PRETORIA: The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, will participate in the High-Level Segment of the 49th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, from February 28 to March 2, 2022.
The High-Level Segment will afford countries, represented by Heads of State and Governments, Foreign Affairs Ministers and/or Deputy Foreign Affairs Ministers, the opportunity to address the Council on their national efforts to promote and protect human rights and international cooperation, including outlining their foreign policy approach to human rights.
On February 28, 2022, Minister Pandor will deliver South Africa’s statements at the high-level segment and on the high-level mainstreaming panel. Minister Pandor will also use the opportunity of the High-Level Segment to launch South Africa’s campaign for membership of the Human Rights Council for the period 2023–2025.
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Voluntary Trust Fund to support the participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the work of the Human Rights Council, the Annual High-Level Panel on Human Rights Mainstreaming will be held under the theme “The Contribution of Universal Participation to the Mainstreaming of Human Rights throughout the United Nations System”.
Other dignitaries expected to participate in the high-level session are: the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Abdulla Shahid; the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres; the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Frederico Villegas (Argentina); the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet; and the representative of the host country (Switzerland).
In the evening of Monday, February 28, 2022, Minister Pandor will deliver the keynote address at the event organised to launch South Africa’s campaign for membership of the Human Rights Council for the period 2023–2025.
The HRC is made up of 47 United Nations (UN) Member States. Every year, UN member states elect a third of the UNHRC members directly and individually by secret ballot for a period of three years. Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms. When electing members of the Council, the UN General Assembly considers the contribution of the candidate state to the promotion and protection of human rights and the voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.
The composition of the Council is based on equitable geographical distribution and seats are distributed as follows among regional groups: African States (13 seats), Asia-Pacific States (13 seats), Latin American and Caribbean States (8 seats), Western European and other States (7 seats), and Eastern European States (6 seats).
The thirteen (13) African States seats are occupied by: Benin (2024), Cameroon (2024), Cote d’Ivoire (2023), Eritrea (2024), Gabon (2023), Gambia (2024), Libya (2022), Malawi (2023), Mauritania (2022), Namibia (2023), Senegal (2023), Somalia (2021), and Sudan (2022). Benin covers human rights issues from Paris, with limited capacity.
Minister Pandor will also use the opportunity of her visit to Geneva to hold bilateral discussions with some of her counterparts.