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Just a year for India in UNHRC

Nevertheless India shines, by being elected in Peace-Building Commission.

india Updated: May 11, 2006 09:08 IST

It wasn't all good news for India at the UN's Human Rights Council. Having been elected to the new council on Tuesday with 173 votes (out of 191 members of the UN General Assembly), topping the Asian pool, India found it had drawn lots to serve on the HRC for only a year. After a year, it will need to be elected again or sit out.

Since this was the first election to the HRC, lots were drawn to decide which countries would retire after one, two and three years. Members can get elected for two consecutive terms but would then have to sit out for at least a year under rules for the "more democratic" council.

In the Asian group, India, Bahrain, Indonesia and the Philippines will retire after one year; Pakistan, Japan, Sri Lanka and South Korea after two while Bangladesh, China, Jordan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia will serve for three years.

And while its co-members of the G-4 nations all scored well, some new members of the HRC don’t have distinguished human rights records — like Pakistan, China, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia.

India is slowly making its presence felt in the "reformed" organs of the UN, including the Peace-Building Commission, where it has also been elected by virtue of being among the five top troop contributors. But the volume of support it received for the HRC wouldn’t "necessarily get translated" into similar numbers if it put forth its candidacy for the UNSC to a vote. Officials are waiting for the African Union to decide by next month if they want to push through their draft proposal for UNSC reform. If that does not work, the G-4 would try to push its proposal through the UNGA.

Officials, claiming the HRC vote as a "major success," are pleased that for the first time in decades, it won more votes than Japan from Asia. "It is a signal of where India stands in the community of nations," an official said on Wednesday.

India's permanent representative to the UN, Nirupam Sen, said India would go all out to see the new council functioned as a "strong, effective and efficient" body capable of promoting and protecting fundamental freedoms across the world. He called it "poetic justice" that the largest democracy had the largest pool of votes.