Pakistan loses UNHRC re-election bid
Pakistan lost its bid to get re-elected from Asia-pacific region to the United Nations Human Rights Council where its current term ends in 2015. The Islamic nation was able to secure only 105 votes in the 193 member United Nations General Assembly. Pakistan was considering running for UNHR Council's presidency in 2016 but the defeat was a setback for it.
What is UNHRC?
UNHRC is an inter-governmental body set up by United Nations. It includes a total of 47 member countries who are responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the world. The members of the General Assembly elect who would occupy UNHRC's 47 seats. The term for each seat is 3 years and no member can occupy it for more than two consecutive terms.
Membership of UNHRC
The Council's Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. 13 seats are allotted to African States, 13 to Asia-Pacific States, 8 to Latin American and Caribbean States, 7 to Western European and other states and 6 seats to Eastern European States.
What does UNHRC do?
The Council served as the main United Nations forum for intergovernmental cooperation and dialogue on human rights issues. It makes recommendations to the United Nations General Assembly for further development of international law in the field of human rights. It also has a "Complaints Procedure," which allows individuals and organizations to bring complaints about human rights violations to the attention of the Council.
The criticism of UNHRC
The UNHRC was criticized in 2009 for adopting a resolution submitted by Sri Lanka praising its conduct in the Vanni conflict that year, ignoring pleas for an international war crimes investigation. The Human Rights Council was criticized by United States in 2012 for its anti-Israel bias, especially its Agenda Item 7 which made it mandatory for every session to debate Israel's human rights record.
Controversies revolving around UNHRC
In 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had castigated the UNHRC's decision of hosting an event for a Hamas politician arguing that Hamas was an internationally recognized terrorist organisation. Some Human Rights groups had accused in 2008 that UNHRC that it was controlled by Middle East and African nations, supported by China, Russia and Cuba, to protect each other from criticism.
The achievements of UNHRC
The council had taken bold actions to highlight Iran's declining human rights situation by establishing a special rapporteur to investigate and report on abuses in Iran. It had investigated Libya's human rights violations and had recommended to UN General Assembly to suspend its membership, which was done some days later. It had passed a statement condemning human rights violation based on sexual orientation.
Pakistan and India's UNHRC membership
Pakistan's UNHRC membership's third term started in 2012. It was earlier elected in 2006-2008 and 2008-2011. India has been elected four times, in 2006-2007, 2007-2010, 2011-2014 and 2014-2017.