KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — Malaysia has presented its candidature for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) seat for the term 2022-2024, with the election to be held on Thursday (Oct 14) at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly.
While welcoming Malaysia’s candidacy social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said if successful in securing a seat in the council, it will certainly add prestige to Malaysia and put the country in a very good position to advocate and speak up on human rights issues all over the world.
“Of course, our first hurdle at the moment is to ensure that when we put out our bid for a seat in the council, we will be able to justify to the international body what we have done and what we are doing, and what are the challenges that we are facing when comes to human rights,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
The founding member of The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) pointed out Malaysia has made significant progress since the establishment of SUHAKAM in 1999, adding that the commission has been playing an active and constructive role in upholding justice in cases of human rights violations.
“By having SUHAKAM, it goes to show that we pay great attention to the question of human rights. By having SUHAKAM to take up the issues, it means that we in Malaysia are very concerned about human rights issues,” he said.
Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah on Friday said Malaysia wanted to be the facilitator for conciliation, the enabler for cooperation, and builder of consensus as a member of the UNHRC and is ready to play its role as a constructive partner and work closely with the member states to advance the global human rights agenda.
Senior Analyst at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Harris Zainul said Saifuddin’s statement is neither diplomatic jargon nor empty rhetoric when considering the state of global affairs today.
Harris said as a member of the Human Rights Council, Malaysia will be able to share its views and thoughts on how it can harmonize human rights with “Asian values”.
For far too long Asian non-democratic countries have used the idea of “Asian values”, oftentimes described along with terms that justify state oppression and as being incompatible with Western human rights.
“We can, and we must make clear that human rights is not a “Western concept”, but rather something inalienable to all of humanity,” he said.
He stressed that this is particularly important as the world emerges from the post-COVID-19 pandemic phase where a human rights-centered approach will be necessary for all countries to not just recover but recover equitably.
“At home, our potential role at the Human Rights Council can also mean the further mainstreaming of human rights in Malaysia,” he added.
Malaysia’s UNHRC candidature to the council is currently endorsed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia Pacific regional grouping (APG) of the Human Rights Council. Malaysia has been an active member of the Human Rights Council twice before, from 2006-2009 and 2010-2013.