vendredi 27 avril 2007

Wrap-up Session of Working Groups, 27-04-07, ALG

The President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador De Alba, chaired the closing conference of the first stage of the institution building process.
He announced that the second stage of this process will consist on several informal consultations which will begin next Monday, the 30th of April 2007.

These informal consultations will be based on a list that the President of the Human Rights Council will establish. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but it is intended to be short, appointing the fundamental issues to be discussed.
The list will be constituted according to the main issues that the facilitators identify as requiring some further discussion.

The informal consultations will be held through bilateral negotiations (the President will talk to each member of the Human Rights Council and to several non-members) and through regional meetings.
In addition to these informal consultations in small groups, there will be three open-ended session, namely on the 10th, 18th and 24th of May 2007.
The aim is to conclude the institutional building process by the 18th of June 2007, that is to say, by the beginning of the 5th Session of the Human Rights Council.

After the presentation of the next stage in the institutional building process, each facilitator made a short summary on the work made by now and enumerated the issues which have not reached an agreement yet.
Up-dated non-papers on each Working Group were distributed, which will be a basis for the list of issues to be discussed in the informal consultations.

In the end, several ambassadors expressed their will to work in a constructive manner and stressed the importance of transparency, pragmatism and a consensus. They thanked for the work done by the President and the facilitators and demonstrated some optimism regarding the delay of the 18th of June 2007.

mercredi 25 avril 2007

WG on Complaint Procedure - April 25th (AM) - AB

The discussion was based on Facilitator Blaise Godet's non paper, which is supposed to be the penultimate draft before submission to tbe president of the HRC. However, some important points of divergence remained :

- Regarding the measures to be taken by the HRC in case of consistent patterns of reliably attested violations of HR and fundamental freedoms, the document lists 4 options (discontinue considering the situation, request the State concerned to provide further information, appoint an expert to monitor the situation, recomment the OHCHR to provide capacity building assistance to the country concerned). The question was whether this list was exhaustive (opinion of Egypt, Algeria, Iran) or just indicative (USA, China, Mexico...). The facilitator finally said that the mandate of this WG was to ameliorate in a victim-oriented direction the 1503 procedure, which is why it is obvious that the list is meant to be indicative.

- The main principle of the complaint procedure is to examine the situation by the HRC in a public session in case the State concernend is not willing to cooperate with the HRC. But who should decide to make it public ? The 2nd WG on situations or the HRC ? Most states (unless Germany on behalf of EU) refuse the former solution, as this WG will be constituted of 5 representatives of member, hence a probable politization. Even the NGO "International Service for Human Rights" agrees. However the timespan accorded to the State concerned to provide a reply (3 months) is judged too long by some (Belgium, Germany...)

- Another point regards the methods of decision of the 2nd WG. Consensus (Canada) or majority (Australia) ?

The Facilitator concludes by saying that he will take account all the diverging remarks made today to draft the final paper which he will only submit to the HRC president and not the the WG.

mardi 24 avril 2007

WG on the universal periodic review, 24.04.07 (afternoon), report by J.M.

Discussion on the revised non-paper on the UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW mechanism (UPR).
Facilitator : H.E. Mr. Mohammed Loulichki

Issues that were discussed in the afternoon :
- State rapporteurs
- Participation of States under review

The main issue with respect to rapporteurs was to determine wether there should be a group composed of several rapporteurs from different regional groups or if there should be one raporteur from a specific country. Other concern was to decide wether a rapporteur should be dedicated to make a report about all reviewed States or if there should be one rapporteur reporting each country. The point here is to avoid a politicization of the process.

Some States like USA stressed the importance not to overburden the rapporteurs. In order to optimize the process, USA proposed to have maybe 10 rapporteurs. They insisted on the fact that UPR should be totally open to medias, and that there should not be resolutions in all cases (too heavy process). Finally, they emphasized on the importance of the being of a consensual basis.

Regarding the second issue, it seemed that a strong consensus was found about a total implication of the reviewed State during the decision process.

An hypothetical veto is mainly rejected by all participants.

The facilitator ended by stressing that a politicization of the report process is not likely to happen, mainly because the work of the rapporteurs does not imply a judgement of any kind, but only consists in gathering pieces of information.

According to the revised non-paper, the documents on which the review would be based are:
• A report prepared by the State concerned on the basis of General Guidelines to be adopted by the Council, and any other information considered relevant by the State concerned. States are encouraged to prepare their report through a broad consultation process at the national level with all relevant stakeholders;
• Compilation by OHCHR (information contained in the reports of treaty bodies, special procedures, including observations and comments by the State concerned, and other relevant official United Nations documents);
- In the review, the Council could also take into consideration additional credible and reliable information provided by other relevant stakeholders (revised compromise proposal by the Facilitator);
- The modalities of the review shall be as follows: (proposal by the Facilitator – refer to the annex)
- The review will be conducted in one Working Group, chaired by the President of the Council and composed of the 47 member States of the Council. Each member State will decide on the composition of its delegation;
- Observer States can participate in the review, including in the interactive dialogue;
- Other relevant stakeholders can attend the conduct of the review in the Working Group;
- Interactive dialogue between the country under review and the Council will take
place in the Working Group (see annex);
− The duration of the review will be three hours for each country. Additional time of up to one hour will be allocated for the consideration of the outcome by the Council plenary;
- A rapporteur(s) will be selected, respecting geographical representation, from among the members of the Council to prepare the review outcome (compromise proposal by the Facilitator);∗
- The final outcome will be adopted by the plenary of the Council.

Several points still to be debated during following WG's - not scheduled for now.

WG: Universal Periodic Review, 24.04.07 (morning), by C.N.

The facilitator, Mr. Mohammed Loulichki (Morocco), begin to present the Revised Non-paper on the universal periodic review mechanism that he prepared with Vice-President of the Human Rights Council.

The first topic that he want to discuss is the second paragraph of the fifth point: The question about the implication of experts. Are they necessary?

Argentina, Germany (in the name of the European Union), France, Algeria ( in the name of the African group), Cuba (in the name of the N.A.M.), India, Korea, Bangladesh, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Brazil, Lichtenstein, Belgium, Mexico, United Kingston, South Africa, Norway, Colombia, Switzerland, Uruguay think that expert are useful. They think that the UPR need them for technical reasons.

U.S.A., Russia, Singapore, China, Pakistan, Iran and Venezuela do not think that experts have to be involved in the U.P.R.

Japan and Turkey are mitigate.

WG on working methods and rules of procedures, 24.4.07 (afternoon), report by A.F.

discussion on new non-paper, A/HRC/4/122/Rev.3
facilitator: H.E. Ambassador of the Phillipines

discussed issues:

- start date of yearly cycle of the HR Council:
-> Council should start on January 1st every year as all other UN-bodies (introduced by South Africa)
-> other states think the Council should start in summer every year (as in his first year): ex: 1. Monday of June or July or August (supported by Canada, Russia, Portugal, Chile and others)

- place of meetings:
-> some states believe the council should be able to hold sessions outside of Geneva (introduced by India, supported by Russia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Argentina, Pakistan)
- especially the Europeans want to keep Geneva as the only meeting place (EU, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Chile, Iran)

- question of majority required for country-specific resolutions:
usually, the Council takes his decisions with a simple majority. But, regarding the Country-specific resolutions, China introduced the idea that for an adoption of such a resolution, a co-sponsorship of 1/3, and a affirmative vote of 2/3 of the memberstates present and voting shall be needed.
-> in favour of this proposal: china, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Bangladesh, Algeria, South Africa
-> against Chinese proposal: EU-States, Switzerland, Argentina, Chili, Canada, Australia

Even though this session was to be the last one of this WG as scheduled, on several points no consensus has been reached, therefore, other meetings of the WG will follow. Date and Place to be communicated.

mercredi 18 avril 2007

WG on Review of Mandates - 18th March AM - AB

The main topic this morning was the rights and obligations of mandate holders.
Suzanne Radi, director of special procedures, presented the "Reglement régissant le statut et les droits et obligations élémentaires des personnalités au service de l'ONU, non fonctionaires du Secrétariat et des experts en mission", which was adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 56/280 on March 27th, 2002.
Delegations then took the floor, some arguing that this reglement does not include obligation for states welcoming experts, which was regrettable (Germany) and some asking what has been concretly done to implement the resolution since 2002.The other main source of concern was the accountability of mandate holders, and what measures would be taken in case of improper conduct. Suzanne Radi answered that the appointing authority (such as the HRC) should be responsible for terminate the mandate in such cases.
After this discussion, Algeria on behalf of African Union presented its proposal of a new Code of Conduct document for mandates holders, which is supposed to be more specific than the forementionned Reglement and hence give more credibility to the mandate holders. The delegate insists that this new measure will not threaten the experts' independance, which is one of the main critics adressed against this Code of Conduct. The two documents (Reglement + CoC) should be complementary and have the same status, as soon as the CoC is adopted by the General Assembly.

mardi 17 avril 2007

WG: Agenda & annual programme of work, 17.04.07 (morning) CN

In a first time the facilitator continued the list of interventions from last Friday. The topic was the choice between the option A and C for the third item.

Azerbaijan, Chile, China, Algeria, Pakistan, India, Cuba and Morocco choose the option A
New Zealand, Peru choose the option C

Some ONG took the floor:
- Canada Action for population and development;

Then the facilitator delivered the annual programme of work up-dated. It plans 3 sessions: the first in June, the second in September/October and the third in March/April. There are 10 items:

1. Organizational and procedural matters;
2. Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;
3. Promotion and protection of human rights,
Economic social and cultural rights,
Civil and political rights,
Right to development
Rights of peoples, and specific groups and individuals,
Cross-cutting human rights issues,
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention;
4. Human rights bodies and mechanisms;
5. Universal Periodic Review
7. United Nations conferences and summits;
8. Technical assistance and capacity building
9. Follow-up of decisions of the Human Rights Council;
10. Other issues.

Some delegations took the floor: Chile, Costa Rica, Algeria, Syria , Germany, France, Argentina, Portugal, Iran, Norway and Canada.

WG, Review of Mandates, 16.4.07 (afternoon), report by A.F.

Continued discussion of the WG on Review of Mandates under the facilitator, H.E. Ambassador Husak of the Czech Republic:

Main Ideas: in order to harmonize mandates,
- overlaps of mandates need to be removed
- existing gaps need to be filled

1. remove overlaps of mandates:

- most States asked the Secretariat to provide them with a new clustered matrix of all the existing mandates, ordered according to subjects. This would allow them to identify overlaps.
-> The secretariat will publish such a matrix before the next meeting of the WG

- proposals for a unifying of similar mandates have been made. this was however strongly opposed by the Western States, since they fear that through such an fusion the specificities of each mandate would get lost.

- discussion around the advantages and disadvantages of individual or group mandates (ex: special rapporteur vs working group)

2. Identify gaps: what problems exist that do not yet have a special rapporteur to cover it?
Proposals were made by several States:
- mandate for cultural rights (by the Russian Federation, Iran)
- mandate on contemporary forms of Slavery (supported by UK, Iran, Belarus, CH, etc and several NGOs)
- mandate on effective acces to justice (introduced by Argentina)
- mandate on economic sanctions (introduced by DPRK and supported by Iran

=> general observation: this WG does not seem to get anywhere. rather than discussing about the mandates themselves, the WG is stocked in discussing procedural matters.

dimanche 15 avril 2007

WG, Expert Advice, 12.04.07 afternoon

During the afternoon we continued to discuss the Facilitator's draft paper III. We looked at the sections II, III and IV.
There rapidly occurred a misunderstanding between the facilitator and the representatives of the delegations because the discussion was first very oriented on the language of the text and not so much on the proposal made by the delegations. The facilitator didn't want to choose among the proposals and thought it was better if the delegations could find a solution between them. Mexico, Germany and Cuba claimed that it was not possible to work like this and that it was his job to consider all the proposals in order to have a concrete text proposal, based on the negotiation.

After the intervention of the International Indian Council on the rights of indigenous people, we discussed what to do with the mandates of the former Commission. Canada insisted on the fact that we had to decide, case by case, which mandate will continue and which will be abolished. As the continuation depends on the Council’s decision, the terms “approval of the council” should be added in the text, line 8 (part III). On the other hand, Cuba and Algeria stressed that the Commission was abolished but not the mandates. These mandates still exist as they are to continue for 1 year after the Commission. This year is still not at the end.
Guatemala and some NGOs said that it was important to leave the possibility to create or propose new mandate as long as it is approved by the Council.
Switzerland said that the meetings had to be well structured and thus proposed to add “in order to discharge their mandates”, after collectively, line 6 (part III), meaning that the delegations can choose the easiest way to work for their specific mandates. UK supported this point of view and added the proposal to create a WG on the contemporary forms of slavery.

Regarding the duration of the session, the delegations mainly agreed on some flexibility. One week is seen as to short.

Finally concerning the part IV, the name of this WG was discussed. Argentina argued that the title was very important because it establishes the hierarchic order and thus proposed “HRC expert advisory body”.
Mexico thought that the name had to show the type of organ that the WG will be. As it includes the Civil Society and the member of the Council, they proposed the word “open-ended” and “independent” to be added in the title. The word “open-ended” made many delegations react and so Mexico gave up that proposal but insisted on the word “independent” because it is a fundamental characteristic.