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NZ withdraws Human Rights Council bid

Hon Murray McCully
Minister of Foreign Affairs

1 April 2009 Media statement

NZ withdraws Human Rights Council bid

New Zealand has decided not to pursue its candidature for election to the Human Rights Council in 2009, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced today.

Mr McCully said the decision had been made to avoid four nations contesting three positions, following the United States’ indication that it would seek a Council seat.

“New Zealand has a strong record in international human rights, and had gained widespread support for its candidature from among all the regional groups in the United Nations,” Mr McCully said.

“The decision by the US to seek a Council seat places many of those supporters in a difficult position, as there are only three seats on the Council for Western States.

“New Zealand’s decision to withdraw will enable our many supporters to vote in substantial numbers for a US candidature in May.

“The Human Rights Council has been widely criticised. It was our intention, in seeking election, to provide a force for change and improvement. However we believe that US membership of the Council will strengthen it, and make it more effective.

“That is in the interests of all those who, like New Zealand, want to see the Council respond robustly and effectively to human rights violations wherever they occur.

“Frankly, by any objective measure, membership of the Council by the US is more likely to create positive changes more quickly than we could have hoped to achieve them.

“This decision was not taken lightly but we see New Zealand’s standing aside as being in the best interests of the advancement of international human rights at this time.

“We will continue to play an active role in the Council as an observer, working closely with the US and other Council members who share our commitment to the international protection of human rights,” Mr McCully said.


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