Delegates of the UN General Assembly elected 15 new members of the UN Human Rights Council (the “Council”) on October 13. According to the voting results, Uzbekistan, Russia and Ukraine became members of the Council. The newly elected members of this body will begin their work on January 1, 2021.
The Council is formed of 47 States. Places are divided between States of different geographical groups. The group of Eastern European States has 6 seats in this body. Asia and Africa have 13 each, Latin America has 8, and the group of Western European States, the United States, Canada, and Israel has 7 seats. Five Asian countries contested for four seats in the Council: China, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan. Saudi Arabia did not qualify for the Council based on the results of the vote.
The Council is an official body of the UN General Assembly and it convenes meetings on a regular basis, not less than three times a year. Members of the Council are elected for a three-year term by a majority vote of delegates of the General Assembly by direct secret ballot. Importantly, once a State becomes a party to the Council, it has an obligation to comply with high standards of human rights protection. In case of massive and systematic breaches of human rights by a Member State, its membership can be suspended.