Latvia in the elected UN system bodies

16.08.2016. 18:05

UN system encompasses the UN principal organs, subsidiary bodies, specialised agencies, programmes and funds, as well as related organizations. Organizational chart of the UN system.

Broader representation in the elected bodies of international organizations is a prerequisite for the implementation of interests of Latvia’s foreign policy. Active participation in the work of international organizations also contributes to the awareness of state. 

Currently Latvia has been elected as a member to the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development, UN Statistical Commission, as well as Council of UNESCO International Bureau of Education and UNESCO Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication. More

United Nations Human Rights Council 

On 21 October, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly, with 175 votes, elected Latvia to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council (the Council) for a period of three years starting in 2015. This is the first time that Latvia has been elected to the Council, which is the most important UN body in the field of human rights. As of 1 January 2015, the fifteen countries elected in this round of voting have begun work at the Council. They are Albania, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Congo, El Salvador, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Paraguay, Portugal, and Qatar.

Election to the Council is recognition of Latvia’s achievements in the field of human rights at the national and international level. The protection of human rights is one of Latvia’s priorities, and this is reflected in active participation in the work of international organisations. Voluntary pledges and commitments of Latvia (English;French).

Membership in the Council will offer Latvia an opportunity to make contributions to seeing that human rights and fundamental freedoms are observed throughout the world. Latvia will be giving its staunch support in favour of the independence and effectiveness of UN human rights mechanisms. Serving on the Council, Latvia will promote its priorities in the realm of human rights including women’s rights and gender equality, freedom of speech in (and that includes freedom of speech online), as well as increasing the involvement of civil society. Latvia will continue its annual initiative – calling upon the UN member states to issue a standing invitation to UN rapporteurs, experts and working groups, or the so-called “special procedures”, as well as sustaining an open dialogue and constructive cooperation with the holders of the respective mandates.

The Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations. The Council has 47 members elected by the UNGA for a three-year term, and the distribution of the seats is as follows: 13 seats allotted to the African States Group; 7 for the Western European and Other States Group; 13 for the Asia-Pacific Group; 8 for the Latin American and Caribbean Group; 6 for the Eastern European Group. Latvia is working in the Eastern European Group.

The Council was created on 15 March 2006, replacing the UN Human Rights Commission. Latvia was represented on the UN Human Rights Commission from 1999 to 2001.

UN Human Rights Committee

On 23 June 2016 in New York, Ilze Brands-Kehris was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Committee for the term 2017-2020. This is the first time that a representative from Latvia was a candidate for a post on the committee and Ilze Brands-Kehris is the first expert from the Baltic States who will work on the UN Human Right Committee.

Ilze Brands-Kehris is a human rights expert with more than twenty years of experience. Over this time, she has occupied important posts such as Director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights (2002-2011), Chairperson of the Management Board of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (2010-2012), and Director of the Office of OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities in The Hague (2011-2014). Ilze Brands-Kehris is currently Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University, New York, on Conflict Prevention and Human Rights, Including Minority Rights.

The Human Rights Committee is composed of 18 independent human rights experts. The UNHRC works in the format of annual sessions in Geneva. The main task of the independent experts is to supervise the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in its States Parties. The States Parties to the Covenant are expected to submit regular reports, usually once in four years. The Covenant took effect in 1976 and has been currently ratified by 169 States Parties. Latvia acceded to the Covenant on 14 April 1992. 

Functional Commissions of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Functional Commissions are subsidiary bodies of ECOSOC mandated to address specific topics of ECOSOC agenda. The subsidiary bodies of ECOSOC play important role in ensuring that the development agenda coincides with the interests of the UN member states.

On 8 April, 2015 Latvia was elected to serve on the UN Statistical Commission  from 2016 to 2019. This is the first time that Latvia has been elected to the Commission. Aija Žīgure, Head of the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, represents Latvia at the Statistical Commission.

The Commission is the highest decision-making body of the global statistical system. It coordinates international cooperation in international statistical activities especially the setting of statistical standarts, the development of concepts and methods and their implementation at the national and international level. The Commission brings together the Chief Statisticians from member states around the world.

The Commission was established in 1947, and is one of the functional commissions of ECOSOC. It consists of 24 member countries which are elected on the basis of an equitable geographical distribution (5 members from African States; 4 members from Asian States; 4 members from Eastern European States, 4 members from Latin American and Caribbean States and 7 members from Western European and other States). The term of office of members is four years. The working sessions of the Commission take place annually.

Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) consists of 43 Members. CSTD acts as forum for examining science and technology questions and their implications for development, it also mandated to review of progress in the implementation and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) as well as addressing the substantive themes of development oriented policies for information society, science, technology and research. Latvia has been an elected member of the CSTD since 2007 and has been re-elected at the elections in April 2014 for the term 2015-2018. Membership in the CSTD gives the opportunity to participate in the decision making process on development of the latest and the most effective information technologies. Latvia attaches great importance to the information technologies and science in order to achieve development goals.

UNESCO International Bureau of Education 

On 14 November 2013, during the 37th session of the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris, Latvia has been elected to the Council of the International Bureau of Education (IBE). Latvia participates in the IBE Council in a period of time when the Millennium Development Goals and the objectives of the international action plan „Education for All” have been reviewed, the Sustainable Development Goals have been adopted as well as Latvia's first presidency of the Council of the European Union was held in 2015. This enables Latvia to contribute to the formulation of the future education strategy, which is driving force for a balanced development of society, environment and economy.

Latvia also worked on the UNESCO’s IBE Council from 2007 to 2009.

The International Bureau of Education was established in 1925 and integrated into UNESCO, the IBE is a UNESCO institution specializing in the area of curriculum development and implementation.

International Programme for the Development of Communication

On 12 November 2015, during the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris, Latvia has been elected to the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) for the term 2016 - 2020. Ms. Sanita Jemberga, the Head of the board of the Latvian Journalism Association, represents Latvia at the Council.

IPDC is the only multilateral forum – intergovernmental programme for media development.

The IPDC’s main priorities are: supporting media pluralism and independence,  promoting social media, capacity building for journalists and developing cross-cultural dialogue among journalists.IPDC carries out its mandate through the funding and implementation of media development projects which are approved annually. Particular attention is always given to proposals from least developed countries, as well as those in conflict or post-conflict situations. The funding of the programme is provided by the voluntary contributions from donor states. It’s important that the financial support of IPDC is not linked to any specific donor state and therefore the independence of media is guaranteed.

An Intergovernmental Council composed of 39 member states is elected by UNESCO's General Conference. 

The Council normally meets in a regular plenary session once every two years. Extraordinary sessions may be convened as specified in the Council’s Rules of Procedure.