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Fijian diplomat serving in Geneva, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan has been elected President of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in a secret ballot Friday.
All 47 members of the Geneva-based human rights body cast their vote to appoint its president for 2021 – the Council’s 15th annual cycle.
Ambassador Khan is Fiji’s Permanent Representative of the Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva. She will preside over the UN body for 2021.
Her presidency takes effect immediately and joins the Ambassadors of the Bahamas, Sudan and Netherlands, who were elected vice-presidents of the Council in December, to serve on the Council Bureau for the current year. The election of the fourth vice-president, from the Eastern European Group, will take place following negotiations within the Group.
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama welcomed Ambassador Khan’s election as a victory for the basic rights of all climate-vulnerable people.
“The Fijian Government’s fundamental assurance of equality for all Fijians placed human rights at the heart of our national development, leading to rapid progress at instituting rights-based protections and our historic position as the first Pacific Island Country on the Human Rights Council.
“Fiji’s leadership of the Council comes at a critical time for humanity, as the climate emergency threatens human rights on a global and generational scale, and Ambassador Khan is well-suited to help steer our international community towards a future of justice, decency and dignity for all peoples,” said Prime Minister Bainimarama.
The other two candidates for the position of President of the Human Rights Council, coming from the Asia-Pacific Group of States, were Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri, Permanent Representative of Bahrain, and Ulugbek Lapasov, Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan. Ambassador Khan received the highest number of votes, securing 29 votes; Ambassador Bucheeri with 14 votes; and Ambassador Lapasov with 4 votes.
The Fijian Government welcomes the appointment of Ambassador Khan, and wishes her a successful presidency.
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