Russia, China, Cuba, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, identified by Human Rights Watch (HRW), based in New York, as unworthy of membership on the UN body, were among those winning seats in a first round of voting on Tuesday.

But two others on the group's list, Iran and Azerbaijan, failed to win membership in the initial round.
 
Kenneth Roth, executive director of HRW, said it was inevitable some rights foes would win seats. However, he said progress had been made over the discredited Human Rights Commission, shut down in March.

"It doesn't guarantee that the council will be a success, but it is a step in the right direction," he said.

Secret ballot

The council will be based in Geneva, like its predecessor, and its seats are being divided by regions, with eight set to go to  Latin America and the Caribbean, 13 to Africa, 13 to Asia, six to eastern Europe and seven to western Europe and others, a grouping that includes the United States, Canada and Israel.

The 13 African seats went to Algeria, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Zambia.

Asia's 13 seats were awarded to Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Sri Lanka.

The eight Latin American and Caribbean posts were granted to Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

And the seven slots designated for western Europe and others were accorded to Britain, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The United States did not run for a post.
  
Voting for the seats was held by secret ballot among the 191-member General Assembly. Countries needed at least 96 votes to win a slot.