Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Batchelet’

Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture in Geneva on 18 July 2019

July 12, 2019

On the occasion of Nelson Mandela International Day, Albie Sachs, Former Judge of the South African Constitutional Court, and Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will reflect on today’s challenges to human rights and how to move the human rights agenda forward based on their personal experiences.

THURSDAY 18 JULY 2019, 18:00 – 19:30  AUDITORIUM IVAN PICTET | MAISON DE LA PAIX, GENEVA

Welcome remarks:

  • Andrew Clapham, Professor of Public International Law, the Graduate Institute, Geneva
  • Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, Ambassador, South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva

Keynote speech:

  • Albie Sachs, Former Judge, Constitutional Court of South Africa

Discussion with:

  • Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Christof Heyns, Professor of Human Rights Law, University of Pretoria (moderator)
  • Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, Ambassador, South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva
  • Albie Sachs, Former Judge, Constitutional Court of South Africa

Closing remarks:

  • Frans Viljoen, Director, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

The Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture is presented by the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria, the Washington College of Law at the American University, the Human Rights Council Branch at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in collaboration with the South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

This lecture is part of the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition and will be followed by a reception.

https://graduateinstitute.ch/communications/events/nelson-mandela-human-rights-lecture

Joint letter by 22 States to Human Rights Council re China’s Uighurs

July 12, 2019

A Chinese flag behind razor wire at a housing compound in Yangisar, south of Kashgar, in China’s western Xinjiang region
China is reportedly holding one million people, mostly ethnic Uighurs, in internment camps in Xinjiang Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

UN ambassadors  – including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Japan – co-signed the letter released Wednesday and sent to the Human Rights Council president, Coly Seck, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

Rights groups and former inmates describe them as “concentration camps” where mainly Muslim Uighurs and other minorities are being forcefully assimilated into China’s majority ethnic Han society. The letter expresses concern “about credible reports of arbitrary detention… as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.” It calls on China to stop arbitrary detention and allow “freedom of movement of Uighurs and other Muslim and minority communities in Xinjiang.” The authors, who include ambassadors from across the EU as well as Switzerland, requested that the letter become an official document of the Human Rights Council, which ends its 41st session in Geneva on Friday. Chinese officials describe the camps as voluntary “vocational education centres” where Turkic-speaking Uighurs receive job training.

The letter may have been the only available option with China having enough support in the UN Council to vote down a formal resolution. See also: ttps://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-xinjiang-rights-idUSKCN1U721X?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_content=5d28c3e00ca7240001cb2eef&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter

On the same day Human Rights Watch commented: Most importantly, the joint letter sends a strong message that we are moving beyond the era of selectivity, and that no country, large or small, is exempt from the scrutiny of this Council. We understand that the joint letter remains open for additional signatures, and we encourage those delegations that have not yet signed to do so. We are particularly disappointed that OIC member states have not yet engaged meaningfully or credibly with the human rights situation affecting Muslims in Xinjiang, while they have spoken out on other situations. This risks fueling perceptions of double standards and politicization; supporting the constructive joint statement would be a useful step towards addressing such perceptions.

We also welcome China’s acceptance of a UPR recommendation to respond positively to a country visit request by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

We would suggest that China could benefit from technical assistance by drawing on the expertise of other UN Special Rapporteurs, such as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of human rights while countering terrorism. Given that China has advanced the need to counter terrorism as its rationale for mass programs directed at Uyghurs and others in Xinjiang, the Special Rapporteur could offer useful guidance on whether there are more rights-respecting ways to counter terrorism than mass surveillance, detaining over a million Muslims, and stripping an entire population of its rights to freedom of religion, privacy, culture and expression.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/11/hot-news-ilham-tohti-chinas-mandela-wins-2016-martin-ennals-awad/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/11/more-than-20-ambassadors-condemn-chinas-treatment-of-uighurs-in-xinjiang

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/07/11/independent-reporting-xinjiang-abuses-requires-unfettered-access-not-stage-managed

UN High Commissioner to present her Human Rights Report 2018 to Civil Society

May 29, 2019

On 14 June 2019 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet will present the UN Human Rights Report 2018 to Civil Society. The event wil take place from 14:00 to 15:00 on Friday, 14 June, in the Ground Floor Conference Room at Palais Wilson. Please note that the meeting is limited to NGOs holding annual accreditation with UNOG (confirm by 11 June to zghanem@ohchr.org).
However the electronic version of the Report is already available on the Office’s website: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/OHCHRreport2018.pdf

Microsoft exercising human rights concerns to turn down facial-recognition sales

April 30, 2019

FILE PHOTO: The Microsoft sign is shown on top of the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 19,2018. REUTERS/Mike Blak
REUTERS/Mike Blak

Joseph Menn reported on 16 April 2018 in kfgo.com about Microsoft rejecting a California law enforcement agency’s request to install facial recognition technology in officers’ cars and body cameras due to human rights concerns. Microsoft concluded it would lead to innocent women and minorities being disproportionately held for questioning because the artificial intelligence has been trained on mostly white and male pictures. AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found.

Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan” against a database of suspects, company President Brad Smith said without naming the agency. After thinking through the uneven impact, “we said this technology is not your answer.” Speaking at a Stanford University conference on “human-centered artificial intelligence,” Smith said Microsoft had also declined a deal to install facial recognition on cameras blanketing the capital city of an unnamed country that the nonprofit Freedom House had deemed not free. Smith said it would have suppressed freedom of assembly there.

On the other hand, Microsoft did agree to provide the technology to an American prison, after the company concluded that the environment would be limited and that it would improve safety inside the unnamed institution. Smith explained the decisions as part of a commitment to human rights that he said was increasingly critical as rapid technological advances empower governments to conduct blanket surveillance, deploy autonomous weapons and take other steps that might prove impossible to reverse….

Smith has called for greater regulation of facial recognition and other uses of artificial intelligence, and he warned Tuesday that without that, companies amassing the most data might win the race to develop the best AI in a “race to the bottom.”

He shared the stage with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who urged tech companies to refrain from building new tools without weighing their impact. “Please embody the human rights approach when you are developing technology,” said Bachelet, a former president of Chile.

[see also my older: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/11/19/contrasting-views-of-human-rights-in-business-world-bank-and-it-companies/]

https://kfgo.com/news/articles/2019/apr/16/microsoft-turned-down-facial-recognition-sales-on-human-rights-concerns/

Brunei back to the middle ages – will hotel boycott work?

April 4, 2019

Cruel and inhuman punishments such as death by stoning for same-sex sexual acts and amputation for robbery came into effect in Brunei Darussalam as Amnesty International feared. The proposed changes to Brunei’s penal code to incorporate punishments under a strict interpretation of Islamic law – including death by stoning – should be halted, the UN’s top human rights official, Michelle Bachelet, said on Monday 1 April 2019. Now some interesting new celebrity action is on the way:

A boycott of Brunei-owned luxury hotels  was sparked last week in an opinion piece by actor George Clooney, who said a boycott of the high-end hotels — where rooms can start at $600 a night or more — is necessary to keep money from flowing “directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery.” It is gaining support from celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John as the country on Wednesday implemented what it called Islamic criminal laws including death by stoning for gay sex.

The nine hotels owned by Brunei are:

  • The Dorchester, London
  • 45 Park Lane, London
  • Coworth Park, UK
  • The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills
  • Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
  • Le Meurice, Paris
  • Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris
  • Hotel Eden, Rome
  • Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan

..In his opinion piece last week, Clooney noted that he’s stayed at many of the hotels owned by Brunei, a small nation located on the island of Borneo, but said he was unaware of their ownership “because I hadn’t done my homework.” He acknowledged that a boycott is unlikely to change Brunei’s laws, but said consumers must decide whether they want their money to support laws that violate human rights. “Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?” he wrote. “I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/03/brunei-darussalam-heinous-punishments-to-become-law-next-week/
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-47813751/will-george-clooney-s-brunei-boycott-really-work
https://www.20min.ch/ro/news/monde/story/Clooney-appelle-au-boycott-des-h-tels-de-Brunei-25250215
https://www.economist.com/asia/2019/04/04/bruneis-ultra-rich-monarch-adopts-harsh-sharia-punishments?
https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/04/1035831

UN Human Rights Office in Burundi formally closed

March 5, 2019

As foreseen in December 2018 [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/07/final-step-burundi-closes-down-un-office/] the UN office in Burundi was closed formally on Thursday 28 February at the insistence of the Government.

It is with deep regret that we have had to close our office in Burundi after a 23-year presence in the country,” High Commissioner Bachelet said. “Since the UN Human Rights Office in Burundi was established in 1995, for many years we worked with the Government on peacebuilding, security sector reform, justice sector reform and helped build institutional and civil society capacity on a whole host of human rights issues.”..“Unfortunately, many of these human rights gains have been seriously jeopardized since 2015”…

Our reports on the human rights situation in Burundi have always been developed in a constructive spirit, intended to support the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. But I am disappointed by Burundi’s lack of cooperation in recent years with UN human rights mechanisms – which even went so far as to include threats to prosecute members of the independent international Commission of Inquiry established by the UN Human Rights Council,” High Commissioner Bachelet said.

Bachelet paid tribute to the many human rights defenders and civil society actors in Burundi who have worked with inspiring dedication, perseverance, courage and expertise through many political and social crises in the country, while noting with concern that in recent years, many of them have been detained or forced into exile.

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24254&LangID=E

Opening Statements at 40th session of UN Human Rights Council

February 25, 2019

Also the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, gave an opening statement which was of a remarkably ‘soft’ tone.  Here some excerpts:

..Today, we sometimes hear human rights being dismissed as supposedly “globalist” – as opposed to the patriotic interest of a sovereign government. But how can any State’s interests be advanced by policies that damage the well-being of all humans?….

Human rights-based policies are effective. They deliver better outcomes for people – people across the social and economic spectrum, and beyond borders. They prevent grievances, conflicts, inequalities, and suffering and discrimination of all kinds….Steps to ensure the authorities engage in respectful dialogue with civil society make for much better, broader development – and I want to emphasise this point: there cannot be optimal, sustainable or inclusive development when the voices of civil society are absent.

…..In today’s currents, in this uncharted storm of heavy winds and rising seas, careless leadership could carry our countries into catastrophe. Or we can use fundamental principles to steer our vessels to safety in more peaceful waters. Every day, we deal with many challenges across the planet. The world’s eyes have been on Venezuela, especially in the last few days. Just yesterday my Office issued a statement regarding the situation: we hope violence will end, and that respect for human rights will be part of the solution.

This Council, the Treaty Bodies and my Office, including its 72 field presences around the world, are honoured with the mandate to stand up for human rights. I want to emphasise my admiration for the Council’s record in effecting early warning, and in naming experts to issue detailed guidance. The Special Procedures and Universal Periodic Review have become essential human rights tools. We need now to ensure not just early warning, but early action to prevent conflict and human rights violations.

I also take this opportunity to emphasise the importance of the Treaty Bodies, whose recommendations are often profoundly relevant.  Mindful of the need to avoid overburdening States with numerous and overlapping recommendations, we will continue working to help decision-makers devise appropriate policy responses.

My Office is sustained by the United Nations principles of impartiality, independence and integrity, and I view it as an essential springboard for the well-being and freedom of women and men across the world.

We will continue to engage with States and forge partnerships with UN agencies, regional and global bodies, business and other stakeholders. We will do our best to strengthen all the international human rights institutions with a sense of common purpose, and coordinated action.
And we will continue to amplify the needs and demands of civil society, to advance the principles of dignity, equality and justice.

——–

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world/2019/02/25/chief-warns-that-human-rights-are-losing-ground-world/BrFFZ4IXPpiN4QMc4j6TWO/story.html

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24203&LangID=E

 

Breaking news: MEA 2019 goes to Sudanese refugee activist caught up in Australia’s off-shore detention policy

February 13, 2019

The Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders just announced that the 2019 Laureate is Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a Sudanese refugee activist being effectively detained on Manus island in Papua New Guinea as part of Australia‘s controversial policy of deterring arrivals. Read the rest of this entry »