Archive for the 'High Commissioner of Human Rights' Category

Why it matters when UN rights chief fails to call out worst abusers

In his maiden speech to the Human Rights Council, the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein mentioned several human rights situations, with varying degrees of emergency, ranging from Syria and Iraq to Greece, Australia and Cyprus.

The references to Iraq and Syria were extensive. The reference to Russia was only in passing, about their role “to protect civilians” in relation to the conflict in Ukraine that has already left 3000 people dead. On Greece, the new High Commissioner was concerned “by the shooting of Bangladeshi strawberry pickers in Greece after they had asked for months of back pay, and the acquittal of several of the farmers involved.” Continue reading ‘Why it matters when UN rights chief fails to call out worst abusers’

Rare: UN High Commissioner details abuses of PA & Hamas against Palestinians

When it comes to UN reporting on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is usually the case that Israel is mostly criticized, with a brief reference in the end calling for Hamas to stop firing missiles and rockets against Israeli civilians. However, a recent report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, apart from listing Israel’s alleged violations, it dealt in great detail on the serious human rights violations of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority against their own people, regular Palestinian civilians. Some of the main findings are provided below.

This report also reveals the great protection gap that exists in the UN system with regards to the rights of the Palestinian people, as the so-called Special Rapporteur on Palestine only looks at Israel’s actions and has no mandate to examine violations committed by the PA or Hamas.

One of the dubious parts of the report however was quoting former Special Rapporteur on violence against women Yakin Erturk, who, in 2005, bizarrely blamed Israelis for the  fact that Palestinians maltreat their wives. Scapegoating is an old sport and playing the blame game only finds excuses for abusers not to take action.

Continue reading ‘Rare: UN High Commissioner details abuses of PA & Hamas against Palestinians’

UN seminar on Holocaust remembrance

Seminar

High Commissioner Navi Pillay discussing with Prof. Dan Michman

For the first time, a seminar took place today at the Palais des Nation on the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The seminar was organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the support of the Permanent Missions of Israel and Canada.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay delivered opening remarks. In her speech, she focused on the story of Petr Ginz, a young Jewish boy from Prague who was killed in the Auschwitz gas chambers. The text of her speech that was circulated also featured a picture of Petr, the first time that any photo has been added to a speech by the High Commissioner. After her remarks, the High Commissioner called for a minute of silence.

The first speak was Prof Dan Michman, Chief Historian of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum. Prof Michman discussed the topic of how the Nazis were able to exterminate 6,000,000 Jews and numerous others, their motivations and the means they used. He referred to modern antisemitism as a main driving force and ended his remarks by stressing the importance of education and legislation.

The second speaker was Karolina Mirga of the Ternype International Roma Youth Network who discussed the issues around the Roma killed during the Second World War and the efforts of her group to keep the memory alive, educate young people and remember the people who perished during that dark period.

The last speaker was Mario Silva, the Canadian chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance, an intergovernmental organization charged with promoting remembrance, education and research on the Holocaust. He spoke of the different activities of the organization and the important role they play, bringing together governments, academics and civil society.

Mr Silva quoted the words of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that “…we must resist the error of viewing the Holocaust as a strictly historical event.  It’s not good enough for politicians to stand before you and say they remember and mourn what happened over six decades ago…they must be unequivocal in their condemnation of anti-Semitic despots, terrorists and fanatics.  That is the only way to honour the memory of those who were consumed by the Holocaust.”

The seminar concluded by representatives from different countries taking the floor to reflect about the events of the Holocaust and the universal lessons it brings us, in terms of prevention and protection.

Is the U.N. screening applicants by a pro-Palestinian litmus test?

The following written exercise, which was revealed to UN Watch and is published for the first time today, was administered two years ago by the United Nations to applicants seeking a position with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). How many applicants were screened by this exam — and whether it remains in use — is unknown. Concerning such exams, OHCHR on Monday informed UN Watch in an emailed statement that it is “quite impossible to find out which ones have been used when, or by whom, or for what specific purpose.”  Click here for full analysis by UN Watch.

 

WRITTEN EXERCISE

The Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Adequate Housing, on the Rights to Water and Sanitation and on the Right to Food have been sending allegation letters to Israel raising concerns about the demolition of houses, water tanks and agricultural structures in the West Bank throughout 2011. NGOs and UN actors are encouraging them to issue a press release on their concerns. At the same time, the Palestinian request for recognition of statehood is being discussed at the Security Council and General Assembly. Continue reading ‘Is the U.N. screening applicants by a pro-Palestinian litmus test?’

U.N. rights chief “seriously concerned” over U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, echoed by Iran

U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay used a major speech today before the 47-nation Human Rights Council to express “serious concern” over U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and to call for investigations, echoing comments she made in a recent visit to that country: Continue reading ‘U.N. rights chief “seriously concerned” over U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, echoed by Iran’

Blame Canada: U.N. rights chief “alarmed” over Canadian law, but silent on China, Iran & Saudi Arabia

GENEVA, June 17 – Canada will be put in the company of some of the world’s worst abusers of human rights tomorrow when the UN’s highest human rights official expresses “alarm” over Quebec’s new law on demonstrations during her opening address to a meeting of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, revealed the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch, which obtained an advance copy of her speech. Other states on the UN watchlist include Syria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

“Moves to restrict freedom of assembly continue to alarm me, as is the case in the province of Quebec in Canada in the context of students’ protests,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will say tomorrow, according to her draft speech. Continue reading ‘Blame Canada: U.N. rights chief “alarmed” over Canadian law, but silent on China, Iran & Saudi Arabia’

Advance Copy: Pillay’s 18 June Address to UN Human Rights Council

June 18th Update: The final and revised version of Pillay’s speech is published on the UN website here.

—–

Opening Statement by Ms. Navi Pillay

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, 18 June 2012

Madame President,

Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council,

Excellencies,

Colleagues and Friends,

Once again we are meeting against a backdrop of crises around the globe. Economic strife continues to devastate lives and livelihoods across the world; political upheaval persists in countries large and small, prompting action by civil society; and humanitarian disasters present obstacles to peoples’ exercise of their human rights in far too many places. This Council has deliberated and acted on some of these crises and I am confident will do so during this session. This backdrop also continues to define my Office’s work, and reminds us of the duty we owe towards those suffering across the world. Continue reading ‘Advance Copy: Pillay’s 18 June Address to UN Human Rights Council’

GA renews UN rights chief who was wrong on China, Iran and Israel

Despite serious questions about her record, Navi Pillay was today given the longest term of any UN rights chief in history when the UN General Assembly unanimously decided to extend her 4-year term, set to expire at the end of August, by another two years.

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.

Soft on China: When jailed human rights hero Liu Xiaobo was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, Pillay gave in to Chinese pressure and declined an invitation to attend the Oslo ceremony, falsely claiming that she needed to be at a low-level Geneva event — one to which she didn’t bother to show in other years.  Then she added to the dissembling by saying she was never invited. Continue reading ‘GA renews UN rights chief who was wrong on China, Iran and Israel’

NGO: UN renews rights chief Pillay without consultations on her record

GENEVA, May 14, 2012 — After Ban Ki-moon’s announcement today that he supports a two-year extension for rights commissioner Navi Pillay, a non-governmental watchdog group says that the decision was made — pending the UNGA’s rubber stamp — without due public consultation or a healthy discussion of her four-year record on the job.

“A global and high-profile position that makes demands of transparency and accountability from the world’s governments should set an example for others,” said Hillel Neuer, an international lawyer and director of the Geneva-based UN Watch. “But we didn’t see that today.” Continue reading ‘NGO: UN renews rights chief Pillay without consultations on her record’

NGO Thanks UN Rights Chief for Calling Official’s Cartoon “Anti-Semitic”

GENEVA — UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay, responding to a complaint by the UN Watch monitoring group, and ensuing global furor, issued an unprecedented statement about one of the UN Human Rights Council’s own officials, describing a caricature posted on his personal blog as “objectionable” and “anti-Semitic,” a form of hatred and racial discrimination that “I utterly deplore.” Click here for High Commissioner Pillay’s letter. Continue reading ‘NGO Thanks UN Rights Chief for Calling Official’s Cartoon “Anti-Semitic”’

Letter of UN rights chief calling Richard Falk’s cartoon “anti-Semitic,” condemning hatred

Click here for UN Watch’s reply and press release.

Click here for PDF version

11 July 2011

Dear Mr. Neuer,

I write in response to your letter of 6 July 2011, concerning an anti-Semitic image posted on the personal website of Mr. Richard Falk. Continue reading ‘Letter of UN rights chief calling Richard Falk’s cartoon “anti-Semitic,” condemning hatred’

Speech: The UN’s Qaddafi ties

UN Watch Statement
Interactive Dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Delivered by Hillel Neuer, March 3, 2011

Madame High Commissioner, we thank you for your report, and applaud its emphasis on the core principle of accountability. We commend your recent leadership on human rights in Libya. As you stated, “the people of Libya had long been victims of the serious excesses of the Libyan leadership.”

In this regard, given that accountability begins at home, we wish to ask whether your office has begun to reflect upon how, in recent years, the United Nations and its human rights system could have shown greater solidarity with Libya’s victims. We offer five specific questions:

 1. Given that your responsibility is to mainstream human rights throughout the U.N. system, we ask: When the Qaddafi regime was chosen to serve on the Security Council for 2008 and 2009; when its representative was chosen as President of the General Assembly in 2009; when Col. Qaddafi’s daughter Ayesha was designated in 2009 a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador — why did you not speak out?

 2. According to a study of all your published statements from September 2008 through June 2010, you never once mentioned human rights in Libya. Why?

 3. Your report refers to your office’s strong support for the Durban process, for which you served as Secretary-General of its 2009 World Conference on Racism. When a representative of the Libyan regime was chosen to chair that conference’s two-year planning committee, and to chair the main committee, why did you not speak out?

 4. When the Qaddafi regime was elected as a member of this council last year, why did you not speak out?

 5. Your report refers to the council’s Advisory Committee.  In 2008, ignoring the appeal of UN Watch and 25 human rights groups, the council elected the co-founder of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize—a propaganda tool for the regime—to this body. Last year he was made the committee’s vice-president. Why did you not speak out? 

 And will you now call on the recipients of this prize—former Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1998, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2004, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in 2009, and Turkish PM Erdogan in 2010—to renounce this prize, and to apologize to all the human rights victims—past and present—of Col. Muammar Qaddafi?

 Thank you.

Video: UNW’s Hillel Neuer urges U.N. rights chief to renounce Qaddafi ties


The head of the London School of Economics has resigned over his ties to the Qaddafi regime. Rock stars Beyonce, Nelly Furtado and Mariah Carey have expressed remorse for their paid peformances at Qaddafi family parties. Former Egyptian minister of culture Gaber Asfour renounced his 2010 “Gaddafi International Award for Literature.” Only at the UN, however, is no one yet willing to take any responsibility for their institutional embrace of the Qaddafi regime. In the plenary of the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer urged U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay to begin the soul-searching; she refused to respond. See video above and text below.

_______________

 

UN Watch Statement
Interactive Dialogue with UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights Navi Pillay
UN Human Rights Council Plenary
Delivered by Executive Director Hillel Neuer, March 3, 2011

Madame High Commissioner,

We thank you for your report, and applaud its emphasis on the core principle of accountability. We commend your recent leadership on human rights in Libya. As you stated, “the people of Libya had long been victims of the serious excesses of the Libyan leadership.”

In this regard, given that accountability begins at home, we wish to ask whether your office has begun to reflect upon how, in recent years, the United Nations and its human rights system could have shown greater solidarity with Libya’s victims. We offer five specific questions:

1. Given that your responsibility is to mainstream human rights throughout the U.N. system, we ask: When the Qaddafi regime was chosen to serve on the Security Council for 2008 and 2009; when its representative was chosen as President of the General Assembly in 2009; when Col. Qaddafi’s daughter Ayesha was designated in 2009 a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador — why did you not speak out?

2. According to a study of all your published statements from September 2008 through June 2010, you never once mentioned human rights in Libya. Why?

3. Your report refers to your office’s strong support for the Durban process, for which you served as Secretary-General of its 2009 World Conference on Racism. When a representative of the Libyan regime was chosen to chair that conference’s two-year planning committee, and to chair the main committee, why did you not speak out?

4. When the Qaddafi regime was elected as a member of this council last year, why did you not speak out?

5. Your report refers to the council’s Advisory Committee. In 2008, ignoring the appeal of UN Watch and 25 human rights groups, the council elected Jean Ziegler, the co-founder of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize—a propaganda tool for the regime—to this body. Last year he was made the committee’s vice-president. Why did you not speak out?

And will you now call on the recipients of this prize—former Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1998, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2004, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in 2009, and Turkish PM Erdogan in 2010—to renounce this prize, and to apologize to all the human rights victims—past and present—of Col. Muammar Qaddafi?

Thank you, Madame High Commissioner.

[Note: In High Commissioner Navi Pillay's response to the plenary, she addressed other groups' questions but refused to address those above.]

24 NGOs Urge U.N. Rights Chief to Attend Oslo Nobel Ceremony and Show Support for Chinese Dissident

GENEVA, December 9, 2010 – An international coalition of 24 human rights and non-governmental organizations appealed today to U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay to reverse her decision to skip Friday’s Nobel award ceremony for imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

“We urge the High Commissioner to go to Oslo, attend the award ceremony, and convene a press conference that will spotlight the plight of the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens who are systematically denied the basic guarantees of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said the statement.

Led by the Geneva-based rights group UN Watch, the signatories include the World Movement for Democracy from the U.S., SOS Racisme of France, and activist organizations from India, Venezuela and Liberia.

“The world spotlight in Oslo tomorrow will be exceptional — it’s a golden opportunity that the U.N. should not squander,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. Continue reading ’24 NGOs Urge U.N. Rights Chief to Attend Oslo Nobel Ceremony and Show Support for Chinese Dissident’

Joint NGO Appeal for UN Solidarity With Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate

The undersigned human rights and non-governmental organizations pay tribute to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo on his being selected to receive the Nobel Peace Prize award.

We regret that, as claimed by China, 18 nations are supporting its boycott of the award ceremony tomorrow in Oslo.  We fully reject China’s attempt to describe this courageous champion of human rights as “subversive and criminal,” and its denunciation of the award as an “obscenity”. On the contrary, no award could be more fitting on international Human Rights Day.

We further regret to learn that the Norwegian Nobel Committee confirmed that U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has also declined to attend, as reported by Radio Australia.

We urge the High Commissioner to go to Oslo, attend the award ceremony, and convene a press conference that will spotlight the plight of the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens who are systematically denied the basic guarantees of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

NGO Urges U.N. Rights Chief to Attend Nobel Ceremony & Not “Kowtow” to China

GENEVA, December 6, 2010 – A Geneva-based human rights group urged U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay to “do the right thing” and reverse her decision to skip Friday’s Nobel award ceremony for imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, saying that the Oslo event took “clear precedence” over a minor Geneva ceremony that her office claims requires her presence.

“Because High Commissioner Pillay is the U.N.’s highest authority on human rights, her presence in Oslo would send a powerful signal that the systematic violation of basic rights suffered by 1.3 billion citizens of China-one sixth of the world’s population-is not forgotten by the world. Beijing’s powerful U.N. influence should never justify silence or reticence by the world body’s highest officials,” said Hillel Neuer, an international lawyer and executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental organization in Geneva that monitors the world body’s human rights system.

Continue reading ‘NGO Urges U.N. Rights Chief to Attend Nobel Ceremony & Not “Kowtow” to China’

UN chiefs fail to call for Chinese prisoner’s release

Ban Ki-moon praised China’s “remarkable advances”

GENEVA, October 11, 2010 – A Geneva-based human rights group welcomed today’s call by four UN experts for China to release Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo from prison, and urged Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN rights chief Navi Pillay to echo the appeal.

“The UN’s two leading voices on human rights issues need to be clear and immediately call on China to release Mr. Liu,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

In their remarks published by the UN on Friday, China was praised for its “remarkable” advances, yet Mr. Ban and Ms. Pillay “glaringly omitted to call for the dissident’s release, or even to say a word about the fact that he is currently in prison,” said Neuer.

In the two years since her appointment in September 2008 as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Pillay has only issued two statements on China, including one in 2009 that dealt with Mr. Liu, said UN Watch. The non-governmental organization monitors the world body’s human rights system.

“There are 1.3 billion people in China-one sixth of the world’s population-who are subjected to the systematic deprivation of universal human rights. Beijing’s power and influence at the UN should never justify silence or reticence by the UN’s highest officials, especially those charged with being a voice for the voiceless and with defending victims of human rights violations,” said Neuer.�

Appeal to UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay on myth of Palestinian organ stealing

The following UN Watch appeal was sent to High Commissioner Navi Pillay.

Ms. Navanethem Pillay
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

cc: Rupert Colville, OHCHR Spokesperson

April 28, 2010  

Dear High Commissioner Pillay,

We wrote you on March 24, 2010, requesting that the UN Human Rights Council website cease hosting an anti-Semitic text (A/HRC/13/NGO/23) that, in a modern adaptation of the medieval blood libel, falsely accuses Israeli doctors of a racist conspiracy to steal Palestinian organs. Continue reading ‘Appeal to UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay on myth of Palestinian organ stealing’

NGO: UN rights office misrepresented Palestinian mandate

The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) yesterday sent out a press release that misrepresented the one-sided nature of the UN Human Rights Council’s permanent investigative mandate on Israel, currently held by Richard Falk, who happens to be America’s leading promoter of 9/11 conspiracy theories.

In response, UN Watch today sent the following letter to OHCHR spokesman Kevin Turner: Continue reading ‘NGO: UN rights office misrepresented Palestinian mandate’

Lantos widow on Robinson medal and Durban lessons

As reported by the JTA, Annette Lantos, widow of the late congressman Tom Lantos, is “deeply disappointed by the decision to honor former [U.N. Human Rights High] Commissioner [Mary] Robinson” but also feels that “this provides a good opportunity to reflect on the failures of Durban.” Her full statement:
Continue reading ‘Lantos widow on Robinson medal and Durban lessons’

What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?

Following is an open letter by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer to Mrs. Mary Robinson, former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the 2001 Durban conference, who is set to receive the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom this week.

Letter to Mrs. Mary Robinson

Dear Mrs. Robinson,

Recent statements by you and your defenders, amid the growing opposition to your receipt this Wednesday of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, require a response.

According to the organization Physicians for Human Rights — for whom you recently worked on a report together with one of its board members, Richard Goldstone — you are being “vilified” by “false accusations.”

In your own words, “certain elements” of the Jewish community —  those opposed to your selection — are subjecting you to “bullying.”

Mrs. Robinson, let’s be honest: no one has bullied you, and you are not being vilified by false accusations. Continue reading ‘What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?’

Mary Robinson’s problematic actions not worthy of award

Amid the controversy surrounding Mary Robinson’s selection for a presidential award, our previous posting documented her 1997-2002 record as UN rights chief as monitored over time by UN Watch.

The evidence is clear. As described by the late Tom Lantos, throughout the lead-up to the 2001 Durban conference Mary Robinson was part of the problem, not the solution. At preparatory sessions in Tehran and Geneva she consistently justified and encouraged a selective focus on Israel. While she did make statements against anti-Semitic manifestations at the conference itself, these were too little and too late. Robinson may not have been the chief culprit of the Durban debacle, but she is its preeminent symbol.

The problem was not just Durban. UN Watch interacted with Robinson when she was U.N. rights chief in Geneva from 1997 to 2002 and closely monitored her tenure. Though she did speak out aptly in various instances, Robinson consistently displayed one-sided criticism of Israel matched with indifference to Palestinian terrorism.

The U.S. government rightly stood up for principle in April when it opposed any reaffirmation of the flawed 2001 Durban declaration. Whatever her other accomplishments, Robinson’s actions in the Durban process and the bias she displayed throughout her tenure as UN human rights chief were not worthy of this award.

Something About Mary: Durban, and 10 More

Mary Robinson and the Mark of Durban

Should Mary Robinson be awarded the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom for being an “agent of change”?

In March 2004, we noted that, “Whatever her accomplishments, Mary Robinson’s legacy will be forever entwined with Durban’s racism-turned-racist conference that disgraced the UN.”

Continue reading ‘Something About Mary: Durban, and 10 More’

Ban Ki-Moon asked why U.N. won’t meet Dalai Lama in Geneva

UN Watch’s revelation yesterday that U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay is effectively refusing to meet with the Dalai Lama on his visit to Geneva next week is now sparking international attention. Continue reading ‘Ban Ki-Moon asked why U.N. won’t meet Dalai Lama in Geneva’

UN Watch Disappointed at U.N. Rights Chief Refusal to Meet Dalai Lama

But welcomes Pillay’s criticism of China’s “systemic violations of human rights”

GENEVA, July 29, 2009 – The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch expressed disappointment at the refusal by United Nations rights chief Navi Pillay to answer whether she will receive the Dalai Lama on his visit to Geneva next week — understood as a negative answer — but welcomed her criticism of China’s “serious systemic violations of human rights” in Tibet, and her call for due process for detainees and access to international observers. Continue reading ‘UN Watch Disappointed at U.N. Rights Chief Refusal to Meet Dalai Lama’

Arab, Islamic States Bash Israel for Lack of Cooperation with One-Sided Gaza Mission

Debate commenced today at the UN Human Rights Council on “Human rights violations in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” This agenda item is the only one devoted to addressing one, specific country situation. The UN had originally intended today’s discussion to focus on a report on the situation in Gaza by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, as called for by the resolution adopted in January’s Special Session convened to address Israel’s military operations there. Continue reading ‘Arab, Islamic States Bash Israel for Lack of Cooperation with One-Sided Gaza Mission’

UN Report: Extreme weather violates human rights; “Climate change poses a threat to the right of peoples to self-determination”

Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the relationship between climate change and human rights: the right to self-determination, A/HRC/10/61, 15 January 2009:

40. Sea level rise and extreme weather events related to climate change are threatening the habitability and, in the longer term, the territorial existence of a number of low-lying island States. Equally, changes in the climate threaten to deprive indigenous peoples of their traditional territories and sources of livelihood. Either of these impacts would have implications for the right to self-determination.

41. The inundation and disappearance of small island States would have implications for the right to self-determination, as well as for the full range of human rights for which individuals depend on the State for their protection. The disappearance of a State for climate change-related reasons would give rise to a range of legal questions, including concerning the status of people inhabiting such disappearing territories and the protection afforded to them under international law (discussed further below). While there is no clear precedence to follow, it is clear that insofar as climate change poses a threat to the right of peoples to self-determination, States have a duty to take positive action, individually and jointly, to address and avert this threat. Equally, States have an obligation to take action to avert climate change impacts which threaten the cultural and social identity of indigenous peoples.

U.N. rights agency caught altering Durban II document, in bid to downplay hateful proposals

The U.N. agency charged with organizing the upcoming Durban II racism conference has quietly altered the title of its “Draft Outcome Document” to read “Different sections of compilation of proposals,” in an apparent bid to downplay draft proposals that revive the hateful rhetoric that plagued the original Durban conference of 2001. See graphic demonstration below.

The move comes as part of an aggressive new public relations campaign by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that in recent days has started to lash out at governments, newspapers, and organizations that have sought to question the misuse of the principles and terminology of the anti-racism cause by Libya, Iran, and other repressive regimes.

In September the OHCHR made a thinly veiled attack on Jewish organizations, accusing unnamed “lobby groups” that were “focused on single issues” of launching “ferocious, and often distorted, criticism” of the Durban II event, slated for April 20-24, 2009 in Geneva. UN Watch immediately protested, and in a detailed letter urged spokesman Rupert Colville to retract the innuendo-laced statement. Yet he has refused to do so, much less reply. Subsequent requests made to senior OHCHR officials have gone ignored.

Click on image below to see original version of U.N. website with title, “Draft Outcome Document” (highlighted in green):

original_durban

Continue reading ‘U.N. rights agency caught altering Durban II document, in bid to downplay hateful proposals’

Malloch-Brown speaks out on abuse in Iran, Zimbabwe

In an address to the UN Human Rights Council, British Foreign Secretary Mark Malloch-Brown strongly spoke of Iran’s “horrendous” human rights violations towards women and minors, and Zimbabwe’s “actions against its people.”

Sweden criticized Cuba‘s record.

In response to the U.K., the Iranian representative said his country was free to choose its own judicial system. Cuba responded to Sweden by accusing the Scandinavian country of undemocratic practices. “There is not a single model of democracy,” said the Cuban envoy.

Zimbabwe criticized the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, saying it faced unyielding “pressure” by “dubious non-governmental organizations.” Zimbabwe also accused the British government of “well-funded demonization” of Zimbabwe.

Non-Democracies seek to increase control over UN High Commissioner Arbour’s work

The UN Human Rights Council held an organizational meeting today to plan its main annual session coming up in March.

The Council president went over the draft schedule for the session and announced that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be addressing the Council at its opening.

Other than the procedural issues, there were two substantive matters that were brought up.

The first was an attempt by Council members to exercise control over the office of the High Commissioner, long suspected as a Western redoubt in a universe otherwise dominated by Islamic and Third World countries.

The request — by Egypt on behalf of the African Group, Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, Algeria and China — was to include a special segment during the session in order to discuss the Strategic Management Plan of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The High Commissioner presented this document to the Geneva ambassadors last month. Pakistan stressed the need to “streamline” the relationship between the Council and the High Commissioner.

Egypt said that the African Group had posed 11 detailed comments on the strategic plan and there was not enough time for responses. They want to put these remarks on the record. The strategic plan may not conform with the strategic framework as set out by HRC resolutions and that is why this needs to be discussed within the HRC framework. China said that the Council has the right to provide guidance to the OHCHR. They also asked for advance consultations on the issue in the future.

Slovenia on behalf of the EU and Switzerland came to the defense of the High Commissioner. Slovenia said that such a segment is not necessary as the program already has an interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner. Switzerland said that the Strategic Plan is an internal document, that was presented as a courtesy and in the spirit of transparency. Such documents do not need to be approved. It is important to preserve the autonomy and one should not impose internal management on the office.

The second substantive issue arose from an intervention by Amnesty International. Its Geneva-based representative, Peter Splinter, commented on the proposals of the Consultative Group, which was tasked with the mandate of making proposals for the vacant mandate-holder positions. Peter Splinter said he is concerned with the process for the selection of the new Special Rapporteurs. The report of consultative report did not respect all requirements. The process had to be transparent and the proposals substantiated. No explanations were offered for the alternatives nor how the suggestions of other stake-holders were taken into account. The report did not detail how the required criteria are fulfilled. Moreover there are only two women candidates. Amnesty asked for a new report in conformity with resolution 5/1. Peter Splinter concluded by saying that AI does not take a position in support or against any candidate.

Algeria called AI’s statement a “gross misinterpretation.” Pakistan sarcastically suggested that Amnesty be included in the Consultative Group.