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Human Rights Council elects new President and Vice-Presidents for 2017 - Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli of El Salvador Appointed as President-elect

GENEVA (5 December 2016) - The Human Rights Council this afternoon elected its new bureau for 2017 at an organizational meeting, appointing Ambassador Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva, to serve as its President for a term beginning on 1 January 2017. 

The Council also appointed Ambassador Moayed Saleh of Iraq, Ambassador Amr Ahmed Ramadan of Egypt, Ambassador Shalva Tsiskarashvili of Georgia, and Ambassador Valentin Zellweger of Switzerland to the positions of Vice Presidents to the United Nations’ leading human rights body.  All five candidates will serve as members of the Human Rights Council Bureau from 1 January to 31 December 2017 – the Council’s eleventh cycle.

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Choi Kyonglim (Republic of Korea), who has been serving as Human Rights Council President throughout 2016, recalled how “we continue to confront increasingly serious challenges to human rights and dignity around the world” marked by “on-going and emerging armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, refugee crises, economic difficulties and political repression.” 

While reminding of the importance of strengthening efforts to enhance genuine and constructive dialogue in the Council, Ambassador Choi expressed “hope that as we face these challenging times, the Human Rights Council will remain strong and steadfast in its resolve and in its mandate”. 

Commenting on his appointment as President for next year, Ambassador Maza Martelli said: "We are convinced that this is an opportunity to continue with the vision and mission of ensuring human rights in a consultative system where the primary interest for human rights prevails in any circumstance".

"It is therefore crucial, to respect the institutional framework of the Human Rights Council...in the face of a difficult and worrying international situation bearing in mind that there are children, women, migrants, displaced persons, refugees, minorities and vulnerable groups, whose human rights are violated”, Ambassador Maza Martelli stated. 

On 28 October, the General Assembly elected 14 members of the Human Rights Council to serve as members of the 47-member body, filling the vacancies to be left at the end of this year.

At today's meeting, the Council also endorsed the President's decision to appoint Mr. Diego Garcia-Sayan of Peru to serve as Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.  This appointment was made following the resignation in late August this year of Ms. Mónica Pinto who had been serving as Special Rapporteur since August 2015.

The 47 members of the Human Rights Council also decided that the theme for the 2017 high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming, to be held during the upcoming thirty-fourth regular session of the Council on 27 February 2017, would be “the contribution of human rights to peacebuilding through enhancing dialogue and international cooperation for the promotion of human rights".

During the meeting, the Council also discussed a series of proposals aimed to enhance its efficiency and work methods as had been discussed during previous consultations between Council members.  Ultimately, the Council adopted its annual programme of work for 2017 before concluding the meeting.

Also speaking at the meeting were representatives of Venezuela, Cuba, South Africa (on behalf of the African Group), the Russian Federation, Honduras (on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States), the Republic of Korea, Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Paraguay, Egypt and the International Service for Human Rights. 

The Council will hold its next organizational meeting on 13 February in 2017 at which time it is expected to adopt its programme of work for the year and select troikas – country rapporteurs – for the human rights reviews to be carried out by its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in 2017, which will also mark the beginning of the UPR third cycle.  The thirty-fourth regular session of the Council will be held from 27 February to 24 March 2017.

For more information about the Human Rights Council, please visit the HRC website - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/HRCIndex.aspx

Media contacts: (Geneva) Rolando Gómez, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Tel: +41-22-917.9711, email: rgomez@ohchr.org, or Cédric Sapey, OHCHR, Tel: +41-22-917.9695, email: csapey@ohchr.org

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