Hi Blog. The UN News has been issuing press releases to make sure the Human Rights Council doesn’t become as emasculated as the former Human Rights Commission–by holding all countries accountable with periodic reviews of their human rights records.
Good. Japan in particular is particularly remiss, given its quest for a seat on the UNSC without upholding its treaty obligations, particularly regarding Japan’s refusal to pass a law against racial discrimination, and file reports in a timely manner (last report was due the HRC all the way in 2002!). The UN is quite well aware of this, and has been highly critical of Japan’s unfettered racism in recent years. UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene has been well recorded on the Debito.org Blog as well. Debito in Sapporo
Subject: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON DETAILS OF UN HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW
Date: June 21, 2007 7:00:24 AM JST
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON DETAILS OF UN HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW
New York, Jun 20 2007 6:00PM
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the Human Rights Council’s agreement setting out how its universal periodic review mechanism will work, saying it “sends a clear message” that the rights record of every country faces serious and meaningful examination.
“No country – big or small – will be immune from scrutiny,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement, adding that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society groups need to play an active role in the review to ensure the process works.
“The periodic review holds great promise for opening a new chapter in human rights promotion and underscores the universality of human rights.”
Council members agreed yesterday on the modalities for universal periodic review after several days of marathon discussions. Each year 48 nations, comprising a mixture of Council members and observer States, will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.
The modalities were decided as part of a package of new measures and decisions that includes the continuation of the work of Special Rapporteurs and other independent human rights experts.
But in today’s statement, Mr. Ban voiced disappointment at the Council decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, “given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”
The 47-member Council also agreed to end the mandate of the Special Rapporteurs on the situations in Belarus and Cuba, while retaining the other 39 mandates under the so-called “special procedures” system.
Mr. Ban noted “that not having a Special Rapporteur assigned to a particular country does not absolve that country from its obligations under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and every other human rights treaty.”
The statement from his spokesperson added that the Secretary-General “trusts that members of the Council will take seriously their responsibilities and continue to seek out ways to improve the Council’s work in the months and years ahead.” He also noted that Council members “worked hard to reach consensus on a number of issues.”
Meeting today in Geneva, the Council also adopted resolutions on the situation in Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory and Darfur.
Subject: UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL URGED TO KEEP SYSTEM OF INDEPENDENT EXPERTS
Date: June 12, 2007 6:00:23 AM JST
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL URGED TO KEEP SYSTEM OF INDEPENDENT EXPERTS
New York, Jun 11 2007 5:00PM
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged the Human Rights Council to maintain its system of independent experts and others who shine a spotlight on troubling situations around the world.
Louise Arbour told the Council, meeting in Geneva for the start of its fifth session, that the special procedures system – or the mechanisms, from rapporteurs and experts to working groups, which the Council can use to explore either specific country situations or thematic issues – “represents a critical component in the protection and promotion of human rights.”
She also underscored the importance of the system known as “universal periodic review,” which allows the Council to scrutinize the human rights records of all countries in a regular, rotating manner, predicting it “will develop into a leading instrument” for upholding human rights.
“Reaching an agreement on its framework was not an easy task, but the Council is set to achieve that goal,” she said, urging members to “bring your institution-building efforts to completion.”
The General Assembly resolution that set up the Council last year to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights agreed that the universal periodic review mechanism must be created by June this year and the special procedures system – kept on from the Commission – must undergo a review during the same period.
Over the course of its current session, Council members will hear from a number of its special rapporteurs and independent experts on country-specific situations and thematic issues, including Belarus, Cambodia, Somalia, adequate housing, judicial independence and the right to food. In addition, the Council’s Expert Group on Darfur is expected to present its report.