India elected to 47-nation UN Human Rights Council

India and 14 other countries were today elected to the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, which is based in Geneva.

Updated: May 20, 2011, 23:41 PM IST

United Nations: India and 14 other
countries were today elected to the 47-nation UN Human Rights
Council, which is based in Geneva.

India was not in competition for the seat since there
were four countries and four seats for the Asia block. With
189 countries voting, Indonesia received 184 votes,
Philippines 183, India 181 and Kuwait 166.

Other countries to be elected to the Council included
Burkina Faso, Botswana, Congo, Benin, Czech Republic, Romania,
Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Italy and Austria.

These countries will begin their term on June 19 for a
three year term.

In the wake of international condemnation of its
crackdown on protesters, Syria gave up its seat to Kuwait.

UN Watch, a Geneva-based group that monitors the UN,
said that Burkina Faso, India, Philippines and Indonesia had
questionable qualifications to be on the human rights body.

It also said that Congo and Kuwait were unqualified to
sit on the Council. UN Watch said that India`s statement on
Syria`s recent crackdown had been "mixed."

It said that New Delhi had sent a "wrong message" to
Damascus by not putting human rights first and giving credit
to Syria for its "positive recent reforms."

India`s deputy envoy to the UN Manjeev Singh Puri
dismissed the characterization that New Delhi did not have the

Puri pointed out that India was the world`s largest
democracy with most multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society.

Noting the votes received in the General Assembly, he said to a news agency, "This is the world`s affirmation."

Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director of Human
Rights Watch, said that India should play a positive and
leadership role on the Council.

"Too often strategic interests or geo political
loyalties have come in the way of holding governments
accountable for human rights violations and India should take
the lead inaltering this," she said.

In a letter sent to External Affairs Minister SM
Krishna ahead of the Human Rights Council election, Amnesty
International urged the Indian government to ratify the
Convention against Torture Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment.

On the domestic level, Amnesty International pointed
out national human rights bodies lack independent initiative
and adequate resources, and have a restricted mandate to
deliver on key concerns within the country.

India is ranked as "Free" in the 2011 report published
by the New York-based Freedom House, which an independent
watchdog that supports the expansion of freedom.