Saudi Arabia failed in its attempt to win a place on the board of the 47-seat UN human rights council for the next three years.

Iran PressAmerica: The result is a severe blow to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve its image in the wake of the admitted killing of the Saudi citizen and Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.

Pakistan and Cuba were also elected in the secret ballot on Tuesday conducted at the UN headquarters in New York to fill 15 vacant seats, which are distributed between five regions. France and the UK were elected unopposed to represent Europe.

The vote largely works by countries within regions reaching private bargains on the nation states that will stand – often with the aim of ensuring that all the candidates stand unopposed within their region, The Guardian reported.

All 193 UN countries can vote in each region.

The only contested region in the 2020 elections was the Asia-Pacific where China and Saudi Arabia were in a five-way race with Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Nepal for four seats. China attracted 139 votes, down from the last time it stood for a seat in 2016 when it gained 180.

Saudi Arabia, the current chair of the G20, came fifth with just 90 votes, beaten by Nepal with 150.

In its statement, Saudi Arabia admits it places legal restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression in order to protect public order, national security, public morals and health, and the rights or reputation of others. Mass media, publishers, and all other vehicles of expression shall employ civil and polite language, comply with the laws of the state, contribute to the education of the nation, and promote unity.

It makes no mention of the female activists in jail for campaigning for the right to drive, or other Saudi members of the Royal Family held without access to their family or lawyers.