By Arul Louis
United Nations, Oct 11 (IANS) India is set to be elected unopposed to the Human Rights Council on Friday as a candidate from the Asia-Pacific region.
Only five countries are running for the five vacancies from the region, therefore, all are assured of election.
The other four candidates are Bangladesh, Bahrain, Fiji and the Philippines.
India’s presence on the Council will be important because the previous UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein asked the body to facilitate an international commission of inquiry into allegations of human rights violation in Kashmir.
His successor Michelle Bachelet and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have backed Zeid’s recommendation, which Pakistan — a member of the Council — is campaigning for.
So far, no other country has backed Zeid’s call for the investigation.
This will be the fifth time that India will serve on the Geneva-based Council.
India was among the first batch of 47 countries elected to the Council in 2006 soon after it was set up and received an initial one-year term instead of three to facilitate a rotating roster of vacancies each year.
It was again elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014 to three-year terms.
Countries can be elected to only two consecutive terms and India took a year’s break when its term ended in 2017.
In January India will join Pakistan, China and Nepal, which were elected to the Council in previous years to serve three-year terms.
Elections will be held by secret ballot in the 193-member General Assembly on Friday, although the number of candidates for all the five regions match the vacancies making it a formality — although some countries may not vote for certain countries.
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.
The African region also has 13 seats, while the Latin American and Caribbean region has eight, the East European region six, and the West European and others group seven.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)