India talking to members to avoid abstentions at UNHRC

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NEW DELHI: India is working overtime to reduce abstentions during procedural vote on Pakistan sponsored debate on the Kashmir issue at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. The UNHRC session will run from September 9 to 27.

To gain maximum support from the 47-member body, the Indian government and its delegation in Geneva are in touch with each of the European, African, Asian and Latin American countries to translate their in-principle support into votes, ET has learnt.

India wants to avoid a situation where member-countries abstain en masse during the vote on Kashmir. India has broader support than Pakistan but that needs to be translated into votes, an official said.

Even as special attention is being paid to the European bloc at UNHRC, India is not taking any support for granted, including from African, Latin American and Asian members, the official said. While African countries are backing India in principle, New Delhi wants the support to be registered at UNHRC.

Hopes for support from Latin American countries are strong against a backdrop of growing ties between the two sides. PM Modi is scheduled to visit Brazil in November for the BRICS summit.

India is also talking to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. China — with its poor human rights record and the continuing crisis in Hong Kong — may support a debate but stop short of voting on a countryspecific resolution. India, however, is not taking any chances and is trying to get maximum support in case China decides to back Pakistan.

India also plans to approach China ahead of the UNHRC debate. One of the MEA secretaries is leading the Indian delegation to UNHRC. Ajay Bisaria, who was India’s ambassador to Pakistan till Islamabad decided to downgrade ties, will assist the delegation, another official said.

Egypt, Tunisia, South Africa and few others are African members of UNHRC. Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay are also its members. India’s neighbours — Afghanistan and Bangladesh — are also in UNHRC.

The council’s membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Seats are distributed as follows — Africa: 13; Asia-Pacific: 13; Latin America and Caribbean: 8; western Europe: 7; eastern Europe: 6.

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