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China, Russia, Saudi Arabia Win Seats on UN Human Rights Council

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China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Cuba have won seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The U.N. General Assembly voted Tuesday on 14 new members of the 47-seat council.  The vote has upset rights groups that have spoken out against controversial candidates.

Also elected to three-year terms are Algeria, Britain, France, the Maldives, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, and Vietnam.

New Members of the UN Human Rights Council

  • Algeria
  • Britain
  • China
  • Cuba
  • France
  • Macedonia
  • Maldives
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Namibia
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • Vietnam

Source: UN
New York-based Human Rights Watch said candidates such as as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Algeria have poor rights records at home that prevent them from being useful members of the council.

The Geneva-based U.N. Watch, which operates as a watchdog on U.N. activities overall, says allowing such nations to participate on the Human Rights Council amounts to "making a pyromaniac into chief of the fire department."  It also included Cuba among the candidates to which it objects.

One of the most common complaints against these candidates is that they clamp down on political dissent.  Other complaints stem from laws on organized labor, objectionable practices by security forces, and maintenance of a monopoly on power by a single political group.

Members of the Human Rights Council are elected by region.  Candidates in some cases are running unopposed.

The United States is currently on the Human Rights Council.  Its seat expires in 2015.

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