India wins UN Human Rights Council election with highest votes

PTI United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY, USA Oct 12, 2018, 10.37 PM(IST)

United Nations General Assembly meeting. (Image source: @UN_Spokesperson) Photograph:( Twitter )

India won the seat to Human Rights Council at United Nations today with the highest votes among all candidates.

India bagged 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, according to reports. The election was held by 193-member UN General Assembly. India was vying for a seat in the Asia Pacific category along with India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and Philippines who had also staked a claim in the same regional group. 

India's term will extend to the next three years starting January 1 next year.

The 18 new members were elected by an absolute majority through a secret ballot. Countries needed a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said India's win reflects the country's standing in the international community.

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India had previously been elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017 term. 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.

Created by the Assembly in March 2006 as the principal United Nations body dealing with human rights, the Human Rights Council comprises 47 elected Member States.

On the basis of equitable geographical distribution, Council seats are allocated to the five regional groups as follows: African States, 13 seats; Asia-Pacific States, 13 seats; Eastern European States, 6 seats; Latin American and Caribbean States, 8 seats; and Western European and other States, 7 seats.

All five of the General Assembly's regional groups had submitted competition-free slates, meaning that all candidates, regardless of their rights records, were virtually assured seats on the council. 

On the eve of the elections, rights group Human Rights Watch had said UN member countries should oppose the candidacies of the Philippines and Eritrea for the Human Rights Council because of their "egregious human rights records".

Serious rights violations in Bahrain and Cameroon also raise significant concerns, it said. 

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.