The United Nations Human Rights Council today elected Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi of Nigeria for a one-year term as President of the Geneva-based body that replaced the much-criticized Commission on Human Rights.
Mr. Uhomoibhi, 57, has been serving as his country’s Ambassador to Switzerland and Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva.
Following his election to head the 47-member body, Mr. Uhomoibhi recalled that the Council’s main purpose was to uphold the dignity of the human person through the promotion and protection of human rights.
“Failure to advance the aims and objectives of the Human Rights Council collectively by all nations, all peoples and all institutions will be a colossal failure of humanity to protect its own dignity and rights under the rule of law and agreed norms and practices,” he said.
“States undoubtedly bear the primary responsibility to protect and promote human rights,” he added. “As such, the Council should per force continue to direct its gaze and its searchlight on actions of States to ensure that they abide by all their commitments.”
The new President also pointed out that no nation or people have a monopoly over human rights, but all nations, and certainly all people, have a duty to promote and protect them.
Mr. Uhomoibhi succeeds Romania’s Doru Romulus Costea, who took over from the Council’s inaugural president, Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico.
The Council also elected four Vice Presidents today. They are Elchin Amirbayov of Azerbaijan, Erlinda F. Basilio of the Philippines, Alberto J. Dumont of Argentina and Marius Grinius of Canada. Mr. Amirbayov was also elected as Rapporteur. The terms for the newly-appointed bureau members will end on 18 June 2009.
The Council will hold its next regular session from 8 to 26 September.