Critics slam, administration lauds PH seat in UN Human Rights Council

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The Philippines on Friday won a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council despite strong opposition from an global human rights group, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said.

The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections at the worldwide organisation for new members to the UN Human Rights Council.

The 18 new members were selected from five regional blocs of countries, and their elections were largely predetermined since they were not challenged by other countries. India got the highest number of votes among all 18 countries in the five regional categories. It is serving as Vice President representing the Asia-Pacific Group, according to the DFA. Along with India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and the Philippines also staked a claim in the same regional group.

For the first time in the council's history, the five voting regions had only put forward as many candidates as there were seats available, thus removing any competition.

India secured the highest 188 votes.

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.

The election of Bangladesh to the council is recognition of the progress the country has made in different human rights indices, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN Masud Bin Momen thinks.

The Philippines was granted another three-year term, from 2019 to 2021, in the council after 165 of the 192 member-states voted for it.

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Countries can be elected for only two consecutive terms and India took a year's break when its term ended in 2017.

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

The African region has 13 seats, Latin American and Caribbean region has 8, the East European region 6, and the West Europen and others group 7.

The council also sends out independent experts and has set up commissions of inquiry to report on human rights violations in countries including Syria, North Korea, Burundi, Myanmar and South Sudan.

"Yet again, countries with poor human rights records ran uncontested".

Campaigners had urged United Nations member states to oppose the candidacy of the Philippines and Eritrea and said the choice of Bahrain and Cameroon raised "significant concerns".

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will be taking over as the new United Nations human rights commissioner, succeeding Jordanian diplomat Zeid-Ra'ad al Hussein who released the report.