First Czech in history to become UN Human Rights Council president

Václav Bálek will become president from January next year for a period of 12 months. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 10.12.2022 08:30:00 (updated on 09.12.2022) Reading time: 1 minute

The Czech Foreign Ministry today announced a historic moment for Czech politics: for the first time in history, a Czech will be president of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Václav Bálek, who is currently the Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the UN Office in Geneva, will assume the position on Jan. 1, 2023. He will chair the UNHRC, which contains 47 member states in total, for 12 months.

Bálek has previously served as the Director of the Department of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid in the Foreign Ministry. He has worked in governmental or diplomatic positions since 1998. 

In May 2022, the Czech Republic replaced Russia during the current three-year term of the UN Human Rights Council (lasting from 2021 to 2023).

Czechia had stated its desire in June of this year to head the UNHRC, and members of the current council who elected Balek have made this a reality.

"The election of ambassador Balek is the outcome of the long-term interest of Czechia in human rights, of our active engagement in the Human Rights Council and the emphasis that the current Czech government puts on human rights defense and support," ČTK reported Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský as saying.

Bálek said he wants the council to “fulfill its preventive role” and avert the violation of human rights through dialogue and collaboration. According to the Foreign Ministry, much of the work of the UNHRC head is to organize meetings, push through agendas, and ensure some level of universal agreement on a particular subject. 

Bálek will also be in charge of establishing meetings of the UNHRC and being its official spokesperson – representing both Czechia and the UNHRC – on the world stage.

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