Critics slam, administration lauds PH seat in UN Human Rights Council

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FILE PHOTO. United Nations Human Rights Council

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 13) — The vote to give the Philippines a seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was not without critics from the United Nations (UN) itself.

The Philippines was granted another three-year term, from 2019 to 2021, in the council after 165 of the 192 member-states voted for it.

READ: PH wins UN Human Rights Council seat

This did not sit well with the UN Representatives from international human rights organizations.

"In ridiculous vote devoid of competition, UN General Assembly elected #Philippines, #Eritrea, #Bahrain & #Cameroon to be among new members of @UN #HumanRights Council in 2019-2021. Such votes make mockery of word "election"," said Louis Charbonneau, United Nations Director of the Human Rights Watch, in a tweet.

Charbonneau added that the UNHRC should not be used by rights-abusing member states to shield themselves.

"#HRC member states should seek to neutralize any attempts by its worst members to shield themselves and other serial rights abusers & keep doing good work on #Yemen, #Myanmar, #Syria, #Burundi & other crises," Charbonneau said.

Amnesty International UN Representative Sherine Tadros called the elections that gave the Philippines a seat a "mockery", since there was exactly the same number of open seats as the number of candidates.

"Moments ago the UN General Assembly "elected" -amongst others -Bahrain,Philippines and Eritrea to serve on the Human Rights Council in a process that makes a mockery of the word elections (number of candidates matched the number of seats - there was no competition) #HRCelections," Tadros said in a tweet.

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, on the other hand, said the election meant that the UN had acknowledged President Rodrigo Duterte's violent anti-drug campaign as essential.

"With the county's re-election, the President's campaign against illegal drugs, corruption, and criminality has, in effect, been acknowledged by the international community as essential to the protection of the right to life, liberty and property of every peace-loving and law-abiding citizen of our State," Panelo said.

He went as far as saying that the anti-drug campaign was the Philippines' brand of human rights advocacy.

"We thank and commend the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the States that supported our country's bid, for affirming the Philippines' brand of human rights advocacy under the Duterte administration as truly responsive to our people's needs and aspirations for a better and more dignified life," Panelo said.

Duterte has made no secret of his disdain for human rights groups in several of his speeches, often launching tirades against personalities like UN Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard and more recently former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein.