Here are some news updates on the UN and the Human Rights Council. Put the magnifying glass on Japan, too. Given its past excuses re racial discrimination (and the fact that it’s only submitted one human rights report since it effected the UNCERD twelve years ago–it should have submitted one every two years, or by now its sixth report), the GOJ has been unbecomingly and grossly negligent. We still have no law against racial discrimination. And nothing really even in the pipeline. That should be known about. By anyone who seriously thinks that Japan should get its wish to become a UN Security Council member. Just say no until the GOJ shapes up. Debito
Subject: BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR EQUAL SCRUTINY OF ALL COUNTRIES BY UN HUMAN RIGHTS ORGAN
Date: March 5, 2008 12:00:52 AM JST
BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR EQUAL SCRUTINY OF ALL COUNTRIES BY UN HUMAN RIGHTS ORGAN
New York, Mar 4 2008 10:00AM UN News
Opening the seventh session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on its members to ensure that all nations are held equally accountable for the protection of rights as the new body begins its first-ever universal review of their performance.
“No country, however powerful, should escape scrutiny of its record, commitments and actions on human rights,” Mr. Ban said, hailing the start of the Universal Periodic Review, under which all UN Member States – at the rate of 48 a year – will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.
“The Review must reaffirm that just as human rights are universal, so is our collective respect for them and our commitment to them. It must help prevent the distrust that surrounded the work of the Commission on Human Rights in its final years,” he added, recalling the accusations of bias and politicization that dogged the predecessor body whose work was taken over by the new Council in 2006.
Looking back at progress since the issuance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary in December, Mr. Ban said that it had become clear that commitments and accountability are crucial factors in the effort to make those rights a reality for all.
That accountability, in turn, depends on the collective scrutiny of international organizations, governments and civil society, he said, calling it “a duty of the highest order for each individual State, and the raison d’être of the Human Rights Council.”
As for the record of the Council itself, Mr. Ban said that the establishment of its mechanisms and procedures had been on the right track over the nearly two years of its existence.
But he posed the question to Council members of whether they were fully meeting the high expectations of the international community, which included the application of human rights values “without favour, without selectivity, without being impacted by any political machinations around the world.”
“If you meet this benchmark,” he said, “you can count on my fullest support and defence in the face of criticisms and attacks, wherever they may come from.”
The Council’s seventh session, including a high-level portion for the views of government representatives, as well as expert panels and presentations by Special Rapporteurs, will run through 28 March.
BAN KI-MOON PAYS TRIBUTE TO HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF, FOLLOWING EXIT ANNOUNCEMENT
New York, Mar 7 2008 3:00PM UN News
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed “great regret” at the decision of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights < " http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HighCommissioner.aspx">Louise Arbour to step down at the end of her first four-year term, which she confirmed today in Geneva.
“I have been most impressed by her extraordinary courage, energy and integrity in speaking out forcefully on human rights, which is among the UN’s most important mandates,” Mr. Ban said, following the announcement Ms. Arbour made at the Human Rights Council – the UN body inaugurated under her tenure, which ends in June.
Mr. Ban said that she never hesitated to incur the criticism of States or other parties by highlighting the victims of abuses or pointing out the inadequacies of national legal systems, and she consistently represented the highest ideals of the Organization.
“Her legacy will be one of a strengthened and more wide-ranging United Nations human rights system, a stronger focus on justice and accountability, reformed protection mechanisms, and a more balanced approach to the full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights,” he said.
Ms. Arbour, a Canadian Supreme Court Justice and ex-prosecutor of UN war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, assumed the post of High Commissioner in 2004, after her predecessor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was killed in a terrorist attack in Baghdad.
Along with announcing her departure, Ms. Arbour today presented her final annual report to the Council, highlighting the distressing human rights implications of renewed conflict in West Darfur and Sri Lanka.
In regard to the Council itself, she said the report stressed the need to support the participation of the least-developed countries in the first-ever Universal Periodic Review, which will assess the rights situation in all UN Member States.
She promised to share reflections on her tenure as High Commissioner at the Council’s next session in June.
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news