Saudi Arabia was elected Tuesday to the Human Rights Council, the UN’s highest rights watchdog body, for a three-year term following a secret ballot voting at the UN General Assembly in New York.
“The Kingdom, which garnered 140 votes, will begin its term in January,” said Rolando Jomez, a spokesman of the UN Human Rights Council, while speaking to Arab News, from New York.
Senior Saudi officials, especially those associated with human rights organizations, expressed joy over the news. Saleh Al-Kathlan, deputy chief of the Riyadh-based National Society of Human Rights, said: “The vote was expected in the light of the progress made by Riyadh in the field of human rights since it was first elected to that UN body in 2009.”
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Quaiyid, a member of the NSHR, said: “We are happy over the Kingdom’s election to the 47-member body whose role is to promote universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Al-Quaiyid added: “Saudi Arabia … has taken several initiatives to promote and protect human rights … this will give a chance to the Kingdom to play a global role in the domain of human rights promotion. Definitely, the country has had some grey areas as evident from our own reports, but Riyadh has addressed and will further redress all concerns.”
He said the commitment of the Saudi leadership and a set of stringent legislations to ensure protection to the life and property of its citizens and residents are major steps in this field, while referring to the creation of high-powered human rights organizations besides political and civil rights associations in Saudi Arabia during the past few years.