Hi Blog. Japan’s not yet under the UN Human Rights Council microscope. But at this rate it soon will be. And I’m looking forward to seeing comments and excuses about why we still have no law against racial discrimination twelve years after effecting the ICERD. Arudou Debito in Kurashiki
Subject: UN REVIEW OF FIRST GROUP OF COUNTRIES’ HUMAN RIGHTS RECORDS WRAPS UP
Date: April 19, 2008 4:01:07 AM JST
The United Nations Human Rights Council has concluded its review of the first batch of countries as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – a new mechanism to examine the record of every UN Member State.
The mechanism’s Working Group wrapped up its first session in Geneva today after evaluating the rights records of 16 nations: Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Algeria, Poland, the Netherlands, South Africa, the Czech Republic and Argentina.
“Having witnessed the energy which you have all displayed during this session, I have no doubt that we shall collectively rise to the occasion and achieve the primary goal of the UPR, which is the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground,” said Council President Doru Romulus Copstea in a message delivered at the meeting’s close by Vice President Boudewijn Van Eenennaam.
The Working Group’s next session will be held from 5 to 19 May, during which 16 more Member States’ records will be reviewed.
The UPR is one of the reforms which differentiate the Council from the Commission on Human Rights, which it succeeded in 2006.
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, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Council to ensure 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.
Subject: SOME STATES STILL DO NOT RECOGNIZE RACISM’S EXISTENCE, UN RIGHTS CHIEF CAUTIONS
Date: April 22, 2008 8:00:31 AM JST
As preparatory meetings kicked off today in Geneva in preparation for next year’s review of the landmark 2001 global conference against racism, the top United Nations human rights official warned that some States still do not recognize the existence of racism as a phenomenon.
“National laws and measures to ensure its elimination in most countries are either inadequate or ineffective,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour. “As a result, vulnerable groups continue to suffer aggression while abusers enjoy impunity.”
She added that few nations have implemented the necessary action plans to remedy this situation.
The process to prepare for the 2009 Durban Review Conference began in 2006, but its first substantive meeting was held by the Preparatory Committee today.
The Conference will assess progress and implementation at the regional, national and international levels of the Declaration and Plan of Action adopted by the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
“The Durban Review Conference is not, and should not be seen as, a repetition of the 2001 World Conference,” Ms. Arbour pointed out at the opening meeting of the Preparatory Committee.
Instead, “it is a platform to evaluate progress, an opportunity to reinvigorate commitments, and a vehicle to fine-tune responses in a purposeful and contextual manner.”
According to a press release from Ms. Arbour’s Office, known as OHCHR, progress since the 2001 meeting – a huge event which attracted some 18,000 people – has been patchy.
The High Commissioner acknowledged that the controversy surrounding the original Durban Conference has not completely subsided.
“There is no hiding the fact that the Durban Review Conference, even before moving its first, preparatory steps, has already elicited criticism and continues to raise concerns which, if not squarely confronted and resolved, may ultimately jeopardize a successful outcome of this process,” she said.