UN General Assembly elects members to human rights body

09:41, May 14, 2010      

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A delegate casts his vote during a meeting to reelect new members of the UN Human Rights Council at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, on May 13, 2010. The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday voted in 14 new members to the world organization's leading human rights body. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday voted in 14 new members to the world body's leading human rights body.

The 47-member Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, reflects the UN geographic composition, and seats are allotted by region. But for the first time, each UN geographical region has put forward "clean slates" with only as many candidates as vacancies.

Human rights groups have expressed concern about the lack of choice going into the elections. The election process has been criticized as deteriorating as fewer states have competed each year.

For the four available seats representing Asia, only four countries ran and therefore "won": Malaysia, Maldives, Qatar and Thailand.

In April, Iran dropped its bid for a seat to represent Asia after enduring heavy criticism in February at the council's first review meeting over its handling of human rights. Global opposition and international pressure, say human rights groups, can lead to the defeat of nations with poor human rights records, as happened to Belarus in 2007, Sri Lanka in 2008, and Azerbaijan in 2009.

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