San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica beats out Nicaragua for spot on UN Human Rights Council

Four Latin American countries competed for three seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council, an institution headquartered in Geneva and responsible for strengthening and promoting respect for human rights in the world. After the 191-member countries voted, Costa Rica, Chile and Peru were named members of the council last Friday. Nicaragua received the last votes of the four Latin American countries in the running.

The three qualifying countries will begin their terms in late June.

Nicaragua’s has been criticized for its low level of respect for human rights, and its attempt to become a member of the council had been seen as a joke by dissenters.

In Nicaragua activists raised voices in recent days against the candidacy of the country, and the executive director of the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center, Marling Sierra, considered the country’s nomination a “mockery.” He pointed out that the government of President Daniel Ortega has not even complied with part of the 109 recommendations made in 2010 for Nicaragua by the council.

Following the vote, the Latin American group Human Rights Council made up of Cuba, Mexico and Uruguay until 2012, Ecuador and Guatemala until 2013, and Chile, Costa Rica and Peru, 2014. Costa Rica’s UN Ambassador Eduardo Ulibarri outlined the country’s measured approach to joining the council.

“We are also determined to be active in going against any gross aggression against human rights throughout the world, regardless of the kind of political regime that commits those aggressions,” said Ulibarri, according to the Voice of America news. “And at the same time, we think that it is very important to have a constructive approach in the council in the sense of trying to promote, for example, human rights education and training throughout the world, and also helping those countries who want to improve their standards and their record in human rights to build their own capacities in order to move forward in that direction.”

The Latin American and the Caribbean and Eastern Europe were the only two regions to have contested seats. Czech Republic and Romania won spots over Georgia for Eastern Europe group.

The UN General Assembly created the Human Rights Council in 2006, and the organization intends to improve human rights throughout the world, while also addressing human rights violations. However, some of the countries on the council have poor records of their own on human rights.

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