Election a mere for­mal­ity

In­dia was elected to UNHRC by 188 votes, the high­est among all coun­tries elected

Sunday Express - - INDIA - RAMANANDA SEN­GUPTA@

In­dia’s election for a three year term be­gin­ning Jan­uary 1, 2019, was a mere for­mal­ity since there were only five con­tes­tants for the five seats up for grabs in the Asia-Pa­cific cat­e­gory. The four other con­tes­tants were Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and the Philip­pines. IN­DIA was elected to the in­flu­en­tial UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil (UNHRC) with the high­est num­ber of votes by the Gen­eral As­sem­bly on Fri­day In­dia re­ceived 188 votes, the high­est polled by any of the 18 coun­tries elected in the vot­ing.

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. The Coun­cil has 47 mem­bers, se­lected each year by the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly for stag­gered three-year terms.

Hu­man Rights Watch had urged UN mem­ber states to vote against sev­eral of the 18 states elected, in­clud­ing the Philip­pines, Bahrain and Cameroon, say­ing there were “sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns” over hu­man rights in those na­tions.

“I am happy to in­form that In­dia has been elected to the United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil with high­est num­ber of votes. We have se­cured 188 votes out of 193,” tweeted Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj af­ter the re­sults were de­clared Fri­day in Geneva.

The Of­fice of the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights (OHCHR), a sep­a­rate or­gan an­swer­ing to the UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral, pro­vides tech­ni­cal, sub­stan­tive and sec­re­tariat sup­port to the Coun­cil. In June, the OHCHR had cre­ated a stir when its High Com­mis­sioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hus­sein re­leased the first-ever UN hu­man rights re­port on Kash­mir, a 49 page doc­u­ment which osten­si­bly cites rights abuses by both In­dia and Pak­istan in Kash­mir. How­ever, it fo­cused mostly on “chronic” im­punity for vi­o­la­tions com­mit­ted by In­dian se­cu­rity forces, and called for an in­ter­na­tional in­quiry. In­dia had ve­he­mently re­jected the re­port, say­ing that it le­git­imized Pak­istani ter­ror­ism.

“In­dia re­jects the re­port. It is fal­la­cious, ten­den­tious and mo­ti­vated. We ques­tion the in­tent in bring­ing out such a re­port,” the MEA said. De­scrib­ing it as a se­lec­tive com­pi­la­tion of largely un­ver­i­fied in­for­ma­tion, it said, “The re­port vi­o­lates In­dia’s sovereignty and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity. The en­tire state of Jammu and Kash­mir is an in­te­gral part of In­dia. Pak­istan is in il­le­gal and forcible oc­cu­pa­tion of a part of the In­dian state through ag­gres­sion.”

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