NEW YORK // Qatar and Libya along with a dozen other nations won two-year terms to the UN's top human rights body in an election yesterday that was criticised by campaign groups for offering uncontested seats in each of the five regional groupings. The two Middle Eastern countries were among 14 nations that required 97 votes in the UN's 192-member General Assembly to secure their candidacy to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, which monitors rights around the globe.
Qatar received 177 votes and Libya - even though it polled the worst of all candidates - secured a seat with 155 votes. The other winners were Malaysia, the Maldives, Thailand, Angola, Mauritania, Uganda, Poland, Moldova, Guatemala, Ecuador, Spain and Switzerland. Ahead of the election, rights groups said "clean slates" made it easy for countries with poor human rights records to join the 47-nation body. A coalition of groups said Angola, Libya, Malaysia, Thailand and Uganda fell short of the necessary standards.
Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the UN, said there was not a "great deal of suspense" in the voting chamber and lamented the fact that countries with "problematic human rights records" had won seats to the frequently criticised body. "Countries that run for and are elected to the Human Rights Council ought to be those whose records on human rights are strong and cannot be impugned and that those who don't make that standard really don't merit membership," she said.
The winners will replace the departing members Egypt, Madagascar, South Africa, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bosnia, Slovenia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Italy and the Netherlands next month. Angola and Qatar are currently council members and were seeking re-election. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org