Abu Dhabi: The UAE on Monday won membership of the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year term starting from early 2013.

The UN vote was held via a secret ballot in the UN General Assembly, with 21 countries from 18 geographical groups vying for 18 vacant seats.

The UAE received 184 votes, the second highest tally among the 18 winners and the highest among the winning Asian countries — Kazakhstan, Japan, Korea and Pakistan.

Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, minister of state for foreign affairs, welcomed the the UAE victory. “The win crowned a series of achievements made by the UAE in its human rights record over the recent years, particularly in areas of legislations to uphold and protect fundamental freedoms and legal rights of individuals, rights of women and children and advanced regulations on rights of foreign workforce,” he said.

“The UAE win of the seat for the next three years will lay on our shoulders additional onus and commitment to stay our course firmly consistent with constitutional principles on which the UAE state is built and which places respect for human rights at the top of national priorities,” he said. The achievement highlighted the values and culture of the UAE which are based on tolerance, openness, justice, equality and human dignity, he added.

Ahmad Abdul Rahman Al Jarman, the UAE’s permanent representative to the United Nations, expressed his delight at the election and at the strong support lent to the UAE by the members of the UN Human Rights Council. He said the win further consolidates the UAE’s stature on the international scene and recognises its honourable human rights record.

Al Jarman said the UAE government had always updated its laws and systems to support human rights and keep abreast of the latest regional and international best practices. The UAE had not only made strenuous efforts to combat human trafficking within its borders but also partnered with other countries and regional and international organisations to tackle it on a bigger scale, he added.

The UN Human Right Council consists of 47 UN member states which are elected directly based on the majority they secure within the General Assembly.