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Saudis Fail in Bid for Seat on UN Human Rights Council

Saudi Arabia has lost out on its bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. In secret balloting held Tuesday for a term set to begin in January, only 90 of the 193 nations in the UN General Assembly supported Saudi membership, a drop of close to 40% from 2016, the last time Riyadh gained a seat. The kingdom was one of five countries vying for four seats open to the Asia-Pacific region. The 2018 murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate was likely a factor in the latest vote. Countries elected to a three-year term on the Geneva-based, 47-member council include China, Russia, France, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Malawi, Britain, Uzbekistan, Cuba and Bolivia. Reelected to a second term were Senegal, Nepal, Pakistan, Ukraine and Mexico. In 2018, the United States abruptly quit the council, charging chronic bias against Israel and an absence of reforms. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to Tuesday’s vote in a statement by saying: “The UN General Assembly once again elected countries with abhorrent human rights records. These elections only further validate the US decision to withdraw and use other venues and opportunities to protect and promote universal human rights.”