Media Statement

13 November 2013

South Africa elected to the UN Human Rights Commission

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has on Wednesday, 12 November 2013, elected South Africa, together with 14 other Member States of the UN, to serve on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).

The HRC is the UN’s inter-governmental body that deliberates on issues pertaining to the development, promotion, protection, and fulfilment of international human rights law, norms and standards.

South Africa had previously served on the erstwhile Commission for Human Rights, and played an active role in the reform processes of that body, which culminated in the creation of the Human Rights Council in 2006. South Africa is honoured to have served two consecutive terms as a Founding Member of the Council from 2006 to 2010.

As the HRC is a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly, the elections for the new Members of the HRC - to replace the Member States whose term of office had expired - took place during the 51st Meeting of the 68th Session of the General Assembly, in New York. South Africa received an over-whelming 169 votes from a total of 193, reflecting the important role that our country plays in the development and shaping of the international human rights agenda.

South Africa’s term on the Geneva-based HRC begins on 01 January 2014. South Africa’s election to this auspicious body coincides with the country’s celebration of its 20th year of democracy and reaffirms our commitment to the achievement of human rights for all our citizens, the citizens of the continent and the citizens of the world.

Our country is firmly committed to work towards the strengthening of the international human rights system, particularly through the democratic Government’s principled position which affirms the inextricability between economic, social and cultural rights on the one hand, and civil and political rights on the other. To this end, South Africa has pledged to use its position within the Council to advance a rules-based, just and equitable human rights system that is dedicated to the respect for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights, and to ensure that the UN human rights system affords maximum protection to victims of human rights violations.

South Africa extends its gratitude to the Member States of the UN for their invaluable support of our candidacy.

Enquiries: Nelson Kgwete, 076 431 3078

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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