On May 13, 2010, the UN General Assembly will elect 14 of the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council.
Demand improvements by Human Rights Council candidates

As a coalition of human rights nongovernmental organizations from around the world, we urge UN members to only elect states to the council that meet basic human rights criteria. This year, the complete absence of competition for the available seats deprives UN member states of the opportunity to select the best candidates.

However, each candidate still needs 97 affirmative votes (a majority of UN members) to be elected, meaning that even states running on “clean slates” are not assured of election. States should cast their votes only for those candidates that will commit to the human rights standards expected of council members.

On that basis we have chosen to highlight Angola, Libya, Malaysia, Thailand, and Uganda, and urge UN member states to seek specific human rights improvements from these states before deciding whether to vote to elect them to the council:


  • immediately cease forced evictions without adequate compensation
  • pass necessary regulations to fully implement the 2006 press law
  • release human rights defenders charged for state security crimes in Cabinda province
  • cease mass deportations of foreign migrants
  • Letter

  • reveal the fate of hundreds who were “disappeared” and prosecute those responsible
  • release hundreds of Abu Salim prisoners who completed their sentences or were acquitted
  • repeal laws that criminalize freedom of expression and association
  • ratify the UN Refugees Convention and cease mistreatment of migrants
  • Letter

  • immediately end the use of all preventive detention laws
  • repeal laws that violate rights to free expression and academic freedom
  • ratify major human rights treaties
  • accept requests for visits from eight council rights experts
  • Letter

  • fully investigate the past deaths of 20 human rights defenders
  • conduct effective investigations into serious abuses in the south
  • lift press censorship, and repeal the Computer Crimes Act and other restrictions on the right to freedom of expression
  • accept requests for visits from nine council rights experts
  • Letter

  • make torture a domestic criminal offense
  • allow the Uganda Human Rights Commission and independent NGOs access to all detainees
  • withdraw pending bills that would unduly restrict print media and NGOs, permit forced HIV testing, and criminalize consensual same-sex practices
  • actively cooperate with the ICC and other international investigations of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity
  • Letter

Widely criticized for the following abuses, Iran withdrew its candidacy for the council on April 23, 2010. International pressure on Iran to withdraw in advance of the actual vote was strengthened by the competition for the available seats from the Asia regional group, demonstrating the importance of competitive elections for the council.

  • systematic discrimination against women
  • execution of juveniles, execution by stoning, and public executions
  • torture, rape, flogging, amputations, and forced confessions of detainees
  • jailing of journalists and massive restrictions on freedom of expression
  • repression of trade unions
  • arbitrary arrest and detention and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders
African Democracy Forum
Human Rights Watch