Ex-diplomat Preeti Saran has been elected to an Asia Pacific seat on the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) of the United Nations. Saran, who recently retired from her post of External Affairs Ministry Secretary (East), was elected to the 18-member panel of CESCR on Wednesday. With 36 years of experience in her field, Saran had also served as the ambassador to Vietnam and was a minister and a counsellor at India’s mission to the UN in Geneva. India nominated Saran in November and her nomination was circulated to UN members by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on November 23, leading to the elections.
The CESCR wing of the UN was set up in 1985 by the ECOSOC with an aim to keep a check on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which has been ratified by 169 countries. These countries are required to submit reports to the CESCR every five years on how they protect those rights. The members of this panel serve as experts and do not represent their countries even though they may have been nominated by their own nation. The meetings of CESCR happen in Geneva for four weeks every year. Members of this wing are elected for a term of four years by ECOSOC Member States and can be re-elected. The recent elections happened for the other nine members.
Making CESCR more gender neutral
Earlier, the panel of CESCR, which has 18 members, was criticised for having only five women on it. Preeti Saran’s election adds to the ratio. The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, an international NGO which has the responsibility of monitoring the CESCR, in 2018 had said, “Unfortunately the gender balance on the Committee remains poor.”
“States should be very concerned by this gender imbalance on a UN human rights treaty body, particularly given the Committee’s mandate to monitor implementation of States obligations to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights,” it commented.
The other Asian member elected is Shiqiu Chen of China, whose term ends in 2022.
Picture Credits: Preeti Saran
Rachna Chandira is an intern with SheThePeople.Tv