By the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia
October 22, 2014
On 21 October, the United Nations General Assembly, with 175 votes, elected Latvia to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council (the Council) for a period of three years starting in 2015. This is the first time that Latvia has been elected to the Council, which is the most important UN body in the field of human rights. As of 1 January 2015, the fifteen countries elected in this round of voting will begin work at the Council. They are Albania, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Congo, El Salvador, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Paraguay, Portugal, and Qatar.
Election to the Council is recognition of Latvia’s achievements in the field of human rights at the national and international level. The protection of human rights is one of Latvia’s priorities, and this is reflected in active participation in the work of international organisations.
Membership in the Council will offer Latvia an opportunity to make contributions to seeing that human rights and fundamental freedoms are observed throughout the world. Latvia will be giving its staunch support in favour of the independence and effectiveness of UN human rights mechanisms. Serving on the Council, Latvia will promote its priorities in the realm of human rights including women’s rights and gender equality, freedom of speech in (and that includes freedom of speech online), as well as increasing the involvement of civil society. Latvia will continue its annual initiative – calling upon the UN member states to issue a standing invitation to UN rapporteurs, experts and working groups, or the so-called “special procedures”, as well as sustaining an open dialogue and constructive cooperation with the holders of the respective mandates.
The Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations. The Council has 47 members elected by the UNGA for a three-year term, and the distribution of the seats is as follows: 13 seats allotted to the African States Group; 7 for the Western European and Other States Group; 13 for the Asia-Pacific Group; 8 for the Latin American and Caribbean Group; 6 for the Eastern European Group. Latvia is working in the Eastern European Group.
The Council was created on 15 March 2006, replacing the UN Human Rights Commission. Latvia was represented on the UN Human Rights Commission from 1999 to 2001.