Elections to any inter-governmental body at the United Nations are normally decided based on bilateral deals, and often not substantive considerations, let alone human rights principles. That is how Burundi was elected to the Human Rights Council while a Commission of Inquiry was investigating gross and widespread human rights violations in the country; why Russia and China have just been re-elected as members of the NGO Committee despite the limited civil society space in those countries; and why Iran was elected to the Commission on the Status of Women.

The Human Rights Likeminded Office could provide relevant information about human rights concerns to both elections officers and human rights advisers in advance of elections to any inter-governmental body addressing human rights. Normally, national interests and the better bilateral deal would still determine who a State votes for. However, for most delegations information on human rights considerations do not reach the elections officers and human rights advisers are not involved in the decision-making before the vote. HRLO could help bridge that gap, and also provide inputs on how the election of one State or another would affect the votes on a delegation's own resolutions and priority topics in that inter-governmental body, thereby adding another relevant consideration into the elections.

In addition to sharing information with elections officers and human rights advisers, HRLO could also provide training and support for election campaigns, particularly for small delegations that often do not compete. If more Likeminded delegations are encouraged to present their candidature to human rights bodies, it could contribute to a positive change in membership that would have a substantive impact on that body's outcomes.

UN Photo/Elma Okic