Serbia standing for seat in UN Human Rights Council

Interview

15 new members of the UN Human Rights Council will be chosen with Serbia as a potential candidate.

There are three candidates for two seats for Eastern Europe -Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine -while Spain, France and Great Britain will contest the two seats for Western Europe.

There has been a debate over the distribution of these seats, since NGOs are against the candidacies of some of the countries nominated, including Sri Lanka.

This year, 15 seats are up for grabs for a total of 19 candidates, divided into geographical zones.

From Africa and South America, there are as many candidates as there are seats, the candidates for the former being Gabon, Ghana, Mali and Zambia, and for the latter, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

The candidates for the four seats in Asia are Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and East Timor.

According to Council rules, each candidate is judged on criteria such as political freedom and freedom of the press, as well as on their position on human rights issues.

Two NGOs, UN Watch and Freedom House, say that 11 candidates meet the conditions for membership, including Serbia.

These non-governmental organizations, however, believe that Bahrain, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Gabon and Zambia are “not qualified” for membership, while three other candidates are doubtful - Brazil, Burkina Faso and East Timor.

The UN Human Rights Council, whose headquarters are in Geneva, has 47 member states, and took over authority for this field from a UN commission two years ago. (B92)

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