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India elected to UNHRC for the 5th time

13 October 2018

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the country received 165 out of 192 votes to earn a seat in the council for three years. As per the resolution, all countries elected to the UN Human Rights Council will be reviewed under the universal periodic review mechanism during their term of membership.

Outgoing DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano welcomed the development, after worldwide group Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for the United Nations body to reject the Philippines' re-election bid.

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.

On the 47-member Council, the seats are allocated based on "equitable regional distribution" giving the Asia-Pacific region a total of 13 seats, with some coming up for election every year where Pakistan, China are already members in the group.

Countries that have been widely criticised for severe human rights abuses are among 18 newly elected members of the United Nations' Human Rights' Council.

The body was created in 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights which was discredited by governments and aid organisations because of the presence of human rights violators.

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

"For its part, CHR will continue to perform its mandate of helping United Nations monitor the human rights situation on the ground as the country's independent national human rights institution", she said.

In contrast, the UN Human Rights Watch Director did make an exception for India, by not naming India, despite calling it a ridiculous vote.

The Philippines will join at a time when President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs has left more than 4,800 mostly poor suspects dead in clashes with police, by the government's account; rights groups say the toll is much higher.

Toho also has its human rights record tainted in the anti-government protests of 2017 when security forces fired at protesters and were also caught on camera beating protesters.

"Only this year the government of 36-year ruler Paul Biya has been found burning villages in the Anglophone areas of the country, disappearing political opponents, and summarily executing women and children, on film", he said.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the "lack of standards continues to undermine the organization and demonstrates again why the United States was right to withdraw from it" in June.

The seemingly bad news is that a few of the elected members of the United Nations have arguably not upheld what is also stated in the same resolution - the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.

India elected to UNHRC for the 5th time