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New York, May 21 2008  2:02PM Fifteen countries from around the world have been elected to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) for three-year terms starting next month after one round of balloting today among Member States at UN Headquarters in New York.

Zambia, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Gabon were chosen in that order to fill the four vacant African seats on the 47-member panel, according to a formula that allots seats among regions.

The three seats up for grabs in the Latin America and the Caribbean region – successful candidates in each category must obtain an absolute majority of valid votes cast by the 192 General Assembly members – went to Chile, Brazil and Argentina.

In the Eastern European category, Slovakia and Ukraine won the two available seats, while Serbia was unsuccessful.

Six countries contested the four positions distributed to Asian States, with Japan, Bahrain, the Republic of Korea and Pakistan winning the most votes to join the panel, and Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste missing out.

The closest contest occurred in the race for the two vacant seats in the Western European and Other States category. France scored 123 votes and the United Kingdom picked up 120, edging out Spain, which garnered 119 votes.

General Assembly spokesperson Janos Tisovszky told reporters that there were 190 valid votes and two invalid votes in the Western European and Other States category. Ten of the valid votes cast were abstentions.

Some of the successful candidates today had been due to retire on 19 June, when their current term on the HRC expires – they were Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, Ukraine, Brazil, France and the United Kingdom.

Under Council rules, members serve for three-year periods and cannot run for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms. Overall, the 47 members include 13 from Africa, 13 from Asia, six from Eastern Europe, eight from Latin America and the Caribbean, and seven from Western Europe and Other States.

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