India wins seat at United Nations Human Rights Council

Howard TerryOct 14, 2018

ReutersIndia has been elected to the United Nations' Human Rights Council with highest vote among all candidates.

New members Bahrain, Cameroon, the Philippines, Somalia, Bangladesh and Eritrea were elected with between 160 and 178 votes - and immediately drew criticism from campaigners in Europe and North America dismissing them as "unqualified" due to their human rights records.

India was vying for a seat in the Asia Pacific category.

Ahead of the elections, India's Permanent Representatives to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin had tweeted that, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and India and the Philippines stake claim to 5 seats for Aisa-Pacific region at UNHRC.

"Getting a seat in the UN Human Rights Council is a repudiation of the critics and detractors on President Duterte's unrelenting war against illegal drugs", he said in a statement.

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin told PTI that India's win reflects the country's standing in the global community.

"By putting forward serious rights violators and presenting only as many candidates as seats available, the regional groups risk undermining the council's credibility and effectiveness", said New York-based Human Rights Watch.

India secured the highest 188 votes. India got the highest number of votes among all 18 countries in the five regional categories.

With the victory, the Philippines will get to serve another three-year term in the 47-member Council based in Geneva from 2019 to 2021.

Countries can be elected for only two consecutive terms and India took a year's break when its term ended in 2017.

Earlier in July, the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued its first-ever report documenting human rights abuse by Indian occupation forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Given that there were five nations vying for five seats in the Asia Pacific category, India's election to the Council was all but certain.

Louis Charbonneau, the group's United Nations director, called the vote "ridiculous" and said on Twitter it "makes mockery of (the) word 'election'".

Human Rights Watch's (HRW) UN director Louis Charbonneau called the election "a mockery" in a post on Twitter.

India's presence on the Council will be important because the previous UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein asked the body to facilitate an global commission of enquiry into allegations of human rights violation in Kashmir.

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