On 8 December 2023, the UN Human Rights Council (the Council) announced that a vote is expected in January 2024, possibly on 10 January 2024, to elect the Council’s President for the 18th cycle in 2024 from the Africa Group. The State representatives who have put forward their candidacies are Morocco and South Africa. In a joint letter, NGOs urge all members of the Council to elect the Council President based on Council membership criteria.
As it does each year, on 11 October 2022, Human Rights Council elections will take place at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly during which 14 new Council members, out of 17 running (see the list below), will be elected through a secret ballot requiring a minimum of 97 votes to serve for the period 2023 to 2025.
‘As the Human Rights Council is the main UN body responsible for promoting and protecting human rights globally Council elections should be critical in determining its membership. However this year only two regional groups presented competitive slates, namely Asia and Latin America. All other regions presented clean slates, with the same number of candidates as available seats – hardly any form of competitive election’, said ISHR’s Tess McEvoy. ‘We call on all regional groups going forward to ensure, as a matter of principle, competitive slates’, added McEvoy.
Through Council membership, States commit to upholding the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, and fully cooperating with the Council and its mechanisms. The Council’s effectiveness, therefore, relies on its members and their readiness to respond fully to the Council’s mandate set out in GA resolution 60/251. Despite this, among the 17 current candidates, eight have a reported case of unresolved reprisals against them¹.
In addition to this, only 9 candidate States have submitted voluntary pledges on commitments for their membership, if elected². Unsurprisingly most of those States also participated in this year’s annual pledging event that aims to enhance transparency and accountability in Council elections.
A commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights at home and abroad is essential criteria for Council membership, and should be prioritised by voting States. To assist voting States, ISHR has published ‘scorecards’ for each candidate seeking election to the HRC, as well as regional scorecards comparing candidates States in each region. ISHR calls on all voting States to treat human rights considerations as paramount in electing members to the Council, and prioritise human rights over political or economic interests.
- African States: Algeria, Morocco, South Africa and Sudan
- Asia and the Pacific States: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bahrain (withdrew 26 September) Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Republic of Korea, Vietnam
- Latin America and Caribbean States: Chile, Costa Rica and Venezuela
- Western Europe and other States: Belgium and Germany
- Central and Eastern Europe States: Georgia and Romania
¹ Algeria, Bangladesh, Bahrain (candidacy withdrawn on 26 September), Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Morocco, Sudan, Venezuela, Vietnam
² To date, the following countries have published voluntary pledges: Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Georgia, Germany, Republic of Korea, Morocco, Romania and South Africa.
ISHR joins forces with global civil society groups in a joint appeal at the Human Rights Council for enhanced, inclusive, and secure civil society participation in human rights dialogues. Read the full statement here.
ISHR and the #Right2DefendRights coalition of 17 members are calling on all UN Member States to celebrate 25 years of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders by joining the UN 'Push for Pledges' campaign.