Pakistan: election to UN rights body spotlights failings

The ICJ, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are urging Pakistan to take immediate steps towards meeting “the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,” following the country’s election to the Human Rights Council.

Today, the UN General Assembly selected 15 states to serve as members of the UN Human Rights Council from January 2018 to December 2020.

From the Asia-Pacific region, Nepal, Qatar, Afghanistan and Pakistan were selected out of five candidates.

To secure the UN Human Rights Council membership, Pakistan pledged its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.

However, the pledge failed to address directly many of the most serious human rights issues facing Pakistan, including enforced disappearances, the use of the death penalty, blasphemy laws, the country’s use of military courts, women’s rights including the right to education, and threats to the work of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists.

According to UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251, “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.” The Resolution also provides that, “when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.”

Pakistan’s abuses have been highlighted by various national and international human rights organizations, UN treaty-monitoring bodies, and special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council.

Pakistan has affirmed in its election pledge that it is “firmly resolved to uphold, promote and safeguard universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.”

Given the pressing human rights issues in the country, the ICJ, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch urge Pakistan to take the necessary action to fulfill these responsibilities.


Frederick Rawski (Bangkok), ICJ Asia Pacific Regional Director, e: frederick.rawski(a)

Reema Omer (London), ICJ International Legal Adviser, South Asia t: +447889565691; e: reema.omer(a)

The full statement with additional information: Pakistan-ElectiontoHRC-Advocacy-2017-ENG (in PDF)