South Africa elected into UN Human Rights Council

The UN General Assembly has elected South Africa, along with 13 other states, to the Human Rights Council for a three-year terms which starts on 1 January 2023.

The other newly elected states are: Algeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Morocco, Romania and Vietnam.

Germany and Sudan also won second terms on the Geneva-based body, but South Korea and Venezuela failed to be re-elected. Afghanistan also failed to win a seat. The 47-member council cannot make legally binding decisions, but its decisions carry political weight and it can authorize inquiries.

The UN Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the world. About a third of the 47 members are replaced every year so that the council members serve staggered three-year terms for the sake of continuity.

Candidates are elected in geographical groups.: 13 each for Africa and the Asia-Pacific; 8 for Latin America and the Caribbean; 7 for Western Europe and other states; 6 for Eastern Europe. Members cannot serve more than two consecutive terms.

Observers said the election was important since it could tip the power balance within a deeply divided council. Vote counts have been getting closer on key issues, and last week a Western-led coalition lost a call for a debate on accusations of Chinese abuses in Xinjiang by just two votes in an historic defeat.

Investigations mandated by the Human Rights Council are sometimes later used before national and international courts, such as in the case of a former Syrian intelligence officer jailed for state-backed torture in Germany in January.

Source: Xinhua News Agency