After rights win, India eyes UNSC seat

The initiative of G4 for permanent seats on the UN body has got a major boost.

india Updated: May 10, 2006 20:44 IST

India's ability to secure the highest number of votes among all countries - 173 out of 191 - in elections to the first UN Human Rights Council has boosted its bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

"India scored a major success at the UN when it was elected to the UN Human Rights Council securing the highest number of votes," external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said onWednesday.

"This is recognition of India's diplomatic standing and its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights," stressed Sarna, capturing the mood of enthusiasm in South Block following the huge win.

"It is also a recognition of the success that India has had with its diplomatic demarches made in New York through the UN and Indian missions all over the world," he added.

India will serve on the newly established council, which replaces the dysfunctional Human Rights Commission, for one year and will play a leading role in devising its rules of procedure. It will work with 46 other countries that were also elected, at the council's first meeting due in Geneva June 19.

Besides an acknowledgment of New Delhi's credible record in human rights, the overwhelming victory also brings to the fore substantial support for India's UN Security Council ambitions, a top official said.

Indeed, the initiative of G4 (Japan, Brazil, Germany and India) for permanent seats on the UN body has got a big boost, the official said.

All other G4 member countries - Brazil (165 votes), Japan (158 votes) and Germany (154 votes) - have done exceedingly well at the elections to the council held on Tuesday.

India played a leading role in creating the HRC and was instrumental in persuading members to settle for a compromise between the US demand for a small council with just 35 members and those seeking a large body having at least a third of the General Assembly as its members.

The victory also highlights India's stock with the non-aligned countries, which voted in large numbers for New Delhi.

"This is a reflection of non-aligned solidarity. India's solidarity with the G77 group comprising developing nations is intact," said the official who did not wish to be named.

Most importantly, New Delhi's showing at the council elections reaffirmed and reinforced India's "composite approach to human rights" that includes social, economic and cultural rights.

"It's a broad based approach that does not believe in finger pointing but in a participatory, collaborative non-fractious approach. We believe in working in a non-discriminatory manner and carrying everybody along," the official added.

The term of 47 member countries was decided by draw of lots. Britain, Japan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will serve in the council for two-year terms.

There are other countries such as China, Russia, Germany and Saudi Arabia that will serve for three years.

The new council seeks to repair the faults of its predecessor Human Rights Commission, which was widely criticized for giving space to known human rights abusers like Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Candidates for the new council were required to pledge to uphold human rights standards, and the newly elected members will undergo a periodic review of their performance in upholding freedom.

First Published: May 10, 2006 19:42 IST