US, rights groups say United Nations rights council vote awards abusers

Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Teddy Locsin Jr. and Maria Fernanda Espinosa President of the UN General Assembly. DFA handout

Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Teddy Locsin Jr. and Maria Fernanda Espinosa President of the UN General Assembly. DFA handout

A 97-vote majority from the 193 nations that make up the UN's General Assembly is needed for the green light.

The 18 new members were selected from five regional blocs of countries, and their elections were largely predetermined since they were not challenged by other countries. Thanks to the support of all our friends @UN, India wins seat to Human Rights Council with highest votes among all candidates.

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.

On the 47-member Council, the seats are allocated based on "equitable regional distribution" giving the Asia-Pacific region a total of 13 seats, with some coming up for election every year where Pakistan, China are already members in the group.

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

There five countries which have been endorsed by the regional group.

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin told PTI that India's win reflects the country's standing in the global community.

India was elected for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019.

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Nikki Haley, who this week announced her resignation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Friday's vote demonstrates why the USA was right to withdraw.

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".

The United States withdrew from the Council earlier this year after its Permanent Representative Nikki Haley questioned its legitimacy because of the presence of several dictatorial regimes violating human rights on it.

The African region has 13 seats, Latin American and Caribbean region has 8, the East European region 6, and the West Europen and others group 7.

On the eve of the elections, rights group Human Rights Watch had said United Nations member countries should oppose the candidacies of the Philippines and Eritrea for the Human Rights Council due to their "egregious human rights records".

"UN member countries should show their outrage at the Philippines and Eritrea by leaving two spots on the ballot sheet blank and keeping them off the council", said Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will be taking over as the new United Nations human rights commissioner, succeeding Jordanian diplomat Zeid-Ra'ad al Hussein who released the report.

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