Oil-rich Equatorial Guinea and world's biggest cocoa producer, Ivory Coast, were the two African countries that on Friday won non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2018/2019. Voting between the pair was deadlocked a year ago so they agreed that Italy would serve on the council for 2017 and then step down to allow the Netherlands to be elected for 2018.
The Security Council is made up of 10 non-permanent members elected to two-year terms and five permanent powers: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
Italy, which is now a non-permanent member of the Council, agreed to split the 2017-2018 term with the Netherlands.
Winning a seat on the Security Council is a pinnacle of achievement for many countries because it gives them a strong voice in matters dealing with global peace and security. The other four countries were Cote D'Ivoire (189), Equatorial Guniea (185), Poland (190) and Peru (186). Seats are allocated by region, and regional groups nominate candidates.
Equatorial Guinea's candidacy was endorsed by the African Union and pledged to strive toward global sustainable peace and development.
"They have a long history of harassing, arbitrarily detaining and interfering with the work of human rights defenders", said Louis Charbonneau, HRW's United Nations director.
"Equatorial Guinea is a country that has harassed human rights defenders and civil groups, often with arbitrary detentions", he said.
The Security Council is comprised of five permanent members that have a right to Veto.