Posts Tagged ‘moment of silence’

Human Rights Council in throwback to muzzling NGOs

September 24, 2014

Phil Lynch, Director of the International Service for Human Rights, wrote an insightful post on URG Insights that is a must. It describes with concrete examples how the current Human Rights Council – and especially its Bureau – is failing to uphold the acquired right of NGOs to speak freely in the UN and – when necessary – mention names of offending countries. It seems like a complete throwback to the early 80’s when in the then Commission on Human Rights NGOs were restricted in mentioning countries by name. This let to untenable and even comical situations where NGOs would describe in detail atrocities and then say that they were talking about a big country in the south of Latin America, only to be asked by the Chair to say which country they had in mind. When the obvious answer came: “Argentina”, the NGO was ruled out of order! That States now feel that the time is right to try again to muzzle NGO criticism became already clear last year with China’s elaborate efforts to silence the ‘one minute silence’ for Cao Shunli [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/china-in-the-un-human-rights-council-manages-to-silence-cao-shunli-as-well-as-ngos/] and the worryingly broad support it got for its procedural wrangling. Thus it would be crucial that the whole NGO movement and the States that support them take a clear stand. In meantime Lynch’s Human Rights Council President, Bureau and Member States must respect the role and rights of NGOs” is giving the right background and follows here in toto:

“The right, and indeed the responsibility, of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to critique governments, expose and pursue accountability for human rights violations, and advocate for changes in law, policy and practice should be uncontroversial and uncontested. This is particularly the case at the UN Human Rights Council, the world’s apex body for human rights debate and dialogue, the mandate of which includes promoting and protecting the right to freedom of expression.

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India and South Africa forsaking their human rights credentials

April 12, 2014

Mandeep Tiwana posted on 10 April in the Mail & Guardian a piece that – sadly – needed to be written. On how South Africa and India increasingly find themselves siding with Russia, China in votes concerning human rights in the UN Human Rights Council. Mandeep recalls that “Mandela was acutely aware of the role that international solidarity played in supporting anti-apartheid activists as they mobilised on the streets. As president, he made a compelling speech at the Southern African Development Community’s periodic conference in 1997 in Blantyre, Malawi. He urged that national sovereignty and non-interference in the affairs of other countries could not blunt the common concern for democracy, human rights and good governance in the regional grouping. Mandela called upon his fellow leaders to recognise the right of citizens to “participate unhindered in political activities”. Under title : “India, SA risk forsaking their proud histories on human rights” the piece makes good reading for your weekend: Read the rest of this entry »

South Africa disappoints terribly in the Human Rights Council: support for China’s silencing the silence

March 27, 2014

A column in the South African City Press under the title “A chilling point of order for SA” written by Juliette De Rivero on 26 March 2014 makes a punchy statement about the disappointment felt all though the human rights movement when South Africa opted to support China’s point of order in the UN Council of Human Rights. In my post about this ‘court drama’ (reference below) I did not list all the countries coming out against allowing a moment of silence for the deceased Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli and indeed the position of South Africa was in many way the most surprising, in de Rivero’s words: “…The South African delegate took the floor and warned that allowing the activists to proceed with the moment of silence would “create a dangerous precedent” that the council would not be able to sustain in the future.He noted that the action was “irregular and incompatible with the rules of procedure of this council”.South Africa’s choice to stand with the government that prevented Cao Shunli from participating in the UN came as a blow to the activist community – a community that was willing to stand up for Cao just as it had been willing to denounce the injustice of apartheid.South Africa’s concern that the moment of silence – not the death of the activist – was setting a bad precedent in the UN body sent such a chilling message to the human rights community that it should not be ignored…”

Let me add: That silence is a way of speaking should be clear to all, including South Africa, e.g. when on 6 December 2013 the General Assembly held a moment of silence to honour the memory of Nelson Mandela (“Madiba”).

full piece in:  A chilling point of order for SA – City Press.

background in: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/china-in-the-un-human-rights-council-manages-to-silence-cao-shunli-as-well-as-ngos/