NEWS

Fiji Standing In Human Rights Council Next Year, Not This

Fiji is standing for the United Nations Human Rights Council next year. This year Fiji was NOT a candidate, but still recorded six votes in the election. The six votes
31 Oct 2016 11:00
Fiji Standing In Human Rights Council Next Year, Not This
UNHR

Fiji is standing for the United Nations Human Rights Council next year.

This year Fiji was NOT a candidate, but still recorded six votes in the election.

The six votes were registered as invalid votes cast against other candidates – a regular practice in the UN system, it was confirmed yesterday.

Media reports – including by this newspaper – incorrectly said Fiji had been a candidate based on it being listed in the Human Rights Council vote tally. But a Government statement said this was not true.

Fiji IS a candidate for membership of the Human Rights Council for the term 2018-2020, the Government said.

This is the first time that any Pacific Small Island Developing State has declared its candidacy for the Human Rights Council.

A brochure prepared by the Fijian Government lists seven reasons why countries should vote for Fiji’s membership of the Human Rights Council.

  1. Because no Pacific Small Island Developing State has ever been a member of the Council, and it is time that the voice and concerns of PSIDS are heard from within the Membership of the Council;
  2. Because Fiji will ensure a better geographical representation on the Council as a Pacific Island member;
  3. Because Fiji will contribute to and enrich the debates in the Council especially in relation to climate change, gender empowerment, measures against institutionalised and attitudinal racism, the right to equality in all its forms, the right to development and the State’s duty to progressively realise that right;
  4. Because Fiji has passed laws to guarantee equality and rights and has held its first elections based on such equality;
  5. Because Fiji has one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world, with a Bill of Rights which guarantees both civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights;
  6. Because our national policies are based on implementing the right to substantive equality, and to the dignity of every man women and child; and
  7. Because Fiji recognises that every State has much to learn and to implement across the human rights spectrum, and Fiji wants to contribute to the international development of these norms whilst challenging itself to do more and better.

Last Friday the General Assembly elected, by secret ballot, 14 States to serve on the Human Rights Council. The Council is the United Nations body responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.

Brazil, China, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia, United Kingdom and the United States would serve three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2017.

The 14 outgoing members were Algeria, China, Cuba, France, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

A statement from the Council after the voting said: “In accordance with Assembly resolution 60/251, those Member States were eligible for immediate re-election except the delegation which had served two consecutive terms, namely Maldives.

“The 14 new members were elected according to the following pattern:  four seats for African States; four seats for Asia-Pacific States; two seats for Eastern European States; two seats for Latin American and Caribbean States; and two seats for Western European and other States.

“Newly elected to the Geneva-based body were Brazil, Croatia, Egypt, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Rwanda, Tunisia and United States.  Re-elected for an additional term were China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.”

Assembly President and Fijian Peter Thomson said the following States would also continue as members of the Council – Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Burundi, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

FILIPE NAIGULEVU

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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