Altogether 47 UN members serve on its Human Rights Council, an inter-governmental body within the UN that is charged with promoting and protecting human rights worldwide and addressing and recommending resolutions to situations of human rights violations. It was established in 2006.
All of its members are elected by the world body’s General Assembly, and it has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.
Its members are voted in annual secret balloting by the General Assembly and are distributed by geographical groups.
Latvia and Albania represent the Eastern European Group among the newly-elected members. On January 1, 2015 they will join Estonia, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Russia as the region’s members on the Council.
Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics was quick to tweet in the wake of Latvia's election to the Council:
Latvia is elected member of UN Human rights council for 2015-16, gender equality, freedom of speech in digital environment among priorities— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) October 21, 2014
Latvia will also actively use its membership in the UN Human Rights Council to advocate rights of Tatars and Ukrainians in occupied Crimea— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) October 21, 2014
Other western European members joining the Human Rights Council in Tuesday’s General Assembly election were Portugal and the Netherlands, joining France, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, who are also serving on the Council currently from this geographic group.
The full list of elected new members follows: Albania, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ghana, Latvia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Paraguay, Portugal and Qatar.
Bolivia, Botswana, Congo, India and Indonesia, whose terms were due to expire at the end of this year, were re-elected Tuesday.
Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
Those elected today will be joining in the following States who will remain on the Council: Algeria (2016); Argentina (2015); Brazil (2015); China (2016); Côte d’Ivoire (2015); Cuba (2016); Estonia (2015); Ethiopia (2015); France (2016); Gabon (2015); Germany (2015); Ireland (2015); Japan (2015); Kazakhstan (2015); Kenya (2015): Maldives (2016): Mexico (2016): Montenegro (2015); Morocco (2016); Namibia (2016); Pakistan (2015); Republic of Korea (2015); Russia (2016); Saud Arabia (2016); Sierra Leone (2015); South Africa (2016); the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2016); United Arab Emirates (2015); United Kingdom (2016); United States (2015); Venezuela (2015); and Viet Nam (2016).