U.N. Criticized over Latest Picks for Rights Council

Fiji has been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council today at the UN General Assembly.

The Philippines won a seat at the United Nations Human Rights during elections in NY on Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

"We thank and commend the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the States that supported our country's bid, for affirming the Philippines' brand of human rights advocacy under the Duterte administration as truly responsive to our people's needs and aspirations for a better and more dignified life", he said.

In the Asia Pacific category, India got 188 votes followed by Fiji with 187 votes, Bangladesh 178, Bahrain and Philippines 165 each.

"It's a reflection of India's position in the comity of nations, it's a testament that world community holds India in high esteem".

The US quit the council in June, saying it made a mockery of human rights.

Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan said this achievement was especially important for the Council as an inclusive and truly representative body, capable of hearing the voices of all States, no matter what the size, and of hearing the stories of diverse human rights journeys. Each country needs a minimum of 97 votes to get elected into the council. The last tenure ended on December 31, 2017.

India will join Pakistan, China and Nepal, which were elected to the Council in previous years.

On the 47-member Council, the seats are allocated based on "equitable regional distribution", which meant that the Asia-Pacific region would have a total of 13 seats, with some coming up for election every year.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the country's reelection to the council for another three-year term is "a recognition that our government respects human rights and will not tolerate abuse by those in authority". All the countries mentioned will be a part of the UNHRC from January 1, 2019. Such elections, in which countries often predetermine who will compete for seats years in advance, have become a staple of both the Human Rights Council and the more important Security Council in NY. However, India's election to the Council was all but certain as there were only five nations vying for the five seats in the Asia Pacific category. In the nomination pledge, India presented a broader approach to human rights, emphasising on topics such as climate justice, health, and poverty alleviation.

  • Tracy Klein