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Jakarta Post

UNHRC membership '€˜should boost RI'€™s human rights'€™

  • Bagus BT Saragih

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, October 23, 2014   /  10:03 am

Indonesia has successfully retained its seat on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in an election held at the world body'€™s headquarters in New York.

The news comes as many are hoping newly inaugurated President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo will take concrete steps to resolve past human rights violence.

'€œIndonesia'€™s reelection is a special present for President Jokowi on his second day in office,'€ Indonesia'€™s permanent representative to the UN, Desra Percaya, said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Indonesia, which was elected for the fourth time, was among five Asian countries that vied for UNHRC seats for the 2015-2017 period alongside Thailand, India, Bangladesh and Qatar.

However, with only four Asian seats available, junta-ruled Thailand lost its bid as it received votes from only 136 of the UN'€™s 193 member states, the least among the five. India won 162 votes, followed by Indonesia ( 152 ), Bangladesh ( 149 ) and Qatar ( 142 ).

Eleven other countries were also elected as council members. They were Albania and Latvia representing Eastern Europe; the Netherlands and Portugal (Western Europe); Botswana, Congo, Ghana and Nigeria (Africa), as well as Paraguay, Bolivia and El Salvador (Latin America and the Caribbean).

  • RI reelected as member of UN Human Rights Council
  • Reelection displays international trust toward Indonesia 
  • It should boost Jokowi'€™s commitment to resolving rights abuses, civil group says

The council'€™s outgoing members are Austria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Kuwait, Peru, the Philippines and Romania.

'€œIndonesia'€™s reelection is also a real display of trust by the international community in Indonesia'€™s human rights protection and promotion, strengthening democracy consolidation, as well as a form of optimism in our new government,'€ Desra said.

Indonesia was among the council'€™s first members after it was established in 2006. It was reelected again in 2007 and 2011.

Human rights activists, however, criticized Indonesia'€™s constant membership on the council, saying it had failed to translate into true efforts back home, given its '€œpoor'€ human rights records.

Apart from numerous prolonged and unresolved past abuses, growing violence and discrimination against minorities, corruption and the mistreatment of refugees continued to capture concern.

'€œIt was not Indonesia'€™s first election so that'€™s not very special actually,'€ Choirul Anam, the deputy executive director of the Human Rights Working Group, said.

Under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono'€™s leadership, Indonesia seemed to '€œmerely pursue normative recognition,'€ he said.

'€œIf Jokowi wants to make it special, the reelection should boost his commitment to human rights so Indonesia'€™s role in the international arena can truly reflect domestic progress. That way, Jokowi can bring Indonesia to a higher level in terms of human rights than it was under Yudhoyono,'€ Anam said.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the UNHRC addresses human rights violations and makes recommendations. It discusses thematic human rights issues, reviews countries'€™ rights records and acts on complaints.

The council currently has 47 member states elected to a 3-year term and not eligible for re-election after two consecutive terms.

The seats are distributed as follows: 13 seats for African states, 13 for Asia, 8 for Latin America and the Caribbean, 7 for Western Europe and other states, and 6 for Eastern Europe. One of its routine mechanisms is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which regularly examines the human rights performance of UN member states without exception.

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