India on Friday was elected unopposed to the United Nations Human Rights Council as a candidate from Asia-Pacific region for the 5th time after being elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014 to three-year terms. This time India has been again elected for a 3 years term starting January 2019. The post was assured as only 5 five countries, including India, were running for the five vacancies from the region, however, India secured the post with highest number of votes among all candidates.
India’s election into UNHRC is important considering previous UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein facilitating an international commission of inquiry into allegations of human rights violation in Jammu and Kashmir.
His successor Antonio Guterres has also backed Zeid’s recommendation, which Pakistan is campaigning for. However, no other country has backed Zeid call for the investigation and India’s position in the UN could impact any call for it as well.
On the 47-member Council, the Asia-Pacific region a total of 13 seats, which are allocated based on equitable regional distribution. Elections for the 13 seats are held every year and notably, Pakistan, China are already members in the group.
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.
The African region has 13 seats, Latin American and Caribbean region has 8, the East European region 6, and the West Europe and others group 7.
WHAT IS UNHRC?
The United Nations Human Rights Council is a body whose aim is to promote and protect human rights around the world.The headquarters of the body is in Geneva, Switzerland and it meets in regular sessions 3 times a year, in March, June and September.
The UNHRC is headed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who co-ordinates human rights activities throughout the UN System and supervises the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. The current High Commissioner is Michelle Bachelet of Chile, who succeeded Zeid Raad Al Hussein of Jordan on 1 September 2018.