South Africa to serve for a three-year term on UN’s Human Rights Council

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The U.N. General Assembly in New York held elections for 14 new seats for terms which will run from 2023 until the end of 2025. The 47-member state Council based in Geneva has a core mission of promoting and protecting human rights around the world.

South Africa which received 182 votes in favour out of 190 member states voting, last served on the Council from 2017 to 2019. The results were confirmed by the President of the General Assembly Csaba Korösi

“The following 14 states have been elected members of the Humans Right Council for the three year term of the office, beginning on the 1st of January 2023. Algeria, Belgium, Bangladesh, Chile, Costa Rica, Georgia, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Morocco, Romania, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam. I congratulate the states which have elected which have been elected to the Human Rights Council,” said Korösi.

UN and AU, the cornerstone of multiracialism

The United Nations and the Africa Union have become the cornerstone of multilateralism and while that cooperation has never been stronger, equally major challenges persist.

That was the message from the UN Secretary General during a Security Council debate on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations, particularly the African Union. The meeting was used also to mark the 20th anniversary of the AU after its launch at the Durban Summit in 2002.

The UN Chief pointed to the need to address governance deficits including restrictions on human rights and freedoms which has seen a rise in instability in the region.

While praising the relationship between the two key multilateral organisations – including cooperation on peace and security initiatives across the continent – the Secretary General warned of key challenges that remain, including the threat of climate change.

“The use of force is too often seen as the only method of resolving disputes.  Unconstitutional changes of government are on the rise. In the Sahel, Daesh and Al-Qaeda affiliates continue their deadly attacks and seek to extend their hold. In the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan and Libya, protracted conflicts and a dire humanitarian situation, are plunging people into despair. Violence against women, especially women human rights defenders, is on the rise. We are also seeing an increase in disinformation and hate speech – often used as weapons of war,” says UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Guterres called for Africa states to develop their capacities to detect and extinguish conflicts at their first signs while reiterating warnings that restrictions on rights and freedoms, tended to produce predictable results, further complicated by the threat of a warming planet and a cost of living crisis – fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine among others. With millions facing soaring food and energy prices, crushing debt burdens and skyrocketing inflation.

“Once again, the most vulnerable are suffering most. This is unacceptable. And this is why, three weeks ago, I called for an SDG stimulus, led by the G20, to massively boost development assistance. International financial institutions and multilateral banks must remove the barriers that prevent developing countries from accessing the finance they need. We also need an effective global debt relief mechanism, many African countries have urgent needs for this mechanism to work, “he added.

Slow progress for peace

For his part, the AU Commission Chair Mousa Faki Mahamat lamented the slow progress on peace and security in the region.

“How many billions of dollars have been spent on UN peacekeeping missions in Africa and what has the result been? Africa is seeking a response. Your distinguished body must address this issue. But a satisfactory response has not been provided in terms of our universal conscience. Africa has made sacrifices seeking peace and security. Peace and security architecture has been set up and peace is the most important component. Africa is still facing many challenges, and we need other things beyond declarations,” said Mahamat.

While the question of Haiti was also raised where gang violence and a cholera outbreak have seen calls for an international strike force to be deployed to the island nation.

Kenya’s Ambassador Martin Kimani says,” As we rightly focus on Ukraine, it may be time for more collaboration to be used in paying attention to Haiti, which is also facing a profound crisis. Haiti is part of the African Union’s sixth region, and there is room for the A.U. and the U.N. to explore alongside each other and in response to the people of Haiti, how more help can be given to them.

Calls were also made here for reform of the current structures of the Security Council, including towards permanent African membership, as the only path towards real results in international peace and security.