Against all odds: Election to UNHRC ‘defeat for Pakistan’s opponents’

Officials say victory significant as permanent UNSC members lobbied against Pakistan


Sehrish Wasif October 18, 2017
PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is significant, especially since with the exception of China and Russia, all permanent members of the Security Council were lobbying against its inclusion, said an official close to the developments.

The official added that India and the United States had joined hands to hinder Pakistan’s election to the council and that it took two years of relentless diplomatic efforts and intense lobbying to arrive at the victory.

“Pakistan, against all odds, managed to secure 80 per cent of the votes in the UN General Assembly,” he told The Express Tribune.

Pakistan elected to UN Human Rights Council

“Pakistan’s re-election into the HRC is not only a message of hope for its people but also a defeat for those wanting Pakistan to be isolated,” the official said.

Pakistan will return to the UNHRC after a gap of two years, to serve a term from 2018 to 2020, along with other elected states. In 2015, Pakistan had suffered a surprise defeat, only being able to garner 105 votes in the 193-member General Assembly. The defeat had forced the Foreign Office, amongst other institutions, to examine the possible reasons for not being re-elected.

“An HRC member country has the opportunity to highlight important human rights issues inside the country, while also staying relevant for key human rights’ issues around the world,” said the official speaking about the importance of being a member.

This, another official said, would enable Pakistan to not sit in the periphery of international affairs.

Pakistan loses UNHRC re-election bid

Pakistan, in a secret ballot, was elected to the UNHRC on Monday, at the General Assembly in New York. It managed to poll 151 votes when only 97 were needed, securing more than two-thirds of the majority votes. There were five candidates from the Asia Pacific region against four seats.

Since the establishment of the UNHRC in 2006, this is the fourth time that Pakistan has been elected.

Soon after the election, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakria said that Pakistan’s election to the council “is a sign of the confidence that the international community places in Pakistan and its contribution” to the human rights agenda. He said that as a member state, the country would continue to remain actively engaged with HRC, its processes and relevant stakeholders.

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