Posts Tagged ‘appointment’

New High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk – the man for an impossible job?

September 15, 2022

On 23 June 2022 Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group posted a Blog: “Time to ask again: is being the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights an impossible job?”

In February 2018, he published a blog on the early departure of the previous High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. The blog responded to David Petrasek’s article in OpenGlobaRights, entitled ‘Another one bites the dust’ (8 February 2018).

Limon argues that the High Commissioner position is, in fact, several jobs rolled into one. The mandate of the High Commissioner and his/her Office comprises inter alia:

  • Monitoring and speaking out about human rights violations around the world – ‘preventing the continuation of human rights violations throughout the world,’ (OP4f of GA resolution 48/141 of 7 January 1994).
  • Acting as the Secretariat to the ‘competent bodies of the United Nations system in the field of human rights and [making] recommendations to them,’ (OP4b of GA res. 48/141).
  • Providing capacity building, advisory services and technical assistance, at the request of the State concerned, ‘with a view to supporting actions and programs in the field of human rights,’ (OP4d, GA res. 48/141).
  • Engaging in human rights diplomacy (‘dialogue’) with governments and ‘enhanc[ing] international cooperation,’ in order to promote the implementation of international human rights obligations and commitments, and respect for human rights, (OP4g, OP5h, GA res. 48/141).
  • Coordinating human rights mainstreaming across the UN system, (OP4i, GA res. 48/141).
  • Making recommendations and driving efforts to ‘rationalize, adapt, strengthen and streamline the United Nations machinery in the field of human rights with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness,’ (OP4j, GA res. 48/141).

It is clear that, when held in the hands of a single human being, these different parts of the High Commissioner’s overall mandate operate in tension and are, perhaps, even mutually incompatible…

Is it possible for one person to wear all these hats at the same time? Can a single person publicly criticise States in one breath, then in the next reach out to them to forge agreement on reform of the UN human rights system or to provide human rights technical assistance?

Petrasek has made no secret of his belief (apparently shared by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres) that Zeid over-prioritised human rights monitoring and public advocacy, to the detriment of almost all other parts of his mandate. Yet for many other civil society representatives in Geneva and for many Western diplomats, this singlemindedness (together with Zeid’s natural eloquence) made the former High Commissioner something of a cult hero and the perfect High Commissioner,

Fast forward four and a half years and Zeid replacement as High Commissioner, the former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, has also fallen on her sword – yet for precisely the opposite reasons as Zeid.

Bachelet was handpicked by Guterres to mark a clear break from Zeid by pursuing a more holistic and balanced approach to the role and mandate of the High Commissioner. In addition to public advocacy Bachelet tried to emphasise human rights diplomacy, international cooperation, support for the international human rights machinery, a focus on emerging thematic human rights concerns (e.g., climate change, the right to a healthy environment, prevention, digital technology), and the on-the-ground delivery of technical assistance and capacity-building support.

See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/06/09/disappointment-with-un-high-commissioners-visit-to-xinjiang-boils-over/ and

In truth, the world needs a High Commissioner Zeid and a High Commissioner Bachelet. The question is: is that possible? Maybe other solutions might be considered? Might, perhaps, the High Commissioner focus on public advocacy, and the Deputy High Commissioner on the more cooperation-orientated aspects of the mandate? Maybe different Deputies could be appointed for each of the main ‘baskets’ of the High Commissioner’s overall mandate? Or maybe the parts of the mandate related to the human rights machinery could be ‘spun off’ – for example, into a new position of secretary-general of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, and of the Treaty Bodies?

These are difficult and sensitive questions, and yet it is surely important that they be asked and considered now rather than later. Perhaps today, as the Secretary-General ponders the appointment of the next High Commissioner, is an opportune moment to do so?

On September 7, 2022, the UN announced Secretary-General António Guterres’ decision to appoint Volker Türk, an Austrian national, to replace Michelle Bachelet.

Reactions were swift, most of them expressing the need for action, e.g. “The new UN high commissioner for human rights should neither seek nor expect a honeymoon period from UN member states,” said Tirana Hassan, interim executive director of Human Rights Watch on 8 September “What’s needed by the millions of people around the world whose rights are being violated every day is an advocate in their corner who will take on abusive governments large and small without fear and without hesitation.”

Yoni Ish-Hurwitz, Executive Director of Human Rights Likeminded Office was invited by the Universal Human Rights Group on 12 September, 2022, to contribute a Blog `’Who is Volker Türk?’:

Opinions have already begun forming about Volker Türk in the short time since the announcement of his appointment last week as the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. However, in the absence of a public competition, there was little opportunity to learn about Türk. He is also not well-known outside of the UN (and had few followers on twitter until last week). Therefore, in the absence of personal familiarity, it may be useful to focus on his biography, body of work and statements. This would lead to a better understanding of why he was selected for this role. [DISCLAIMER; I happen to know him personally from my days in UNHCR. He has always struck me as an honest and dedicated person with a pronounced interest in the human rights side of refugee work.]

Central to Türk’s biography is his long professional relationship with the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. They worked together at UNHCR when Guterres led the agency as High Commissioner for Refugees. When Guterres became UN Secretary-General, Türk joined him in New York, to serve as Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination in the Executive Office. Guterres promoted him in January, to the rank of Under-Secretary-General for Policy, also in the Executive Office, perhaps setting him up to take the role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Having a close confidant as the High Commissioner may be especially important for the Secretary-General at present, considering the significant current political challenges he faces. This is especially the case in the aftermath of the release of the long-awaited report on Xinjiang by the former High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet. She spared Türk the need to continue holding this hot potato. However, China won’t let Türk off the hook, and will likely exert pressure on him, as it has done with Bachelet, to carefully weigh his words and the way he manages his Office’s work on China. In the meantime, Chen Xu, the Permanent Representative of China in Geneva, announced that ‘the Office closed the door of cooperation by releasing the so-called assessment.’ This means that this is one political crisis that will not end with Bachelet’s departure.

One key question is whether the new High Commissioner will prioritise engagement over speaking truth to power. Bachelet was criticised of doing just that following her recent statements on China, until she released her report at the 11th hour on the job. .. On the face of it, it may appear that Guterres selected a diplomat, rather than an advocate. Türk is a UN career officer through and through, and as such he is in a better position to offer ‘good offices,’ as the UN does, compared to any former Head of State that could have taken the High Commissioner’s post. Among his predecessors were two presidents, two supreme court judges, one foreign minister and one permanent representative to the UN headquarters. However, every day before walking into his new office, the face that Türk will see first is that of his predecessor Sérgio Vieira de Mello, who also spent most of his career in UNHCR. He was commemorated in a bust at the entrance to Palais Wilson, four years after his death in a bombing at UN headquarters in Iraq.

Türk worked in the UN refugee agency for over 30 years, including in the field. Coming from within the UN system is an asset for navigating organisational politics, fostering collaboration with other parts of the UN, enhancing the contribution of OHCHR to all relevant UN fora, and understanding how to engage with Member States to address the situation of the most vulnerable people. His intimate understanding of the UN system is manifested in two major initiatives he stewarded – the Secretary-General’s flagship report, Our Common Agenda, as well as the Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights. This may not be the place to analyse their successes or shortcomings, but it can be said that they were both well-received. Our Common Agenda offered a vision for mobilising the UN to address global challenges. OHCHR needs a manager with this kind of foresight to grasp the organisation’s structure, programmes and needs. The second initiative, the Call to Action for Human Rights, identified areas for action to advance human rights. As High Commissioner, perhaps Türk will be in a better position to support the implementation of the Call to Action.

This work demonstrates deep engagement on human rights. His legal background, holding a doctorate in international law, will support his role as an advocate. He can substantively articulate concerns and uphold norms based in international human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law. He certainly appears as an advocate on twitter (@volker_turk). His tweets show his compassion, as he mostly addresses human rights concerns, with people at the centre.

Civil society was concerned about the selection process. Phil Lynch, Executive Director of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), said: ‘The lack of transparency and meaningful consultation with independent civil society in the selection process meant that the Secretary-General missed a key opportunity to build the legitimacy and authority of the next High Commissioner.’ The appointment of the Secretary-General’s confidant may have reaffirmed worries that the High Commissioner would prioritise diplomacy and engagement over advocacy for human rights. However, Türk appears to have the appropriate biography and a heart in the right place to fulfil both of the High Commissioner’s roles as an advocate and a diplomat. Hopefully he will be attentive to civil society and rights-holders, in line with his advice during his time as Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at UNHCR: ‘Listen to what refugees are telling us.’

After being appointed at the last minute as the next UN high commissioner for human rights, Volker Turk is not expected to be at the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council, held from 12 September to 7 October. When he does, Turk will have to grapple among other challenges with his predecessor’s report on Xinjiang, but for the moment deputy high commissioner Nada Al Nashif is in charge of the UN rights office and will have to answer any questions about China that might come up during the first days of debate..

https://www.universal-rights.org/uncategorized/time-to-ask-again-is-being-the-un-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-an-impossible-job/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/09/08/un-new-rights-chief-should-speak-out-all-victims

SHIFT’s new Chair is former High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

May 20, 2022

Shift, the centre of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, announced the appointment of HRH Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein as the new Chair of its Board of Trustees. He served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014-2018, as well as Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, and as the first president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), among other leadership roles.

He is currently the CEO and President of the International Peace Institute and the Perry World House Professor of Practice of Law and Human Rights at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. He is also a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights, first established by Nelson Mandela in 2007. He has been recognized globally and received 5 human rights awards, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/8ec8e85a-66ba-404c-b82e-720ebf044549]  

Prince Zeid succeeds Shift’s late founding Chair, Professor John Ruggie, author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. [See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/09/28/in-memoriam-john-ruggie-father-of-business-and-human-rights/]

On taking up the role of Shift’s Chair, Prince Zeid said:  

The unanimous endorsement of the Guiding Principles in 2011 represented a watershed moment in changing the understanding of companies’ responsibility for the negative impacts that business activities can have on people. For a decade now, Shift has worked relentlessly to embed the ethos of the UNGPs in the way business gets done, with the focus where it must always be – on delivering better outcomes for the most vulnerable workers and communities. I am delighted to take up the role of Chair of Shift’s Trustees at a time when we see so much growth in the appetite and need for the organization’s work and leadership, not least as regulators, legislators, investors and financiers become more attuned to their own roles in incentivizing rights-respecting business practices, including as an essential component of a Just Transition to carbon neutral economies. I look forward to working with the Board and the management team to seize these growing opportunities to deliver on the promise of the UN Guiding Principles.”

For the past three years, Shift has worked closely with Prince Zeid in strategic partnerships to advise global sports bodies––including the International Olympic Committee and the Féderation Internationale de l’Automobile ––on their responsibility to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles.

Isabelle Gattiker to leave Geneva Human Rights Film Festival

January 27, 2022
©Miguel Bueno / FIFDH

The soon coming 20th edition of the FIFDH will be the last one of General and Artistic Director, Isabelle Gattiker. After eight years at the head of the Festival she will leave her position at the end of April, to take up her new responsibilities as General Director of the Cantonal Office for Culture and Sport (OCCS) on 1 May 2022.
 

« I am leaving to take up an exciting professional challenge, but these years with the FIFDH will always hold a special place in my heart. It is an honour to have contributed to such an important Festival, and I did so with tremendous enthusiasm and passion. The Festival is in good hands, and I would like to thank the Board, my co-directors, our partners and the outstanding teams who have accompanied me every day along the way and made this adventure possible. The future of this unique event in the world can only be exceptional.» – Isabelle Gattiker


Isabelle Gattiker joined the FIFDH in 2013 as deputy director before taking over as director in 2015. Under her leadership, the Festival has grown considerably and developed a vast network of 170 partners in Switzerland and abroad. In eight years, the FIFDH has seen its attendance double; it has organised events in 85 venues in the Geneva region and has toured the world in 60 countries.


Isabelle Gattiker and the Festival team are currently working on the 20th edition of the FIFDH, which will take place from 4 to 13 March 2022, an anniversary edition that will celebrate the commitment of human rights activists and filmmakers. The full programme will be revealed on 15 February, 2022.

«We are proud and grateful for the tremendous work accomplished by Isabelle Gattiker as head of the Festival team. She was able to develop the Festival not only in size and presence but also in depth and legitimacy, transforming it into an international platform for the defence of human rights, yet firmly rooted in Geneva. We regret her departure but look forward to working with her in the interest of Geneva’s culture and its influence.» – Bruno Giussani, President of the FIFDH Foundation Board.

The FIFDH unveils the poster for its 20th edition!

https://fifdh.org/en/the-festival/news/article/isabelle-gattiker-directrice-generale-quittera-le-fifdh-apres-la-20e-edition

New SG for Amnesty International: Agnès Callamard

March 30, 2021

On 29 March 2021 Amnesty International announced the appointment of Dr. Agnès Callamard, a leading international human rights expert, as its new Secretary General, effective immediately. 

Dr. Callamard has recently been the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. In that role, she led ground-breaking investigations including into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/09/09/agnes-callamard-calls-overturned-verdict-in-khashoggi-case-parody-of-justice/]

As Secretary General, Dr. Callamard will be the Chief Executive of Amnesty’s International Secretariat and the principal spokesperson of the global Amnesty movement, which has some 10 million supporters, and offices in more than 70 countries.

At a time when human rights are under unprecedented threat around the world, Dr. Callamard will lead, excite and rally the entire Amnesty movement to meet these challenges head-on,” said Sarah Beamish, Chair of the International Board, in announcing the appointment.  “The combination of her intellectual acuity, her deep global human rights experience, and her courageous voice makes her highly qualified to front our movement. We are delighted she has accepted this challenge to take us boldly into our next phase.

Where governments and corporations seek to silence those who speak out against their abuses, to obfuscate the truth, and to undermine or reject human rights norms, the rigorous investigations and uncompromising campaigns of Amnesty International are more vital than ever.” Agnès Callamard

  “I am honoured to take up the post of Secretary General and work alongside Amnesty’s supporters around the world so that together we defend and demand respect for all human rights for all,” Dr Callamard said. 

Dr. Callamard, a French national, has built a highly distinguished career in the international human rights and humanitarian sectors, working across NGOs, academia, and the United Nations. Alongside her role as a United Nations independent human rights expert, she held the role of Director of the Global Freedom of Expression Project at Columbia University. Previously, she has been the Executive Director of the Freedom of Expression organization ARTICLE 19 and was the founder and Executive Director of HAP International (the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership).

Dr. Callamard worked with Amnesty International from 1995-2001, including as Chef de Cabinet for then-Secretary General Pierre Sané.  She has led human rights investigations in more than 30 countries and published extensively on human rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression, refugee movements, and the methodology of human rights investigations.

See also 7 April interview: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/7/leaders-of-the-world-have-failed-us-qa-with-agnes-callamard

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/03/dr-agnes-callamard-appointed-as-secretary-general-of-amnesty-international/

Vitit Muntarbhorn proposed as new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia

February 11, 2021

A Thai scholar, Vitit Muntarbhorn, has been proposed for appointment as the new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia by president of the United Nations Human Rights Council Nazhat Shameem Khan.

Muntarbhorn was listed in the candidates proposed for the six vacancies of special procedure mandate holders scheduled to be filled at the 46th session of the Human Rights Council, according to a letter from Shameem Khan on Monday.

If the 46th session of the Human Rights Council approves, Muntarbhorn will be appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Situation for Cambodia, replacing Rhona Smith, whose tenure ended in January.

Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) spokesman Chin Malin said Cambodia will welcome and work with whomever is selected as the Special Rapporteur.

Muntarbhorn was designated in September 2016 as the first UN independent expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by the Human Rights Council. He is an international law professor..

He is currently a professor emeritus of law at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, having taught international law, human rights, the law of regional organisations, migration and refugee law, child rights, international humanitarian law and European Union law. He was awarded the Unesco Human Rights Education Prize in 2004. [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/DB1D6BB8-85F5-7BBA-A715-5DA728579021]

Muntarbhorn has served on many United Nations bodies. He was formally the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in South Korea. He has also been Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Brian Dooley to advice Mary Lawlor

May 13, 2020
Further to the announcement of Mary Lawlor as Special Rapporteur on HRDs [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/07/mary-lawlor-takes-up-post-as-un-special-rapporteur-for-human-rights-defenders/]. Human Rights First on 12 May 2020 proudly announced that Brian Dooley, its senior advisor on human rights movements and the risk of persecution and reprisal they face, will also serve as an advisor to Mary Lawlor. Dooley will advise the special rapporteur on a range of issues facing human rights defenders while continuing his work at Human Rights First.

We are incredibly proud Brian was chosen for such a distinguished and important role,” said Mike Breen, president and CEO of Human Rights First. “Brian has been critical to the success of numerous campaigns to support human rights defenders in Bahrain, Egypt and Hong Kong over the last ten years. He will be an asset to the UN Special Rapporteur’s team and his work will undoubtedly increase the visibility of the threats that human rights defenders face, and hopefully, lead to better protections for those doing the vital work of advancing human rights.”  For some of my older posts referring to Brian Dooley: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/brian-dooley/.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_J._Dooley

Michael Ineichen leaves ISHR and a legacy

May 9, 2020
Michael Ineichen – ISHR programme director  – leaves the International Serivce for Human Rights and on 30 April 2020 he wrote a farewell note: “Leaving ISHR: thanks for 14 years of purpose, inspiration and learning”. He was often mentioned in this blog, see e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/michael-ineichen/. But fortunately he stays in Switzerland and in the human rights world: AI Switzerland.
 
Today, almost 14 years after joining “the service” I’m saying farewell to the International Service for Human Rights……I joined ISHR as an intern in 2006. Fresh off university, with a baby underway while fellow interns were spending their non-existent salaries on drinks by the lake. I was expecting to find a job, but found a purpose, a second family, and inspiration for a lifetime.

With my academic notion of “international human rights”, I knew very little of the reality experienced by the human rights defenders who struggle every day for more just, rights-respecting and equal societies. Back then, I was yet to be inspired by the courage, dedication, pain, doubt, joy and laughter of the many human rights activists I had the privilege of meeting over the years. I was yet to be appalled by the human rights violations and abuses of governments and unscrupulous companies, and the brazen efforts of some diplomats and governments to hide the truth from the eyes of the world, or somewhat reassured by the equally sustained efforts of others to create space for civil society and push for accountability.

In the last 14 years, there was not one week when I did not draw inspiration from one or more of the many human rights defenders ISHR works with. You are the reason this organisation exists. Among the stories which marked me the most, and which illustrates both the tremendous solidarity and deep frustration of engaging with international human rights mechanisms, is that of Chinese defender Cao Shunli.

She campaigned for something that most of us take for granted: independent civil society input into her government’s human rights report to the UN. As a result of her activism, she was blocked from travelling to Geneva, and – having been denied medical treatment – passed away in detention. Together with many civil society activists, I wanted to observe a moment of silence at the Human Rights Council in her memory. But the Chinese delegation was outraged, and interrupted the meeting for more than an hour. To this day, Cao Shunli’s death remains unaccounted for, and six successive Human Rights Council Presidents have failed to fully resolve this most emblematic case of reprisals. So much for the deep frustration. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/03/27/china-or-the-un-must-ensure-independent-investigation-into-death-of-cao-shunli/]

However, there’s also solidarity. Instead of stifling opposing views, with its heavy handed response even in the HRC, the Chinese delegation attracted massive attention to Cao Shunli and her struggle, and triggered an intense moment of global solidarity. Every member of civil society in the room was standing up – with Cao Shunli, and the human rights movement as a whole. Afterwards, every diplomat in Geneva knew Cao Shunli, and her story contributed significantly to the creation of a stronger UN response to reprisals. And, years later, Chinese human rights activists whom I’ve never met in my life look at me with a hint of recognition, saying “I know you. You’re the guy who stood up to our government, and made the UPR meaningful. We all watched behind the firewall.”

Hers is but one of the many stories I take with me, as I open a new chapter in my professional life. There are many others, happy and sad, of human rights defenders who have extended their trust to ISHR and myself. From Alphonsus to Ziad, I will always be grateful for the chance to reflect together on using the opportunities of international advocacy towards our common human rights struggle.  


I’ve seen times when donors trust in the track record, dedication and commitment of a civil society organisation like ISHR, or conversely when they insist on wasteful and narrow-minded administrative processes…..And I’ve seen how a strong focus on solidarity, well-being and passion can bring teams and an entire organisation to punch well above their weight. And finally, the last 14 years have been a period of immense personal growth – not always easy and smooth, but  I’ve grown as a father, husband and person. And I thank ISHR for being 100% supportive along the way.

As I look forward to opening a new chapter in my professional life by joining Amnesty Switzerland, I wish ISHR – Phil, the amazing team of staff, its dedicated board and the human rights defenders community it works with and supports – all the best for navigating these challenging times. You have and will continue to profoundly shape the human rights world, and I am proud and grateful to have been a part of the team.

Merci

https://www.ishr.ch/news/leaving-ishr-thanks-14-years-purpose-inspiration-and-learning

Other new UN Special Rapporteurs appointed in 2020

May 8, 2020

Having referred specially to the appointment of Mary Lawlor [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/07/mary-lawlor-takes-up-post-as-un-special-rapporteur-for-human-rights-defenders/ ], I should point out that the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed in March 12 new independent experts to its fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Currently, there are 56 mandates: 44 thematic ones and 12 mandates related to countries and territories, with a total of 80 human rights experts. The 8 May 2020 Media Guide explains who they are and how to contact them. For details go to: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25871

They are:

Ms. Claudia MAHLER (Austria) is the new Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons. This mandate gained in importance with the Corona virus pandemic.

Mr. Balakrishnan RAJAGOPAL (United States of America) is the new Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context.

Mr. Tomoya OBOKATA (Japan) is the new Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and its consequences.

Mr. Olivier DE SCHUTTER (Belgium) is the new Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

Ms. Alena DOUHAN (Belarus) is the new Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.

Mr. Michael FAKHRI (Lebanon) is the new Special Rapporteur on the right to food

Mr. José Francisco CALÍ TZAY (Guatemala) is the new Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Ms. Mama Fatima SINGHATEH (Gambia) is the new Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children.

Ms. Mary LAWLOR (Ireland) is the new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

Mr. Thomas H. ANDREWS (United States of America) is the new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

Ms. Isha DYFAN (Sierra Leone) is the new Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia.

 

Good breaking news: Mary Lawlor the new UN special rapporteur for human rights defenders

March 16, 2020
Human rights defender Mary Lawlor has been appointed as UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. Michel Forst, the current special rapporteur, is stepping down after six years in the role [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/03/05/michel-forst-in-his-latest-and-last-report-to-the-council-focuses-on-hrds-in-conflict-zones/]. This is excellent news as Mary Lawlor has enormous experience in human rights, as a previous director of Amnesty International Ireland and as a founder of Front Line Defenders (FLD). She led FLD from 2001 until her retirement in 2016, overseeing its growth to become a global organisation providing resources for the protection and security of human rights defenders (HRDs) at risk. Ms Lawlor helped spearhead civil society efforts to bring the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders into effect and became a recognised leader in focusing on attention on the unique protection needs of HRDs.Remarking on the announcement, Andrew Anderson, executive director at Front Line Defenders, said: “Mary Lawlor is an excellent choice as UNSR, she has huge experience of working with human rights defenders in all world regions with a focus on creative and practical support and she has the empathy, tact and tenacity to make a considerable impact.” [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/08/front-line-defenders-announces-steady-hand-andrew-anderson-as-new-executive-director/]

https://www.irishlegal.com/article/mary-lawlor-appointed-un-special-rapporteur-for-human-rights-defenders

New national Human Rights Commission in Myanmar: OLD wine in a new bottle

January 18, 2020

Human rights defenders blasted the newly reconstituted Human Rights Commission as comprised of a bunch of retirees who have little experience in protecting and promoting human rights. President U Win Myint has appointed U Hla Myint, Myanmar representative at the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, as the chair of the 11-member reconstituted body. Daw Nanda Hmun, retired permanent secretary of Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture was appointed as his deputy chair.

Critics expressed doubt on the capacity of the commission to perform its functions independently, especially in investigating cases, which involved police or military personnel as well as other government officials. Daw Nyo Nyo Thin, a former legislator who now heads an anti-corruption watch group in Yangon, said that one good thing about the newly formed commission is it has four female members. But she observed that since most of them are retired civil servants with little experience in human rights-related works, they might not be the right persons for the commission. ..“One of the main functions of the commission is to challenge the government if they received complaints of abuses.” The former legislator bewailed the lack of an active human rights advocate appointed in the body, commenting that the new commission seemed to be comprised of people close to President U Win Myint.

Ko Aung Zaw Oo, a member of the Myanmar Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Association, noted the lack of consultation and transparency on the appointment of the new commissioners. “I don’t want to criticize people but the selection process,” he said. “I want to ask if being a retired person is a requirement to be a member of Human Rights Commission.” For U Aung Myo Min, director of local resource centre Equality Myanmar, the lack of human rights expert in the commission is disturbing. The new commission does not have human rights subject experts or experienced people from ethnic regions where human rights violations mainly occurred and so, there are doubts in its capacity to discharge its function well, he said.

The previous commission does not have transparency and was criticized not only locally but also by the international community. The new Commission follows the same steps and I want to question that,” U Aung Myo Min said.

In December last year, 20 local civil society organizations called on the government to respect and ensure the independence of the commission and most of them felt frustrated their call went unheeded as evidenced by the appointment of the members of new commission. The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission was established in September 2011, under the administration of former president U Thein Sein.

https://www.mmtimes.com/news/reconstituted-myanmar-human-rights-commission-more-same.html