Last Monday, the UN General Assembly in New York elected by secret ballot 18 member states to serve on the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Contrary to expectations, the United States received 131 votes, Germany 127 and Ireland 124. Others elected are Argentina, Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Montenegro, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea (south Korea), Sierra Leone, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. From the elected countries, Cote d’Ivoire, Estonia, Ethiopia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Montenegro, Sierra Leone, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela are on the HRC for the first time. Whilst United States has been re-elected, Argentina, Brazil, Gabon, Germany, Japan, Pakistan and South Korea served non-consecutive terms.

Besides these countries, continuing as HRC members are Angola, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chile, Republic of Congo, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritania, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Qatar, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand and Uganda.

China, Russia and Cuba, all three who were close allies of Sri Lanka, will not be members next year. This is at a time when Sri Lanka is expected to face serious issues at the March 2013 sessions in the light of last year’s US-backed resolution. That issues related to the session are receiving Washington’s attention is underscored by the visit to Colombo this week by Alyssa Ayres, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department. She is number two to Robert Blake, who is Assistant Secretary. The only redeeming feature for the Sri Lanka, however, would be the inclusion of Pakistan as a member this time around.

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