UN Human Rights Council elects Nazhat Shameem Khan as its president

Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations’ Nazhat Shameem Khan amassed 29 out of 47 votes in an unprecedented secret ballot to be elected the UN Human Rights Council president for 2021.

She amassed the most votes ousting the permanent representatives of Bahrain and Uzbekistan, Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri on 14 votes and Ulugbek Lapasov with four votes respectively.

However, her election did not come easy nor did it follow the usual process, after China and others reportedly blocked her candidature, prompting a secret ballot process, a first in the council’s 15-year history.

It is understood that the council’s presidency, which rotates each year between regions, is agreed by consensus within each regional group. This year was to be the Asia-Pacific group’s time to take the helm, but because they could not reach an agreement on their candidate, the council had to carry out a secret ballot to pick its president.

In a statement, the HRC said Khan joins ambassadors Keva Lorraine Bain of the Bahamas, Ali Ibn Abi Talib Abdelrahman Mahmoud of the Sudan and Monique T.G. van Daalen of the Netherlands, who were elected as Council vice-presidents, to serve on the Council Bureau for the current year.  The HRC said the election of the fourth vice-president, from the Eastern European Group, will take place following negotiations within the Group.

Khan has been serving as Fiji’s PR to the UN since 2014.  

Photo: Courtesy of Fijian Government

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