On Tuesday, China’s election to the United Nations Human Rights Council marked its sixth term as a member of the esteemed council, reaffirming its presence as one of the most frequently elected nations in the council’s history. The election took place during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, with China being one of the 15 states elected to serve in the 47-member council for a three-year term starting on January 1, 2024.
China’s previous stints as a member of the UN Human Rights Council were in the periods of 2006-2012, with re-election in 2009; 2014-2016; 2017-2019; and 2021-2023. This consistent presence underscores China’s engagement in the international discourse surrounding human rights and its commitment to the work of the council.
The selection process for council members is conducted through secret ballot, and the elected countries are divided into regional groups to ensure geographical representation. The countries elected alongside China for the term commencing in 2024 include Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Malawi, representing Africa; Indonesia, Japan, and Kuwait, representing the Asia-Pacific; Albania and Bulgaria for Eastern Europe; Brazil, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic for Latin America and the Caribbean; and France and the Netherlands for Western Europe and other states.
The election results revealed that Russia, vying for a spot in the Eastern Europe group, did not secure the required 97 votes for election. Similarly, Peru, competing in the Latin America and the Caribbean group, garnered 108 votes but was outperformed by the three other contenders in the same group.
Candidates in the groups of Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Western Europe, and other states secured their positions comfortably as they faced no challengers. Among those re-elected, alongside China, were Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, France, and Malawi.
In the course of the year, ten states are set to leave the UN Human Rights Council, including Gabon and Senegal from Africa, Nepal, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan from the Asia-Pacific, the Czech Republic and Ukraine from Eastern Europe, and Bolivia, Mexico, and Britain from Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe, and other states.
The United Nations Human Rights Council, headquartered in Geneva, is an intergovernmental body tasked with the promotion and protection of human rights globally. The council operates on a system where approximately one-third of its 47 members are replaced each year to ensure continuity and fresh perspectives.
The allocation of seats on the UN Human Rights Council is based on regional groups, aiming to provide geographical representation, with 13 seats allocated to Africa and the Asia-Pacific each, eight for Latin America and the Caribbean, seven for Western Europe and other states, and six for Eastern Europe. China’s consistent presence on the council reflects the complexities and challenges associated with human rights in today’s global context, and it further underscores the importance of international cooperation and dialogue in addressing these issues.