India elected to UN rights body of overwhelming vote
United Nations, May 10: India has been elected to the newly constituted UN Human Rights Council, securing the highest votes in the Asian category, in the largest ever election conducted in the UN history.
The new body, which will replace Commission on Human Rights, elected 43 members of the 47-member council yesterday through secret ballot.
The other south asian nations elected to the council were Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
India secured 173 votes out of the 191-member General Assembly, suggestive of the widespread respect it enjoys for its rights record.
One member nation abstained from the voting.
Islamabad got 149 votes, Indonesia 165, Bangladesh 160, Japan and China polled 158 and 146 votes respectively.
A minimum of 96 votes were required by a member to be elected to the body.
Hailing the outcome, the Permanent Mission of India (PMI) to the United Nations said, ''India attaches great importance to the newly established Human Rights Council and it will work to make the council a strong, effective and efficient body capable of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.'' ''As a committed supporter of the UN human rights system, India will continue to participate actively in the deliberations on human rights in international fora and in the development of widely accepted norms,'' the Mission said in a release.
The United States, an outspoken critic of the old human rights commission, voted against creating the council, arguing barriers were still too low to keep rights abusers from winning a seat. It then decided against seeking a seat this year.
Despite the ''no'' vote, US envoy to the UN John Bolton pledged that his country would cooperate with other member nations to make the council as effective as possible.
In the 47-member council, Asia has 13, Africa 13, Latin America and the Caribbean 8, Western and other nations 7 and Eastern Europe has 6 seats. Members in the Africa group only were elected unanimously as the seats and the contesting nations were the same.
The members are given terms of one, two or three years, as determined by the drawing of lots, so that from the fourth year, one-third of the council members will be elected each subsequent year.
In the draw of lots, India's term is one year.
''But this year is crucial as during it a new human rights machinery would be shaped,'' the Indian Mission added.
Council members are limited to serving two consecutive terms.