Published: Sat, October 13, 2018

United Nations criticised over new human rights council members

United Nations criticised over new human rights council members

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. The group cited the administration's drug war, citing more than 12,000 suspected drug dealers have been killed in anti-drug operations - a huge jump from the government data showing 4,000 have been neutralized - as well as the attacks on human rights defenders. Countries need a minimum of 97 votes - a simple majority - to get elected to the council.

All five of the General Assembly's regional groups had submitted competition-free slates, meaning that all candidates, regardless of their rights records, were virtually assured seats on the council.

Human Rights Watch's (HRW) UN director Louis Charbonneau called the election "a mockery" in a post on Twitter.

"Electing a regime like Eritrea as a United Nations judge on human rights would be like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief", he said.

The UN General Assembly in NY approved the new members in a vote on Friday.

The Council is made up of 47 United Nations member states from five regions, which are elected by the UNGA.

The council's controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule, is exclusively devoted to discussing alleged Israeli rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Haley urged the body to reform in a speech in Geneva in 2017 focusing on its anti-Israel bias and also its membership - which she said led to human rights abusers being protected on the council. Item 7 on "Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories" has been part of the council's regular business 2007, nearly as long as it has existed.

The UN General Assembly is set to vote on October 12 to fill one-third of the seats on the 47-member council for the 2019 to 2021 term. Current members include several countries with questionable human rights records, including, Iraq, Cuba, China, Qatar, Angola, Burundi, Pakistan, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Ahead of the vote, Human Rights Watch said the election risks undermining the council's effectiveness and credibility. Thanks to the support of all our friends @UN, India wins seat to Human Rights Council with highest votes among all candidates. A report to the Human Rights Council a year ago by a United Nations special rapporteur condemned Eritrea for its "indefinite length of conscription" and said that the government had "an ongoing unwillingness to meet its obligations and commitments under regional and worldwide human rights instruments". "Non-democracies could no longer hold up their UNHRC election as a shield of worldwide legitimacy to cover up the abuses of their regime".

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