India re-elected to key United Nation committee

United Nations: Adding yet another feather to its cap, India has been re-elected to a key UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination, more than a week after securing membership of the powerful Joint Inspection Unit, the only external oversight body of the United Nations.

India`s nominee Ambassador Dilip Lahiri was re-elected to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), a body under the UN Human Rights system, for a three-year term beginning January 20, 2012.

He secured 147 votes out of 167 cast in the elections held at the UN headquarters here on Wednesday. The win comes over a week after India won a key election to the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) defeating China in a direct fight and returning to the UN`s powerful external oversight body after a gap of 35 years.

India`s Ambassador to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri said he was "very pleased" at the CERD win, adding that "we had a good candidate." The win is part of a "series of elections that we have won. What is important is to not only win but to win in style," Puri told PTI, referring to Lahiri securing nearly 90 per cent of the votes in the election.

He said there was very little time between the JIU and CERD elections and he is pleased that India could still manage an "impressive" result. The CERD election is the latest in a series of wins that India has been registering at various UN bodies in recent times.

The other election that it has its eyes on is for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The Indian mission is "very excited" with the latest victory and the general refrain around is that "now let`s push our head towards the big one," Puri said.

Lahiri has been India`s ambassador to Peru, Bolivia, Spain and France and has vast experience of multilateral diplomacy in the UN, the Non-aligned Movement and the Commonwealth covering security and disarmament, international law, human rights and social issues.

He has supervised the preparation of India`s reports to the monitoring bodies of various UN human rights instruments and also participated in the process of amending domestic laws to conform to UN human rights instruments to which India became party.

He has been a member of the CERD since 2008 and will complete his current term on January 19, 2012. Other members who were elected were from Romania, Colombia, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Guatemala, US, Russia and China.

CERD is a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its state parties, which are obliged to submit regular reports to it on how the rights are being implemented.

CERD meets in Geneva and holds two three-week sessions annually.