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Human Rights Council elects Coly Seck of Senegal as its President for 2019

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4 December 2018

GENEVA, (3 December 2018) - The Human Rights Council this afternoon elected Ambassador Coly Seck, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations Office at Geneva, to serve as its President for a one-year term beginning on 1 January 2019.

The Council also appointed Ambassadors Vesna Batistić Kos of Croatia and Harald Aspelund of Iceland to serve as two of its four vice presidents, representing, respectively, the Group of Eastern European States and the Group of Western European and other States.  The current President of the Council, Ambassador Vojislav Šuc of Slovenia, noted that the Group of Asia-Pacific States and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, were still in the process of consultation to nominate the remaining Vice-Presidents from their respective Groups and would announc them before the end of the year. All five will serve as members of the Human Rights Council Bureau from 1 January to 31 December 2019 - the Council's thirteenth cycle. Ambassadors Vesna Batistić Kos of Croatia will also serve as Rapporteur.

Sidiki Kaba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Senegal, addressing the Council on the occasion of Senegal’s assumption of the Council’s presidency, said that today’s election took place exactly five decades after the first Senegalese presidency of the Commission on Human Rights. Human rights had since then positioned themselves as a key element in the United Nations system. At a time when security challenges, the crisis of multilateralism, the management of migratory flows and the acceleration of climate change obscured the future of humanity, it was crucial that the Human Rights Council remained a space of hope, dialogue and co-operation - hope for all the people of the world; dialogue between its members; and cooperation between States and all other actors in the international community. “There was no development without peace, no rule of law without security and above all no democracy without respect for human rights”, he added.

Commenting on his appointment as President for next year, Ambassador Seck said: “in the face of the ever-changing challenges that plague the Council and the hopes it continues to raise, the Council can and must do better. To this end, we must strengthen our mutual trust and establish a more peaceful atmosphere within the Council that is conducive to mutual listening, dynamic compromise and constructive cooperation”. “We should all work together for the Council to be a body for prevention and rapid response capable of dealing with the multiple and serious violations of human rights that challenge our conscience and require our action. Faced with these violations, indignation is not enough, we must also act”, he added.

Ambassador Šuc, who has been serving as Human Rights Council President throughout 2018, congratulated the newly elected President and in his concluding remarks said: “It has been a challenging year for the Human Rights Council, but I sincerely believe together we have taken these challenges and turned them into opportunities. This year I have witnessed delegations coming together in the spirit of compromise and cooperation for the benefit of human rights. And as my term is coming to an end I truly believe that I leave behind a stronger Human Rights Council”.

At today’s meeting, the Council also considered draft President’s statement A/HRC/OS/12/L.1 presented under agenda item 1 on organizational and procedural matters entitled “Enhancing the efficiency of the Human Rights Council, including addressing financial and time constraints”, in which it decided, inter alia, to develop a three-year programme of work, to be updated and adopted every year at the organizational session in December. It also encouraged further measures to be considered with a view to address the challenges faced by small delegations, particularly SIDS/LDCs and welcomed the voluntary commitments by States to rationalize their initiatives and related outcomes including through, but not limited to, biennialization and triennialization. It further strongly encouraged the progressive and full implementation of measures on the use of modern technology to improve efficiency. It also decided to assess the impact of implementation of this statement after its forty-second session and before the organizational session in December 2019.

The adopted text was the result of a process of informal consultations initiated by the Council’s Bureau in April 2018 that sought to identify long-term measures to improve efficiency, strengthen the Council and rationalize its work. Three teams of co-facilitators had taken the lead on the following areas: improving the annual programme of work of the Council, the rationalization of resolutions and initiatives and the use of modern technology.

The Council this afternoon also heard from the Council’s task force on accessibility for persons with disabilities, which presented an oral update on the work and progress made on the implementation of its accessibility plan.

The Council will hold its next organizational meeting on 15 January 2019, at which time it is expected to complete the selection of Vice Presidents of the new Bureau, 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 2019. The 40th regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 25 February to 22 March 2018.

On 12 October 2018, the 73rd UN General Assembly elected 18 new Council members that will serve for a period of three years, starting in January 2019.

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