The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) elected 14 countries today to serve on the Commission on Human Rights, the UN's highest forum for examining civil rights around the world.
Winning by acclamation were Guinea, Kenya, Sudan and Togo from the African Group; Armenia and Romania from the Eastern European States; and Ecuador and Mexico from the Latin American and Caribbean States.
The others were elected by secret ballot. Of the four candidates nominated by the Asian Group to fill three vacancies, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea were elected; Viet Nam lost its bid for a seat. Canada, Finland and France, nominees from the Western European and Others Group, where chosen while Spain was not.
After the African Group submitted Sudan for re-election to another two-year term, the representative of the United States traded harsh words with the Sudanese representative and the US delegation excused itself and walked out.
US representative Sichan Siv said he was perplexed and dismayed that the African Group had submitted, for the third time, the candidacy of a country that massacred its own citizens in the western Darfur region, where the humanitarian crisis had reached a tragic scale.
He urged the Group to consider the effect of that situation on the Commission's reputation and ability to function effectively as the world's protector of human rights and freedoms.
Sudanese representative Omar Bashir Mohamed Manis said his Government had acknowledged fully the humanitarian problem in Darfur and had asked the international community for help.
He said it was ironic that the US delegation, while shedding crocodile tears over the situation in Darfur, was turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed by US forces using the most lethal weapons known to man against the civilian population in Iraq.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has begun collecting information for a report on civil liberties in Iraq and has said it hopes to complete it by the end of this month.
Similarly, a high-level UN fact-finding mission returned to Geneva from Darfur last week and has been finalizing its report, according to OHCHR. Senior UN humanitarian officials, meanwhile, have expressed shock at the lack of protection provided to civilians in the strife-torn region.
ECOSOC, to which the Commission on Human Rights reports, also held elections to such panels as the Commission on Population and Development, the Commission for Social Development and the Commission on Sustainable Development.