Ahead of the next UN Human Rights Council (“HRC” or “the Council”) election, we, the undersigned national, regional and international civil society organisations, write to urge your delegation to refrain from voting for candidates that blatantly fail to fulfil the Council membership standards outlined in UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 60/251.
Paragraphs 8 and 9 of resolution 60/251 state that the UNGA:
8. Decides that the membership in the Council shall be open to all States Members of the United Nations; when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto […];
9. Decides also that members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights [and] fully cooperate with the Council […].
We are concerned that several of the States that are running for election fail to fulfill minimal requirements with regard to both the promotion and protection of human rights and cooperation with the Council and other UN human rights bodies and mechanisms. Some of these candidates show a pattern of non-cooperation with the UN human rights system and attacks against UN Special Procedure Mandate-Holders that is incompatible with Council membership. Furthermore, some of this year’s candidates have engaged in acts of intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders and civil society organizations, who play a key role in the Council’s work. Voting for these candidates would undermine the Council’s credibility and institutional integrity.
We urge you to treat human rights considerations and the substantive Council membership criteria outlined in resolution 60/251 as paramount in electing members to the Council, rather than engaging in vote trading or privileging political considerations over fundamental human rights.
In October 2018, the next HRC election will determine which States sit as Members of the Council in the next three years (2019-2021). Considering that States must receive a simple majority of votes (i.e., 97) to be elected, that voting takes place by secret ballot, and that electing States are under no obligation to vote for each and every candidate within a regional group, we urge your delegation to simply refrain from voting for unfit candidates. Doing so will require leaving the ballot blank for those candidate States your delegation considers unfit.