seek immediate re-election only once.

The terms of the present 18 members of the Human Rights Council comes to an end on 31 December 2012.

They are Bangladesh, Belgium, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Hungary, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, US and Uruguay.

The candidates for Monday’s elections are African Group (5 vacancies) – Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Sierra Leone; Asian Group also have 5 vacancies – Japan, Kazakstan, Pakistan, Republic of Korea and United Arab Emirates.

Others are Eastern European Group (2 vacancies) – Estonia, Montenegro and Latin American and Caribbean Group (3 vacancies) – Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela.

The Western European and Others Group have 3 vacancies and five candidates – Germany, Greece, Ireland, Sweden and US. 

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