Human Rights Council Elects Four Vice Presidents for 2024 Bureau
Human Rights Council Elects Four Vice Presidents for 2024 Bureau
Postpones Election of its President for Next Year to January 2024
Geneva (8 December 2023) The Human Rights Council, during an organisational session held this morning, elected Ambassador Febrian Ruddyard of Indonesia; Ambassador Darius Staniulis of Lithuania; Ambassador Marcelo Eliseo Scappini Ricciard of Paraguay and Ambassador Heidi Schroderus-Fox of Finland to serve as the four Vice-Presidents for a one-year term beginning on 1 January 2024, representing, respectively, the regional groups of Asia-Pacific States, Eastern European States, Latin American and Caribbean States and Western European and other States. Ambassador Staniulis will also serve as Rapporteur for the human rights body.
Speaking in his capacity as coordinator of the Group of African States, that will hold the Council presidency next year, Allou Lambert Yao, Deputy Permanent Representative of Côte d’Ivoire, announced that his Group nominated two candidates for the position of President of the Council, namely Ambassador Omar Zniber, Permanent Representative of Morocco and Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi, Permanent Representative of South Africa.
Current Human Rights Council President, Ambassador Václav Bálek of Czechia, whose one-year term comes to an end on 31 December, explained that since there is more than one candidate for the position of President of the Council for the 18th cycle, the election of the new President shall be conducted by secret ballot, from the list of candidates whose names have been presented by the coordinator of the Group of African States, in accordance with the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, which applies to the Human Rights Council.
Ambassador Bálek announced that the election of the new President will be postponed to allow the Council, in its 2024 composition, to proceed with the election at the earliest available opportunity in January 2024, with 10 January as a possible date.
Speaking at the onset of the meeting, and in connection with the Council's long-term efficiency process, the Chief of the Central Planning and Coordination Service, Division of Conference Management, of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), Vitali Rousak, provided the Council with an update on the actual and envisaged resources for conference services provided to the 47-member Council.
Following the update by UNOG, co-facilitators and focal points for the efficiency process brief the Council on the works and consultations they conducted throughout the year in follow-up to the Council President's statement of December 2022.
Ambassador Maira Mariela Macdonal Alvarez, Vice-President and Rapporteur and Permanent Representative of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, and Ambassador Marc Bichler, Vice-President and Permanent Representative of Luxembourg, briefed the Council on their consultations with delegations on ways and means to rationalize the programme of work as well as the initiatives and activities created through the Council’s decisions.
Ambassador Muhammadou Kah, Vice-President and Permanent Representative of the Gambia, briefed the Council on consultations he led with Ambassador Jürg Lauger, Permanent Representative of Switzerland, on the digitalization track on making the Council a more efficient and inclusive body through the use of modern technology.
Ambassador Federico Villegas, Permanent Representative of Argentina, briefed the Council on the continued discussions on the efficiency of the Universal periodic review (UPR) process with a view to its fifth cycle.
Ambassador Asim Ahmed, Vice-President and Permanent Representative of the Maldives, briefed the Council on the continued efforts to address challenges faced by delegations from small and developing countries, in particular small island developing States and the least developed countries.
At today's meeting, the Council also heard updates from its Gender Focal Point, Ambassador Usha Chandnee Dwarka-Canabady, Permanent Representative of Mauritius. A subsequent oral update was delivered by Ambassador Muhammadou Kah, Vice-President and Permanent Representative of the Gambia, who outlined his activities as the focal point of the Council task force on accessibility for persons with disabilities.
After these briefings and oral updates, the Council adopted a President's statement on the “efficiency of the Human Rights Council: addressing financial and time constraints.” Subsequently, Abdul Fofana, Chief of Programme Support and Management Services at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) delivered a statement on programme budget implications for the President’s statement.
The Council next decided that the theme for its annual high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming, scheduled to take place in late February 2024, at the onset of its 55th regular session, would be “Harnessing multilateral efforts to embed, amplify and realise the rights of persons with disabilities with a focus on full and effective participation and inclusion in society.”
The following States, regional organization and non-governmental organisation delivered general comments (in order): European Union, Canada on behalf of a group of countries, Nepal, Paraguay, Ukraine, Sudan, China, Mexico, India, South Africa, Senegal, United States of America, Cuba, Malaysia, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), the Gambia, Iceland, Morocco, Argentina, Costa Rica, Maldives and International Service for Human Rights.
Through his end-of-year remarks, Ambassador Balek said serving as President of the Human Rights Council has been “a great honour for (him) but also for (his) country the Czech Republic.” “There is no other UN body like ours. My kind plea to us all is to preserve the Council’s role and to strengthen it,” he said.
Members of the Council Bureau and several states seized the opportunity of the organizational session to thank and pay tribute to Eric Tistounet, Chief of the Human Rights Council Branch, who is retiring at the end of the year after 36 years of service to the United Nations. Mr. Tistounet served as the last secretary of the former Commission of Human Rights and as the first secretary of the Human Rights Council.
The Council will meet on 18 and 19 December 2023 to hear oral updates by OHCHR on the human rights situations respectively in Nicaragua and Ukraine.
Media contact: Pascal Sim, HRC Media Officer, at [email protected]; David Díaz Martín, HRC Public Information Officer, at [email protected] and Verena Bongartz, HRC Public Information Officer, at [email protected]