‘India’s re-election to UNHRC is endorsement of its position,’ says Indian Ambassador

India’s re-election on Tuesday to a second term on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is an overwhelming endorsement of the country’s position on human rights and its pledge to the United Nations, said Indian Ambassador Asoke Kumar Mukerji on Wednesday.

Nine nations vied for the four Asian seats but India received 162 votes – the highest for an Asian region seat – which, Mukerji said, "is an achievement for a contested election".

Speaking to IANS after the election, the Indian ambassador and permanent representative said, "It is a significant victory for India because the Human Rights Council is second-most in importance after the Security Council. It is an endorsement of our position on human rights."

India’s current term was scheduled to conclude by year-end. He said before the election, India gave a pledge to the UN, a manifesto on human rights, "which has been endorsed through the election of India".

After India’s re-election for the term 2015-2017 in a keenly contested election in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed joy on this feat. A tweet from the Prime Minister’s Office said the "PM has expressed joy on India being re-elected to the UNHRC".

Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Qatar were the other three Asian countries elected by the 193-member UNGA Tuesday to the 47-member UNHRC.

Mukerji said India believes in dialogue and peaceful resolution of disputes and wants the same approaches to be applied to resolving human rights issues, rather than "resorting to polarisation".

The Indian pledge given to the UN ahead of the election broadens the definition of human rights to encompass empowerment of women, sustained and inclusive development, right to information and transparency, and the accessibility to information communication technologies.

Mukerji told IANS: "This broad-based approach draws on India’s traditions" and Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised this in his address to the UN last month while articulating the nation’s more inclusive definition of human rights.

Mukerji referred to the mechanisms and institutions in India for human rights that include the National Human Rights Commission, civil society, independent media, and transparency and right to information, which includes access to information communications technology.

As the world’s largest democracy, India can share with other countries its experiences in utilising these to help promote human rights globally, he said.

Mukerji pointed out that India, when it was on the cusp of independence in 1946, introduced a draft resolution in the UNGA for declaring genocide a crime that can also take place in peace time and can be prosecuted for internationally.

India also played an active role in the drafting and adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

(With inputs from IANS)

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