UN criticised over new human rights council members

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Bahrain, Cameroon and the Philippines were among a number of nations controversially elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, sparking sharp criticism from rights groups.

United Nations officials, meanwhile, declined to opine on the vote results but suggested all council members should be open to scrutiny of their own handling of human rights.

Eighteen new members - including Somalia, Eritrea, Cameroon, Bangladesh, and the Philippines - were voted into the Council on Friday from five regional blocs of countries.

India was vying for a seat in the Asia Pacific category.

India will be among the 13 members that represent the Asia-Pacific region on the council.

In January India will join China and Nepal, besides Pakistan, which were elected to the 47-member Council in previous years to serve three-year terms.

Following the election, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin told PTI that India's win with the highest number of votes "reflects India's standing in the global comity".

In the Asia Pacific category, India got 188 votes followed by Fiji with 187 votes, Bangladesh 178, Bahrain and Philippines 165 each.

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There five countries which have been endorsed by the regional group.

Haley urged the body to reform in a speech in Geneva in 2017 focusing on its anti-Israel bias and also its membership - which she said led to human rights abusers being protected on the council.

"We thank and commend the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the States that supported our country's bid, for affirming the Philippines' brand of human rights advocacy under the Duterte administration as truly responsive to our people's needs and aspirations for a better and more dignified life", Panelo said.

Its last tenure had ended on December 31, 2017 and in accordance with the rules, it was not eligible for immediate re-election since it had already served two consecutive terms.

"Such votes make mockery of word "election", said Louis Charbonneau, United Nations Director of the Human Rights Watch, in a tweet.

Given that there were five nations vying for five seats in the Asia Pacific category, India's election to the Council was all but certain.

Duterte has made no secret of his disdain for human rights groups in several of his speeches, often launching tirades against personalities like UN Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard and more recently former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein.

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