On November 13, 183 UN Member States voted for Kazakhstan to join the UN Human Rights Council. Kazakhstan will take its seat on the Council for three years from January 1 2013, and has pledged to use its membership to strengthen human rights both at home and abroad.
The other countries elected for three-year terms were Argentina, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Montenegro, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Venezuela
Of those elected, Côte d’Ivoire, Estonia, Ethiopia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Montenegro, Sierra Leone, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela will be represented on the Geneva-based body for the first time.
Altay Abibullayev, spokesman for Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commented: “We are pleased to have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council. But we do not see it solely as a badge of honor. We see it as an opportunity to contribute to global efforts to make progress in this crucial field.”
Kazakhstan has a history of active support to the work of the Human Rights Council since it was established in 2006. Today, the Council is recognized as the leading international body for the protection of human rights, replacing the former Commission on Human Rights. It consists of 47 countries elected directly and individually by secret ballot for a three-year term.
The Council has adopted a range of procedures and mechanisms to monitor and promote human rights around the world. These include the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which serves to assess the human rights situation in all UN Member States; the Advisory Committee which acts as the Council’s think tank, providing advice and expertise on human rights issues; and the Complaints Procedure which allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council.
The Council also works with UN Special Procedures, in which special representatives, special rapporteurs, independent experts and working groups monitor and report publicly on thematic issues such as torture, housing or education, as well as on specific human rights situations in individual countries.
In February 2010, Kazakhstan successfully underwent its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which demonstrated the country’s progress on human rights and its readiness for open and constructive cooperation with international human rights mechanisms.
Kazakhstan put forward its candidacy for the Human Rights Council in March 2010 and has since been working towards the comprehensive implementation of UPR recommendations and of its human rights action plan. Kazakhstan continues to work closely with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, treaty bodies and other special procedures and has received the Special Rapporteur on Torture Mr. Manfred Nowak, the Independent Expert on minority issues Ms. Gay McDougall, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing Ms. Raquel Rolnik and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education Dr. Kishore Singh.