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New members elected to the Human Rights Council

The General Assembly on 12 May elected 18 countries to serve on the Human Rights Council for three-year terms starting next month. Five of the newly elected members - Belgium, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Norway and the United States - will be sitting on the Geneva-based intergovernmental human rights body for the first time.

All states running for the Human Rights Council membership are required to submit voluntary pledges and commitments about their efforts to promote and protect human rights. © UN Photo/Jean-Marc FerreFifteen countries including Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Jordan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Uruguay were re-elected for a second term.

The terms of office for all newly elected members will start on 19 June when the Human Rights Council begins its fourth annual cycle.

Created by the General Assembly in 2006 to replace the Commission on Human Rights, the Human Rights Council is composed of 47 elected UN member states. All states running for the Council membership are required to submit voluntary pledges and commitments in writing about their efforts to promote and protect human rights.

Based on equitable geographical distribution, seats are allocated to the five regional groups as follows: African Group, 13 seats; Asian Group, 13 seats; Eastern European Group, 6 seats; Latin American and Caribbean Group, 8 seats; and Western and Others Group, 7 seats.

All UN member states are eligible to stand for Human Rights Council election. Council members are directly elected by an absolute majority of votes in the 192-member General Assembly, or 97 votes. Council members are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

13 May 2009