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Costa Rica loses seat on UN Human Rights Council

After the votes were tallied on Tuesday, Costa Rica ended up short the two-thirds support from the United Nations General Assembly needed to keep its seat on the Human Rights Council. Costa Rica was one of four countries running for three open seats for Latin American and Caribbean states. The Central American country that has long advocated diplomatically for global human rights issues – but which has sometimes fallen short back home – was edged out by Bolivia, El Salvador and Paraguay.

Costa Rica collected 120 votes from the U.N. General Assembly of the 129 minimum required to maintain its seat on the 47-member body. Human rights have been a banner issue for Costa Rica’s foreign policy, and President Luis Guillermo Solís urged U.N. member states to consider re-electing Costa Rica to the council during his General Assembly address in September.

“This doesn’t mean that Costa Rica will not continue fighting for its principles and values and positions when it comes to human rights. We will continue to be observers of the council and from this point of view, it’s true we don’t have a vote but we do have a voice,” said Foreign Minister Manuel González on Tuesday during a press conference at Casa Presidencial.

González said that Costa Rica was late in starting its re-election campaign toward the end of 2013, during President Laura Chinchilla’s administration (2010-2014), but added that he was pleased with the efforts of the Foreign Ministry and its missions in New York and Geneva.

Costa Rica has held a place on the Human Rights Council and its predecesor, the Human Rights Commission, nine times, the minister said.

Chile and Peru also will leave the council at the end of the year, but they were not running for re-election. Member states sit on the council for three -year terms and are not elegible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms.

During the same press conference, González addressed a call from Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA, for an emergency meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), of which Costa Rica is presidente pro tempore, to promote regional efforts against the Ebola virus, during a summit in Havana on Monday.

González said that Costa Rica has not yet received a formal request for such a meeting. The foreign minister stressed that CELAC, a loose collection of Western Hemisphere nations excluding the United States and Canada, could only issue a political statement, and that the mechanism did not have the authority to mobilize member states’ health or securities forces in response to the virus’ outbreak.

Costa Rica is not one of the nine countries that make up ALBA.

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