Member States submit election candidates for new UN Human Rights Council

3 April 2006

So far 17 Member States have announced their candidacies for next month's election to the new 47-member Human Rights Council that replaces the much-criticized and now defunct Human Rights Commission, which held its final session last Monday.

The elections are scheduled to take place in the General Assembly on 9 May and a UN spokesperson told reporters today that the Member States that have chosen to announce their candidacies in writing are being listed on the General Assembly website, at The Council will hold its first meeting on 19 June.

The 17 countries to have announced their candidacies on the website are: Algeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Ukraine, Latvia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Germany, Greece, Portugal and Switzerland.

Addressing the final session of the Commission last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said the overwhelming General Assembly vote on 15 March setting up the Human Rights Council marked “a major stride forward” for the UN's human rights system, although she said there was still much to do.

“While we can say for sure that the decision taken in New York was one of historical significance, its actual impact on people's lives is still to be determined. Much will rest on the profound culture shift that must accompany this institutional reform,” Ms. Arbour said.

The Commission – which held just one session annually in Geneva – came in for increasing criticism over the years as being ineffective and not accountable, and so the idea of the Human Rights Council was put forward by Secretary-General Kofi Annan a year ago.

The Council has several elements making it a stronger body than the Commission, including its higher status as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, its increased number of meetings throughout the year, equitable geographical representation and also the voting rights associated with membership.


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