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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        21  May 2011

Indonesia elected to UN rights panel

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Indonesia was among 15 nations elected on Friday to the UN Human Rights Council, despite a human rights watchdog earlier stating the country had questionable qualifications for membership.

In a General Assembly vote, Indonesia was elected along with India, the Philippines, and Kuwait, on a clean or uncontested, slate of Asian nations for three-year council terms.

Kuwait stepped into the race last week after Western countries persuaded Arab states that Syria was not a suitable candidate.

Africa and Western Europe also presented clean slates on Friday, but there were contested votes for Eastern Europe — where the Czech Republic and Romania defeated Georgia — and Latin America, where Chile and Costa Rica edged out Nicaragua.

The 47-nation Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, is the main UN body charged with monitoring member states' compliance with international rights norms.

On Thursday, UN Watch listed Indonesia, along with the Philippines, India and Burkina Faso, as having questionable qualifications, while the advocacy group said Kuwait, Nicuargua and the Congo were unqualified to sit on the UN's top human rights body.

“Unfortunately, some of the worst violators of human rights get elected” to the body, Hillel Neur, the head of UN Watch said at UN headquarters on Thursday, on the eve of the vote.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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