Pakistan along with China, Russia and Cuba won seats on the UN Human Rights Council despite strong opposition from activist groups over their abysmal human rights records. In a secret-ballot voting in the 193-member UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Pakistan secured 169 votes, Uzbekistan received 164, Nepal 150 and China 139. Saudi Arabia lost the race with just 90 votes.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the UN body for electing China, Russia and Cuba to the agency tasked with defending human rights. "The election of China, Russia, and Cuba to the UN Human Rights Council validates the US decision to withdraw from the Council in 2018 and use other venues to protect and promote universal human rights.? At #UNGA this year, we did just that," Pompeo tweeted.
"US commitment to human rights is far more than just words. We have identified and punished human rights abusers in Xinjiang, Myanmar, Iran, and elsewhere, and call for all nations to take this moment to recommit to the #UDHR, he said in another tweet. 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, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Uzbekistan, saying their human rights records make them unqualified.
"The bad news: governments just elected China to the UN Human Rights Council despite its severe repression in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. The good news: the number of governments voting for it declined from 180 last time to 139 now. The fear is melting," Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth tweeted after the vote. Pakistan is currently serving on the HRC since January 1, 2018. With its re-election, the country will continue as a member for another three-year term commencing on January 1, 2021.
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. To be elected, a country needed to obtain the required majority of 97 votes. Since the HRC's establishment in 2006, this is the fifth time that Pakistan has been elected to the United Nations' human rights agency.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was pleased with his country's re-election to UN Human Rights Council for another 3-yr term. "We remain committed to upholding human rights for all, prioritizing advancement of tolerance and constructive engagement. We stand resolute against Islamophobia and in support of mutual respect, Khan said. Earlier, the Foreign Office in Islamabad said 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."