Posts Tagged ‘Rights up Front’

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.

‘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.