Kazakhstan elected to UN Human Rights Council

November 12. Universal Newswires

Kazakhstan elected to UN Human Rights CouncilKazakhstan was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for a two-year term along with 17 other states on Monday.

The country will begin its term in January 2013.

Other states elected to the body included: Germany, Ireland, the  U.S., Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Pakistan, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Venezuela, among others.

“We are pleased to have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council,” Kazakh foreign affairs ministry spokesman Altay Abibullayev said in a statement.

“But we do not see it solely as a badge of honor. We see it as an opportunity to contribute to global efforts to make progress in this crucial field.”

Kazakhstan has come under fire in recent months for its treatment of striking oil workers, labor lawyers, and political dissidents, who are often charged on baseless counts and jailed for years.

Human Rights Watch, the New York-based rights watchdog, said the election of states with flawed human rights records weakens the council, and blames ‘limited competition in elections’ for this outcome.

“To call the vote in the General Assembly an ‘election’ gives this process way too much credit,” HRW’s global advocacy director Peggy Hicks said.

“Until there is real competition for seats in the Human Rights Council, its membership standards will remain more rhetoric than reality.”

In related UN news, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan were elected on Thursday to the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with two other states.

Kuwait and Nepal were also elected to the body. Four Asian states – Iraq, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Mongolia – are vacating their seat on the council on December 31 after each serving a three-year term. Fifty-four states serve on ECOSOC at a given time, while 18 states were newly elected last week.

Asian states take up 11 seats of the 154.

Kyrgyzstan received 164 votes to join the body, which will be the first time in its 20-year history of UN membership that it is included among ECOSOC members.

The Kyrgyz foreign ministry said the election “is an important success of the state in its foreign policy, as well as confirmation of the support from the international community to the social, economic, and democratic reforms in the country.”

Turkmenistan, though expressly neutral in foreign relations, has increasingly worked with the UN since President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov took the reins in 2006, and has played host to several UN-sponsored conferences over the years.


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Kazakhstan’s election to UNHRC is a result of methodical work: Askar Shakirov


“I believe that Kazakhstan’s election to the UN Human Rights Council is a result of methodical and active work directed to the development of the national system of human rights’ protection that has been done over the period of the country’s independence,” Human Rights Commissioner of Kazakhstan Askar Shakirov says.

As was reported earlier, Kazakhstan was elected as member of the UN Council on Human Rights during the 67th session of the UN General Assembly on November 12 in New York. According to the press service of the Kazakh MFA, 183 countries voted for Kazakhstan’s candidacy. UNHRC was established on 15 March 2006 and is the leading international body in the field of human rights protection, replacing the Commission on Human Rights.

According to the National Ombudsman of the Republic of Kazakhstan, our country has joined the majority of core human rights documents.

Kazakhstan’s election to the UN Council on Human Rights demonstrates appreciation of the international community of its efforts in the humanitarian sphere. It will allow Kazakhstan to play a more active role in the UN Council on Human Rights, speed up its integration into the international human rights community and facilitate exchange of positive experience in this sphere.

At the same time, Council membership means more responsibility in ensuring effective implementation of human rights.

Currently, Kazakhstan’s National Ombudsman effectively cooperates with a wide range of human rights organizations both in Kazakhstan and abroad.