Iran has criticized the re-election of Saudi Arabia to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
A Sunday report by the official IRNA news agency quotes Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi as saying that the election is, “the best indication that human rights is merely in direction of political interests.”
Regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic relations and support opposite sides in conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Iraq, Egypt, China, Brazil, Rwanda, Hungary, Cuba, South Africa, Japan, Tunisia, the U.S. and U.K. also won seats Friday on the council.
Human rights groups had called on countries to reject the candidacy of Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Yemen. A Saudi-led military coalition is battling Iran-backed Shiite rebels there.
Russia on the other hand lost its seat on the main United Nations body devoted to human rights , signaling international dismay over the military power’s conduct in Syria.
In the contested races, Russia’s loss was the most significant.
It was the first time a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council had lost a seat on the Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental body established in 2006 to strengthen “the promotion and protection of human rights.” The Council’s 47 members are elected for three year terms by the entire 193-member General Assembly.
The UNHRC addresses mostly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and occasionally addresses rights-related situations in countries such as in Myanmar, Guinea, North Korea, Côte d’Ivoire, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Libya, Iran, and Sri Lanka.
The UNHRC also addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.