Pakistan Tries to Stifle NGO Voices

Today at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Pakistan raised a concern about yesterday’s decision by the Council President to include NGO speeches into the record of the Council’s proceedings, although there had not been enough time for such NGOs to orally deliver their statements. The ruling came after the session on the consideration of the periodic report to examine rights violations in Canada, which ran overtime. Because UN interpreters are not paid to stay too long after the session’s scheduled close at 6 PM, the Council debate had to be cut-off before all ten NGOs slotted to speak could do so.

Pakistan explained that it was concerned about the “precedent” such a system would create, whereby NGOs can provide criticism of governments while the “country concerned doesn’t have time to respond to their concerns.”

Ironically, Canada itself fully supported the President’s decision to include the NGOs’ remarks into the official record, although their statements were highly critical of Canadian government policies.

In an attempt to move the day’s agenda forward without getting bogged down in a debate over this issue, the President said that unless someone is “violently opposed” to his proposal, he would like the session to proceed. Pakistan relented.

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