South African Endorsement of Zimbabwe's Nomination to the United
Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNCHR)
QUESTION NO: 701
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION
PAPER NO 14 OF 20 MAY 2005
MR DHM GIBSON (DA) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN
(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;
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?
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
(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.
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.