Posts Tagged ‘large scale violations’

Sri Lanka: champion retaliator against human rights defenders

March 17, 2014

Today, 17 March 2014, the Asian Human Rights Commission, comes out with a statement that makes Sri Lanka look like one the worst offenders when it comes to retaliation and reprisals against human rights defenders.  My feelings about reprisals are well-known and were recently  expressed in: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/zero-tolerance-for-states-that-take-reprisals-against-hrds-lets-up-the-ante/ 

A draft resolution promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka is being discussed at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The proposed resolution calls for, among other things, the Office of the High Commissioner, “To lead a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka and establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes committed with the view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability with assistance from relevant experts”. 

The statement of the AHRC reads: Read the rest of this entry »

Theo van Boven honored with film and debate in Geneva side event 14 March

March 5, 2014

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Theo van Boven (c) Dovana

With the start of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, there is also a plethora of side events scheduled. I will focus only on those that have Human Rights Defenders as a central theme (e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/important-human-rights-council-side-event-on-11-march-to-be-followed-on-internet/). Another one that promises to be interesting is organised by the Permanent Missions of the Netherlands and Argentina on 14 March 2014 from 13h00 – 15h:00 in Room XXI of the Palais des Nations. The main ingredient is the screening of a documentary:  Theo van Boven: a tribute”.

[Theo van Boven was Director of Human Rights in the UN in the early 80’s and was instrumental in creating what are now called the special procedures. How he was “hired and fired” by the UN in 1982 for the same reason – his deep concern for the right of people – is described in my collection of speeches by Theo van Boven: People Matter: Views on International Human Rights Policy (Meulenhoff: Amsterdam 1982)]

The film is introduced by Kees Flinterman (member of the Human Rights Committee) and Ms Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. The screening is followed by a panel discussion with:

  • Roderick van Schreven, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (moderator)
  • Alberto Pedro D’Alotto, Ambassador of the Argentine Republic
  • Tom McCarthy, former senior officer of the UN Centre for Human Rights/OHCHR
  • Bertrand Ramcharan, former acting High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Adrien-Claude Zoller, founder of human rights NGOs

Finally Theo himself will give some closing remarks.

For those who want to know more about his academic work there is an anthology that brings together a selection of his writings from 1966 to 1998:  http://www.brill.com/human-rights-exclusion-inclusion-principles-and-practice. And to show how he continues to contribute in practical terms see his explanation of why the Theo van Boven fund has been established and what the goals are, on You Tube:

‘Rights up Front’ presented by Jan Eliason: “It is irrefutable that serious human rights violations are the best early warning of atrocities”

December 26, 2013

(Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras)

Still haunted by its failure to forestall genocide in Rwanda and Srebrenica nearly 20 years ago and confronted by ongoing bloodshed in Syria and the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Nations is revamping its preventive strategies under a new initiative called ‘Rights up Front.’ “The need for early action, and the crucial role of responding early to human rights violations, is at the heart of theRights up Front’ initiative,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told an informal session of the General Assembly on 17 December 2013 – as he presented a six-point action plan.

It includes training UN staff on the world body’s core purpose of promoting respect for human rights; providing Member States with the information needed to respond to human rights violations; and ensuring that UN personnel around the world are more attuned to situations where there is a risk of serious human rights abuses and are equipped for the responsibilities that such potential crises entail.

The strategy, initiated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also includes achieving a more coherence by strengthening engagement with the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and providing earlier and more coherent support to teams on the ground before a crisis emerges; and better organization of human rights staff so that they can identify risks of serious violations of human rights that could lead to atrocities.

Finally, underpinning all these activities will be better information management on threats and risks to populations for planning operational activities and for sharing with Member States.

“. ..It is irrefutable, and needs repeating, that serious human rights violations are the best early warning of impending atrocities.” Eliasson said. “If we fail to act early, the human, political and economic costs can be devastating as we know far too well. This calls for a more alert, flexible and coordinated UN System, both on the ground and at headquarters.”

Horrendous events led us all to say ‘never again’, Mr. Eliasson said. “We said we would have to do more to prevent serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Despite much effort, since 1995 hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of mass atrocities and tens of millions have been displaced.” But steps forward have been taken. “World leaders endorsed the ‘responsibility to protect in 2005. And Member States have over the years articulated an increasingly detailed agenda for the protection of civilians,” he said. Yet, the crises in Syria, where over 100,000 people have now been killed and 8 million driven from their homes in the nearly three-year civil war, and in CAR, where thousands have been killed and over 600,000 displaced in a conflict increasingly marked by inter-communal clashes between Christians and Muslims, are reminders that serious human rights abuses are often the clearest early warning of emerging conflict, he added.

“When people in today’s world are at risk or subject to serious violations, they expect and request the United Nations to act – and we do,” Mr. Eliasson declared. “However, in practice, our response to crisis often comes when a situation has deteriorated to the point where only a substantial political or peacekeeping mission can deal with the problems.”

via United Nations News Centre – New UN ‘Rights up Front’ strategy seeks to prevent genocide, human rights abuses.