[JURIST] The 47-member UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] held elections [materials] for 15 open seats Wednesday, with four seats going to countries that have been harshly criticized by human rights groups. In a report [PDF text] to the UNHRC, Freedom House [advocacy website; press release] and UN Watch [advocacy website; press release] previously condemned the human rights records of new electees Pakistan, Bahrain, Gabon and Zambia. Also elected to three-year terms were France, Britain, Japan, South Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine, Ghana, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Following a vigorous campaign against its candidacy by the NGO Coalition for an Effective Human Rights Council [advocacy website; letter], Sri Lanka [JURIST news archive] failed to win a seat this year.
The Human Rights Council, founded in 2006 to replace the UN Human Rights Commission [official website], was created with a primary goal of denying membership to those countries that have committed serious human rights violations. Last year's election [JURIST report] drew attention to rights abuses in Belarus, which failed to win either of the two seats reserved for Eastern European nations. AP has more.