Posts Tagged ‘Navi Pillay’

Olympic Committee tries its hands on human rights, ..cautiously

December 3, 2018

The IOC has set up an advisory committee on human rights chaired by Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the former U.N. high commissioner for human rights. One can only hope that he will fare better than his UN predecessor’s short tenure in FIFA’s Governance Committee and that the IOC’s human right panel will do a better job than its FIFA counterpart [see my post of today: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/03/fifas-second-report-on-human-rights-misses-sustainable-approach/]. The IOC advisory committee was in the pipeline since March 2017 [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/14/olympic-games-in-future-bound-by-human-rights-standards/].

IOC President Thomas Bach said Saturday 2 December 2018 at meetings in Tokyo that “human rights standards” will be included in Olympic host-city contracts, beginning with the 2024 Games in Paris. “Promoting humanistic values in sport has been a core feature of the IOC since its beginning” and “Our mission, to put sport at the service of humanity, goes hand in hand with human rights, which is part of our DNA” But his answers re the Bejing Winter Olympics in 2022 fell short of this lofty language: Bach was asked if the committee would look at human rights in China, where hundreds of thousands of Muslims in western China are being held in interment camps. He said the IOC would not question China because it “has not the mandate nor the authority to solve the human rights problems” that are clearly “political issues. Bach suggested the committee would focus on issues like the rights of transgender athletes. “We should concentrate on what we can really achieve and what we can really do” .

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/06/27/new-global-center-for-sport-and-human-rights-created-to-address-abuses/

FIFA’s second report on human rights misses sustainable approach

December 3, 2018

FIFA’s Human Rights Advisory Board, an independent panel with a mandate to look into how FIFA tackles its human rights issues, published its second report in November 2018. (How independence is to be understood in the context of FIFA is perhaps shown by what happened to its Governance Committee: former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and others resigned in May 2017 from FIFA’s governance committee (which is not the human rights committee) saying that their independence was undercut and holding out no hope for internal reform [see: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/dec/21/our-sin-take-task-fifa-seriously and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/02/fifa-governance-committee-starts-dealing-with-a-human-rights-policy/])

The report covered the period from October 2017 to September 2018, and while it highlights progress it also shows soccer’s governing body still has a lot of work to do. The advisory board only began its work in March 2017, and described human rights as “still in the relatively early stages of being embedded in FIFA’s culture,” acknowledging that past decisions and contracts make it hard to deal with human rights issues. That can be seen by the large number of recommendations involving the Russia 2018 World Cup and the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Of the advisory board’s six recommendations for Qatar 2022, FIFA still has work to do in two areas: using its leverage to try and improve the ‘kafala’ labor system so that it is more in line with workers’ rights, and encouraging companies linked to World Cup-related employment to do more to meet international human rights standards. The focus on World cups misses out on the same issues at the Club World Cup which takes place in the UAE in December 2018.

The human rights advisory board’s existence appears in some respects to be a reaction to the criticism FIFA received over the decision to award Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup, but the World Cup is far bigger than just the stadiums, and ..FIFA’s narrow focus on stadium workers means it misses the chance to create a long-term positive World Cup legacy in regards to human rights.

The report highlighted that FIFA “needs to invest in a sustainable approach” to human rights rather than just provide superficial fixes. Improvements that are made when issues are in the spotlight are often fluid and can be rolled back once the world’s attention swings to another issue.

One issue that the advisory board brought up, and which will be addressed in more detail in the next report, is how women in Iran have been banned from attending men’s soccer matches.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/06/27/new-global-center-for-sport-and-human-rights-created-to-address-abuses/

FIFA Governance Committee starts dealing with a human rights policy

February 2, 2017

The FIFA Governance Committee held its first meeting at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on 26 January 2017. Key aspects of FIFA’s future  human rights policy seem to have come up but details are not known yet.  [See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/06/12/42-human-rights-defenders-also-want-to-win-in-world-cup/]. This is what the report said:

Sustainability and diversity: The committee members received an update about FIFA’s concrete measures in the areas of anti-discrimination, environmental protection, social development and sustainability, in particular in the context of the upcoming FIFA World Cups™. 

Human rights: In line with FIFA’s commitment towards human rights enshrined in the FIFA Statutes and FIFA’s 2.0 vision, the committee discussed FIFA’s responsibilities in this area, as well as the key aspects of a FIFA human rights policy, which will eventually be submitted to the FIFA Council for approval. 

……

Integrity in football: While the Governance Committee does not intervene in sports regulatory matters, it was agreed that it would conduct an analysis of the economic and social dimensions of football regulation that intersect with questions of human rights, transparency and conflicts of interest and that may impact on the integrity of the game and public trust.

 

……Following the meeting, the chairman set up two working groups to work on the human rights policy and the electoral guidelines, to be coordinated by committee members Justice Navi Pillay (former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) and Joseph Weiler (Professor at New York University Law School and former President of the European University Institute) respectively.

{The FIFA Governance Committee was set up following the reforms approved by the Extraordinary FIFA Congress in February 2016 and its main role is to deal with, and advise and assist the Council on, all FIFA governance matters.}

Source: FIFA Governance Committee assesses implementation of reforms at first meeting – FIFA.com

Navi Pillay reflects on 50 years as a defender of human rights

April 14, 2016

I have had quite a few post on Navi Pillay as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/navi-pillay/]  before and after her term [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/navanethem-pillay-finishes-her-term-as-un-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-a-great-lady/]. So when the Toronto Star ( Immigration reporter) did an interview with this remarkable woman on 12 April 2016, I am happy to bring it to your attention. She was the recipient of the 2003 Gruber Prize for Women’s Rights and the 2010 Stockhom Human Rights Award.

“Navi Pillay reflects on 50 years as a champion for human rights”

Navi Pillay, who grew up under apartheid in South Africa, is the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Navi Pillay, who grew up under apartheid in South Africa, is the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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A lot more on the protection of Defenders of economic social and cultural rights

March 16, 2016

On 7 March 2016 the ISHR held a joint side event on the protection needs of human rights defenders working on economic, cultural and social (ESC) rights [http://wp.me/pQKto-1ZJ]. Here a report and some more:

Panellists spoke about the crucial work of ESC rights defenders in their countries, including defenders in Ethiopia protesting illegal land grabs to prevent the displacement of communities; defenders in Malaysia working towards inclusive and sustainable development and to oppose corruption; and defenders in Guatemala working to protect indigenous rights and ensuring that companies consult with affected communities.

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Side event on Protection of human rights defenders in economic, social and cultural rights

March 1, 2016

ISHR-logo-colour-highOn Monday 7 March 2016, from 13h30-15h00 in Room XVIII, Palais des Nations, Geneva, there will be a side event:Protection needs of human rights defenders working on economic, social and cultural rights: Challenges and good practice. (see my previous post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/regional-update-for-asia/)

The current and previous Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders have emphasised the specific risks that defenders working on economic, social and cultural rights face. Whether they are activists fighting corruption or promoting transparency, working on land and environment rights, or defending their right to housing, ESC-rights defenders are among the most isolated and stigmatised defenders. This side event hopes to shed light on the risks faced by economic, social and cultural rights defenders, and draw on the report of the Special Rapporteur presented to the 31st session of the Human Rights Council to present good practices in furthering their protection.

panelists:

Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Navi Pillay, former High Commissioner for Human Rights

Allo Awol, human rights defender from Eritrea

Arutchelvan Subramaniams, human rights defender from Malaysia

Pedro Tzicá, human rights defender from Guatemala

Moderator: Ms Catarina de Albuquerque, Executive Chair of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) and former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Interpretation in English and Spanish will be provided. The event will be webcast live at www.ishr.ch/webcasts

Source: Protection needs of human rights defenders working on economic, social and cultural rights | ISHR

New High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, opens Human Rights Council

September 8, 2014

UN HCHR Al HusseinOn 8 September 2014 the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, addressed for the first time the Human Rights Council, and many will have been listening for clues about where he stands on key issues, how ‘activist’ he is likely to be etc. As the speech was rather long and covered a huge variety of issues, it is not easy to draw any conclusions yet. The fist half addressed issues of war and violence and in particular the humanitarian crises of today.

The role of the individual is beautifully worded: “courage is the first human virtue, revered the world over, the very virtue we value the most as human beings. The courageous individual is not he or she who wields great political power or points a gun at those who do not – that is not courage.  The courageous individual is he or she who has nothing to wield but common sense, reason and the law, and is prepared to forfeit future, family, friends and even life in defence of others, or to end injustice.  In its most magnificent form, the courageous individual undertakes this exertion, without ever threatening or taking the life of someone else, and certainly not someone defenceless.”..”the Takfiris [IS] who recently murdered James Foley and hundreds of other defenceless victims in Iraq and Syria – do they believe they are acting courageously? “…

Navi Pillay was one of the greatest senior officials the UN has ever had, and one of the most able, formidable High Commissioners for Human Rights. That she could annoy many Governments – and she did – was clear; but she believed deeply and movingly in the centrality of victims, and of those who are discriminated against. They needed her vocal chords, her lungs and her pen, and she made everyone listen. I pledge to continue along the same path: to be as firm, yet always fair; critical of states when necessary, and full of praise when they deserve it.”

“A ministerial-level meeting will be held in New York on 25 September, on the need for a code of conduct to be adopted by the permanent members of the UN Security Council regarding use of veto, in situations where atrocities are ongoing and where those facts are well founded.  This is not a call to have the UN Charter rewritten, but a call for the permanent members to exercise a moratorium in very specific circumstances involving atrocity crimes.  I applaud the Government of France for taking the lead over this, and thank it for inviting me to participate on the 25th.  When the veto is exercised for the sole purpose of blocking action by the Security Council, with no alternative course of action offered, and when people are suffering so grievously ­– that is also a form of cruelty.”

After briefly describing his priorities:

  1. halt the increasingly conjoined conflicts in Iraq and Syria. In particular, dedicated efforts are urgently needed to protect religious and ethnic groups, children – who are at risk of forcible recruitment and sexual violence – and women, who have been the targets of severe restrictions.
  2. ensure accountability and stop impunity
  3. to take a step back and look at how and why these crises erupted,

the UN High Commissioner touched on a number of current situations and mentioned the importance of the different mechanisms and bodies. Finally he came to the civil society with the following words:

But the work done by OHCHR, by the Special Procedures, by Treaty Bodies, this Council itself, and indeed, by Member States, could never be achieved without the greater efforts of civil society actors. We need their continuing support and contributions to realise progress. I encourage the Council to strengthen its constructive engagement with civil society actors, and to ensure that their voices can be raised safely and without reprisals.  Freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly are rights that enable people to share ideas, form new thinking, and join together with others to claim their rights. It is through the exercise of these public freedoms that we make informed, considered and intelligent decisions about our development. To restrict them undermines progress. We must acknowledge the value of civic contribution, build the capacity of marginalised voices, ensure a place at the table for civil society actors, and safeguard their activities – including the activities of those who cooperate with this Council, its Special Procedures and Commissions of Inquiry. I take this opportunity to echo the Secretary-General’s condemnation of acts of reprisal against individuals by reason of their engagement with the United Nations.”

At the end of this speech, he paid significant attention to the issue of migration:  “The treatment of non-nationals must observe the minimum standards set by international law. Human rights are not reserved for citizens only, or for people with visas. They are the inalienable rights of every individual, regardless of his or her location and migration status. A tendency to promote law enforcement and security paradigms at the expense of human rights frameworks dehumanises irregular migrants, enabling a climate of violence against them and further depriving them of the full protection of the law.”

See full text at: Media Centre.

Navanethem Pillay finishes her term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: a great lady

July 9, 2014

In September 2014, Navanethem (Navi) Pillay will finish her term as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Since her appointment in 2008, she has been a principled and dedicated advocate for universal human rights, the protection of human rights defenders, accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations, and access to justice for victims. She has encouraged her staff to speak out and has done so herself courageously. Unanimity about her performance should not be expected – for that the topics she had to deal with are too controversial – but the human rights world generally has seen her as a ‘champion’ and one of them.
To get some idea of the scope of her involvement in favour of human rights defenders, see some of my 20 previous posts: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/navi-pillay/

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Prince Zeid Raad Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan the new U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights

June 7, 2014

Yesterday, 6 June 2014, the UN and media reported that the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has proposed that Jordans U.N. ambassador, Prince Zeid Raad Zeid al-Hussein, as the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (to replace Navi Pillay who leaves in August after serving a second term). The General Assembly still has to approve, but usually no announcement is made unless there is already agreement.

Prince Zeid is generally well-liked as a diplomat and has established a solid reputation. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Cambridge University, has previously served as Jordans ambassador to the United States and Mexico. He was also a political affairs officer in UNPROFOR, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia during the Balkan conflict.

Still, after a two women High Commissioners with broad experience in human rights and proven independence as judges before their appointments, it is fair to ask what human rights defenders can expect from this shift back towards a High Commissioner chosen for more diplomatic skills (as was the first one José Ayala-Lasso in 1994). Anyway, the only thing is to wait and see how he works out in practice. After all, another Prince, Sadruddin Aga Khan served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1966 to 1978, and was excellent.

25th UN Human Rights Council opens with calls to protect Human Rights Defenders

March 4, 2014


(High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at the 25th session of the Human Rights Council. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

 

 

Yesterday, 3 March 2014, the top UN functionaries opened the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council with calls for the protection of members of civil society who pursue justice in their countries (a long euphemism for Human Rights Defenders).

 

Streets, airwaves, entire countries are buzzing with demands for economic, social and political justice,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said. Setting out this agenda and acknowledging the hard work that lay ahead in ensuring that all people enjoyed equal rights, Ms. Pillay emphasized the important role of civil society in those efforts. “We need to work together to ensure that the space, voice and knowledge of civil society is nurtured in all our countries,” she stressed. Recalling reports of what she labelled “intolerable” reprisals against people who coöperate with the UN’s human rights activities, she called for more action to protect them. “The UN itself is required to protect and support those who contribute to its work, often at great personal risk,” she said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added on this point that, “No one should have to risk their life for standing up and speaking out on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.” Civil society was the representative of “We the Peoples,” as cited in the opening of the UN Charter, and that it must be able to carry out its vital work, “free of reprisals and intimidation.” In that context, the Secretary-General highlighted the “Rights Up Front” action plan that he launched last year to ensure that human rights considerations were the top priority in all UN activities. “This initiative seeks to ensure that the United Nations system leverages the full breadth of its mandates to protect people at risk,” he said. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/rights-up-front-presented-by-jan-eliason-it-is-irrefutable-that-serious-human-rights-violations-are-the-best-early-warning-of-atrocities/]

Interesting to note that while in Geneva, the Secretary-General met 4 NGOs: the International Service for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists. Their discussion certainly stressed human rights defenders and the importance of protecting them from attacks.

via United Nations News Centre – UN Human Rights Council opens with calls to protect, support civil society activism.