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First Members To New Human Rights Council

General Assembly Elects First Members To New Human Rights Council

New York, May 9 2006

The United Nations General Assembly today elected 44 of the 47 members of the newly established Human Rights Council to replace the much criticized and now defunct Human Rights Commission, with a second round of voting expected later to decide the full quota of representatives from Eastern Europe.

All regions – Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe and Other states – obtained or exceeded the required 96-vote majority needed to fill their allocated number of members, except the Eastern European States, where only the Russian Federation, Poland and the Czech Republic won seats with the other three remaining vacant.

Ghana topped the voting for the 13 African seats, which also included South Africa and Algeria, while India received the most votes for the 13 Asian seats, which also included China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The Russian Federation received the most votes for the six Eastern European seats, with a second round of balloting to be held involving Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Slovenia, Ukraine, Romania and Hungary to decide the three vacant seats in this group.

Brazil received the most votes for the 8 Latin American and Caribbean seats, which also included Cuba and Uruguay, while Germany received the most votes for the 7 Western European and Other States region, which included France and the United Kingdom.

Once the full 47 members of the Council are confirmed, it is scheduled to hold its first meeting in Geneva on 19 June.

The United States was among only four countries that voted against setting up the Human Rights Council in a resolution in March that passed with 170 countries in favour and three abstentions, with the US saying that the new body does not go far enough in its reforms.

Despite its ‘no’ vote however, US Ambassador John Bolton has pledged that Washington will work cooperatively with other Member States to make the Council as effective as possible.

ENDS


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