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India appears all set to win election to UN Human Rights Council unopposed

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India had previously been elected to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017 term.

 

United Nations, Oct 12 (PTI) India appears set to be elected to the United Nations’s top human rights body in the Asia-Pacific category for a period of three years.

The 193-member UN General Assembly will elect new members on Friday to the UN Human Rights Council. The members are elected by the absolute majority through a secret ballot. Countries need a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.

India will be vying for the seat in the Asia Pacific category. Along with India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and the Philippines will also stake a claim in the same regional group. Given that there are five nations vying for five seats in the Asia Pacific category, India’s election to the Council is all but certain.

Ahead of the election, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin had tweeted that “Pitching together. Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji, India & the Philippines stake claim to 5 seats for Asia-Pacific region at Human Rights Council elections.”

The new members will serve a term of three years beginning January 1, 2019. India had previously been elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017 term. Its last tenure had ended on December 31, 2017, and in accordance with the rules, it was not eligible for immediate re-election since it had already served two consecutive terms.

Created by the Assembly in March 2006 as the principal United Nations body dealing with human rights, the Human Rights Council comprises 47 elected Member States.

On the basis of equitable geographical distribution, Council seats are allocated to the five regional groups as follows: the African States, 13 seats; Asia Pacific States, 13 seats; the Eastern European States, 6 seats; Latin American and Caribbean States, 8 seats; and Western European and other States, 7 seats.

All five of the General Assembly’s regional groups submitted competition-free slates, meaning that all candidates, regardless of their rights records, are virtually assured seats on the council.

Since 18 nations are vying for a total of 18 seats across five geographical groups, they are expected to be elected unopposed. Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Somalia and Togo are vying for five seats in the African States category, Bulgaria and Czech Republic for two seats in the Eastern European States group, Argentina, Bahamas and Uruguay for three seats in the Latin American & Caribbean States group and Austria, Denmark and Italy for three vacant seats in the Western European & other States category.

On the eve of the elections, rights group Human Rights Watch said UN member countries should oppose the candidacies of the Philippines and Eritrea for the Human Rights Council because of their “egregious human rights records.

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All leads in global terror attacks ultimately leads to ‘single source’, says PM Modi

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Prime Minister Modi also expressed concern over the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

 

Singapore| Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told US Vice President Mike Pence that all the traces and all the leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a “single source and single place of origin”, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Modi, who held talks with Pence on a wide range of bilateral and global issues of mutual interests on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here, also expressed concern over the participation of terrorists in the elections in Pakistan.

Briefing the reporters after the meeting, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said there was some discussion on the issue of terrorism. Pence referred to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the deadly Mumbai terror attack on November 26 and hailed cooperation between the two sides on counter-terrorism, Gokhale said.

Some 166 people were killed in the attack carried out by Pakistan-based 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.

Modi thanked Pence for his words and reminded him that in one way or another all the traces and all the leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a “single source and single place of origin”, without naming any country or organization.

He was apparently referring to Pakistan. A number of terrorist attacks across the world have been carried out by people of Pakistani origin. On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed in a mass shooting by a Pakistani origin married couple in San Bernardino, California.

A Pakistani-origin man was among three knife-wielding militants responsible for carrying out the brutal terror attack in London that killed seven people and injured 49 in June 2017.

Prime Minister Modi also expressed concern over the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

“He (Modi) did point out that the mainstreaming of people involved in the Mumbai attacks in a political process which has taken place in the recent elections in Pakistan should be a matter of serious concern not just to the two countries – India and US – but to the international community,” Gokhale said.

Some of the dreaded Pakistani militant leaders, accused of spreading religious hatred and instigating sectarian violence, were among hundreds of candidates in the July 25 elections.

Hafiz Saeed-led banned Jamat-ud Dawah, a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, had fielded its candidates from the platform of little known political entity Allah-u-Akbar Tehreek (AAT).

Another extremist outfit Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), which was banned in Pakistan till early this year, had also fielded dozens of candidates including those who are on Pakistan’s terrorism watch list.

“There was some good understanding of the areas of how we move forward in building cooperation on counter-terrorism and both countries recognized that this is a challenge which we have to fight together and to fight along with the rest of the international community,” Gokhale said.

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PM Modi meets premiers of Australia, Thailand in Singapore

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Modi also said he was confident that his visit to Singapore would impart fresh momentum to New Delhi’s growing partnership with ASEAN and East Asia Summit nations.

 

Singapore| Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday held bilateral meetings with the premiers of Australia and Thailand and discussed ways to further strengthen ties, including in areas of trade, defense, and security.

Prime Minister Modi began his two-day visit to Singapore Wednesday by delivering his keynote address at the prestigious Fintech Festival.

He became the first head of government to address the world’s largest event on financial technology.

The prime minister held bilateral meetings with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here.

“PM Narendra Modi met with PM of Australia Scott Morrison on the margins of East Asia Summit in Singapore. Both leaders had a good discussion on deepening ties in trade and investment, defense and security and other areas of bilateral cooperation,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.

“PM Narendra Modi met PM of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha on sidelines of EAS Summit. Cooperation in trade and investment, defense and security and connectivity were discussed,” he said in another tweet.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Modi’s meeting with Morrison was “fruitful”.

Modi also held bilateral meetings with global leaders, including US Vice President Pence and Singapore premier Lee Hsien Loong.

During his visit to Singapore, Modi will attend the East Asia Summit, an ASEAN-India informal meet, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership summit.

Before leaving for Singapore, Modi said in New Delhi that his participation in the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits symbolized India’s “continued commitment” to strengthen its engagement with ASEAN members and with the wider Indo-Pacific region.


Modi also said he was confident that his visit to Singapore would impart fresh momentum to New Delhi’s growing partnership with ASEAN and East Asia Summit nations.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten Southeast Asian countries, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other Asian states.

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Sri Lanka crisis: UN chief condemns President’s decision to dissolve Parliament

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Sri Lanka was plunged into a political crisis after Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with former president Rajapaksa.

 

United Nations, Nov 11 (PTI) UN chief Antonio Guterres has expressed concern over Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve the nation’s Parliament, underlining the “utmost importance” of respecting democratic processes and resolving differences in accordance with the rule of law.

Sri Lanka’s political crisis deepened Friday as President Sirisena dissolved the Parliament and announced snap polls on January 5 after it became evident that he did not have enough support in the House for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was appointed by him under controversial circumstances.

The Secretary-General “learned with concern” Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Sri Lanka’s parliament and move to new parliamentary elections, a statement issued on Saturday by Secretary-General Guterres’ Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Guterres underlined the “utmost importance of respecting democratic processes and institutions and resolving differences in accordance with the rule of law and due process.”

He renewed his call on the Sri Lankan government to ensure peace and safety for all the countrymen and uphold its commitments to human rights, justice and reconciliation.

Sri Lanka was plunged into a political crisis after Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with former president Rajapaksa.

Wickremesinghe, who dubbed the move as a “constitutional coup”, has refused to vacate his official residence, saying he is the lawful prime minister and that the president has no constitutional right to replace him.

Amid the ongoing political tensions in Sri Lanka, Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer last month met the Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya stressing Guterres’ message for the need to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions.

Guterres earlier said he was following Sri Lanka’s deepening political crisis with “great concern” and called on the nation’s government to respect democratic values and constitutional process.

President Sirisena signed a gazette notification to dissolve the nation’s parliament with effect from Friday midnight.

According to the Gazette notice, nominations to contest the snap election would be taken between November 19 and 26. The election will be held January 5 and the new parliament would be convened on January 17.

Sirisena issued the gazette noticing that the parliament stands dissolved some 21 months ahead of its schedule in August 2020.

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