South African Endorsement of Zimbabwe's Nomination to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNCHR)

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 701

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 14 OF 20 MAY 2005

MR DHM GIBSON (DA) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

(1) Whether South Africa supported Zimbabwe's nomination to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNCHR); if so, (a) what specific qualities make Zimbabwe an appropriate candidate and (b) how will Zimbabwe's nomination serve to ensure the protection of human rights on the continent;

(2) Whether SA has any criteria which would cause SA to object to the nomination of a candidate of the UNCHR; if not, (a) why not and (b) who took the decision that no factors were serious enough to disqualify a country from fulfilling such a post; if so, (a) what are those criteria and (b) when were they drawn up?

N916E

REPLY:

(1) The procedure for nomination of African candidates to the CHR was conducted according to the UN procedure known as the "clean slate" where the number of states seeking positions corresponded to the number of seats available. The only UN recognised procedure when dealing with candidatures to UN bodies are those adopted by the UN itself.

(2) Elections for the Functional Commissions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), including the Commission on Human Rights, were held in New York on 27 April 2005. The Commission on Human Rights had 15 vacancies to be filled including: 4 seats for the African region, 3 seats for the Asian region, 1 seat for the Eastern European region (EEG), 3 seats for the Latin American and Caribbean region (GRULAC) and 4 seats for the Western European and Other region (WEOG). In the case of all the regional groups, except the EEG, no elections took place due to the fact that there was an equal amount of candidatures to the number of vacancies.

In the case of the African region only four Member States presented their candidatures, namely; Botswana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Morocco. The Africa Group in New York endorsed the four candidates and relayed the information to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 20 April 2005.

South Africa supported the African Group's endorsement of the African candidates and the four vacancies were filled by acclamation. This obviated the need to vote for individual candidates.

One of the criteria for nomination to the 53-member UN Commission on Human Rights is membership of the United Nations. Zimbabwe, as a Member State of the United Nations, qualifies to be a candidate to any of the UN bodies for which vacancies exist. The UN abides by the principles of international law enshrined in its Charter, i.e., the principle of the sovereign equality of States and non-interference in the domestic affairs of States. During the last elections of Member States to the CHR, there was no lobbying for support as the number of States seeking these positions corresponded with the number of seats. This procedure is known in the UN as "clean slate". In terms of this clean slate procedure, there is no country which can object to the countries which have, thus, presented their candidatures.

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