Human rights groups have criticized the election by the U. N. General Assembly of countries with spotty rights’ records to its Human Rights Council. Of the 18 countries elected Monday to the Geneva-based body, human rights advocates say only about a third are qualified.
The 47-member Human Rights Council is often the target of criticism for its focus on Israel and its election of some members who are accused of human rights violations
Seats on the council are allocated according to regional groupings. This year, the only group putting forward a competitive slate was the Western and Others Group, which saw Ireland, Germany and the United States beat Greece and Sweden for three open seats.
The United States won a second consecutive term to the rights council, after in the past choosing not to be a part. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Washington is better positioned and more likely to strengthen the body by continuing to be a part of it.
“We made the decision in 2009 to seek a seat on the Human Rights Council because the United States believes that we must be at the forefront of speaking out against human rights abuses and speaking up in favor of those who are suffering and living under the grip of the world’s cruelest regimes,” said Rice.
The winners of the council’s other vacant seats were predetermined within their regional groups, which put forward only enough candidates to fill their empty seats.
Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya and Sierra Leone will fill the five vacant African seats. Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates will fill the five open Asia-Pacific seats. Estonia and Montenegro will hold the two Eastern European seats while Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela take the three seats of the group of Latin American and Caribbean states.
Rights groups have expressed doubts about whether at least seven of these countries, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, have adequate human rights records of their own.
Human Rights Watch’s U.N. Director Philippe Bolopion criticized the lack of competition and the questionable records of some of the council’s new members.