Thai diplomat chosen as next head of UN Human Rights Council

Amb. Sihasak Phuangketkeow of Thailand, president of the 47-member body

21 June 2010 – Thailand’s Ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva was today named as the newest President of the UN Human Rights Council, the panel established in 2006 to tackle human rights violations worldwide.

Sihasak Phuangketkeow becomes the fifth president of the 47-member Council, which replaced the earlier UN Commission on Human Rights that was scrapped amid concerns about its effectiveness. He was the candidate of the panel’s Asian members.

Mr. Phuangketkeow told the Council today in Geneva that he wanted to concentrate over the next year on how members can use their “rich diversity” to forge a more united agenda on key human rights issues.

Council members “need to draw synergy from such diversity, recognizing that human rights are indeed universal, indivisible and interdependent, and recognizing… that we all share a common stake in the credibility and effectiveness of the Council as a whole,” he said.

Mr. Phuangketkeow succeeds Alex van Meeuwen of Belgium as the Council’s President.

Meanwhile, on Friday the Council appointed several new special rapporteurs who will focus on monitoring human rights as they relate to certain issues or countries.

Christof Heyns becomes the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, succeeding Philip Alston; Heiner Bielefeldt replaces Asma Jahangir as the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; and Kishore Singh takes over from Vernor Muñoz Villalobos as the Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

Calin Georgescu is now Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, succeeding Okechukwu Ibeanu; Fatsah Ouguergouz replaces Akich Okola as the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi; and Marzuki Darusman is the new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), taking over from Vitit Muntarbhorn.

Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts report to the Human Rights Council and serve in both an independent and unpaid capacity.


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