General Assembly, by Secret Ballot, Elects 14 Member States to Serve Three-year Terms on Human Rights Council

The General Assembly today elected, by secret ballot, 14 States to serve on the Human Rights Council, the United Nations body responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.

Those elected were Brazil, China, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia, United Kingdom and the United States. All would serve three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2017.

The 14 outgoing members were Algeria, China, Cuba, France, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom and Viet Nam. In accordance with Assembly resolution 60/251, those Member States were eligible for immediate re-election except the delegation which had served two consecutive terms, namely Maldives.

The 14 new members were elected according to the following pattern: four seats for African States; four seats for Asia-Pacific States; two seats for Eastern European States; two seats for Latin American and Caribbean States; and two seats for Western European and other States.

Newly elected to the Geneva-based body were Brazil, Croatia, Egypt, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Rwanda, Tunisia and United States. Re-elected for an additional term were China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) announced that the following States would also continue as members of the Council: Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Burundi, Congo, CAte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Created by the Assembly in May 2006 (resolution 60/251) as the principal United Nations body dealing with human rights, the Human Rights Council comprises 47 elected Member States. On the basis of equitable geographical distribution, Council seats are allocated to the five regional groups as follows: African States, 13 seats; Asia-Pacific States, 13 seats; Eastern European States, 6 seats; Latin American and Caribbean States, 8 seats; and Western European and other States, 7 seats.

At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly paid tribute to King Bhumibol Adulyadejn of Thailand, one of history’s longest-reigning monarchs, who had died on 13 October. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recalled meeting King Bhumibol in 2007. Mr. Ban said he long admired his commitment to improving the lives of the people of Thailand. A visionary and humanitarian, King Bhumibol had been loved and revered by the people of Thailand and respected around the world. Throughout his 70-year reign, he had remained commitment to sustainable development and moving the country towards a vibrant economy, he said.

President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson (Fiji), expressed his deepest condolences to the Royal family, Government and the people of Thailand. King Bhumibol had been the “people’s King” for having significantly improved the livelihoods of the Thai people. As a strong supporter of the multilateral system, his achievements had garnered many United Nations awards throughout the years. He had also been a leader in sustainable land resource management. King Bhumibol’s profound legacy would always be remembered, Mr. Thomson said.

Thailand’s representative said King Bhumibol had been a “guiding light” through the many crises the country had faced over the last 70 years. A symbol of national unity dedicated to sustaining the Kingdom’s culture integrity, King Bhumibol had empowered the poorest and most vulnerable while promoting an economy that was mindful of the environment. King Bhumibol was no stranger to the United Nations, which, on several occasions, had recognized his role in humanitarianism and global leadership. His reign promoted practical approaches to achieving sustainable development in both agricultural and business sectors.

Several countries also paid tribute to the long-reigning leader, with Georgia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Eastern European States, saying King Bhumibol had been an advocate for education and building bridges between nations and had been known as the “development King”. Echoing that sentiment, Niger’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said more than 4,000 projects, ranging from flood alleviation to public health, had been undertaken under his leadership. “This loss in not only the loss of Thailand, but also the loss of the world,” he said.

Emphasizing King Bhumibol’s role as an internationally recognized and unifying leader, Kuwait’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Asia-Pacific States, said Thailand’s loss was a loss for the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. Chile’s speaker, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States, said he had worked tirelessly to improve the lives of his people. The United Kingdom’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Western European and Other States, said he had embodied the post-war generation, spending years of his reign touring Thailand’s agricultural provinces and asking local leaders about the challenges to their lives. He had also been an accomplished painter, photographer, composer and saxophonist.

The delegate from the United States, speaking as the United Nations host country, described the deep devotion that King Bhumibol had inspired in people around the world. Among other things, King Bhumibol had been “ahead of the curve” in many critical areas, including development and environmentalism.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 2 November, to discuss the question of implementation of major United Nations conferences in the economic, social and related fields and the socioeconomic effects of El NiAo.

Source: United Nations.