What did we want?
We wanted all candidates to make voluntary pledges in which they commit to improve their human rights records and their collaboration with the Council. We also wanted UN member States to make informed votes and not vote for Stats that do not uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, and do not fully cooperate with the Council.
What did the campaign achieve?
We increased the transparency of the election. ISHR published scorecards that gave a brief overview of the candidate’s record of cooperation and engagement with UN mechanisms. These scorecards helped UN member States cast informed votes.
We also created spaces where civil society and States could engage with candidates about their records and candidacies. On 8 September 2021 the Human Rights Council pledging event took place, and it was a success! 10 of the 18 candidates for Human Rights Council membership participated in the event to elaborate on their pledges, confirming their commitment to transparency and dialogue with civil society. It was great to see over 200 diplomats and civil society participants attend the event. Altogether the audience sent over 100 questions to the candidate States. As many as we had time for were asked and responded to during the event. The rest were sent to each candidate in letters. This contributed to encourage candidates to publicly commit to strengthen their human rights records and their cooperation with the UN. By 14 October, 15 of them had published voluntary pledges.
The complete list of questions for candidate States can be found here: Argentina, Benin, Cameroon, Eritrea, Finland, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Montenegro, Paraguay Qatar, Somalia, The Gambia, UAE, and USA. On 12 October, Finland, Luxembourg, Lithuania and Montenegro had provided answers.
Disappointingly this year, despite our joint call for competitive elections, the number of candidate States was equal to the number of available seats; meaning that all candidates ultimately got elected. Interestingly, Eritrea, UAE, Honduras and USA each received the lowest number of votes of actual candidates for their region, which seems about right applying HRC membership criteria of upholding human rights and cooperating with the UN. This again demonstrate the importance of having competitive slates. You can read here our full analysis of the elections.
ISHR will continue to call on all regional groups going forward to ensure, as a matter of principle, competitive slates; 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.