DRC wins seat on UN rights council despite US opposition

2017-10-17 07:14
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New York - The Democratic Republic of Congo was elected to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday despite opposition from the United States and a leading rights group.

DRC was among the 15 countries who won seats on the council during a vote at the UN General Assembly. They will serve on the 47-member council from January 2018 through the end of 2020.

Kinshasa now finds itself in the rare position of sitting on the Geneva-based council while the body investigates allegations of killings, torture, rape and the use of child soldiers in the Kasai region of the DRC.

The United Nations is also taking part in a separate investigation into the murder of two UN experts who were killed in March while probing mass graves in the region.

Human Rights Watch called the election of the DRC "a slap in the face to the many victims of the Congolese government's grave abuses across the country.

"The fact that government security forces are believed responsible for most of the violence in the Kasai region over the past year - where some 5 000 people have reportedly been killed and nearly 90 mass graves have been identified - shows that DRC doesn't deserve a seat on the UN's premiere human rights body," said HRW's UN director Louis Charbonneau.

In July, US Ambassador Nikki Haley had said the African decision to back Kinshasa's candidacy on the rights council was "an inexcusable failure" to promote human rights.

African countries put forward four countries to fill the four seats reserved for the region at the council - Angola, Nigeria, Senegal along with the DRC - a move that all but guaranteed their election.

The DRC won 151 votes in the 193-member assembly, garnering an easy majority despite the campaign against its election.

Senegal won 188 votes, followed by Angola with 187 and Nigeria 185.

The 11 other countries elected on Monday were: Australia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Qatar, Pakistan, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

The United States, which has threatened to quit the council, has criticised the "clean slate" practice for choosing members and has pushed for competitive elections to challenge countries with questionable human rights records.

During last year's vote, Russia failed to win re-election to the council, losing out to Croatia, but China and Saudi Arabia won their seats by running unopposed.

Read more on:    un  |  angola  |  senegal  |  drc  |  nigeria  |  africa

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