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UN Human Rights Council Elections: Russia Out, Saudi Arabia Stays

This is the first time in the UN Human Rights Council's history that Russia has lost its seat

Peter Thomson

General Assembly Election of Fourteen Members of Human Rights Council: Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly, lists the rules and procedures of the voting process. (UN Photo/JC McIlwaine)

Friday's election of 14 members to the UN Human Rights Council saw Russia lose its seat and Saudi Arabia retain its place, as did China and Cuba, all countries criticized for repeated human rights violations. NGOs applauded Russia's removal while urging the international community to scrutinize other Council members' human rights records

In a major upset in Friday’s election , Russia failed to hold its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, narrowly losing to Croatia by two votes.

This is the first time in the Council’s history that Russia has lost its seat and can be viewed as a sharp rebuke by the international community for the country’s human rights abuses. The Eastern European nation has been repeatedly criticized by the United States and other UN Member States, most recently for its alleged involvement in the bombing of a school compound in Syria  on Wednesday. Ahead of the election, blackberries than 80 human rights organizations also advocated for Russia to be dropped from the Council.

Saudi Arabia, which also has come under fire for its poor human rights record, managed to retain its seat, as did current members China, Cuba, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

In Additions, Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Japan, Tunisia and the United States were elected along with Iraq, Croatia and Rwanda, which will be serving on the Human Rights Council for the first time. Together, these 14 members will serve a term from 2017 to 2019.

NGOs quickly seized on the results, applauding Russia’s removal while urging the international community to scrutinize other Council members’ human rights records.

“In rejecting Russia’s bid for re-election to the Human Rights Council, UN Member States have sent a strong message to the Kremlin about its support for a regime That has perpetrated so much atrocity in Syria,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch. He added, “We have Already Said That Saudi Arabia, Which Was Re-Elected without competition, does not belong on the council in light of its indiscriminate attacks on Civilians in Yemen.”

In a National Review  op-ed, the Human Rights Foundation issued a sterner critique, arguing That by using the UN General Assembly’s own selection criteria, “only the democratic states of Japan, Hungary, Croatia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are qualified to serve on the council “with Tunisia, Guatemala and South Africa” questionable candidates. “All others are” Clearly unqualified “Because of Their records.

In the past few years, NGOs and aid organizations have spoken out against the election of Governments with dismal human rights records to the Human Rights Council, arguing These appointments only Further conceal and perpetuate abuses In These states. During the 2013 election, for example, NGOs and aid organizations voiced Concerns over China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Vietnam being Elected to the Council.

Established in 2006, the Human Rights Council is a 47-seat UN inter-governmental body assesses,, That, monitors and human rights conditions among UN Member States through its Universal Periodic Review. Members are Elected by the General Assembly on staggered terms, meaning one-third of the body is re-Elected annually.

Seats are distributed by geographical distribution, with African and Asia-Pacific states each holding 13 seats, Latin American and Caribbean states holding eight seats, Western European and other states holding seven seats and Eastern European states with six seats.

Human Rights Council Elections Results:

African States (4 vacant seats)

Tunisia – 189

South Africa – 178

Rwanda – 176

Egypt – 173

Asia-Pacific States (4 vacant seats)

China – 180

Japan – 177

Iraq – 173

Saudi Arabia – 152

Eastern European States (2 vacant seats)

Hungary – 144

Croatia – 114

Russia – 112

Latin American & Caribbean States (2 vacant seats)

Cuba – 160

Brazil – 137

Guatemala – 82

Western European, & Other States (2 vacant seats)

United States – 175

United Kingdom – 173

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