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Argentina will hold rotating presidency of the United Nations Human Rights Council

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Argentina will hold the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (UN) presidency. This Monday, the 47 countries that make up the Council will vote to elect Argentina after the nomination was made by the Latin American and Caribbean nations.

The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the United Nations system composed of 47 States responsible for promoting and protecting all human rights worldwide. Until 2019 Argentina held the vice presidency and was one of the eight countries representing the American continent until this year. The others are the Bahamas, Uruguay, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, and Mexico.

Read also: Check out our coverage on Argentina

This Council, created on March 15, 2006, can discuss the various thematic issues related to human rights and situations that require its attention throughout the year. The Council’s Bureau comprises five persons – a president and four vice-presidents – representing the five regional groups. They serve for one year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle. In 2022 it is Latin America’s turn to serve as chair.

In Geneva this Monday, Federico Villegas Beltrán, Argentine ambassador to international organizations, will closely follow the development of the session (Photo internet reproduction)

Although there was initially caution in the Argentine Foreign Ministry led by Santiago Cafiero, however, the vote in Switzerland will be by “acclamation”, and it will be the first time that Argentina occupies a role that represents a political triumph for Alberto Fernández, who recently failed in his attempt to lead CELAC (Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States) after the replacement of Felipe Solá as Minister of Foreign Affairs. On that occasion, Solá found out that he had been removed from his post in the middle of his flight to Mexico and decided not to participate in the Summit of that organization. Therefore Mexico postponed the decision to appoint a new head.

In Geneva this Monday, Federico Villegas Beltrán, Argentine ambassador to international organizations, will closely follow the development of the session. A career diplomat, he was ambassador to Mozambique during the presidency of Mauricio Macri, and now, if elected, he will chair the Council.

Villegas Beltrán, if elected, will be closer to Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, who serves as UN High Commissioner. One of the objectives of the Frente de Todos government has been to stay in tune with Bachelet’s initiatives. Villegas Beltrán would replace Fiji’s Nazhat Shameem Khan as president.

Argentina during Macri’s government in 2019 had decided not to be in the fray that would allow it to remain within the Council, where mandates are extended for three years, and no more than two consecutive terms are allowed. Three seats are renewed every year on a partial basis. With the inauguration of Alberto Fernández, the strategy changed, and now Argentina will remain together with Honduras and Paraguay in the 2022-2024 triennium.

It was GRULAC, an inter-parliamentary group of 32 Latin American and Caribbean nations, headed by Paraguayan Senator Blas Llano, which proposed that Argentina accede to the Council’s presidency, representing the region.

How did Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua support Argentina’s nomination? Because Argentine diplomacy moved its cards in search of political support. For example, the donation of vaccines for several countries in Central America and the Caribbean. In the last few days, 2,000 doses were sent to Dominica, 18,000 to St. Lucia, 30,000 to Barbados, 11,000 to Grenada, and another 11,000 to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for distribution Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Nicaragua will soon join the list.

In October of this year, the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega had stopped Alberto Fernández from becoming president of CELAC with its negative vote. Even though Argentina in the UN always condemned the reports on human rights violations in the Central American country, it obtained his support.

The Argentine government had expressed before the United Nations (UN) last June 22 its “concern” for the “human rights situation in Nicaragua”, particularly for “the arrests of political figures of the opposition”, a measure which it requested “to be reconsidered by the Nicaraguan authorities”.

This was expressed by the Argentine representative, Federico Villegas Beltrán, in the framework of the 47th period of sessions of the Human Rights Council, with headquarters in the city of Geneva, in which the update of the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, was discussed.

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