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India elected to the first UN Human Rights Council

New Delhi
May 10, 2006 

India scored a major success yesterday at the United Nations when it was elected to the first United Nations Human Rights Council securing the highest number of votes among the contested seats by polling 173 votes out of 190 votes. 

This was a recognition of India’s diplomatic standing in the comity of nations today and its commitment to promotion and protection of human rights. It is also a reflection of the success that India has had with its diplomatic demarches made in New York and through the Indian Missions abroad to the members of the United Nations. 

As a democratic and pluralistic country, committed to the rule of law, Indian presence on the new Human Rights Council would bring a unique perspective to the new body during its formative phase. India has been a committed supporter of the UN human rights system and the promotion and protection of human rights is ingrained in its domestic and foreign policies. 

In one of the largest elections at the United Nations, 47 members of the Human Rights Council were elected by secret ballot. These elections were held in pursuance of a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, which was adopted on 15 March 2006 to establish the Human Rights Council (HRC) to replace the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Under the current distribution of seats, the Asian Group has 13 seats, African Group has 13, Latin American and Carribean Group has 8, Western and other Countries Group has 7, and Eastern European has 6 seats. The African Group was the only one to produce a clean slate, with the number of candidates and seats being equal. For the rest of the regional groups, especially in the case of Asia and East Europe, the number of candidates considerably exceeded the number of available seats, making it a fiercely contested election. After India, other top vote getters among the contested seats were Brazil (165), Indonesia (165), Bangladesh (160), Japan (158), Argentina (158), Malaysia (158), Germany (154) and Mexico (154). 

Following the HRC elections, a draw of lots was held to decide the term of the newly elected members. India has been drawn for a one-year term. The first year of the Human Rights Council is important since the work methods and procedures would be decided and the review of the special provisions and mechanisms from the CHR would be carried out. The countries would be eligible for re-election to a full second term of three years. 

India attaches great importance to the newly constituted Human Rights Council and will work to make the Council a strong, effective and efficient body capable of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.