United Nations criticized over latest picks for rights council


Aside from the Philippines, countries Bahrain, Cameroon, Somalia, Bangladesh and Eritrea were also elected - with between 160 and 178 votes - and immediately drew criticisms from activists in Europe and North America dismissing them as "unqualified" due to their human rights records. The US left partly because it saw the group as a forum for hypocrisy about human rights, though also because Washington says the council is anti-Israel.

With the victory, the Philippines will get to serve another 3-year term in the 47-member Council based in Geneva from 2019 to 2021.

"Our successful bid to keep our seat in the Council is proof that many in the global community remain convinced the Philippines respects and protects human rights and have seen through the efforts of some to politicize and weaponize the issue", former Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.

The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections at the global organisation for new members to the UN Human Rights Council.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other rights groups also raised red flags about some other countries elected to the council Friday, including Bahrain and Cameroon.

India will be among the 13 members that represent the Asia-Pacific region on the council.

India's election to the United Nations' top human rights body for a period of three years reflects the country's standing in the worldwide community, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin told PTI.

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The body was created in 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights which was discredited by governments and aid organisations because of the presence of human rights violators.

The 18 new members were elected by the absolute majority through a secret ballot. It also periodically reviews human rights in every United Nations member country.

Campaigners had urged United Nations member states to oppose the candidacy of the Philippines and Eritrea and said the choice of Bahrain and Cameroon raised "significant concerns".

Toho also has its human rights record tainted in the anti-government protests of 2017 when security forces fired at protesters and were also caught on camera beating protesters.

India's election comes just a month after Michelle Bachelet, the newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said, "The people of Kashmir have exactly the same rights to justice and dignity as people all over the world and we urge authorities to respect them. This lack of standards continues to undermine the organization", she said.

"Only this year the government of 36-year ruler Paul Biya has been found burning villages in the Anglophone areas of the country, disappearing political opponents, and summarily executing women and children, on film", he said.