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Freedom House Lauds Hungary’s Election to UN Human Rights Body
The election of Hungary to the United Nations Human Rights Council is a welcome development that offers a glimmer of hope to those who still believe that the council might yet fulfill its mandate to protect and promote human rights globally.
UN General Assembly members elected Hungary yesterday to represent the Eastern Europe Group, one of five regional groups within the council. Hungary beat out Azerbaijan to clinch one of the two available seats allotted to the group’s members. The other seat went to Russia.
"The election of Hungary, especially over Azerbaijan, a country with a poor human rights record but with considerable influence thanks to its energy resources, is something to applaud," said Freedom House Europe Director Vladimir Shkolnikov. "Hungary has been a reliable and increasingly active supporter of human rights internationally and we expect it to play an important role in improving the council's performance in the coming years."
Freedom House urges Hungary to work closely with other democracies to counter the influence of a number of council members who use their seats to undermine human rights, rather than advance them. Since its inception in 2006, the council has suffered credibility issues because of the poor human rights records of members such as Cuba, Saudi Arabia and China. In addition, the council has disproportionately focused its attention on Israel, failing to condemn human rights abuses in countries such as Sudan and Zimbabwe.
Hungary will be joined on the council by the United States, which ran for a seat for the first time, ending a boycott of the body. Both will serve a three-year term as one of the council’s 47 members. Shkolnikov said he believes Hungary will be a reliable ally to the United States in its quest for making the council an effective global body for human rights.
"Serial human rights violators have held sway over the council’s agenda and the time has come for democratic states to launch a consistent pushback to regain the credibility of this body," said Shkolnikov. "Along with the reengagement of the U.S., Hungary’s election to the council over Azerbaijan is a small but important step in the right direction."
To learn more about UN Human Rights Council members, read:
Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties worldwide since 1972.
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