YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Official Yerevan claimed on Friday a major foreign policy success–after Armenia’s election the previous day to the influential UN Commission on Human Rights. The foreign ministry cheered the vote by the panel’s parent body–the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)–saying it was a sign of the country’s growing international standing. The buoyant mood was reinforced by the defeat of arch-rival Azerbaijan–which contested the same seat with Armenia.
"Armenia regards this election as a vote of confidence on the part of the international community and appreciation of Armenia’s progress in democratization and protection of human rights in the international arena," Deputy Foreign Minister Tatul Markarian told RFE/RL. He said the move places on Yerevan an additional obligation to have a "clean human rights record.
The ECOSOC made the choice as part of elections or re-elections of 14 members of the 53-member human rights body. Armenia and Croatia secured two vacant seats reserved for Eastern Europe–getting 30 and 38 votes respectively. The two other contenders–Latvia and Azerbaijan–got only 24 and 14 votes.
In a surprise election setback–the United States was voted off the Geneva-based body–losing the seat it had held ever since the commission was set up in 1947. The US defeat–deplored by leading international human rights groups–contrasted with the election of other several nations with an extremely poor rights record. Some of them – Sudan–Sierra Leone–Togo and Uganda – were described by Human Rights Watch as a "rogue gallery of human rights abusers."