Germany Serving on UN Human Rights Council
Enlarge image The Human Rights Council is headquartered in Geneva. (© UN Photo) On January 1 Germany started its new term as a member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (UN). The organization reviews the human rights situation in UN member countries. Germany’s election by the General Assembly on November 12, 2012, for the term 2013‑2015 was described by Foreign Minister Westerwelle as “a token of confidence in our country and a tribute to our consistent stand on human rights around the world.”
Protecting human rights is a key priority for German foreign policy. The Human Rights Council is the leading UN organ for addressing these concerns. Germany has actively supported the work of the Human Rights Council from the outset, and from 2006 to 2009 served on the Council as one of its founding members.
The 47 seats on the Human Rights Council are allocated strictly by region: Africa and Asia have 13 seats each, Latin America eight seats, the Western European and Other States Group seven and Eastern Europe six. Terms on the Council run for three years, and one‑third of the seats come up for election each year.
Priorities for Germany’s new term
Germany has identified economic and social human rights as priorities for its new term. Economic and social human rights must be given just as much attention as political and civil rights, Foreign Minister Westerwelle emphasized. "Only people who do not live in fear of hunger, thirst or illness can enjoy true freedom and take responsibility for their lives," he explained. Enlarge image Children play in a camp for Syrian refugees on the Syrian-Turkish border. (© picture alliance / dpa) Germany will also focus on ensuring better protection for children all over the world. As a member of the UN Security Council in 2011 and 2012, Germany had campaigned actively as chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict for the rights of children in situations of armed conflict. It plans to build on this work also during its Human Rights Council term.
The Human Rights Council is the successor to the Commission on Human Rights. It was established in response to recommendations by then UN Secretary‑General Kofi Annan designed to reform and strengthen UN protection for human rights. The Human Rights Council has the same status as the UN General Assembly committees and reports directly to the General Assembly. The Council’s headquarters is in Geneva.