Bangladesh elected to the UN Human Rights Council

Bangladesh has been elected a member to the top UN human-rights forum for 2015-2017 term in what the foreign minister touts as a massive global endorsement of the Sheikh Hasina government amid a barrage of criticism by international human-rights groups.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 21 Oct 2014, 04:37 PM
Updated : 21 Oct 2014, 07:57 PM

In the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council’s “highly competitive” elections held in New York on Tuesday, it was pitted against South Asian giant India, Indonesia, Qatar and Thailand in the Asia group.

Bangladesh had been there before, as recently as 2011’ but this time it had to ride over a vicious propaganda where money was poured to snuff out it chances in the balloting.

It was no less a person than Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali – the man who spearheaded the campaign to garner support from far and wide – who first broke the news to bdnews24.com.

India came out on top with most votes in the group followed by Indonesia. Bangladesh secured 149 votes – the third highest votes in the group while Thailand was eliminated.
“This win,” an elated Mahmood Ali declared, “again proves that Bangladesh is absolutely on the right track under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina.”
It was “all the more pleasing as it comes after impressive wins by Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury as Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s chair and by Saber Hossain Chowdhury as president of the global parliamentary group”, the country's top diplomat enthused.
Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the UN AK Abdul Momen termed it a “rare” international honour for Bangladesh having notched these successive victories in the global elections.
He told bdnews24.com that this UN human-rights council election victory proved that international community had confidence in the incumbent administration in Dhaka.
Momen, however, said that some Hong Kong-based organisations had been “aggressively campaigning against Bangladesh so that no one votes for us”.
“They were spending money on the propaganda. But (UN) member states have kept their confidence in the current leadership in Bangladesh and voted us in all elections.”
Officials who closely worked on the campaign told bdnews24.com that they had been worried about the election since Bangladesh was much criticised after the Jan 5 elections and the worst-ever building collapse last year.
“The (foreign) minister took it very seriously. Only for this election, he personally wrote to every ambassador or high commissioner seeking support,” said a senior official.
“Even he sent his deputy (State Minister M Shahriar Alam) to New York during the elections,” added the official who declined to be named.
This victory sent “a strong reaffirmation of the present government’s proactive diplomatic and political contributions and commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights nationally and globally”, the foreign ministry in a statement said.
Bangladesh has tasted victory in this election before.
It had been a member of this UN body for the two successive terms until 2012.
According to the rules, a member is not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms that compelled Dhaka to take a break.
The members of the General Assembly vote in the election through direct and secret ballot.
Bangladesh floated its candidature in mid-2013.
This Human Right Council created in 2006 oversees global human-rights standards, mechanisms and normative deliberations on promotion and protection of human rights.
The Council’s membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Seats are distributed as 13 each for African States and Asia-Pacific States, eight for Latin American and Caribbean States, seven for Western European and other States, and six for Eastern European States.
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