India elected to UN human rights body

Saul Bowman
October 15, 2018

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Sunday, October 14, reminded the Philippine government that being part of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council means it has obligations to fulfill.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. It was certain that India would get a berth as only five countries, including Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and Philippines, were vying for the five available seats in the Asia Pacific category.

Critics charge that the political horse-trading involved in seeking membership for the council enables notorious rights-abusing countries like Eritrea, Bahrain, Cameroon or the Philippines to distort global human rights norms and insulate their repressive governments from worldwide scrutiny.

"It's a reflection of India's position in the comity of nations, it's a testament that world community holds India in high esteem. Thanks to the support of all our friends @@UN, India wins seat to Human Rights Council with highest votes among all candidates".

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said: "We are really greatly honored as this is a vindication that fake news and baseless accusations have no place in modern-day human rights discussions".

In a statement after Friday's elections, Haley said the uncontested election "demonstrates again why the United States was right to withdraw" from the council, though she said the US would continue to press for institutional reform of the council from the sidelines.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other rights groups also raised red flags about some other countries elected to the council Friday, including Bahrain and Cameroon.

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

The UNHRC meets three times a year, and reviews the human rights records of all UN members in a special process that gives countries the chance to say what they have done to improve human rights, known as the Universal Periodic Review.

Notably, India wanted a seat in the Asia Pacific category.

Former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet assumed the role of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in September this year, succeeding Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who had in June this year released a first ever report on Kashmir that was rejected by India. In the nomination pledge, India presented a broader approach to human rights, emphasising on topics such as climate justice, health, and poverty alleviation.

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