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How did India become a member of UN human rights body?

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News Analysis |

India was elected to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations on Friday, the 12th of October. The election says a lot about the Council as well as the United Nations at large. India received a total of 188 votes, the highest by any country that was vying for a lot in the UNHRC. A total of 18 countries were elected.

The election is carried on a regional basis. 5 nations from the Asia Pacific region were elected, though the number of seats available was also five. Bangladesh, which is still dealing with the Rohingya crisis, received 178 votes. Some of the other members elected include Burkina Faso, Eritrea, and Somalia.

India marketed itself as the ‘largest democracy in the world’ with a ‘secular polity’.

The purpose of the Council is to protect, promote, and monitor human rights across the globe. But the composition of the Human Right Body leaves a lot to be said for the state of these rights in the world today. Somalia has been facing a serious human rights crisis for decades now.

Many political scientists recognize Somalia as an example of a failed state. Eritrea might be the right candidate for that category. If the purpose of the human rights council is to protect and monitor human rights, then its members at least should be countries without a lot of questions about their own human rights record.

Read more: Kashmir: India’s Human Rights violations from “pellet guns” to “Killer gangs”?

Regional representation is reasonable but the countries representing those regions ought to be in a position where their human rights record speaks for itself. India marketed itself as the ‘largest democracy in the world’ with a ‘secular polity’. But the condition of human rights in Kashmir seems to have been ignored during the election.

A report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018 speaks volumes about the state of affairs in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

There’s a concern that election to the UNHRC would allow members to shield themselves from any probes into human rights violations.

The report focuses on lack of access to justice and impunity, military courts and tribunals impeding access to justice, administrative detention, excessive use of force, use of the pellet-firing shotgun, arbitrary arrests including that of children, torture, enforced disappearances, restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, and more.

The previous UN High Commissioner for human rights and the one before that approved the report and wanted to ensure the international community does not ignore the issue of Kashmir any longer.

This report brought the issue of Kashmir to the forefront at the UN. Former Australian Senator, Lee Rhiannon said in an address on the topic “Human Rights Violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir” in an event organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) that ‘to change the global opinion about the Kashmir issue, it is imperative to make it a global issue.”

Read more: Modi’s India exposed: Hindu extremism seeps into universities

She also said that most people in Australia were not even aware of the Kashmir issue and further said that the report by the office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights was indispensable. India rejected the landmark report by the United Nations on Kashmir.

India’s deputy permanent representative to the UN Ambassador Tanmaya Lai said the “so-called” report about the India state of Jammu and Kashmir reflects the “clear bias of an official who was acting without any mandate whatsoever and relied on unverified sources of information.”

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said that ‘India’s win with the highest number of votes ‘reflects India’s standing in the international comity’.

India rejected the report and said it had a ‘clear bias’. Now with India’s membership of the Human Rights Council, it will expect to have some influence over the development and publication of further reports on the state of human rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

The Human Rights Watch said about the elections to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations that it was a “ridiculous vote devoid of competition”, adding that “such votes make the mockery of word ‘election’.” There’s a concern that election to the UNHRC would allow members to shield themselves from any probes into human rights violations.

Read more: False Charges? India detains Human rights activists as “Maoists”

Meanwhile, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said that ‘India’s win with the highest number of votes ‘reflects India’s standing in the international comity’.


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