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The United Nations has caused controversy by appointing countries including Bahrain, Cameroon and the Philippines onto their Human Rights Council.

Bahrain, Cameroon, and the Philippines were among a number of nations controversially elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, sparking sharp criticism from rights groups and the United States.

Around a third of seats on the 47-member council, based in Geneva, were open for slots lasting from 2019-2022. A 97-vote majority from the 193 nations that make up the UN’s General Assembly is needed for approval.

For the first time since the council was created in 2006, each voting region agreed in advance on 18 candidates to be in the running for 18 seats – removing any competition.

New members Bahrain, Cameroon, the Philippines, Somalia, Bangladesh and Eritrea were elected with between 160 and 178 votes – and immediately drew criticism from activists in Europe and North America dismissing them as “unqualified” due to their human rights records.

“By putting forward serious rights violators and presenting only as many candidates as seats available, the regional groups risk undermining the council’s credibility and effectiveness,” said New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Louis Charbonneau, the group’s UN director, called the vote “ridiculous” and said on Twitter it “makes mockery of (the) word ‘election.’”

At the start of the voting session, the General Assembly’s president, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, noted that every member state is allowed to apply for a seat.

Her spokesman later declined to directly address the criticism, but instead noted: “It’s clear that the world expects that members of international bodies will abide to a certain set of standards of behavior consistent with the bodies they have been elected to.”

Five of the new members were from Africa, five from Asia, two from eastern Europe, three from Latin America and the Caribbean, and three from western Europe.

The United States pulled out of the council in June, calling the organization a “hypocritical” body that “makes a mockery of human rights,” in particular in regard to its stance on Israel.

Nikki Haley, who this week announced her resignation as US ambassador to the UN, said Friday’s vote demonstrates why the US was right to withdraw.

“Yet again, countries with poor human rights records ran uncontested. This lack of standards continues to undermine the organization,” she said.

“The United States will continue to support reforms that would make the Human Rights Council credible.”

Source: citizen.co.za

Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame told delegates at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that Africa’s global position must change in response to recent positive developments on the continent.

Kagame, who is also the African Union chairperson, was the first African head of state to address the UNGA General Debate on Tuesday.

He cited key milestones across the continent over the past 12 months including signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, cessation of hostilities among countries in the Horn of Africa and the progress made by Zimbabwe to deal with political and economic challenges.

The current two-track system of governance where some players are more important than others is not sustainable.

‘‘The trend on our continent is toward closer and more productive cooperation both through the African Union and our Regional Economic Communities,’‘ Kagame said.

‘‘The United Nations Security Council must work with the African Union to monitor progress made by countries in the Horn of Africa.’‘

Kagame pointed out that while progress has been made to mitigate conflict on the continent, work still needs to be done to ‘harmonise overlapping initiatives’ and ensure that ‘signed agreements are respected’.

He asked the United Nations to continue working with the continent to resolve crises in Central Africa Republic, Libya and South Sudan among others.

Security Council

Kagame, who said the three representatives of Africa at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) would be presenting a resolution shortly, asked delegates to work towards reducing the imbalance of power at the United Nations.

With only five permanent members at the powerful UNSC including United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom, the rest of the members of the UN have always called for more equal representation.

‘‘The current two-track system of governance where some players are more important than others is not sustainable,’‘ Kagame warned.

Similar sentiments had been earlier shared by the Turkish president who told delegates at UNGA that the system of giving more power to countries that contribute more financially cannot achieve true justice.

The UNSC which has 15 members, including 10 non-permanent members who are elected to serve two-year terms by the General Assembly, is the only U.N. body that can make legally binding decisions and has the power to impose sanctions and authorize the use of force.

U.N. Security Council hails Eritrea’s diplomatic efforts in Ethiopia, Djibouti

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