Posts Tagged ‘Pillay’

New UN High Commissioner should be the “Human Rights Defender-in-Chief”

August 11, 2014

(re-issued for technical reasons)

My reference last week to an interview with the new Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders [] seemed well appreciated judging from the number of views. Therefore I now refer you to a piece by the Director of the ISHR, Phil Lynch, of 16 July, who addresses the incoming UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein as the “human rights defender-in-chief “, saying that he has a particular responsibility to protect human rights defenders, especially so when they face intimidation and reprisals for their efforts to seek accountability at the UN for human rights violations. Read the rest of this entry »

Taking stock, Pillay delivers ‘mixed report’ on human rights worldwide, singling out reprisals against HRDs

December 3, 2013

On 2 December 2013 the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights delivered a “mixed report” on human rights progress around the world, with slow and steady advances in some areas alongside causes for alarm in others. “As we look around the world at the end of 2013, we see examples of situations where that readiness of the international community to act in time is already being sorely tested,” Navi Pillay said during a press conference in Geneva. In addition to Syria, where the scale and viciousness of the abuses being perpetuated by elements on both sides almost defies belief, the situation in the Central African Republic is deteriorating rapidly, and the alarm bells are ringing loud and clear. “Elsewhere, there is much turbulence,” Ms. Pillay said, highlighting the “serious politically-driven instability” in Bangladesh which is claiming a lot of lives in the run up to the election, the “heavy-handed attempts” by successive administrations in Egypt to quell people’s right to peaceful protests. Meanwhile, reprisals against civil society organizations, individual human rights defenders and journalists working on rights issues are “extremely worrying” in a number of countries, she said. The High Commissioner also drew attention to the situation of migrants, who continue to be treated as second-class citizens in many countries, as well as the continuing political exploitation of xenophobia and racism in Europe and other industrialized areas. “Amidst all this, there is nevertheless progress, sometimes taking place slowly and steadily out of the limelight, sometimes the subject of major policy shifts – including a number of reforms announced over the past two weeks by the Government of China,” Ms. Pillay stated. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and she noted that overall, the UN human rights system is a great deal stronger than it was two decades ago. “The UN human rights institutions, however well they function, are not enough by themselves,” she added.“The rest of the United Nations – individual Member States, powerful bodies such as the Security Council and the General Assembly, and all the UN’s myriad agencies, funds and programme – need to pull their weight in the common cause of improving human rights for everyone everywhere, in accordance with the UN Charter.

via United Nations News Centre – Taking stock, UN official delivers ‘mixed report’ on human rights progress worldwide.


Pillay discusses 20 years Vienna

June 27, 2013

N. Pillay - © OHCHR

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Thursday 27 June said there had been significant achievements since a historic human rights document was adopted in Vienna 20 years ago, but there have also been many setbacks and “the magnificent construction is still only half built.” Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting Serbia and Kosovo, UN High Commissioner urges political will to solidify human rights and support HRDs

June 21, 2013

In June 2013, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visited former Yugoslavia. In both Serbia and Kosovo she mentioned that human rights defenders have a key role to play:

High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navane...

Read the rest of this entry »

UN Human Rights Council opened today with Pillay calling for protection of human rights defenders

February 25, 2013

(High Commissioner for Human Rights Navy Pillay addresses the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

As the United Nations Human Rights Council began its work today, 25 February 2013.  the High Commissioner  Navi Pillay stressed the importance of strengthening international processes that will monitor and prevent rights violations around the world as well as hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.Addressing the opening of the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that despite significant progress over the past two decades on issues such as the elimination of violence against women and tackling impunity for international crimes, there continue to be systematic human rights violations around the world. In her address to the Council, Ms. Pillay also noted that while the increased involvement of civil society in defending human rights is a welcome development, there have been an alarming number of reports of governments persecuting human rights defenders because of the nature of their work.“I continue to hear of brave human rights defenders, journalists or bloggers who have been threatened, harassed, arrested or killed because of their work on behalf of the human rights of others,” Ms. Pillay said. “Such intimidation has sometimes even occurred during the proceedings of this Council. We must never tolerate such pressure, or reprisals against those who rightly seek to engage the international human rights system.

via United Nations News Centre – UN Human Rights Council opens with call to strengthen international justice system.

And by the way, human rights work in the UN costs money

February 1, 2013

High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navane...

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. on Thursday 31 January launched an appeal for US$130.4 million in 2013, telling donors that the UN Human Rights Office could respond to more of the many requests for assistance she receives if additional resources were made available. Despite reducing its expenditure by more than 7.5 percent in 2012, the UN Human Rights Office experienced a funding shortfall for the third year in a row. As a result, 46 posts have been cut or frozen, a decision which will affect our ability to respond to ongoing challenges, such as discrimination, climate change, HIV-related issues, protection of human rights defenders and support for various key human rights bodies”, Mrs Pillay said.

Clearly, preventing crises costs vastly less than responding to them once they have occurred,” the High Commissioner said. “It is a disturbing paradox that raising funds to respond to crisis situations is so much easier than raising funds to prevent crises from happening in the first place. Imagine all the suffering, destruction and loss of life that could have been avoided if we were able to prevent or mitigate only some of the crises the world is witnessing today……… This prevention role – which is generally less visible than our responsive role – is of crucial importance and deserves strong donor support and attention.

Twenty years ago, when the Office of the High Commissioner was created, the international community made the decision to invest more in human rights, but this sector remains severely underfunded, especially compared to the high degree of public recognition the UN gets for its human rights work.

The Annual Appeal can be downloaded from the OHCHR website at:

UN Watch: simply anti UN and anti Pillay – NGOs should Watch Out

January 23, 2013

Today’s post, praising the Office of the High commissioner for Human Rights, lead a reader to draw my attention to the continuing attacks by UN Watch. In a recent post (9 January this year) I had already urged Human Rights Watch to take more and more publicly distance from this other NGO, but reading the website of UN Watch I realize that in fact all human rights organizations should take distance instead of being lured into signing up for an ad-hoc critical statement that suits them at that moment.

As an example I refer to the statement by UN Watch in May 2012 criticizing the extension of Mrs Pillay’s mandate. In an effort to make it sound as if a whole range of NGOs share UN Watch’s horror of this excellent High Commissioner it makes the assertion that “UN Watch is among more than 38 human rights groups that have “questioned Pillay’s record in taking on the most powerful blocs and repressive regimes“. In fact the questioning was done by a group of mostly unknown groups and – worse – the criticism only related to the High Commissioner’s (admittedly disappointing) decision not to attend the reception in Oslo for Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo back in 2010. I have severe doubts that all of the NGOs agreed with the sweeping statement regarding Pillay’s record!

To get an idea of who the groups in question are I have reproduced the far from impressive the list below. If any feel that they do not want to be associated with this rabid and manipulating anti-UN NGO they should stand up and be counted! The prevalence of pro-Israel and anti-Cuba groups is remarkable in itself.

Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director
United Nations Watch

Art Kaufman
World Movement for Democracy
United States

Tashi Albertini
Associazone TicinoTibet

Abdurashid Abdulle Abikar
Center for Youth and Democracy

Nguyên Lê Nhân Quyên
Vietnamese League for Human Rights in Switzerland

Ted Brooks
Executive Director
Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy

Benjamin Abtan
SOS Racisme

Bernard Schalscha
Secrétaire général
Collectif Urgence Darfour

Ulrich Delius
Asia Desk
Society for Threatened Peoples

Shomik Chaudhuri
Vice President
Institute of International Social Development

Carlos E. Tinoco
Consorcio Desarrollo y Justicia, A.C.

Peter Hesse
Director, Fondation Peter Hesse (

Logan Maurer
Regional manager
International Christian Concern (
United States

Dr. Theodor Rathgeber
Forum Human Rights

Rene Wadlow
Representative to the UN, Geneva
Association of World Citizens

Natalia Taubina
Public Verdict Foundation

Sylvia G. Iriondo
Mothers and Women against Repression (MAR por Cuba)

Nataliya Gourjii
Executive Director
Charitable Foundation ROKADA

Elena Bevilacqua
Director of Headquarters
International Union of Notaries (U.I.N.L.)

John Suarez
International Secretary
Directorio Democratico Cubano

Omar Lopez
Human Rights Director
The Cuban American National Foundation
United States

Klaus Netter
Main Representative, UN Office in Geneva
Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations

Volodymyr Yavorskyy
Executive Director
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Jean Stoner
NGO Representative
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
United States

Zohra Yusuf
Council Member
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Heng-Hao (Leo) Chang
Secretary General
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations

Sharon Gustafson
International Council of Jewish Women

Dr. Yael Danieli
Senior Representative to the United Nations
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Thomas Leys
International Federation of Liberal Youth

Do Hoang Diem
Viet Tan

Alim A. Seytoff
Uyghur American Association

Bhawani Shanker Kusum
Secretary and Executive Director
Gram Bharati Samiti

Francois Garaï
World Union of Progressive Judaism

Mamadi Kaba

Dieudonné Zognong
Fondation Humanus

Dickson Ntwiga
Executive Director
Solidarity House International

Amina Bouayach
Moroccan Organization for Human Rights (OMDH)

Amaya Valcarcel
International Advocacy Coordinator
Jesuit Refugee Service

The website of UN Watch – quite smart, well-organised and with plenty of videos – is there for all to see:

Syria: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights does not mince words before General Assembly

February 16, 2012

While many of us are in despair over the inaction by the Security Council due to the exercise of a veto on geopolitical grounds, one high level official, Mrs Pillay, at least speaks out relentlessly, recently at the General Assembly of the UN in New York. The short video here embedded was uploaded by the UN:

States must “act now” to protect Syrian people, UN human rights chief tells General Assembly – YouTube.

First ever United Nations report on LGBT human rights presented to General Assembly

December 17, 2011

High Commissioner for Human Rights Pillay Spea...

Image by US Mission Geneva via Flickr

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.
Image via Wikipedia

The first formal report on the state of LGBT human rights was presented to the UN General Assembly on Thursday 15 December by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human rights, who has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT human rights. This the result of the adoption of a Resolution by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011 asking for this study.

She concludes that on the basis of the information presented in this report, a pattern of human rights violations emerges that demands a response. “Governments and inter-​governmental bodies have often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” she said. LGBT people face widespread discrimination everywhere in the world and are subjected to extreme violence, including rape, beatings and torture, evidenced by confirmed reports of mutilation and castration that were characterized by a “high degree of cruelty” .

LGBT persons also face criminal punishment in 76 countries and risk capital punishment in five countries, including Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. The report lays out the evidence of widespread discrimination and arbitrary arrests and criminal punishment based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.

The full report is entitled “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity” and is available from : OHCHR: Discriminatory Laws and Practices and Acts of Violence Against Individuals Based on their Sexual Ori…

Bahrain misinformation about the UN exposed and – hopefully – it backfires

June 8, 2011

Amidst the many reports on violations of human rights in Bahrain, especially the vulnerable situation of human rights defenders, a surprising announcement caught my eye on 8 June: the GULF DAILY NEWS – The voice of Bahrain stated under the headline “UN raps lies about Bahrain” that:  “A top UN official yesterday admitted it received false information about what happened in Bahrain during the unrest. “Certain information which we received about the developments in Bahrain was untrue,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Dr Navi Pillay said as she held talks with Social Development Minister and Acting Health Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi, on the sidelines of a meeting of the Children’s Rights Committee in Geneva. Dr Pillay acknowledged that the situation in Bahrain is by far different, and is thus incomparable to ongoing unrest in other countries in the region….Dr Al Balooshi briefed Dr Pillay on the current situation in Bahrain, stressing that things had returned to normal {sic}.”

So I was very relieved to read just now that UN rights chief slams ‘blatant distortion’ in reports of her meeting with Bahrain officials (AP, UPI and many others).  The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, sharply criticizes Bahrain for inaccurate reports by its state-run news agency on her meeting with government officials in Geneva last week and flatly denies telling Bahrain officials that her office received “misinformation” about Bahrain’s crackdown on anti-government protesters. Her spokesman, Rupert Colville, says that the High Commissioner “made no such statement and is disturbed by this blatant distortion of her words” and that she will formally request government officials who attended the meeting to issue a correction.

And I now see that the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA) declines responsibility referring to the report it received from the Ministry of Social Development, but this statement contains no such quote from the High Commissioner, see for yourself on!