SLOVAKIA is now a member of an international body founded to fight racism and discrimination, and protect the rights of women, children and national minorities. Slovakia gained a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council after 135 UN member countries voted in favour of its candidacy during the 62nd UN General Assembly session on May 21 in New York.
Slovakia vied with Ukraine and Serbia for two vacant posts within the Central and Eastern European regional group. Ukraine was also elected.
Slovakia's term of office will last three years: from June 2008 to June 2011. At present, the European Union is represented on the council by seven of its member states.
It will be Slovakia's first time as a member of this United Nations body, responsible for monitoring the protection of human rights worldwide.
"I consider this a high appreciation of our work," Minister of Foreign Affairs Ján Kubiš told the financial daily Hospodárske Noviny.
"As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the period 2006-2007, Slovakia supported the idea of creating the Human Rights Council to strengthen the mechanism of protection of human rights within the UN", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
"During its membership Slovakia wants to play a positive and constructive role in the development and protection of human rights", Ján Škoda, the ministry's spokesman, told The Slovak Spectator. "We are convinced that the council should respond promptly to all cases of serious and systematic violation of human rights regardless of where they happen."
According to its official press release, Slovakia will make efforts to achieve concrete improvements and progress in human rights protection on the ground.
The UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, has 47 member countries elected proportionally from all regions of the world. All members are elected for a fixed term.
The council has introduced a new system of regular evaluation of human rights, within which the level of human rights protection in all the UN's 192 member countries should be assessed on a regular basis.
26. May 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled from reports and an interview with the Foreign Ministry by Spectator staff.