Egypt wins seat on UN Human Rights Council with 173 votes

Egypt was elected to a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Friday, winning votes from 173 countries out of 193 in a ballot at the General Assembly, according to a Foreign Ministry press statement.

Egypt was one of 14 countries elected to the 47-member council in this year's ballot, with its three-year term due to start in 2017.

The 173 votes in favor of Egypt's membership placed it among the most poplar winners in the secret ballot. China received 180 votes, Japan 177, the United States 175, Rwanda 176 , the United Kingdom 173, Saudi Arabia 152, Hungary 144, and Brazil 137 votes, along with several other countries, including Croatia, South Africa, Tunisia, Brazil and Cuba.

For the first time since 2006, Russia was voted off the UNHRC, receiving only 112 votes. The Russian loss was likely due to allegations of involvement in war crimes in Syria, allegations that Russia strongly denies.

Several human rights organizations urged countries not to vote for Russia and Saudi Arabia because of their military actions in Yemen and Syria.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said that Egypt's membership emphasizes international appreciation for "the nation's peaceful political process, which is steadily moving forward to build a modern civil state that respects human rights, democracy and laws, ​​despite the critical situation that has been experienced by the region and its local and regional challenges."

"Egypt's membership comes concurrently with its membership with the Security Council and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, which reflects the senior position and growing faith in Egypt at the international level, and it confirms its leading role in promoting security and stability in the Middle East and Africa, along with the efforts to consolidate the principles of international law and respect for the UN Charter," said Abu Zeid.

In October 2015, Egypt officially won a two-year seat on the UN Security Council after receiving 179 votes out of 193 countries. Then in January 2016, Egypt secured a three-year membership at the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.  

Abu Zeid pointed out that Egypt appreciates the support shown by all nations that voted for its membership of the UNHRC, and that the nation is looking forward to participating in the body's work and making improvements in a spirit of "coordination and cooperation".

He said Egypt is keen to "develop the international human rights system through a comprehensive vision and an integrated perspective that doesn't stand only at developing political and civil freedoms, but extends to the economic and social rights sought by the nations, taking into account the challenges of internal and regional circumstances of each state."

He added that membership of the UNHRC represents a starting point for the country's endeavors to redress the disastrous humanitarian consequences of the acute conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, with their effects on innocent civilians and violations of human rights.

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