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UN Elects 47 Members to New Human Rights Council
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After three rounds of secret voting, the UN General Assembly Tuesday elected the 47 members including China of the newly established Human Rights Council to replace the much criticized and now defunct Human Rights Commission.

After the first round of ballot Tuesday morning, all regional groups -- Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe and other developed nations -- filled their allocated number of members, except Eastern Europe, where only Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic won seats with the other three remaining vacant.

Two more rounds of voting were held in the afternoon, selecting Azerbaijan, Romania and Ukraine.

Ghana topped the voting for the 13 African seats, which also included South Africa and Algeria, while India received the most votes for the 13 Asian seats, which also included China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Russia received the most votes for the 6 Eastern European seats in the first round of voting. Eastern Europe witnessed the fiercest competition, with 14 candidate nations vying for six seats.

Brazil received the most votes for the 8 Latin American and Caribbean seats, which also included Cuba and Uruguay, while Germany received the most votes for the 7 Western European region seats, which included France and the United Kingdom.

After the three rounds of voting, General Assembly President Jan Eliasson drew lots to determine the staggering of terms of the first 47 members of the rights council.

Under a resolution adopted by the assembly on March 15, the members of the new rights body are banned from immediate re-election after two successive three-year terms. But it also stipulates that each year a certain number of the members should be changed.

The lots drawing results showed that Algeria and 13 other nations will sit on the new council for one year, Pakistan and 14 other nations for two years, and China and 17 other nations for three years.

The Human Rights Council is scheduled to hold its first meeting in Geneva on June 19.

The United States was the only permanent member of the Security Council which did not run for a seat on the rights council. The US and three other countries voted against the March 15 resolution setting up the rights council, saying that the new body does not go far enough in its reforms. Nevertheless, the resolution was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Under the resolution, members of the Human Rights Council should be elected directly and secretly by the 191-nation assembly and need the backing of a majority of the assembly's membership, or at least 96 votes.

(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2006)

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