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UN rights council election sidelines Belarus

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website; JURIST news archive] held elections [official results; recorded video] to its 47-member Geneva-based panel on Thursday, with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia defeating Belarus [JURIST news archives] for the two available Eastern European states seats. The US, most European countries, and several human rights groups opposed Belarus' candidacy, citing the country's poor human rights record. Angola, Egypt, and Qatar [JURIST news archives] also won seats in Thursday's election despite some controversy. Madagascar, Nicaragua, Bolivia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, Philippines, and South Africa [JURIST news archives] also each won three-year terms to the council.

The Human Rights Council, founded last year to replace the UN Human Rights Commission [official website], was created with a primary goal of denying membership to those countries that have committed serious human rights violations. In November, the UN General Assembly's Third Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs approved a draft resolution accusing the Belarus government of rigging elections in 2006 and suppressing of opposition candidates [JURIST reports]. On Tuesday, UN Watch called on both Belarus and Egypt [press release] to "release jailed opposition leaders, journalists and bloggers before Thursday's elections for the UN's top human rights body." AP has more.

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