United Nations, Oct 14: Pakistan and Nepal have been re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council, while China won a seat by the smallest margin showing a drastic drop in standing.
In Tues’ay’s voting at the General Assembly China received only 139 votes compared to the 180 it received in 2016, the last time it was elected to the Council and its tally of votes was the lowest of the 15 countries elected.
Human Rights Watch’s UN Director Louis Charbonneau tweeted that it “shows more states are disturbed by China’s abysmal rights record.”
Saudi Arabia was defeated in the elections for the four seats up for vote to represent Asian and Pacific countries getting only 90 votes, seven shy of the 97 required for election.
Its popularity also showed a drastic fall because it had won 152 votes in 2016 when it was last elected to the Council.
Russia, which was defeated in 2016 by two votes having received only 112, made a comeback getting 158 votes, although technically it ran unopposed this time for one of the two East Europe seats. Ukraine, its regional adversary, ran unopposed for the other seat.
Pakistan got 169 votes in the election held by secret paper ballot with COVID-19 precautions, and Nepal 150.
The two South Asian countries are members of the council with their current terms ending on December 31 and will now serve for three more years.
Uzbekistan was the fourth country elected from the Asia Pacific region with 169 votes.
India and Bangladesh are also a member of the council last elected in 2018 to the term starting in 2019 and running out at the end of next year.
France, Britain, Cuba and Mexico were among the 15 countries elected on Tuesday to represent other regions at the 47-member council based in Geneva.
Saudi Arabia’s defeat was a surprise and although its human rights record has been criticised, it is considered to have broad support having received 152 votes in 2016 when it was last elected.
Although by a smaller margin, China won despite its human rights record, especially its treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority, and the opposition of several countries and human rights groups.
The critics cite the resolution set up in 2006, which said, “Human Rights Council members shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion of human rights.”
A group of 39 countries led by Germany issued a strong criticism of China last week at the UN.
The statement said they were “gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and the recent developments in Hong Kong.”