Hi Blog. Here are a gaggle of recent UN News articles on the Human Rights Council, the one which monitors countries (like Japan) on their human rights practices. Here’s hoping they’ll be coming down on Japan soon for it’s broken promises regarding establishing a law against racial discrimination. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
UN HUMAN RIGHTS BODY BEGINS FIRST-EVER EXAMINATION OF ALL COUNTRIES�-? RECORDS
UN NEWS @un.org, New York, Apr 7 2008 5:00PM
The Universal Periodic Review, a new mechanism to examine the human rights record of every United Nations Member State, was launched today at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Over the next two weeks, a first group of 16 countries �-? starting with Bahrain and Ecuador �-? will have their records scrutinized, as part of the Review, one of the reforms which differentiate the Council from the Commission on Human Rights, which it succeeded in 2006.
The Review meetings will feature interactive discussions between the States in question and a working group comprises all of the Council�-?s 47 members, according to a UN spokesperson.
The discussions will be based on national reports and information from a variety of sources, including treaty bodies, Special Rapporteurs �-? independent experts on specific topics that report to the Council �-? non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and academics.
Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, India, Indonesia, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Kingdom are the other countries being reviewed over the next two weeks.
Under the Review�-?s work plans, 48 countries are scheduled to be reviewed each year, so that the UN�-?s complete membership of 192 countries will be reviewed once every four years.
Last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Council to assure that all countries were scrutinized equally. �-�The Review must reaffirm that just as human rights are universal, so is our collective respect for them and our commitment to them,�-? he said.
KICKING OFF NEW REVIEW REGIMES, HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL NEARS END OF SESSION
UN NEWS at un.org, New York, Mar 28 2008 6:00PM
Having initiated the first periodic review of the human rights performance of all States and established rapporteurs on groundbreaking new rights topics, the seventh session of the United Nations Human Rights Council finished the bulk of its work today in Geneva.
The session, which was opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 3 March, did not conclude formally today as expected, but instead decided to continue for one more half-day session to be held next week, to finish hearing statements from delegations and to adopt its report to the General Assembly.
Among the major accomplishments of the session was the inauguration of the first Universal Periodic Review, under which all UN Member States will be examined to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligation, at the rate of 48 a year.
In addition, 11 special rapporteurs were nominated, including an independent expert with a new mandate to cover rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Among other achievements, the 47-member Council elected the 18 members of its Advisory Committee, which will hold its first session from 4 to 15 August.
The Committee�-?s experts will function as a think-tank for the Council, which was created in 2006 to replace the Human Rights Commission as part of ongoing UN reform.
At the Council�-?s eighth session, which will take place from 2 to 13 June, the Council will examine the first report of its working group on the Universal Periodic Review, which will start its work on individual countries on 7 April.
Speaking to reporters today, Council President Doru Costea said he was �-�rather optimistic�-? about the start of the Universal Review. However, he cautioned: �-�The proof of the pudding is in eating it.�-?
UN RIGHTS BODY SAYS STATES MUST REFRAIN FROM PROFILING WHILE COMBATING TERRORISM
UN NEWS @un.org, New York, Mar 27 2008 6:00PM
The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today passed a resolution calling on States to not resort to racial, ethnic or religious profiling while countering terrorism.
Adopted without a vote, the text urges States to fully comply with their obligations regarding torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
It also �-�opposes any form of deprivation of liberty that amounts to placing a detained person outside of the protection of the law.�-?
Additionally, the 47-member body adopted five other resolutions.
It extended the mandates by three years of its Independent Experts on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights; on human rights and solidarity; and on minority issues.
The Council also adopted texts pertaining to the staff composition of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as well as on the enhancement of global cooperation in the field of human rights.
The body will wrap up its seventh session, which began on 3 March, tomorrow.
WORLD HAS COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO ELIMINATE RACISM, BAN KI-MOON SAYS
UN NEWS @ un.org, New York, Mar 21 2008 4:00PM
Racism still hurts too many individuals and communities around the world, Secretary-Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on all countries and civil society groups to play their part in the fight to stamp out both racism and racial discrimination.
In a message to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is celebrated today, Mr. Ban said next year’s formal review of actions taken since the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance adopted its Declaration and Programme of Action offered an opportunity to make important progress.
“Racial discrimination is a concern to all peoples and countries,” he said. “This review process is an opportunity to engage in an inclusive and transparent manner on an issue that demands our urgent and close attention.
“I call on all countries and civil society to make constructive use of the time between now and the formal review process to work out their differences so that we can seize this opening to boost our collective efforts to stamp out racism. This issue is too important; we cannot fail.”
The Secretary-General noted that the General Assembly proclaimed 21 March as the International Day to honour the memory of the scores of peaceful protesters who were massacred on this day in 1960 in the South African township of Sharpeville as they demonstrated against the racist apartheid-era ‘pass laws.’
“There has been significant progress since then, not least through the dismantling of the apartheid system. But racism continues to plague too many individuals, communities and societies the world over.”
ALL STATES SHOULD SIGN GLOBAL PACT AGAINST RACIAL DISCRIMINATION �-? UN RIGHTS CHIEF
UN NEWS @ un.org, New York, Mar 18 2008 5:00PM
The United Nations human rights chief issued a call today for all the world�-?s States to both sign on to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and to strengthen their law enforcement so that victims of such discrimination can receive greater justice.
So far, 173 out of 192 UN Member States have ratified the convention, which came into force in 1969 and was the first human rights treaty to be adopted by the General Assembly. But many countries that have ratified have also included formal reservations.
Speaking before a high-level panel in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said it was time for all the States that are yet to do so to become party to the convention and for other States to withdraw their reservations and to accept the complaints jurisdiction of the treaty�-?s supervisory committee.
�-�Racism lies at the roots of many conflicts,�-? she said to the panel, convened just ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is observed on 21 March. �-�It poses risks to international peace and security. Racism is the springboard for extremism and all types of intolerance.�-?
Ms. Arbour noted that the world has made substantial progress in fighting racism since the General Assembly inaugurated the International Day in 1966, six years after the notorious Sharpeville massacre in South Africa.
However, �-�48 years after the Sharpeville shootings, no country can claim to be free of racism�-?s destructive influence.�-?
The High Commissioner also called on all parties to engage constructively in the follow-up process to the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa.
The theme of this year�-?s International Day is the key role that dignity and justice play in combating racial discrimination, and Ms. Arbour said this �-�reminds us that equality under the law and equal protection of the law are central pillars of the fight against racial discrimination.�-?
BAN KI-MOON PAYS TRIBUTE TO HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF, FOLLOWING EXIT ANNOUNCEMENT
UN NEWS @ un.org, New York, Mar 7 2008 3:00PM
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed �-�great regret�-? at the decision of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights 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