The U.N. Human Rights Council concluded its main annual session on Friday, March 28. Before the start of the session, Freedom House published an updated report on Freedom in the World, which listed eight countries and two territories that suffer from the “worst of the worst” human rights violations: North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Libya, Sudan, Burma (Myanmar), Equatorial Guinea, Somalia, Tibet, and Chechnya. The human rights records of another eleven countries and territories ranked just slightly above. Amongst the more than two dozen resolutions adopted by the council this session, only those on Myanmar and North Korea condemned “worst of the worst” violators. The situation in Somalia was addressed, but in a weak manner with government actions enjoying more praise than criticism. There was also a weak resolution on the Congo, a country in the midst of a large-scale humanitarian crisis. By contrast, Israel —ranked as “free”— was strongly condemned in five one-sided resolutions.
Archive for the '10th Regular Session, March 2009' Category
At the U.N. Human Rights Council today, states undertook a discussion on racism and follow-up to the 2001 Durban anti-racism Declaration. All delegations that spoke condemned contemporary forms of racism and expressed commitment to a successful outcome of the Durban Review Conference, also known as “Durban II.”
At the U.N. Human Rights Council today, states debated Israel’s rights violations in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” (OPT) and surrounding areas. The discussion began with the presentation of a report by Richard Falk, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the OPT.
Speaking today in an interactive dialogue with Richard Falk, the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, the European Union said that the Council should soon take action to remedy the bias of his mandate:
While the report attempts to draw a legal analysis of conduct of all parties to the conflict, we wish to ask the Special Rapporteur, whether his mandate, as currently defined, allows him to look into the situation from all angles and present a full picture thereof? We wish to note in this regard that the mandate on the Occupied Palestinian Territories is the only special procedure which has not yet been subject to the review and rationalisation exercise by the Human Rights Council and we hope that it will be possible to complete this process soon. Thank you.
The U.S. also criticized the HRC mandate and Falk’s “biased and inappropriate” charges against Israel.
In informal consultations at the U.N. today, South Africa for the African Group presented the revised text of its Human Rights Council resolution on the “Elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).”
Consultations on the Pakistani-sponsored “Defamation of Religions” Human Rights Council resolution continued today at the U.N. Human Rights Council with the USA and Canada proposing various amendments to significantly change the draft. The UK for the EU said that it was not proposing any textual changes because the Pakistani chair had said in the previous session that he would not consider making “fundamental” revisions.
There was an intense debate today at the U.N. Human Rights Council during the consideration of a report evaluating Israel’s human rights record.
With nine minutes left in Israel’s speech, Egypt called its first point of order, arguing that Israel was breaking procedure by not addressing recommendations on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), the occupied Syrian Golan, and the attacks on the Gaza Strip.
South Africa, on behalf of the African group, conducted consultations today on its U.N. Human Rights Council resolution: “Elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).” The purpose of the resolution is to advance the work of an Algerian-chaired committee, “The ad hoc committee on the elaboration of international complementary standards,” in which Islamic states and their African allies are attempting to add new legal prohibitions to existing international law that would define criticism of religion as a violation.
Palestine presented three draft resolutions in informal consultations: “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem and the Occupied Syrian Golan,” and “Human rights violations emanating from the Israeli military attacks…particularly the recent ones in the occupied Gaza Strip.”
The U.N. Human Rights Council held informal consultations on the EU’s resolution on freedom of religion and belief, to be voted on next week. The room was packed, with several states taking the floor, including Egypt, Pakistan, Mexico, Bangladesh, China, USA, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
During the debate this afternoon on Item 4: “Human rights situations that require the council’s attention,” Western states seized the opportunity to highlight human rights abuses around the world, especially where they are most violated, such as in North Korea, Sudan, Iran, Sri Lanka, the Congo, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia.
· Pakistan as chair and sponsor of the resolution, opened by emphasizing that all religions should be protected from defamation, but there should also be a few references to Muslims and Islam. He said that there should not be a conflation between the problem of terrorist acts of individuals and a particular religion.
In a special appearance today at the UN Human Rights Council, Libyan Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdulssalam E. El tumi, said the following:
“The Palestinian people are still living under occupation and that’s for more than 60 years. The occupying force is practicing the worst kinds of violations of human rights, ignoring the principles of international law and international humanitarian law. It does not respect human rights at all. The destruction maneuvers and the killing attacks are ongoing and still fresh in our minds — the recent massacres of Gaza. The occupation war machinery has killed thousands of victims amongst the unarmed, the children, the elderly, the women. The entire world has witnessed the aggression and the scenes of horror and the pictures of infants dying without committing any sin or crime. The Human Rights Council must shoulder its responsibilities and act on ending these serious violations, forcing the occupying power to stop these practices and abide by international legitimacy. The occupation forces have persisted in ignoring all resolutions without any sanctions being taken against it. Refusing to comply to the resolutions of the international community confirms its disdain for the international law. Thus losing the conditions of admissibility in the membership of the United Nations. In this occasion we call on the Council to consider the suspension of the participation of the occupying power in the works of the council, which has devoted to the respect of international law. We also call on requesting a suspension of its participation in the United Nations and international organizations for the same reasons mentioned above.”
During a debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council today, Islamic countries complained that a report on religious freedom did not adequately attack Israel, while daring to criticize Islamic countries. The report was presented by U.N. expert on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Ms. Asma Jahangir of Pakistan.