New members of UN Human Rights' Council criticised

United Nations

While India's election to the United Nations' Human Rights Council was celebrated by several countries, Nikki Haley, the outgoing USA ambassador to the UN, criticised the "no competition" electoral process saying "yet again, countries with poor human rights records ran uncontested".

The Philippines on Friday garnered 165 of the 192 votes to win a seat at the UN Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental body "responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe".

This is the fifth time India has been elected to the Geneva-based Council, the main body of the United Nations charged with promoting and monitoring human rights. As per the resolution, all countries elected to the UN Human Rights Council will be reviewed under the universal periodic review mechanism during their term of membership. The former United Nations human rights body chief, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, had called for an investigation into "all civilian killings since July 2016" and "the excessive use of force by security forces including serious injuries caused by the use of pellet guns immediately". The Philippines won its bid for a re-election, while Bahrain, Bangladesh and Fiji bagged the other three seats.

Outgoing DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano welcomed the development, after global group Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for the United Nations body to reject the Philippines' re-election bid.

Needing 97 votes to become a member of the top rights body of the UN, Bangladesh secured 178 votes.

The 18 new members were elected by the absolute majority through a secret ballot.

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".

The countries that were elected from other regions were Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Somalia, Togo, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Argentina, Bahamas, Uruguay, Austria, Denmark and Italy.

Louis Charbonneau, the group's United Nations director, called the vote "ridiculous" and said on Twitter it "makes mockery of (the) word 'election'". In Cameroon, rights activists say civilians have been subjected to abuses amid fighting between English-speaking separatists and government security forces, and it is thought that thousands of people who fled the violence were unable to vote in Sunday's presidential election.

Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 12,000 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed since Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte launched his war on drugs in July 2016, although the country's authorities put this number at around 4,000.

India was among the first batch of 47 countries elected to the Council in 2006 soon after it was set up and received an initial one-year term instead of three to facilitate a rotating roster of vacancies each year. "This lack of standards continues to undermine the organization", she said.

There five countries which have been endorsed by the regional group.



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