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Shadowschaser for Fine Acts

#HRCelections2024: Let's ensure a strong and principled Council!

19 countries are running for a seat at the Human Rights Council. All of them need to improve their human rights record. Join us to make sure the Council remains strong and principled and that Member States do NOT elect Saudi Arabia!

For many victims and activists, the Human Rights Council is a critical arena to confront abuses of power and push for change in their countries. Its success depends on members and their commitment to promote and protect human rights at home and abroad. Every year in October, the 193 Member States of the UN elect new members to the Human Rights Council. In 2024, 19 candidates are running for 18 seats. 

 

Who is running for a seat this year?

This year the candidate States are:

  • African States: Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia and Kenya (5 candidates for 5 seats: closed slate)
  • Asia and the Pacific States: Cyprus, Marshall Islands, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia and Thailand (6 candidates for 5 seats)
  • Latin America and Caribbean States: Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico (3 candidates for 3 seats: closed slate)
  • Western Europe and other States: Iceland, Spain and Switzerland (3 candidates for 3 seats: closed slate)
  • Central and Eastern Europe States: Czechia and North Macedonia (2 candidates for 2 seats: closed slate)

None of these candidates has a perfect human rights record: they all need to do better.

However, and according to the HRC membership criteria, one candidates stands out as manifestly unsuitable for membership on the Human Rights Council: Saudi Arabia.

Check out Saudi Arabia’s scorecard

 

What do we want? 

We want all candidates to make voluntary pledges in which they commit to improve their human rights issues at home and abroad and their collaboration with the Council.

We also want UN member States to make informed votes and vote only for State candidates that uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights and fully cooperate with the UN.

We urge all UN regional groups of member States to present more candidacies than the available seats to ensure competitive HRC elections. 

Saudi Arabia is NOT fit to sit at the Human Rights Council. Why?

Because it responsible for the commission of atrocity crimes, a pattern of reprisals against those who cooperate with the UN, and the repression of civil society. The human rights situation in the country is dire, with the criminalisation of women human rights defenders, arbitrary detention and the application of the death penalty, among other abuses.

We call on all UN States at the General Assembly not to vote for Saudi Arabia!

How do we achieve this?

We increase the transparency of the election. ISHR will published scorecards that give a brief overview of the candidate’s record of cooperation and engagement with UN mechanisms. These scorecards help UN member States cast informed votes. 

We create spaces where civil society and States can engage with candidates about their records and candidacies. On 4 September 2024 ISHR and Amnesty International will organise an online pledging event where civil society can directly and constructively engage with candidate States by asking them questions. Candidates will also be able to elaborate on their human rights pledges and commitments made in the context of their candidacies.

We engage with States through meetings, letters and calls and ask them to base their vote on the HRC membership criteria and vote only for State candidates that uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights and fully cooperate with the UN. 

 

What can you do? 

Click to tweet 

to challenge Saudi Arabia’s candidacy and tag missions in Geneva and New York.

 

Download the social media toolkit

Download the social media toolkit

Download the social media toolkit to spead the the campaign's messages, demonstrating that Saudi Arabia is not fit to sit at the Human Rights Council.

Download

What more can you do?

Participate in the pledging event

Participate in the pledging event

On 4 September 2024, ISHR and Amnesty International will be holding their annual online pleding event. During the event civil society can directly and constructively engage with candidate States by asking them questions. Candidates are also expected to elaborate on their human rights pledges and commitments made in the context of their candidacies.

Save the date!
Ask questions to candidate States

Ask questions to candidate States

You can submit questions to be asked to candidate States ahead of the pledging event. This is an opportunity to ask States about issues that you work on. Candidate States will be asked to respond publicly during the event.

Submit your question

The elections at a glance

The what, when and how of the 2024 elections!

The Human Rights Council is the main UN body in charge of human rights. At the Human Rights Council, States demonstrate to their peers that they are committed to protecting human rights. Together they discuss and tackle some of the worst human rights crises in the world and, where necessary, hold rights violators to account.

The Council consists of 47 states who represent the five “UN regions”: African States (13 seats), Asia-Pacific States (13 seats), Latin American and Caribbean States (8 seats), Western European and other States (7 seats) and Eastern European States (6 seats). 

If you want to know more about the Human Rights Council please check out this video: 

Roughly a third of the members change each year. Elections take place every October in New York.

The members are elected by the 193 states in the General Assembly. Candidates are expected to put forward voluntary pledges and commitments on what they will achieve as members. This should inform the decision of other States to support them in the elections.

Countries are not obliged to vote for all of the candidates. They can still not vote for a candidate country (even in a closed slate). They should vote with reflection, not in haste or in exchange for favours or political influence. They should only vote for the most committed candidates.

The countries elected will serve three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2025. 

This year the candidate States are:

  • African States: Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia and Kenya (5 candidates for 5 seats: closed slate)
  • Asia and the Pacific States: Cyprus, Marshall Islands, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia and Thailand (6 candidates for 5 seats)
  • Latin America and Caribbean States: Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico (3 candidates for 3 seats: closed slate)
  • Western Europe and other States: Iceland, Spain and Switzerland (3 candidates for 3 seats: closed slate)
  • Central and Eastern Europe States: Czechia and North Macedonia (2 candidates for 2 seats: closed slate)

Candidates must be member states of the UN. Through membership of the Council, they commit themselves to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,” and to fully cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms. 

None of the candidate countries has a perfect human rights record: all need to do better and can do so by working with civil society, including by developing time-bound pledges and commitments on what they propose to achieve.

ISHR will published ‘scorecards’ for States seeking election to the UN Human Rights Council for 2025-2027 to help inform voting States’ decisions in the upcoming election. The scorecards offer a quick ‘at-a-glance’ objective comparison of the human rights record of each candidate through criteria such as focusing on their cooperation with human rights bodies such as the Council, their support for civil society, their engagement with UN Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures, among others.

We want all candidates to commit to improve their human rights records and UN member states to vote only for the candidates that uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights and fully cooperate with the UN.

We want elections to be more competitive. 

Despite our joint call for competitive elections, only one slate is open this year. It means that in all remaining regional groups, the number of candidate States is equal to the number of available seats. All candidates in these slates will ultimately get elected. 

This again demonstrate the importance of having competitive slates. ISHR continues to call on all regional groups going forward to ensure, as a matter of principle, competitive slates; to present more candidacies than the available seats; to encourage more States to present their candidacy; for all candidates to announce their candidacies with sufficient time for voting States and civil society to properly consider their candidacies; and in voting, for all States to commit to making human rights paramount in Council elections, rather than political considerations. All UN regional groups of member States should resist withdrawing candidacies to elections that are competitive.

In the present election, we can still make a difference by influencing the number of votes received by each candidate, which can provide an indication of their legitimacy as a Human Rights Council member.  

Check out the video created by our HRCNet coalition which explains the importance of the election and how civil society can participate: 

Get in touch!

Get in touch!

We would be happy to jointly explore further advocacy/campaign opportunities. If you are interested in further opportunities to engage, please drop us an email! 

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