Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’

Suspension of membership UN Human Rights Council finally operationalised

April 8, 2022

(Credit: UNTV)

It was big news that Russia was stripped of its seat in the Un human Rights Council.

In March 2014 in one of my first blog posts I argued for making better use of the possibility to suspend member states (be it in the context of reprisals): “The resolution establishing the new Human Rights Council – replacing the previous Commission – states that “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.” And one of the novelties touted was that the General Assembly, via a two-thirds majority, can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership. 

The chilling effect that reprisals can have – especially when met with impunity – is potentially extremely damaging for the whole UN system of human rights procedures and will undo the slow but steady process of the last decades. Taken together with the above-mentioned seriousness of the aggravating character of reprisals, a powerful coalition of international and regional NGOs could well start public hearings with the purpose of demanding that States that commit reprisal be suspended.

If States can lose their right to vote in the General Assembly if they do not pay their fees for several years, there is in fact nothing shocking in demanding that States, who persecute and intimidate human rights defenders BECAUSE they cooperate with the United Nations, are not allowed to take part in the proceedings of the UN human rights body.” [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/03/13/zero-tolerance-for-states-that-take-reprisals-against-hrds-lets-up-the-ante/]

UN members voted on Thursday 7 April to strip Russia from its seat at the Human Rights Council, over alleged civilian killings in the region around Kyiv, Ukraine. The proposal, presented at a UN General Assembly emergency session in New York, was backed by 93 countries. Russia, China, Belarus, Syria and Iran were among the 24 countries to vote against, while 58 countries, including India, Brazil and South Africa abstained.

Introducing the US-led resolution, Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, ​​Sergiy Kyslytsya, told fellow members that suspending Russia’s right to sit on the Council, was “not an option, but a duty”.

This is the second time in the history of Human Rights Council (HRC) since its creation in 2006 that a sitting member has been kicked out. The first one was Libya, when late former dictator Muammar Gaddafi led a deadly crackdown on protests in 2011, only to be reinstated eight months later. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/07/05/amnesty-and-hrw-trying-to-get-saudi-arabia-suspended-from-the-un-human-rights-council/

This is the first time a permanent member of the UN Security Council has been removed from any UN body.

Countries react

Taking the floor, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba, echoed Russia’s comments and said the move was politically driven. Belarus dubbed it an attempt to “demonise” Russia. Warning that they would abstain, several countries including India, Egypt, Senegal, Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, argued it was too soon to vote on such a proposal and that investigations into the allegations should be conducted beforehand.

In a statement published on its website, Russia’s permanent mission in Geneva called the decision “an unlawful and politically motivated step, the sole purpose of which – to exert pressure on a sovereign state that pursues an independent domestic and foreign policy”.

Russia’s deputy ambassador, Gennady Kuzmin, said after the vote that Russia had already withdrawn from the council before the assembly took action, apparently in expectation of the result. By withdrawing, council spokesman Rolando Gomez said Russia avoided being deprived of observer status at the rights body.

See also the Geneva Solutions piece: https://genevasolutions.news/global-news/what-does-russia-s-suspension-mean-for-the-human-rights-council

https://genevasolutions.news/peace-humanitarian/un-votes-russia-out-of-the-human-rights-council-over-alleged-gross-violations-in-ukraine

https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/04/1115782

16 Days of Activism for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence start on 25 November 2020

November 6, 2020

On 5 November 2020 this journal reminded us that from 25 November to 10 December many organizations and groups will highlight the 16 Days of Activism for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence. [for 2019 see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/19/16-days-of-activism-against-gender-based-violence-start-on-25-november-2019/]

This international advocacy campaign highlights days like the International Day for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence (November 25); the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders (November 29); the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women (December 6); and International Human Rights Day (December 10).

The UN System’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence activities will take place under the 2020 global theme: “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

UNITE To end violence against women

As the world retreated inside homes due to the lockdown measures introduced to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, reports showed an alarming increase in the already existing pandemic of violence against women.

You can make a difference during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and protracted state of crisis it has generated across the world. You can support women and girl survivors of violence to stay safe and free of violence. Take action during this year’s 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence. For more information about “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” and action ideas, see this year’s concept note.

This year, organizations are joining forces to gather positive words and messages of strength, hope and resiliency. Until 18 November, organizers are asking their partners, clients and the general public to submit positive written messages. These words will be used to design a piece of artwork, which will be unveiled on 10 December on social media.

https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action/16-days-of-activism

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WRGS/Pages/16DaysOfActivism.aspx

Final step: Burundi closes down UN office

December 7, 2018
FILE - In this Tuesday, April 28, 2015, file photo, Burundi riot police detain a man suspected of throwing stones during clashes in the Musaga district of Bujumbura, Burundi. The United Nations human rights office on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, said Burundi's government has asked it to leave, months after the outgoing U.N. rights chief called the country one of the "most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times." (AP Photo/Jerome Delay/File)

Having reported on 4 December about Burundi in the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly (“Burundi made several attempts to stop the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi from presenting its report to the Third Committee. When these were foiled, in a repeat of what happened last year, the Burundian Ambassador took the floor to abuse Commission members.  ….” and in the light of its history with UN investigations – see inter alia: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/26/burundi-outrageously-attacks-united-nations-team/), it hardly comes as a surprise that Burundi’s government has asked the UN to leave completely. (Associated Press reporting on 6 December 2018).

Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani in Geneva confirmed they received a letter on Wednesday “requesting us to close the office. We of course regret this decision and we would like to continue our cooperation with Burundi.” Anonymous sources within the U.N. office in Burundi told Associated Press they were given two months to leave.

The East African nation’s government has long been angered by U.N. reports describing alleged abuses amid the political turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for another term in 2015. More than 1,200 people have been killed since then, the U.N. says, and ICC judges authorized an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored crimes including murder, rape and torture — a decision unaffected by Burundi’s withdrawal from the court. Outgoing U.N. High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein early 2018 said Burundi was among “some of the most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times.”

Burundi suspended its cooperation with the U.N. rights office in October 2016, accusing it of “complicity with coup plotters and Burundi’s enemies” after a report alleged the “involvement of the regime in systematic abuses and a risk of genocide.” In December 2017, the government shut four regional offices of the U.N. rights office in the country. And a team of experts mandated by the U.N. Human Rights Council to look into possible abuses was expelled in May despite Burundi’s agreement to cooperate.

Burundi’s foreign minister, Ezechiel Nibigira, on Thursday called a press conference on the issue but then postponed it, telling reporters that “We will communicate you when we are well prepared.” Rachel Nicholson, the Burundi researcher for Amnesty International, called the news “deeply disappointing” and called on the government to reverse its decision. Having refused to cooperate with a U.N. commission of inquiry or sign a memorandum of understanding with African Union monitors, the government is again trying to block independent monitoring, Nicholson said. “But the truth will still get out.”

https://www.wral.com/un-rights-office-burundi-s-government-has-asked-us-to-leave/18043826/

70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: the UN plans

November 26, 2018

Series of events to shine a light on the UDHR across the world. I already referred to the series of short films – one for each article in the 70-year old Universal Declaration of human rights [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/15/each-article-in-the-universal-declaration-on-human-rights-has-its-human-story/].

But there is more going on: The UDHR, based on the powerful premise that we are all “born free and equal in dignity and rights,” has spread further and been translated into more languages than any other text ever. The aim of the celebratory events sponsored by the UN Human Rights Office is “to shine a light on the many ways in which universal human rights contribute to the daily lives of people everywhere.” Signature events will be held in 14 cities, spanning seven time zones, with each spotlighting a human rights theme relevant to that location:

Africa

  • Dakar (Nov 30) – Our right to accountability when rights are violated
  • Pretoria (Dec 7) – Young people standing up for rights
  • Marrakesh (Dec 10) – The human rights of migrants

Asia-Pacific

  • Suva (Nov 16) – Our right to live on a healthy planet
  • Bangkok (Nov 28) – The rights of people on the move

Europe

  • Manchester (Nov 12) – Our right to live in harmony
  • Paris (Dec 4) – The city where the UDHR was adopted in 1948
  • Geneva (Dec 13) – Upholding rights for a future we all want

Latin America

  • Mexico City (Dec 6) – Our right to defend human rights
  • Panama City (Dec 10) – Children as defenders of rights
  • Santiago (Dec 10) – Women’s rights are human rights

Middle East

  • Doha (Dec 9) – Our right to peace

North America

  • Los Angeles (Dec 10) – Human rights in the city
  • New York (Dec 18) – UN Human Rights Award ceremony

In addition to the 14 signature events, each of which will be accompanied by a social media campaign featuring prominent global and local public figures standing up for human rights, numerous other celebrations are being organized by Governments, NGOs, academic institutions, and many others all over the world.

I urge everyone to join in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration.  Join us at the public events if you can, or organize one yourself.  Any way that you can take part actively – shining your light on rights – will make a difference, even if it is simply by participating on social media,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.By doing so, we can show just how precious the UDHR is to people all over the world, and the universal nature of the values it contains.  It was an inspiration, a sensation, in 1948, and it is still an astonishing and inspiring document today.

The preservation of the human rights set out in the Declaration is vital to each and every one us – woman, man and child. Human rights are essential for the protection and dignity of our loved ones, our families and friends, our neighbours and our communities – for all of us, whether living in the smallest village or in the greatest of cities.  Violations of anyone’s rights potentially undermine the rights of all of us. So I urge everyone to use the UDHR’s 70th anniversary to reflect on what rights mean, and think of ways we can actively stand up for the rights of not just ourselves, but of everyone else.”

In addition to the events taking place over the next month, on 9 November the UN Human Rights Office will start publishing a series of short articles on each of the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration. These will be published – one article a day – on www.ohchr.org and issued to media across the world.

For more information on the events listed in this advisory, please contact Rajat Khosla at rkhosla@ohchr.org / +41 22 917 3311

Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23832&LangID=E

Call for nominations for the 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize

March 16, 2018

The 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize(s) will be given out at the United Nations HQ in New York on Human Right Day, 10 December 2018. The Call for Nominations is now open. This year’s award will coincide with the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The honorary prize is given out every five years, usually shared by 6 laureates. For more information see http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/united-nations-prizes-in-the-field-of-human-rights

An remarkable feature of this ‘inter-governmental’ award is that nominations can be received from: “member States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations in consultative status and from other appropriate sources.” Nominations may be made by submitting the online nomination form with basic identifying information about the nominee and the reasons for making the nomination.

Hard copies can, alternatively, be sent by post to: Human Rights Prize, OHCHR New York Office, Room S-1306, United Nations, New York, NY 10017. A printable form for submitting a nomination by post is available for download here.

The deadline for submission of nominations is 6 April 2018.

—-

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/08/new-human-rights-award-music-to-our-ears/

US pushes for ‘historic’ human rights debate at Security Council but achieves little

April 20, 2017

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, with Liu Jieyi, China’s ambassador, before the April 18 Security Council meeting. Rick Bajornas/UN Photo

The United States led on Tuesday 18 April what it (and not many others) dubbed a ‘historicU.N. Security Council meeting on the link between rights abuses and conflict, but it had to drop a push for the broad issue of human rights to become a fixed item of the Security Council’s agenda when it appeared that at least six members would oppose it [Russia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Bolivia were against the move and Senegal’s support was uncertain]. The United States, council president for April, did not risk the measure being put to a rare procedural vote, which requires nine in favour, and vetoes cannot be used. The opposing council members say rights discussion should be confined to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council – which Washington accuses of being anti-Israel and has threatened to quit – and the 193-member U.N. General Assembly third committee. Here is some of the analysis:

Read the rest of this entry »

2017 (7): Trump’s first orders to cut global funding and treaties

January 26, 2017

The ‘ink’ of my previous post [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/01/26/2017-6-predictions-on-trump-and-the-un-prophets-or-cassandras/] has hardly dried and I see the piece written by Max Fisher in the New York Times of 25 January 2017 that states that the latest draft orders suggest that President Trump intends to pursue his campaign promises of withdrawing the United States from international organizations: Read the rest of this entry »

Ivan Šimonovic appointed as UN special adviser on the responsibility to protect

June 28, 2016

Ivan Šimonović. UN Photo/Loey Felip

On 23 June 2016 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Ivan Šimonović of Croatia as his Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect as from 1 October. Mr. Šimonović is currently Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in New York. “In his role as the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Mr. Šimonović will work under the overall guidance of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide to further the political, institutional and operational development of the responsibility to protect principle, as set out by the General Assembly in paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome document,” the statement said.

Mr. Šimonović succeeds Jennifer Welsh of Canada.

Source: United Nations News Centre – Ban appoints Ivan Šimonovic as special adviser on the responsibility to protect

Amnesty International’s Annual Report 2015 is out and makes sober reading

February 24, 2016

The Amnesty International Report 2015/16 documents the state of human rights in 160 countries and territories during 2015.

This year it expresses doubt as to the question whether the UN is still ‘fit of purpose‘.Amnesty-Internationa

The 2015/16 report also specifically refers to human rights defenders by saying that it also “celebrates those who stand up for human rights across the world, often in difficult and dangerous circumstances“. Salil Shetty , the Secretary General says: “The signs of hope that we saw in 2015 were the result of the ongoing advocacy, organizing, dissent and activism of civil society, social movements and human rights defenders. These outcomes were not borne of the benevolence of states. Governments must allow the space and freedom for human rights defenders and activists to carry out their essential work”

The report gives three examples from the past year:

  • the presence of human rights and accountability elements in the UN Sustainable Development Goals;
  • action in May to prevent forced evictions on the Regional Mombasa Port Access Road project in Kenya; and
  • the release of Filep Karma, a Papuan prisoner of conscience, as a result of 65,000 messages written on his behalf by supporters from around the world.

Amnesty International calls upon states to ensure that the resolution adopted in November by the UN General Assembly to protect the rights of human rights defenders is implemented, including the naming and shaming of states that fail to uphold these rights.

[see also my post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/zero-tolerance-for-states-that-take-reprisals-against-hrds-lets-up-the-ante/]

Source: Amnesty International Annual Report 2015/2016 | Amnesty International

UN human rights experts welcome Iran prisoner releases, while calling for more

January 20, 2016

And while we are on groups of UN human rights experts, also on 19 January three Rapporteurs welcomed Iran’s release of four Iranian-Americans in an apparent prisoner swap with the United States, and called on Tehran to pave the way for the freeing of all remaining unlawfully detained prisoners. Read the rest of this entry »