File Photo: UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva (Photo: AFP)
Egypt secured on Thursday membership in the United Nations’ main human rights body, the UN's Human Rights Council (UNHRC), for the period 2017-2021.
In statements to the state-owned MENA agency, Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid explained that the mid-term elections for the UNHRC replaced nine countries out of a total of 18 member-countries.
Abu Zeid said that 26 countries competed for the nine seats, describing the elections as "intense."
He added that ambassador Ahmed Fathallah will be representing Egypt in the council.
Established in March 2006, the council consists of 47 member-states, which are elected directly and individually in a secret ballot by the General Assembly.
According to the council's website, the council "provides a forum for identifying, highlighting and developing responses to today's human rights challenges, and acts as the principal focal point of human rights research, education, public information and advocacy activities in the United Nations system."
Abu Zeid said that winning the seat in this "important council" reflects the trust of the international community in Egypt and its commitment to international agreements.
"It is a powerful message to those who doubted Egypt's loyalty to its international and constitutional commitments to human rights," Abu Zeid said.
Egypt's has been facing domestic and international criticism over what rights groups and media outlets have described as human rights abuses and a clampdown on press freedom.
Cairo has described these criticisms as politically motivated.
Egypt currently holds a non-permanent seat on the UN's Security Council.