Pakistan has been re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council despite opposition from activist groups over its abysmal human rights records.
Among the five candidates from the Asia-Pacific region vying for four seats in the UN’s premiere human rights body, Pakistan secured the highest number of votes, the Foreign Office said.
In a secret-ballot voting in the 193-member UN General Assembly on that race, Pakistan secured 169 votes, Uzbekistan received 164, Nepal 150, China 139 and Saudi Arabia lost the race with just 90 votes.
Under the Human Rights Council’s rules, seats are allocated to regions to ensure geographical representation. Except for the Asia-Pacific contest, the election of 15 members to the 47-member Human Rights Council was all but decided in advance because all the other regional groups had uncontested slates.
Last week, a coalition of human rights groups from Europe, the US and Canada called on UN member states to oppose the election of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, saying their human rights records make them unqualified.
Russia and Cuba, running unopposed, also won the seats.
Pakistan is currently serving on the HRC since January 1, 2018. With its re-election, Pakistan will continue as a member for another three-year term commencing on January 1, 2021.
Since the HRC’s establishment in 2006, this is the fifth time that Pakistan has been elected to the United Nations’ premier body on human rights.
The Foreign Office said that “international community once again reposed confidence in Pakistan, recognising its contribution to the national and global human rights agenda and strong credentials as a consensus builder in the council.”
“Pakistan remains firmly committed to upholding, promoting and safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms for all and will sustain its efforts towards ensuring that the HRC’s work is guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, dialogue and cooperation,” it said.
“In line with Pakistan’s commitment, we will prioritise advancement of tolerance, respect and constructive engagement in the HRC,” the Foreign Office said.