Swiss human rights expert joins UN panel

Kälin is the first Swiss to be voted onto the UN committee Keystone

The Swiss human rights expert, Walter Kälin, has been voted onto a prominent United Nations human rights committee.

This content was published on September 10, 2002 - 07:58

The vote was held in New York, one day before Switzerland becomes a full member of the United Nations on September 10.

Kälin, who is a professor of human rights and international law at Bern University, received 131 out of 143 votes.

The Swiss ambassador to the UN, Jenö Staehlin, welcomed the decision taken on Monday night. "We are very pleased about the outcome," said Staehlin.

The committee is made up of 18 members and meets three times a year at the UN headquarters in New York and Geneva.

The panel monitors and interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, considered by many scholars and international lawyers to be one of the most important international human rights treaties.

It states that all peoples have the right to life, liberty, security and self-determination. It also prohibits torture, cruel or degrading punishment or advocacy of national, racial and religious hatred.

"For the first time, Switzerland has a representative in the heart of the Human Rights Committee," said a Swiss foreign ministry spokesman.

To date, 148 states have joined the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Switzerland ratified it in 1992.

According to the Swiss foreign ministry this is the first time that a Swiss national has been voted onto the UN committee.

swissinfo with agencies

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