UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo


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Hi Blog.  Two posts from UN NEWS that are tangental but within the pale of Debito.org.

First up is news about the next big human rights summit in Durban, South Africa.  The last one was at the beginning of this decade.  Those interested in attending (I would, but again, no money) might want to start making plans.

Second, I was asked recently by a friend, “What do you want to see Obama do immediately after taking office?”  I answered back with a question, “You mean personally, or big-picture?”  Both.  “Okay, personally, state publicly that the USA will not support any application by Japan to the UN Security Council until it honors its treaty promises, including passing an enforceable law against racial discrimination.”  But that’s easily backburnerable.  “But big-picture, I want to see Obama close Guantanamo, that running sore of human-rights abuses that is arguably doing more to encourage anti-American sentiment worldwide than anything else.”

Well, the big-picture was precisely what Obama took steps to do his first working day in office.  Bravo.  And the UN recognizes it as such.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UN NEWS New York, Jan 20 2009 3:00PM

A working group made up of United Nations Member States has begun formal negotiations on a draft outcome document for the so-called Durban Review Conference later this year, which will examine the progress made worldwide since the 2001 global anti-racism summit held in the South African city.

The review conference will be held in Geneva in April to monitor and accelerate progress towards the implementation of measures adopted at the landmark 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

Members of the working group have agreed to use a 38-page draft document as the basis for their negotiations, which will take place during its formal session ending on Friday and continue afterwards in informal meetings.

The group has two further formal meetings before the Review Conference is held from 20 to 24 April, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has launched a website dedicated to the Conference and its preparatory process.

The website is online in English at www.un.org/durbanreview2009 and will soon be available in the other official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

UN NEWS New York, Jan 22 2009 3:00PM

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has welcomed today’s decision by the new United States administration to close the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, as well as the decision to ban methods of interrogation that contravene international law.

Navi Pillay also called for a review of the US approach to detaining individuals abroad, in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the practice of ‘rendition,’ in order to ensure conformity with international law.

“The fact that President [Barack] Obama has placed such a high priority on closing Guantánamo and set in motion a system to safeguard the fundamental rights of the detainees there is extremely encouraging,” she stated.

“The United States has in the past been a staunch supporter of international human rights law, and this is one of the reasons that the regime that was established in Guantánamo has been viewed as so damaging,” the High Commissioner added.

“Water-boarding and other forms of interrogation that may amount to torture, detention for prolonged periods without trial or proper judicial review, and what became known as ‘extraordinary rendition’ – these are all aberrations that should never have happened,” stated Ms. Pillay.

The UN’s human rights chief also welcomed the fact that President Obama’s Executive Order issued today sets a framework for regularizing the situation of the remaining detainees in Guantánamo.

She also raised the issue of compensation for those judged to be innocent and called for a thorough investigation into allegations of torture at the Guantánamo centre.

“Under international law, there is an absolute prohibition against torture, and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” she said. “There must be accountability for those who have ordered such practices or carried them out, and victims should receive recompense.”

Ms. Pillay saluted Mr. Obama for taking such an important step so swiftly upon taking office. “This is a good day for the rule of law,” she noted.

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news


1 comment on “UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

    UN News New York, Feb 17 2009 1:00PM

    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the United States’ decision to participate in preparatory talks for an upcoming review meeting of the landmark 2001 United Nations anti-racism conference which the US, along with Israel, had withdrawn from citing concerns the forum was being used by some to push an anti-Israel agenda.

    The Durban Review Conference, scheduled for 20-24 April in Geneva, will assess progress in implementing the measures adopted at 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in South Africa eight years ago.

    A working group made up of UN Member States has begun negotiations in Geneva on a draft outcome document, use a 38-page text as the basis for their negotiations.

    “The Secretary-General welcomes the United States’ decision to send a delegation to engage in the preliminary negotiations to finalize the draft outcome document of the Durban Review Conference,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

    Mr. Ban “urges all Member States to engage constructively on all the outstanding issues of the outcome document to ensure a successful outcome of the Conference,” the statement added.

    Israel indicated last November that it does not plan to take part in the April review conference.

    For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news


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