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At the United Nations Headquarters today, the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) scored a major diplomatic victory when it won a competitive election to the UN’s Geneva-based Human Rights Council, for a three-year term to start January 2020.
The Asia-Pacific regional group featured five candidates – RMI, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Iraq – for four seats in a hotly contested race.
RMI beat Iraq for the final seat, with a narrow two-vote victory of 123 to 121 votes.
RMI will join Pacific neighbors Australia and Fiji, who are currently serving on the 47-member Council.
In New York, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade John Silk spent three weeks after the Leaders’ Summit, working closely with over 100 other nations to secure RMI’s difficult win.
RMI had already spent a year campaigning at the UN, including a busy schedule of bilateral meetings and opening a new diplomatic mission in Geneva.
“In an atmosphere where large nations can sometimes dominate the agenda with their political muscle, I am particularly proud that RMI and the Marshallese people stood proudly on our own human rights record,” remarked Minister Silk. “We made a lot of new friends.”
“Maybe we didn’t have chocolates to give out, but we did have our story to bring to the world.
“On the Council, we will be an independent voice – a careful listener and bridge-builder, and we are also unafraid to take strong stands in the world, where it is needed.”
Minister Silk also emphasised that RMI wants to use its unique experience on complex human rights issues, such as climate change and nuclear testing impacts, to help the international body, which tries to tackle tough human rights situations around the world.
Meanwhile in Majuro, President Dr Hilda Heine congratulated Minister Silk, Ambassador Kabua, Ambassador Debrum, and everyone involved for their hard-work and endless efforts paying off.
She expressed her appreciation to all the UN member states which supported RMI, from all regions, but in particular small island states and other small and vulnerable developing countries.
Although not a UN member, RMI’s close ally Taiwan was also supportive of the effort.
“We agree the Human Rights Council has shortcomings, and sometimes has failed to be accountable, but the only way to really change that is to participate,” said President Heine.
“Building on our campaign, we will work tirelessly at the Human Rights Council to ensure the voices of the most vulnerable communities are heard, regardless of the politics.
“We will ensure that more attention is given to Small Island Developing States, and we will work with others to boost the vital role of small nations on the global stage,” she said
SOURCE: MARSHALL ISLANDS GOVT/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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