Hours after India was elected to the top human rights body of the United Nations (UN) on Friday, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin expressed his happiness and praised India's win with the highest number of votes as a reflection of the country's standing in the international comity.
Speaking shortly after India won a seat to the Human Rights Council, Akbaruddin assured that India will strive to continue its balance and moderate approach towards the promotion and protection of human rights globally.
"India's victory today at UN General Assembly during elections to human rights council is a reflection of high standing that our country enjoys globally. We're grateful to the many many friends that we've across the globe who came out and voted in such large numbers to ensure that India got the highest number of votes among all the 18 candidates. We would like to assure them that India will continue its balance and moderate approach towards the promotion and protection of human rights globally," said the UN envoy in New York, US.
An exuberant Akbaruddin tweeted, along with pictures, saying, "Happiness in the trenches. Team @IndiaUNNewYork is all smiles as India tops tally of votes garnered by all candidates elected to the @UN Human Rights Council today. 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."
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.
In the Asia Pacific category, India got 188 votes followed by Fiji with 187 votes, Bangladesh 178, Bahrain and Philippines 165 each. India got the highest number of votes among all 18 countries in the five regional categories. 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.
The new members elected Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Somalia and Togo in the African States category, Bulgaria and Czech Republic in the Eastern European States group, Argentina, Bahamas and Uruguay in the Latin American and Caribbean States group and Austria, Denmark and Italy in the Western European and other States category.
Commenting on the elections, rights group Human Rights Watch said, "In ridiculous vote devoid of competition, UN General Assembly elected #Philippines, #Eritrea, #Bahrain & #Cameroon to be among new members of @UN#HumanRights Council in 2019-2021. Such votes make mockery of word 'election'."
It said Human Rights Council member states should seek to neutralise any attempts by its ?worst members to shield themselves and other serial rights abusers & keep doing good work on #Yemen, #Myanmar, #Syria, #Burundi & other crises.?
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.