‘India’s backing of human rights at UNHRC not consistent’
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‘India’s backing of human rights at UNHRC not consistent’

India was the only Asia-Pacific Commonwealth country to abstain from voting on resolutions on defamation of religions.

india Updated: Jun 25, 2017 20:06 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative,UN Human Rights Council,CHRI
A meeting of the UN Human Rights Council underway.(Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

A new analysis of voting during a decade at the UN Human Rights Council suggests thatIndia did not consistently support issues such as civil and political rights including the death penalty, reprisals, defamation of religions, torture, drones, and the right to peace andpeaceful protests.

The analysis by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) released inGeneva is focused on voting patterns at the apex international forum by Commonwealth countries between 2006 and 2016. The event was chaired by CHRI director Sanjoy Hazarika.

India is currently serving its fourth term at HRC from January 2015 to December 2017.

The CHRI report said the United Kingdom and Canada repeatedly voted against resolutions relating to international solidarity, foreign debt, unilateral coercive measures, promotion of the right of peoples to peace, combating defamation of religions, and multiple resolutions regarding racism.

India sponsored four resolutions during the period, while Pakistan moved 64 during the decade. India was the only Asia-Pacific Commonwealth country to abstain from voting on resolutions on defamation of religions. Resolutions on defamation of religions are regarded by the international community as an attempt to pass an anti-blasphemy resolution in the UNHRC.

The analysis concludes that India abstained from voting on 16 resolutions concerning sexual orientation and gender identity, the right to peace, the use of drones, transitional justice, torture, and reprisal killings against those who cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms.

India voted against four resolutions and one decision concerning: peaceful protests, the question of the death penalty, and the protection of human rights while countering terrorism, the report says.

India’s voting record, the report says, demonstrates “repeated opposition” to country situation resolutions. In June 2016, India voiced its concern over putting a spotlight on country situations at the UNHRC by stating it supports greater cooperation and dialogue, but rejects the “perpetuation and proliferation of country-specific mandates under this agenda item, focusing only on developing countries.”

The report adds that there is potential for the Commonwealth to form an influential bloc in Geneva. During the UNHRC’s first decade, 19 Commonwealth members served on it, on average comprising 23% of its members in each session.

“The report though demonstrates that so far, collective Commonwealth action has been disappointingly absent”, the report says.

First Published: Jun 25, 2017 20:05 IST