Tushar Mehta to head Indian team for evolution of human rights record at UNHRC

Tushar Mehta.

The Indian team that is going to participate in a periodic review of the country’s human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva will be heading by Solicitor general Tushar Mehta on Thursday.

A UN working group will evaluate the national report from the Indian side as part of the nation’s fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of its human rights record.

The panel also reviews the records of a number of other nations from November 7 to November 18.

India’s most recent such review took place in May 2017.

Several topics, including the defence of citizens’ fundamental rights and the state of the nation’s minority communities, are anticipated to be discussed at the review, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

The UPR is an “important mechanism that India fully supports”, and it is a “unique peer review process” of the Human Rights Council under which UN member states review the human rights performance of fellow states, the external affairs ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

India’s national report, which was presented on August 5, details the country’s efforts to advance and defend human rights, as well as the adoption of suggestions made at India’s third UPR in 2017.

After extensive stakeholder engagements with members of the court, national human rights institution, academia, civil society organisations, and the general public, the national report was created in partnership with the National Law University in New Delhi.

India has been engaged constructively with the members of the UNHRC and other fellow UN member states to promote and protect human rights globally. We have laid emphasis on dialogue, engagement and cooperation among various stakeholders,” the statement said.

“We have underlined the primacy of states in fulfilling their human rights obligations. We have endeavored to build consensus in the Council on various issues on its agenda and we participate in the deliberations in the council in a constructive manner,” it added.

Our strong commitment for the welfare of entire humanity, inspired by our civilizational ethos of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’ or ‘the World is one family’, provides a foundation on which our constitutional and legal framework for human rights has been built,” the statement said.

The UPR has emerged as “one of the successful human rights mechanisms, due to its universal character, constructive and consultative approach, and the importance it places on dialogue and cooperation amongst member states”, the statement noted.

At a UNHRC meeting in March 2023, the UPR outcome report for India will be adopted.

The Indian delegation, in addition to the solicitor general, consists of Sanjay Verma, secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, Indra Mani Pandey, India’s representative to the UN in Geneva, additional solicitor general KM Nataraj, senior officials from the ministries of external affairs, home affairs, women and child development, social justice and empowerment, minority affairs and rural development, and NITI Aayog, as well as the vice chancellor of the National Law University.