Spain, new member of the United Nations Human Rights Council

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Spain, new member of the United Nations Human Rights Council

UN Secretary-General António Guterres (right) and Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ildefonso Castro (left) shake hands at the UN headquarters on 16 October 2017. Photo: EFE/Miguel Rajmil. (EFE)
UN Secretary-General António Guterres (right) and Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ildefonso Castro (left) shake hands at the UN headquarters on 16 October 2017. Photo: EFE/Miguel Rajmil. (EFE)

Spain’s unrelenting struggle for human rights and democracy has earned our country endorsement from the international community to secure one of the two places available at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the 2018-2020 period.

In a vote held at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 16 October, our country got support from 180 of the 193 members. The other place will be taken by Australia in the Western Europe and Others Regional Group.

Thus, as of 1 January 2018, Spain will once again be part of the world’s most relevant human rights body, as we did before, from 2010 to 2013.

In 2015 and 2016, Spain was a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Based on this experience, the Spanish Government showed an interest in being a member of the UNHRC. To this end, it launched ‘Dignity, Universality, Cooperation and Efficiency’, and the campaign bore fruit.

The promotion and protection of human rights has been a priority of the Spanish foreign policy and international cooperation activities in the last years, aimed at ensuring peace and security around the world.

Spain’s Human Rights Programme focuses on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, dialogue for sustainable development, and cooperation for efficiency. Accordingly, our country has carried out initiatives against the death penalty, for the rights of people with disabilities, to promote economic rights, and to fight racism, xenophobia and hate crimes.

Women, peace and security: three pillars of Spain’s foreign policy

Some of the highlights of Spain’s actions at UNSC took place during our country’s presidency of this body; for instance, the approval of Resolution 1325 (a landmark resolution on women, peace and security), and Resolution 2331, against human trafficking.

In addition, our country made the voices of victims of terrorism heard at the UN, based on the valuable experience of our 50 years’ history fighting terror. In fact, the fight against international terrorism was one of Spain’s priority during our UNSC presidency, as reflected in the adoption of Resolution 2322, on judicial cooperation against terrorism, and Resolution 2325, on the non-proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, both sponsored by our Government.

In addition, Spain contributed to advancements in humanitarian aid, co-sponsoring Resolution 2286, condemning attacks against medical facilities and personnel in situations of armed conflict, signed with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

At the domestic level, the Government of Spain has recently approved the 1st National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and the 2nd National Plan on Women, Peace and Security.