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2. The Human Rights Council as a political space

2.4 UN regional groups

First, there are the UN regional groups each of which have a fixed number of seats on the Council membership:

Regional groupings are the most fundamental within the Council. A State can only run for seats designated for that group in Council elections.

Each regional group has a State coordinator that coordinates within the group on different issues, such as presenting resolutions on behalf of the group. The role of coordinator rotates every year, and you can find out which regional group a country is in here.

The concept of a regional group position is very important because once the group adopts a position, all of its members (who are also members of the Council) are required to vote in accordance with this position. It can be very challenging for a State to go against that coordinated position due to the political repercussions.

As a result, States and civil society lobbying at the Council is regularly focused on working to create and shape a group position, or to break one.


Reflection Questions

Reflection question thought bubble

Q1. Which UN regional group is your country a member of?

For example, Saudi Arabia:

  • Is a member of the Asia-Pacific Group - there is no UN regional group specific to, for example, the Middle East and North Africa, or the Gulf region.

Q2. Look at the members of the group and identify which states are generally allies of your country? Which are more critical?

For example, Saudi Arabia:

  • Has many allies in its regional group, but close allies also often have great influence.

Q3. How might you use the regional group to influence how your country acts?

Think about:

  • How other members of the group might influence your country and how you can use that.

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