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India wins election to UN Human Rights Council for three years

  • Category
    World Affairs
  • Published
    16th Oct, 2018

India was elected to the United Nations’ top human rights body for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019, getting 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, the highest number of votes among all candidates.

Context

India was elected to the United Nations’ top human rights body for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019, getting 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, the highest number of votes among all candidates.

About

The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections for new members to the UN Human Rights Council. The 18 new members were elected by absolute majority through a secret ballot. Countries needed a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.

India had previously been elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017 terms.

The new members elected are:

  • Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Somalia and Togo in the African States category

  • Bulgaria and Czech Republic in the Eastern European States group

  • Argentina, Bahamas and Uruguay in the Latin American and Caribbean States group 

  • Austria, Denmark and Italy in the Western European and other States category.

 

Human Rights Council

It was established in 2006 by Resolution 60/251 as a subsidiary body to the UN General Assembly. It replaced the former Commission on Human Rights, which operated from 1946 to 2006. It comprises of 47 elected member states.

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- 6 seats; Latin American and Caribbean States- 8 seats; and Western European and other States-7 seats.

Functions:

  • The Council serves as a forum for dialogue among States, with input from other stakeholders. As a result of its discussions, the Council may issue resolutions calling on States to take specific actions or uphold certain principles, or it may create mechanisms to investigate or monitor questions of concern.
  • The Human Rights Council has created or renewed the mandates of various “special procedures.” The special procedures are experts appointed to monitor human rights around priority themes or in specific countries with serious human rights problems. The special procedures may be individual experts (“special rapporteurs” or “independent experts”) or working groups.
  • The Council also manages the Universal Periodic Review, a process through which each UN Member State’s overall human rights record is reviewed.
  • In addition, the Council receives complaints alleging patterns of human rights violations, which are considered by the Working Group on Communications and may be referred to the Working Group on Situations. The Working Group on Situations reports substantiated claims of consistent patterns of gross violations to the Council and makes recommendations for action.

Sessions

The UNHRC holds regular sessions three times a year, in March, June, and September. It can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies, at the request of one-third of the member states.

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