NEW YORK: Pakistan on Monday won a key election by securing a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council when the General Assembly elected 15 countries to serve on the 47-member body.
“This victory is a ringing endorsement of Pakistan’s strong commitment to human rights,” an elated Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said in a post-election interview with APP.
“Pakistan’s entire leadership, parliament and judiciary have all proactively pushed the human rights agenda,” Ambassador Lodhi said.
The election in the 193-member Assembly was by secret ballot, with a simple majority required. Pakistan polled 151 votes, when 97 were needed.
There were five candidates contesting for four Asia-Pacific seats on the Council. Apart from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Qatar also won seats on the Council. Malaysia, with 129 vote, could not get elected.
The contest was only in the Asian-Pacific group. Other groups put up agreed candidates: (African States): Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Senegal; (Latin America/Caribbean States): Chile, Mexico and Peru; (Western European States): Australia and Spain, and (Eastern European States): Slovakia and Ukraine.
Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms. The Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
The Geneva-based Council is mandated to promote and protect human rights and prevent human rights violations. This is the fourth time Pakistan has been elected to the 47-member Council — the first success came in 2006 when the Council was created by the UN General Assembly.
“Our victory is a manifestation of the international community’s trust in Pakistan,” Ambassador Lodhi said. “Pakistan”, she said, “is humbled by and grateful for the overwhelming support received from the world community”.
And, she added, “Pakistan’s election gives the lie to those who claim that Pakistan is isolated.”
Asked what will be Pakistan’s objectives in the Council, Ambassador Lodhi said, “We will use our membership to protect our core national interests, uphold universal values , be a bridge builder between polarised positions and expose human rights abuses by India in occupied Kashmir”.
All of the Human Rights Council’s members are elected by the world body’s General Assembly, and it has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.
It meets at the UN Office at Geneva. The Council’s membership is based on equitable geographical distribution and seats are distributed as follows: 13 seats for African States, 13 seats for Asia Pacific States, 8 seats for Latin American and Caribbean States, 7 seats for Western European and other States, and 6 seats for Eastern European States.