Human Rights Council begins 5th year: election of new President
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 18:11


440235On Monday 21 June the Human Rights Council (the Council) held an organisational session for its 5th cycle. The session saw the election of a new President and four Vice-Presidents that will constitute the Bureau. Iran, on behalf of the Asian Group, nominated Ambassador Sihasak Phuangketkeow of Thailand for the presidency of the Council. He was elected by acclamation. In an encouraging and promising introductory statement, the new President explained that he would be guided by three principles during his term: building a common agenda for the Council; enhancing the Council's credibility; and 'reaching out, hearing out and respecting the views of all'. He reminded the Council of the need to build on its past success while not shying away from tackling difficult issues. He also encouraged the Council to make more creative use of the tools at its disposal to respond to human rights issues. Finally, he stated his commitment to forging real and meaningful partnerships with all stakeholders.



The election of other officers to the Bureau followed. The four Vice Presidents are from Angola (African Group), Slovakia (Eastern European Group), Cuba (Latin American and Caribbean Group) and Norway (Western Europe and Others Group). Norway was also assigned as the Rapporteur. Many States took the floor to thank the outgoing President and Bureau for their efforts over the previous cycle, and to congratulate Mr Phuangketkeow and the new Vice Presidents on their election. States also welcomed the new members of the Council that had been elected in May. Amnesty International noted that there had been no real election this year since the number of candidates was the same as the number of seats to be filled. Amnesty also expressed regret that Qatar and Uganda had not made pledges before standing for election, thus breaking with well-established practice. It encouraged them to make such pledges when they next address the Council.


The draft annual programme of work for the 5th cycle was also adopted, on the understanding the document would continue to evolve. States were requested to contact the Secretariat with any inquires and suggestions in this regard.


The draw for the order of review of States for the 10th, 11th and 12th sessions of the UPR Working Group, and the selection of the troikas for the 9th, 10th and 11th sessions of the UPR, was also made. The final lists will be made available from the Council website shortly. It seems that a growing number of States are exercising their right to substitute one of the troika members drawn by lot. Mongolia, Panama, the USA, Lebanon, Myanmar, Sao Tome and Principe, Niger, and Latvia all used this opportunity. A large number of States requested that one of the troika members be from their regional group (Malawi, Mongolia, Panama, Marshall Islands, Libya, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda, Nepal, Saint Lucia, Oman, Myanmar, Georgia, Sao Tome and Principe, Namibia, Niger, Mozambique, Paraguay, Somalia, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, Singapore, St Vincent and Grenadines, and the Sudan).


ISHR voiced concerns over the way in which the appointment of special procedures mandate holders at the end of the Council's 14th session had been handled. The process was marked by regional factionalism, open politicisation, and a troubling lack of respect for the authority of the Chair. ISHR welcomed the Council's increased attention to intimidation and reprisals faced by those who have cooperated with the UN, its mechanisms, and representatives, and expressed the hope that the Council will do more to demand accountability for reprisals, including by asking States to inform the Council of efforts to investigate allegations, prosecute perpetrators, and ensure reparations for victims.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 August 2010 07:44
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