Jaishankar takes strong stand on human rights violation

Avoid interference while addressing human rights violations: S Jaishankar at UNHRC

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has come under the UNHRC’s spotlight on several human rights issues

The violation of human rights anywhere in the world should be addressed duly respecting the national sovereignty of the concerned country and without interfering in its internal affairs, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday.

He also called for an assessment of the achievements and failures of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“We believe that violation of and gaps in the implementation of human rights should be addressed in a fair and just manner, with objectivity, non-selectivity, transparency and with due respect to the principles of non-interference in internal affairs and national sovereignty,” Jaishankar said, addressing the UNHRC, which commenced its 46th session on Monday.

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The statement by the External Affairs Minister was significant as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over the past couple of years not only drew flak from the international human rights organisations but also repeatedly came under the UNHRC’s spotlight on several issues. 

New Delhi, however, has been steadfastly countering the UNHRC’s critical statements – be it on the shutdowns and restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after the Modi Government’s August 5, 2019 move to strip the state of its special status and reorganise it into two Union Territories, or the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), or the February 2020 riots in Delhi, or the process of updating the National Register of Citizens in Assam or, more recently, police actions on farmers protesting against the new farm laws.

The Modi Government resisted what it perceived as UNHRC’s bid to interfere in the internal affairs of India, repeatedly arguing that enacting laws was its “sovereign prerogative” and violation of laws could not be condoned under the pretext of human rights.

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“Our approach, Madam President, is based on our own experience as an inclusive and pluralistic society and a vibrant democracy,” Jaishankar said as he virtually addressed the UNHRC, which last month elected Nazhat Shameem Khan, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations Office at Geneva, to serve as its President for 2021.

“Our Constitution has enshrined basic human rights as Fundamental rights, guaranteeing civil and political rights, stipulating provisions for the progressive realisation of economic, social and cultural rights,” the External Affairs Minister said, adding: “These continue to evolve through legislation by Parliament, progressive interpretation of laws by the judiciary and active participation of civil society and citizens.”

With the UNHRC completing 15 years since its establishment, Jaishankar stressed on an assessment of “its achievements, reflect on its failures and deliberate on the ways to strengthen and reform it so as to enable it to achieve the objectives for which it has been set up”. “India, as always, is ready to contribute in this endeavour”.

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