Are you ready for the UN Human Rights Council elections?

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Photo: URG

Norway, in cooperation with Universal Rights Group (URG), hosted, 19 September, a reception to mark the launch of the yourHRC Election Guide to the 2017 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) elections.

YourHRC Election Guide is an innovative online platform designed to strengthen the visibility, relevance and impact of the HRC. It provides country-specific information on cooperation with the HRC and its mechanisms, participation in debates, voting patterns and political leadership. It promotes transparency around the degree to which the HRC member states are fulfilling their obligations, according to the expectations as set out in General Assembly Resolution 60/251.

Norway has supported the Universal Rights Group in developing the online tool YourHRC.org since 2015. The yourHRC Election Guide is launched every autumn, ahead of the election of new member states to the HRC.

Ambassador Hans Brattskar, Permanent Representative of Norway, stated that “in short -  YourHRC Election Guide gives a very useful and interesting overview of the candidates and significantly increases the transparency of the election process”. He further emphasised that the Election Guide is one of several elements on which to build continuing discussions on reforming the HRC, as initiated in New York (UNGA) today by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the US.

To encourage more states to step forward for a membership, Norway has decided to support the LDCs/SIDS fund. Ambassador Brattskar underlined that their voices in the Council are important and valuable and they contribute to the universality and credibility of the Council. In addition, we believe their active participation in the Council will contribute to capacity building and motivation to run as potential Council Members in the future.

Executive Director of the URG, Marc Limon, expressed concern that there are ninety UN member states that have never been members of the HRC, and that we often see a trend of clean slates. YourHRC Election Guide addresses how countries fulfil their previous voluntary pledges and commitment, statistics on the number of previous terms, cooperation with human rights mechanisms and participation in statements, to name a few.

Senior UN Advocate at the Human Rights Watch, Laila Matar, highlighted that the new degree of transparency offered by yourHRC Election Guide is essential for NGOs and media. Additionally, this report promotes the notion of competitive elections. Competitive elections are crucial for the credibility of the Council, and it is also required to produce the strongest possible outcomes – which is what victims of human rights violations deserve. It is also important to note that states are the primary duty bearers for upholding human rights in their countries, and this report serves as a mechanism for accountability and a commitment device for candidates. As a strong supporter of the report, Ms Matar encourages all states to review voluntary pledges, hold states accountable and take this track record into account when voting.