Unconvincing plea for membership from Malaysia at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council

By Émile Kinley-Gauthier, FORUM-ASIA

Malaysia was formerly a member of the Council twice in the past and its last mandate ended in 2013. As an observer State, the Malaysian delegation could not vote on resolutions at this session. It could have, however, chosen to sponsor resolutions but refrained from doing so. It only co-sponsored one resolution on technical cooperation and capacity-building (A/HRC/33/L.18). Malaysia delivered six statements during this session including one to endorse the UPR report of Thailand, one on water sanitation and one during the General Debate on the High Commissioner’s update. Apart from this, Malaysia was part of statements by the OIC.

Under Item 6, Malaysia congratulated Thailand on accepting its recommendations, as well as for accepting most of the recommendations made by States. Malaysia was not mentioned specifically during the High Commissioner’s update. The Malaysian delegation, speaking under Item 2, stressed on the importance of moving away from the current trend of polarisation at the Council. Regarding the OHCHR, Malaysia called for equal attention to all States and for true geographical representation. It is also interesting to note that, despite the limited engagement of Malaysia on sensitive issues throughout the session, the Malaysian delegation advocated for a broader engagement between the States and the Office, and amongst States themselves.

Despite the dire state of human rights inside the country, particularly in relation to the freedoms of expression and association Malaysia had shown some interest in running for a human rights Council seat next year. This interest to become a member of the Council for a third time does not seem to have affected its limited engagement at the Council. It did not participate in the side event organised by International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), which served as a public discussion with candidates for the Human Rights Council to pledge for their election.