India wins election to UN Human Rights Council in Asia-Pacific category

13 October, 2018, 13:13 | Author: Myra Gill
  • India wins election to UN Human Rights Council with highest number of votes

India was elected to the United Nations' top human rights body on Friday, for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019.

The 18 new members were elected by the absolute majority through a secret ballot.

With no competition, each candidate got well over the 97 needed votes, including the Philippines, widely condemned internationally for a deadly drug crackdown, and Eritrea, which has faced criticism from a commission set up by the council itself.

Bangladesh, which is at the frontlines of dealing with the Rohingya crisis, was also elected with 178 votes to the Council to fill one of the five vacancies for three year terms from the Asia-Pacific region.

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.

Around a 3rd of seats on the 47-member council, based in Geneva, were open for slots lasting from 2019-2022.

India secured the highest 188 votes.

Following Friday's election, U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said "yet again" countries with poor human rights records had run uncontested. India got the highest number of votes among all 18 countries in the five regional categories. "We will work in a balanced way to protect human rights of the world", the United Nations envoy had told.


"Earning a seat in the said Council, however, puts pressure on the Philippine government to address numerous allegations of human rights violations, starting with the growing cases of extrajudicial killings purportedly linked to the government's campaign against illegal drugs", the commission said in a statement.

Its last tenure had ended on December 31, 2017 and in accordance with the rules, it was not eligible for immediate re-election since it had already served two consecutive terms.

The move has however attracted the ire of political and human rights groups who insist that Eritrea, Cameroon and Somalia had no business serving on the Council given their current rights record.

The African region has 13 seats, Latin American and Caribbean region has 8, the East European region 6, and the West Europen and others group 7.

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

Earlier, an worldwide human rights group has expressed strong opposition to the Philippines' candidacy for the UHNRC, citing the extrajudicial killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug campaign.

The elections had been criticized by a host of other human rights groups as well.

Earlier this year, the council urged the Philippines to cooperate with the United Nations for an assessment of the country's human rights situation.

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