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Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan elected to UN Human Rights Council

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United Nations, Oct 17 (IANS) Three of India’s neighbours, Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for a three year period from 2018.

Nepal, which was elected for the first time since the UN’s policy-making body was formed in 2006, secured 166 votes, the highest in the Asia-Pacific group. The election was held during the 72nd session of UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Monday.

Qatar, Pakistan and Afghanistan were also elected from the region.

“This election marks a humbling moment of paramount importance to Nepal since it reflects the international community’s acknowledgement of Nepal’s passionate efforts and accomplishments in the field of promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” said Durga Prasad Bhattarai, Nepal’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations.

“This election offers post-conflict Nepal an unprecedented opportunity to prove its worth as an international contributor in the cause of human rights in Nepal and around the world,” he said, according to the Kathmandu Post.

Pakistan has been a member of UNHRC from 2006-2011 and 2013-2015. It lost its membership in 2015 on failing to get enough votes.

Qatar bagged a seat with 155 votes. Pakistan received 151 votes in favour of becoming a member. Afghanistan received 130 votes in favour.

In addition, Angola, Australia, Chile, Congo, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine made to the council’s membership.

Maldives bowed out of the race after winning just four votes. In a tweet by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government thanked the countries which supported Maldives.

Besides the Maldives, Malaysia too had to return home without a membership seat getting just 129 votes in favour.

A total of 193 countries competed in taking a membership seat at the UN Human Rights Council.

Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are relatively new members to the council.

The 15 nations elected as the new Human Rights Council members will serve for a duration of three years starting on January 2018.

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, six seats; Latin American and Caribbean States, eight seats; and Western European and other States, seven seats.

Created by the General Assembly in 2006, the 47-member Council is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch, Britain and the US have criticised the election of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the UNHRC for a three-year term.

Congo was elected uncontested to the 47-member Geneva-based council, it still needed majority support.

The country, beset by renewed political and militia violence since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down in December, won 151 votes.

The United States is reviewing its membership in the council.

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