Ireland was elected as one of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council for the first time on 12 November 2012. The General Assembly, in a secret ballot, chose 18 new members, who will take their seats from 1 January 2013. The three new members of the group of Western European and Other States are Germany, Ireland, (replacing Belgium and Norway), and the United States, which was re-elected for a second term. Other contestants for one of the three available seats in the group were Sweden and Greece.
With 124 votes in its favour, Ireland secured its seat in the Council for the next three years, with the possibility of re-election for another three-year term in 2015. The Tánaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore called the victory of the seat on the Council “a major endorsement” of Ireland’s international standing. “Human rights and the protection of human rights are a cornerstone of Irish foreign policy” he stated after Ireland was elected a Council member.
The UN Human Rights Council was established in May 2006 (resolution 60/251) and is the main political body dealing with human rights issues. The 47 members have pledged to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Council has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. Normally it meets three times a year in the Council’s headquarters in Geneva; however, it can also meet upon the special request of at least 16 members.
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