General Debate at UN Human Rights Council

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The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its general debate on human rights situations that require its attention and its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, under which it heard the President of the Council present reports on his visits to Brazil and Bahrain in April and May this year.

In the general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, a series of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) raised a number of issues about violations of human rights in specific countries and regions, and also highlighted thematic violations, including women and women’s rights, violence against women and honour killings, and the right to development and to self determination.

The following NGOs took the floor: International Humanist and Ethical Union, Association for World Education, Hawa Society for Women, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Colombian Commission of Jurists, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH), North-South XXI, Interfaith International, World Muslim Congress, Centrist Democratic International, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA), Liberation, Human Rights Council of Australia, Federación de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, Baha’i International Community, International Institute for Peace, MINBYUN – Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Pax Romana, International Educational Development, Society Studies Centre, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Arab Commission for Human Rights, Union de l’action féminine, European Union of Public Relations, Cercle de recherche sur les droits et les devoirs de la personne humaine, Conectas Direitos Humanos, International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Amnesty International, Indian Council of Education, Human Rights Council of Australia, in a joint statement with Asian Legal Resource Centre, and Baha’i International Community, International Service for Human Rights, and Arab Commission for Human Rights.

Ambassador Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi of Nigeria, President of the Human Rights Council, presenting his report on his visit to Brazil from April 25 to April 30, said that the visit had included stops in Brasilia, Manaus, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. In Manaus, he met President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with whom he had a very constructive exchange of views on Brazil’s efforts to advance human rights domestically and internationally, vis-à-vis the Human Rights Council. President Lula had accepted Mr. Uhomoibhi’s invitation to address the Council on Monday, June 15.

Mr. Uhomoibhi said he also visited Bahrain from 26 to 29 of May 2009. The visit to Bahrain afforded him with the opportunity to meet and interact with the highest officials of Government and to exchange views with some representatives of civil society regarding different issues related to human rights. Mr. Uhomoibhi assured the Government of Bahrain of the readiness and availability of the Council and its mechanisms to be of help and to provide useful inputs to help address the common challenges.

In the debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, speakers underlined the vital importance of the system of special procedures. They had been instrumental in providing early warning and urgent action measures at the international level in order to assist States in the day to day implementation of human rights as well as in cases of human rights violations and crises. Some countries stressed that committees and special mandate holders should follow strictly their mandates and work in an objective manner. Unfortunately, some committee members were politicised, violating the code of conduct and over-riding the credible image and work of the committees. Speakers noted in that regard that States should respond promptly to special procedures, agree to requests for visits, give careful consideration to their reports, and engage in an appropriate and constructive way.

On human rights bodies and mechanisms, the following country delegations spoke: Czech Republic, Canada, Nigeria, Brazil, China, Bahrain and United States.

The following NGOs also took the floor: Conectas Direitos Humanos, International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Amnesty International, Indian Council of Education, Human Rights Council of Australia and International Service for Human Rights and Arab Commission for Human Rights.

This afternoon at 3 o’clock the Council will begin its consideration of the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Germany, Djibouti and Canada.

General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

CATHERINE BUCHS, of International Humanist and Ethical Union, said China continued to violate the human rights of its people in a number of key respects. China had adopted an interpretation of human rights which failed to conform to international standards. In Tibet, Tibetans were not given access to the same rights and freedoms as their Chinese neighbours, either in economic terms or in terms of freedom of speech. China executed more people each year than all other States combined – China did not safeguard the right to life, liberty, and security of person. Pervasive and extremely effective Government censorship denied Chinese citizens freedom of speech and freedom of the press. China should urgently consider, twenty years after Tienanmen Square, whether the time had now come to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to bring its concept of human rights into line with international standards.

DAVID LITTMAN, of Association for World Education, said that the Association urged the Council and the international community to insist that the Government of Sudan honoured its obligation to eliminate slavery and the slave trade on its territory, to improve its legislation and enforcement where necessary and to improve measures on the ground to release the enslaved and bring the slave traders to justice. The Association highlighted the need not only to release all slaves but also to reintegrate them into society and to provide socio-psychological care and education so that they might be fully restored to their proper status in the community.

ABLA MAHDI ABDELMONIEM, of Hawa Society for Women, thanked the international community and international civil society organizations working in Sudan in the war zones. They offered relief to the victims there, which were noble objectives; however when such organizations moved away from their humanitarian objective as was the case with some non-governmental organizations, and moved towards the incitement of hatred, this was deplorable. The Sudanese non-governmental organizations condemned these activities. She called on Arab non-governmental organizations in Arab and African countries to cooperate to eliminate these allegations of slavery which were completely fabricated, and which were not acceptable at all.

GAIL DAVIDSON, of Lawyers’ Right’s Watch Canada, said there should be a Special Rapporteur on armed conflict in Afghanistan to investigate the killings committed by United States or NATO troops. United States bombings had killed civilians, totally illegally, and victims had been denied justice. There were no mechanisms in place to investigate the situation and apply the law – killing of civilians was not a new phenomenon, as foreign troops took inadequate measures to avoid civilian deaths. The current increase in United States troops would result in more bombings and more civilian deaths. There should be a halt to all air strikes by foreign troops, and the Council should work quickly to ensure that Afghan people had access to the peaceful protection of international laws that was now denied to them.

STEPHAN CICCOLI, of Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, said regarding Pakistan and specifically the Swat valley, there was a clear danger to the lives of journalists. The organization urged the Pakistani Government to protect these journalists. In the last year, several journalists had died while on duty, some in mistake of their identity, some during fighting. Others had been beaten by law enforcement officials. The violent acts were an attempt to stop them from reporting and performing their legitimate work. Not protecting journalists and hindering them from doing their work was tantamount to ignoring the people’s legitimate right to know about their situation. The people in the region were frightened and did not know what to believe if they did not get the information from journalists.

ISABELLE HEYER, of Colombian Commission of Jurists, said between July 2002 and June 2008, more than 14,039 people lost their lives in Colombia because of socio-political violence, 1,205 persons were sentenced to extrajudicial executions, and there were 281 cases of forced disappearances in Colombia. Executions in Colombia were not isolated events but an extensive practice enforced by members of armed groups throughout the country. The media revealed recently a secret directive for the capturing and killing of members of armed groups. On 10 December 2008 the Vice-President of the Republic asked for forgiveness from members of armed groups and adopted measures to end such violence, but this proved futile as shown by the killing of Edwin Legarda. It was urgent to implement effective measures to eradicate these serious violations, and to put an end to them.

GIYOUN KIM, of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, said that despite United Nations resolutions and extensive efforts by the international community, there had been no substantive progress in Myanmar over the last decades, and there had recently been a fierce outcry as to the condemnation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The Government had broken its own laws as well as its international human rights commitments. The latest trial had been far from standards of due process and fairness. In order to ensure national reconciliation and democratic transition, all prisoners of conscience should be released immediately before the 2010 elections.

HORACIO RAVENNA, of Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH), said that it expressed its great concern about the systematic violation of human rights in Colombia. These included enforced disappearances, torture and murders, especially in the areas where indigenous peoples lived. This was due to, among others, a lack of an independent justice system. The organization was also concerned that there was an increase of more than 67 per cent of extrajudicial killings which could be directly attributed to law enforcement officials. There had been a de facto amnesty for perpetrators of those crimes and measures to combat impunity had been undermined.

LILY AUROVILLIAN, of North-South XXI, said that despite the continued reports submitted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and non-governmental organizations of the gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the situation of human rights in Iraq had not yet gained the attention of the Council. North-South XXI encouraged the Council to give more attention to the right to development and the right to self-determination. Neither of these issues had been assigned a Special Rapporteur to report on them nor had they been given the attention they required as fundamental bases of all societies in the world. In addition, the rights of women and the concerns on climate change also required the attention of the Council. North-South XXI thanked the President of the Human Rights Council for his valuable leadership of the Council.

MEHRAN BALUCH, of Interfaith International, said Baluchistan was a sovereign independent nation that was forcibly occupied in 1948 by neighbouring Pakistan. Since then the occupying power had used every method to enslave the Baluch, and had exploited and plundered Baluchistan’s resources. The level of international deception by the Occupying Power was not only regrettable but extremely shameful. The world had to acknowledge that the Occupying Power had been deceitfully marketing itself and its importance internationally at Baluchistan’s expense. The continued subjugation and oppression by the Baluch by the occupiers for over 63 years had brought even the weakest Baluch to the conclusion that national liberation of Baluchistan was the final solution.

SARDAR AMJAD YOUSAF KHAN, of World Muslim Congress, said that the human rights situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir urgently required the Council’s attention. The denial of the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris was a clear defiance of international law and a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. People of occupied Jammu and Kashmir remained robbed of their basic human rights. More than 700,000 Indian forces had perpetuated gross and systematic human rights violations, including extra judicial killings, rape, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and restriction of freedom of movement and expression. The nightmarish situation that pervaded in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir because of the occupational forces left no room for freedom of movement and expression. The draconian laws hanging over the head of every Kashmiri as Damocles’ sword were used to disperse peaceful gatherings of people.

SMALALI AABADKA, of Centrist Democratic International, said he wanted to draw the attention of the Human Rights Council to the situation of the Moroccan Sahrawi people who had been kept in camps for over three decades. Thousands of Moroccans were deprived of their human rights. Moroccans needed to live in dignity and had noted the lies of the Polisario. The various testimonies of the lucky people who were able to leave the camps attested to the fact that humanitarian aid was not reaching the people and was being diverted to the authorities of the Polisario. The people were condemning this fraud which was imposed on the Sahrawi people in the Polisario camps.

SANJOY RATAN BARUA, of Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, said there was severe caste-based discrimination against the Dalits and minority communities in India, where they were marginalised and the Dalits forced to live a slave-like life. The age-long inequalities imposed on Dalit education should be eradicated and a nationalised and uniform education policy with common curriculum needs framed by the Government. Reservation quotas should be made applicable in all the public and private educational institutions from primary to technical and professional levels. Every Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and minority child with low-income should be provided good quality free education at the State’s expense. The global community should help attract the attention of the Indian Government to these problems.

DIPMONI GAYAN, of Liberation, said that North-East India was home to an ethnic indigenous and tribal population. Over the last few decades the Government policy had created an environment where discriminatory forces could work. There was exploitation of the people in this region by the Government and its policy makers, who said that communication, education and other developments had made them distant and apart from the rest of the Indian States. Moreover, though being surrounded by foreign countries like China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, no commercial and industrial link-up could be established by using the richness of natural resources of this region. The few projects so far implemented like hydropower projects in some places in this region had done more harm to the people in contrast to the claimed benefits of these projects. This was increasing the grievances of the people.

CHRIS SIDOTI, of Human Rights Council of Australia, welcomed the note made by the President of the Council with respect to the conduct of non-governmental organizations when giving their statements and requested that the same line of reasoning with respect to conduct be applied to that of Member States who needed to be reminded that their conduct on some occasions was worse than non-governmental organizations. It was evident in the work of the Council that this principle was forgotten, such as with the case of Cuba who used no-action motions to avoid debate on its human rights situation. The Human Rights Council must return its work to be based on international human rights law. Resolution 60/251 of the General Assembly required the Council to address situations of human rights and made recommendations thereon. This did not reflect a basis for non-interference, but reflected the highest aspect of international law.

ABDESLEM OMAR LEHCEN, of Federación de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, said in its resolution 1871 the Security Council had stressed the need to make progress on the human dimension of the conflict in the Western Sahara by building trust through confidence-building measures. This position met at least in part the concerns expressed by international institutions, and provided hope to the Saharawi people with respect to the effective consideration that could be given to their human rights. This could not be the case until the time that the main human rights bodies of the United Nations, in particular the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Council, took up this subject which required very special attention. This requirement was of great urgency, given the grave situation of human rights in the Western Sahara.

DIANE ALAI, of Bahai International Community, said that the Bahai International Community was gravely concerned about the seven Bahai leaders who had been arbitrarily detained in Iran for over a year, without access to their lawyers. Their families were recently told that these Bahais might face a new serious charge: the spreading of corruption on earth, which could carry the death penalty in Iran. Their detention had been a travesty of justice. They were subjected to intensive interrogation, but it took seven months before any pretext was given for their arrest. The charge of spreading corruption was misused against many Bahais who were executed in the years immediately following the Islamic Revolution. Its utilization in the case demonstrated that the authorities had no basis for any allegation against these individuals, other than blatant religious persecution.

Mr. R.K.JOSHI JOSHI, of International Institute for Peace, said that the human rights violations on the part of the Pakistani establishment continued unabated in Pakistan’s Sindh, Baluchistan, and Gilgit regions. Despite the efforts of the international community, the Pakistani authorities continued to ruthlessly violate the human rights of people of these regions. The crackdown was in response to Sindh, Baluch, and Kashmiri’s people’s demands for full participation in the political process of Pakistan and participation in the Government. This was ironical as article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Pakistan was a party, clearly stated that every citizen of a country was entitled to have a part in the Government of his country. Since the people of these regions had been completely deprived of their legal rights of participation in the Government, they had no option but to demonstrate their grievances against the central Government. However, every time the people demanded justice and implementation of the United Nations Charter and other instruments, the Pakistani establishment reacted with violent and ruthless measures.

CHANGGZUN LEE, of MINBYUN- Lawyers for a Democratic Society, said it wished to draw the Council’s attention to the recent policies and measures taken by the Government of the Republic of Korea, which seriously eroded the situation of freedom of opinion and expression in the country. In general, under the current administration, democracy, civil rights and civil liberty were moving backwards. The Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression should conduct a country visit to the Republic of Korea and give expert advice to the Government with a view to improving the relevant human rights situation in the country.

CATHERINE NJUGUNA, of Pax Romana, said that Pax Romana appealed for the Council’s assistance to help improve the security, justice and well-being of the Tamil people, who had suffered much and unfortunately were being made to suffer more. Although the areas that needed assistance were many, among them, Pax Romana expressed its concern regarding the release of persons who had fled areas then controlled by the LTTE and were kept by the Government at Kallimoddai’s internally displaced persons camp. Since June 2008, a few persons had been released, but a year after the organization’s appeal to the Human Rights Council, most of the persons were still being held in the same camp. Indeed, the number of the people in several other internally displaced persons camps had multiplied since then and today the internally displaced persons numbered 270,000.

ORETTA BANDETTINI DI POGGIO, of International Educational Development, Inc., said it was patently obvious that the United Nations system had failed the Tamil people in Sri Lank, as it also failed the Tutsi people in Rwanda and the Bosnians. Lessons had not been learned. At present Tamil civilians had conditions of life in detention camps that appeared designed to bring about their destruction, in whole or in part. This was after nearly 100,000 of them had been killed and after more than a third of the Tamils had been driven out the country, where courts of law granted them asylum from persecution. The judges in these 400,000 plus asylum cases could not all be wrong. All elements of the crime of genocide were met in this situation. International Educational Development, Inc. was appalled by the Government’s victory parades celebrating this genocide.

MOHAMED EL FATIH AHMED BRAIMA, of Society Studies Centre, said there was improvement in the humanitarian and security situation in Darfur since the beginning of the year. Local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had played a crucial role in filling the gap created by the NGOs who had been expelled, and they believed it was their role to serve their people. The decision taken to “Sudanise” the humanitarian work was applauded, however, some local NGOs lacked financial resources, although they had the experience, will and human resources to do the work. The Government should support them so they could provide sustainable help for the people. NGOs should involve young people from the affected communities. The Sudanese authorities and United Nations agencies on the ground should absorb all local staff from the expelled NGOs and use their knowledge and abilities. All members of local NGO communities should come together in the service of those affected by the conflict.

MARYAM SAFARI, of Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, said that one of the most devastating phenomena that affected mankind in huge proportions next to war and conflict were natural disasters. Each year hundreds of thousands of people around the world lost their lives, were injured or lost their property because of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes and so forth. Almost all Governments and nations were caught by surprise and suffered huge losses, both human and material. The memories of the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina were not too distant. The organization reminded the Council that within the third generation of human rights there was a debate on the right to relief.

FAHIMEH DORRI, of Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, said according to existing reports from the World Health Organization, gender equality and women’s health could not be separated. A gender approach enabled a deeper understanding of the factors that affected the health of women. Lack of attention to women’s health may also affect the children in the family. Protection of women’s health not only had positive effects for women, but it directly had positive consequences on the health and raising of children. One of the most important issues concerning women’s health was pregnancy. The period before, during and after pregnancy was very crucial. Women’s readiness for pregnancy and the number of children that they wished to have was a factor which required special attention. Women must have the opportunity and without prejudice to continue their professional and social activities after their post-natal leave. The United Nations was lacking a Special Rapporteur on gender rights and health and hygiene and the Council was urged to follow up on this.

ABDEL WAHAB HANI, of Arab Commission for Human Rights, said Israel’s right to exist could not be denied, but nor could Palestine’s. It was time for the colonisation to stop. There was concern over the negationist practices and rhetoric of the Israeli extreme right, as they denied the rights of the Palestinian people, in particular for the concept of legitimate colonisation which Israel was asserting, as though the land did not belong to a people in terms of international legality. With regards to Iraq, there should be accountability for massive human rights violations – the forces of foreign occupation and the Iraqi Government were accountable for the actions of their troops. The return of asylum seekers to Libya, which violated international instruments, was also a matter for concern. Guantanamo should be closed, and there should be respect for the Inter-American Court of Justice.

SAADANI MAOULAININE, of Union de l’Action Feminine, said that it appealed to the Council to condemn the crimes in the camps of the Polisario in Morocco. Those crimes went unpunished and an end had to be put to the suffering of women and girls so that a new generation would not suffer the same fate. Self-determination was not synonymous with disintegration of a country. At the same time, it should be possible to avoid micro states which carried within them instability.

Mr. J.P. SANTORO, of European Union for Public Relations, said within the context of violence against women, the issue of honour killings was contrary to the United Nations declarations. Every year thousands of women were known to lose their lives as a result of these heinous crimes. Most cases went unreported and almost all went unpunished. A systematic failure by States to prevent and to investigate them and punish perpetrators led to international responsibility of collectives of States. Further, it was also a complete violation of Article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women which obliged States to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women. Honour killings were founded on the twin concepts of honour and commodification of women. The perception of what defined honour could become very loose under patriarchal conditions. Male control extended not just to women’s body and her sexual behaviour but to her language, including body language. The defiance by women translated into undermining male honour. It was important therefore that the oppressive honour killings must be stopped.

BELL HILAIRE, of Cercle de recherche sur les droits et les devoirs de la personne humaine, said the eleventh Special Session of the Council on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka was a high point of the coming age of the Council, as it had decisively opted for shared responsibility, one of the fundamental principles which should underlie international relations in the twenty-first century. The Human Rights Council should bear aloft the message of shared responsibility in post-conflict situations – a key strategy in the stakes for preserving peace, security, and sustained development. Everybody should work to ensure that these challenges were met – our common future depended on all doing their duty. There should be a resolute move towards the future – the Millennium Declaration stated the priorities for human rights. The decisions adopted should be supported by all Members.

Statement by the President on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

MARTIN IHOEGHIAN UHOMOIBHI, President of the Human Rights Council, presenting his reports on his visits to Brazil and Bahrain, said that at the invitation of the Government of Brazil, he had conducted a visit to the country from April 25 to April 30. The visits included stops in Brasilia, Manaus, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. In Brazil, he had met with a number of Government authorities. In Manaus, he met President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with whom he had a very constructive exchange of views on Brazil’s efforts to advance human rights domestically and internationally, vis-à-vis the Human Rights Council. President Lula had accepted Mr. Uhomoibhi’s invitation and would address the Council on Monday, June 15. In Manaus, Mr. Uhomoibhi also met with six ministers and one congresswoman. In Rio de Janeiro, he met the State Governor of Bahia and high-level Government officials. These meetings provided a unique opportunity to learn about Government efforts in Brazil to promote the living standards of Brazilians in a wide range of areas, such as the fight against extreme hunger and poverty, access to water and sanitation, promotion of civil and political rights, access to health and education, and treatment of persons with leprosy, among others.

Mr. Uhomoibhi said he also had the opportunity to meet representatives of the civil society. In Brasilia, he received a representative of Conectas, an ECOSOC-accredited Brazilian NGO who raised issues related to the high number of extra-judicial killings in the favelas in Brazil and to the walls currently being built around some of them in Rio de Janeiro. The visit provided a useful opportunity as it enabled the President to describe to many high-level Brazilian authorities the work of the Council and to stimulate cooperation between these authorities and the Council’s mechanisms. The visit to Brazil provided a unique opportunity to learn, listen and speak: learn about Government initiatives, listen from victims and speak about the work of the Human Rights Council. Brazil had complex challenges in the field of human rights. Mr. Uhomoibhi said he was confident that a frank interaction on success and shortcoming, on difficulties and achievements and on challenges and best practices was a suitable instrument to promote a constructive environment conducive to a meaningful and sincere discussion of important human rights issues.

Mr. Uhomoibhi said he had also paid a four day visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain from 26 to 29 May 2009. This visit was facilitated by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Neza Al Baharna, who was a regular visitor to the Human Rights Council. The visit coincided with the launching of the 2009 Global Assessment report on Disaster Risk Reduction. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon launched the report, with the attendance of several Bahraini high level officials. Mr. Uhomoibhi said he had underscored the human rights dimension of the Disaster Risk Reduction Report at the first day of the Conference. He also underscored that investment in the Disaster Risk Reduction and management was synonymous with investing for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and for a safer and more secure world. Mr. Uhomoibhi called on the Conference organizers to incorporate cooperation with the Human Rights Council as an integral part of the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction. The visit to Bahrain afforded Mr. Uhomoibhi with the opportunity to meet and interact with the highest officials of Government and to exchange views with some representatives of the civil society regarding different issues related to human rights.

Mr. Uhomoibhi said that through his interactions with Ministers, he got a keen sense of the important achievements and the efforts the Government of Bahrain was making to overcome important challenges in the field of human rights, habitat, justice, education, economy, including civil and political rights. Human rights witnessed the impressive work being undertaken by Tamkeen, the institution Nazar Al Baharna was leading, reflecting a wise and focused vision in contributing to the development of the country at all levels. He had also witnessed the vibrancy of the Bahraini civil society which was a tribute to the quality, the depth and strength of Bahraini democracy. Mr. Uhomoibhi assured the Government of Bahrain of the Council and its mechanisms readiness and availability to be of help and to provide useful inputs to help address the common challenges. In fact, the Human Rights Council and Bahrain could only benefit from sustained interaction in this manner.

General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

TOMAS HUSAK (Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union wished to draw the Council’s attention mainly to the vital importance of one of its mechanisms, namely the system of special procedures. They had been instrumental in providing early warning and urgent action measures at the international level in order to assist States in the day to day implementation of human rights as well as in cases of human rights violations and crises. By conducting country visits, mandate holders also served as the eyes and ears of the Council. The European Union was convinced that the special procedures were among the most effective, flexible and responsive mechanisms within the United Nations human rights system. The credibility and efficacy of special procedures laid in their independence, impartiality and expertise and nothing should be allowed to undermine that independence. This also applied to the code of conduct which was drafted to support these essential requisites of the work of the special procedures. The European Union was concerned about recent attempts to try and undermine the independence of special procedure mandate holders with reference to the code of conduct. Special procedures must have the right to execute their mandates independently and be able to voice their concerns fully, also when addressing a specific State situation.

TERRY CORMIER (Canada) said with regards to issues pertaining to the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples, Canada was pleased to have supported the resolution establishing the mandate. The creation of the Expert Mechanism was a recognition by the Human Rights Council that the situation of indigenous peoples worldwide continued to merit close attention and productive measures. Canada looked forward to participating in the next meeting, but was concerned that it would move forward with an agenda and topics that the Council had not approved, and it was important that the Council’s subsidiary bodies undertake their activities within this context. The Council should have had the opportunity to discuss the agenda of the Expert Mechanism. It was appreciated that it wished to consider issues of importance both to indigenous peoples and Member States. The present session of the Council could consider and approve an agenda, ensuring that the mandate of the Expert Mechanism and its relationship to the Council were fully respected. It was crucial to have outcomes that reflected the broadest consensus and contributed to improving the lives of indigenous peoples on the ground in the greatest and most practical ways.

IFEANYI NWOSU (Nigeria) said that Nigeria commended the Special Rapporteur on corruption on her report. She recommended the coming into force of international bodies against corruption. Nigeria said that the Special Rapporteur should finish the outstanding work of the former Sub-Commission on this subject. The visit of the President of the Human Rights Council was also commendable. The meeting was timely and the meeting with victims of police violence especially fruitful. Such visits by the President were especially useful to promote and protect human rights.

ALEXANDRE GUIDO LOPES PAROLA (Brazil) said Brazil was confident that the visit of the President of the Council to Brazil provided the occasion to witness some of the challenges and initiatives in the field of human rights. Brazil had nothing to hide. The President of the Council had the opportunity to participate in the launch of several governmental initiatives and to learn about many governmental programmes which had successfully helped to improve the living standards of millions of Brazilians. The Human Rights Council was a new body, still consolidating its institutions. It was Brazil’s hope that the visit of the President of the Council would contribute to strengthen the office of the President as an important instance to promote political dialogue between the Council and national Governments. Brazil believed that the role of the President should not be restricted to these halls and corridors. A true perception of reality on the ground was certainly helpful for those who daily guided the work of the Council. Once again, the Brazilian Government reiterated its gratitude to the President of the Human Rights Council for his visit and looked forward to continuing this fruitful exchange with the Council and its mechanism and bodies, including the Presidency.

KE YOUSHENG (China) said China highly valued the important role played by the treaty bodies, and the Council should enhance its guidance to them to ensure that their work moved in the right direction. With regards to the committees established in accordance with a convention, they should follow strictly the mandate established therein, and should work in an objective manner. Unfortunately, some committee members were politicised, violating the code of conduct and over-riding the credible image and work of the committees. Certain committees had to make adjustments according to recent events, and this should follow certain preconditions: respecting the views of States parties; and following the mandate, purposes and principles in the United Nations Charter. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should play an important role in this regard. The role played by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in supporting and promoting human rights was appreciated, but some NGOs, in the name of human rights, distorted the truth and fabricated lies for political purposes, and conveyed distorted and false information to the committees. There was grave concern as to this practice. Committees should engage in more dialogue with States parties, but should pay great attention to their concerns and views and improve their work so as to fulfil their duties under the conventions in a more effective manner.

MUNA ABBAS RADHI (Bahrain) thanked the President of the Council for his visit and for what he said about it. This confirmed Bahrain’s voluntary commitments in the protection of human rights. Bahrain was committed to improving the lives of its citizens and to guarantee peace, security and human rights. Bahrain welcomed the work on disaster reduction that had studied why and where such disasters happened. Rich countries were not spared from such catastrophes. Bahrain reaffirmed its commitment to shoulder its responsibility in the protection of human rights and was more than willing to cooperate with United Nations bodies, above all with this Council. Bahrain wanted to be a model state in its cooperation with the United Nations and the promotion and protection of human rights in its region.

MARK STORELLA (United States) said the United States was pleased with the creation of the United Nations Experts Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples through the Human Rights Council resolution 6/36. This resolution established the mechanism’s mandate so that it would provide its thematic expertise in the manner and form requested by the Council, focusing mainly on studies and research-based advice. At the same time, the Council’s resolution allowed for the mechanism to receive suggestions from indigenous representatives on its possible work plan. The resolution also specified that the mechanism could determine its own work modalities and suggested proposals to the Council for its consideration and approval, but that it could not place items on its agenda or engage in studies that were not also agreed by States. Therefore, the United States noted with concern the “provisional agenda” for the August meeting of the Experts Mechanism. Listed on the agenda was the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, its implementation and its “adjudication, remedies, repatriation, redress and compensation”. On the mechanism’s website was an invitation to States, indigenous representatives, and others to comment on the United Nations Declaration with respect to “adjudication, remedies, repatriation, redress and compensation”. Moreover, there must be agreement from States for a topic to be on the agenda.

LUCIA NADER, of Conectas Direitos Humanos, said the visit of the President of the Council to Brazil was welcome. However, it was regretted that he did not have the opportunity to meet with a more representative range of human rights organizations. The lack of predictability and information was a serious obstacle for civil society organizations to organise themselves in order to meet with him, and this was unlike the Brazilian tradition when receiving United Nations officials and Special Rapporteurs. Several United Nations mechanisms created to assess human rights around the world, including the Universal Periodic Review, had already expressed their views on the specific achievements and setbacks of human rights of Brazil, which was going through an important moment in its political history, and many changes were taking place. Nonetheless, the Council had to address problems where they existed and, unfortunately, torture, police abuses and summary executions remained to be overcome in Brazil. Landless and indigenous peoples, women and children victims of violence had also not concluded their struggle as justice remained to be achieved.

PRAMILA SRIVASTAVA, of International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, said that there was a need for human rights bodies to coordinate their work. Terrorism affected the rights of innocent peoples. Therefore, the organization called on the Council to monitor this situation.

STEPHAN CICCOLI, of Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, congratulated the Chairperson for the Social Forum for the successful completion of its meeting. The Social Forum 2008, aimed to incorporate diverse views and concerns from many regions, professions and cultural backgrounds to formulate proposals for action to address multifarious challenges facing human rights. States should take steps individually and collectively to formulate development policies with a view of facilitating the full realization of the right to development. Capturing best practices to eradicate poverty would be laudable work of the Forum which hopefully would filter the knowledge base so that the challenges of today’s society were adequately addressed.

PATRIZIA SCANNELLA, of Amnesty International, said despite the proclamation in the code of conduct that mandate holders were independent experts who should act in an independent capacity, some States had attacked this essential principle by seeking to limit the issues on which mandate-holders could act or comment. States were quick to invoke the code of conduct to remind the special procedures of what they expected – and yet, although Council resolution 5/2 clearly called on all States to cooperate with them, to provide all information in a timely manner, and to respond to communications without undue delay, States often fell short of this standard. It was reasonable for States to be concerned if a mandate-holder truly acted inconsistently, but it was also reasonable to expect that States would in good faith follow the procedures that the Council had adopted to deal with alleged breaches of the code.

Mr. A. SKOHLI, of Indian Council of Education, said that it appreciated the final report of Mr. Yozo Yokota and Ms. Chinsung Chung, the Special Rapporteurs on discrimination based on work and descent. The report contained in its main parts revised draft principles and guidelines for the effective elimination of discrimination based on work and descent. It recommended that the Human Rights Council include the topic of discrimination based on work and descent among the studies to be undertaken by the Council. It also recommended that the Council adopt with necessary changes the draft principles and guidelines and submit them to the General Assembly for adoption. It had been observed in some countries of South Asia that in spite of a strong political will, constitutional, legislative, administrative, budgetary measures and affirmative actions in the field of employment and education, this age old practice persisted, particularly at grass root level. The organization suggested that the Special Rapporteur look into this important aspect and make necessary studies and suggest appropriate guidelines.

CHRIS SIDOTI, of Human Rights Council of Australia, in a joint statement with Asian Legal Resource Centre, and Baha’i International Community, said during the last days of the Human Rights Commission and the beginning of the Human Rights Council the special procedures were described as the jewel and eyes and ears for human rights around the world. During the institution building year discussion took place with respect to the establishment of a code of conduct, which was subsequently adopted. With respect to the relationship established between special procedures and States, the code of conduct noted that States should respond promptly to special procedures, agree to requests for visits, give careful consideration to their reports, engage in an appropriate and constructive way, and more importantly the code of conduct stated that States were required to cooperate fully with the Human Rights Council’s special procedures. It was now time for the Human Rights Council to establish a code of conduct for States.

ISABELLE SCHERER, of International Service for Human Rights, said the Council was established to enhance constructive international dialogue and cooperation, and therefore there was concern for the lack of cooperation and engagement with the Council’s own system of special procedures. There were increasing incidents of States making serious allegations against the special procedures, accusing them of being politicised, biased, and not living up to the code of conduct. Such disagreements should be discussed in a respectful manner. Engaging with the special procedures could raise sensitive and delicate issues. The system of special procedures could make positive contributions towards the situation of human rights in all countries. The Council could and should do more to the effectiveness of the system. All Member States should cooperate fully with the system.

ABDEL WAHAB HANI, of Arab Commission for Human Rights, congratulated the President on the report he had just read out as it showed the transparency of his work. The Arab Commission for Human Rights suggested beginning formal consultative meetings with the High Commissioner, human rights bodies and civil society before the visit. As to the submission of the report of the former Sub-Commission, the Arab Commission highlighted the quality of the reports on corruption and discrimination based on work and descent. The organization also said that once a State mentioned a case of wrongful conduct of a special procedure mandate holder, the Human Rights Council should urge the State to identify the concrete paragraph that had been violated.

[Source: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/EGUA-7SUR4X?OpenDocument]

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2 Responses

  1. Ali

    June 12, 2009 12:08 am

    Not until the heart is fixed, the human body can heal itself. At this time, Aya Khamenei has clogged the blood flow to the Heart of the World. Time is fast approaching when the Divine Physician will complete His conventional bypass surgery and let the human body receive the oxygen it needs to heal its wounds…

    Reply
  2. Mario Larose

    June 13, 2009 2:11 pm

    Its regretful that the violation of human rights is not the concern of many democratic countries. I think that time is come to these International organizations dealing with human rights to press on these governments and make them take their responsibility.

    Reply

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