United Nations/ New Delhi: India was elected to the United Nations' top human rights body for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019, getting 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, the highest number of votes among all candidates.
The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections for new members to the UN Human Rights Council. The 18 new members were elected by absolute majority through a secret ballot. Countries needed a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.
India was vying for a seat in the Asia Pacific category. Along with India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and Philippines had also staked a claim in the same regional group. 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.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin told PTI that India's win reflects the country's standing in the international community.
Following the election, Akbaruddin tweeted "Voting for a Happy Outcome. Thanks to the support of all our friends @UN , India wins seat to Human Rights Council with highest votes among all candidates."
The new members will serve a term of three years beginning January 1, 2019. 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.