United Nations Human Rights Council and India

Published on - March 07, 2022

International Issue 

Source: The Hindu

Why in discussion?

Recently, India did not participate in the voting in the United Nations Human Rights Council in 'Geneva'. This council has proposed the establishment of an international commission to investigate Russia's actions in Ukraine.

The move is significant in the sense that the voting took place after India's meeting with the 'quad' countries.

India had earlier not participated in voting on similar resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council.

India also did not participate in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution on security at four nuclear power stations and several nuclear waste sites, including Chernobyl, after the Russians took control of them.

United Nations Human Rights Council:


The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world.


This council was constituted by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 2006. It replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) serves as the secretariat of the Human Rights Council.

OHCHR is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.


It is made up of 47 United Nations member states that are elected by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

The United Nations takes into account the contribution of participating states to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as the voluntary pledges and commitments made by them in this regard.

The membership of the council is based on equitable geographical distribution. Its seats are distributed as follows:

African countries: 13 seats

Asia-Pacific countries: 13 seats

Latin American and Caribbean countries: 8 seats

Western European and other countries: 7 seats

Eastern European countries: 6 seats

The term of the members of the council is three years and no member is eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

Process and Mechanism:

Universal Periodic Review: The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) undertakes the assessment of human rights situations in all UN member states.

Advisory Committee: It serves as the "think tank" of the Council providing expertise and advice on human rights issues thematically.

Grievance Process: It allows individuals and organizations to bring matters related to human rights violations to the attention of the Council.

UN Special Procedures: These are made up of Special Reporters, Special Representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, investigate, advice, and publicly report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries. Huh.


Related to membership: The composition of the Council's membership has been a significant concern for some critics, which sometimes include countries that are viewed as having widespread human rights abuses.

Countries such as China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela are included in this council despite allegations of human rights abuses.

Inconsistent focus: It should be known that in the year 2018, the US had pulled out of the 'United Nations Human Rights Council', because it believed that the council was acting inconsistently against Israel. The largest number of resolutions have been passed till date.

America has again joined the organization.

India and United Nations Human Rights Council:

Recently, a group of Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations (UN) has written a letter to the Government of India expressing concern over the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020.

In the year 2020, the National Human Rights Commission of India presented its mid-term report to the Council as part of the third round of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.

India was elected to the council for a period of three years with effect from 1 January 2019.