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On May 17, the United Nations General Assembly rejected a bid by Belarus, which has an appalling human rights record, for a seat on the Human Rights Council, signaling that the rights records of Council members matter. Working with a global coalition of nongovernmental organizations, Human Rights Watch led efforts to oppose the Belarus candidacy through behind-the-scenes meetings and public advocacy. Many observers had argued that it would be almost impossible to defeat the candidacy of Belarus. The campaign’s success gave comfort to beleaguered civil society in Belarus, made it less likely that abusive governments would put themselves forward to join the Council in the future, and strengthened the Council itself. We will continue to press for more competitive HRC elections to make it easier to defeat countries with poor human rights records.

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