mercredi 20 juin 2007

Human Rights council, Organizational Meeting, 20th June 2007 (9 a.m.-1 p.m.)

The session began by concluding with the countries’ remarks concerning the newly adopted document on Institution Building and the election of the new bureau.
Indonesia thanked the ambassador D’Alba for his outstanding work as the president of the council. The representative recognized that the adopted text was the result of a fruitful collaboration among States and expressed special thanks to China for the perseverance and the flexibility it demonstrated during negotiations.
Iran reaffirmed that the mandate on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories should be maintained until the end of the occupation.
Poland expressed regrets that certain mandates of the special procedures had not been maintained and without a comprehensive exam of their usefulness, here Poland cited the specific case of the mandate on Byelorussia.
The Republic of Korea expressed some concerns on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The representative stated that there should a more in depth examination of the country mandates and that the council should strengthen the mechanism by applying the lessons learned with the special procedures.
Tunisia thanked the delegations of Algeria and Pakistan and the different regional groups for their commitment to a consensus.
Nigeria commended the collaboration of the regional groups, and in particular the Algerian delegation representing the African region and for its role in negotiations, and acknowledged that the refinement of the system had allowed for its self-evaluation for the better.
Egypt wished for the council to concede more importance to the situation of Palestine and to take practical measures to tackle its particular circumstances and allow the Palestinian people to acquire their independence.
Algeria aligned itself on the declaration of Pakistan concerning the right to auto-determination. The representative stressed that one of the challenges facing the international community was the establishment of viable institutions and efficient procedures for the promotion and the protection of the right to auto-determination.
The Czech Republic appreciated the package as the result of a brilliant multilateral diplomacy; however it expressed disappointments concerning the annulment of the mandates on Byelorussia and Cuba despite the recurrent human rights violations in those countries, and assured the respective rapporteurs of the two cases of their continuous assistance.
Venezuela commended the rationalization of the country mandates, and particularly the suppression of the mandates on Byelorussia and Cuba, whom it considered was inferring from politicized decisions.
The "Organisation International de la Francophonie (OIF)" expressed its congratulations to the ambassador D’Alba and his bureau for the remarkable work accomplished and to the newly appointed president for his election and assured him of their collaboration for the labor ahead.
Sri-Lanka thanked the Algerian representative for the redaction of the code of conduct and also appreciated China for its firm and flexible endeavor taken during negotiations.
The International University of Women, on behalf of twelve NGOs, appreciated the incorporation of the gender equality question in the forth coming discussions of the council but deplored that it had not been included in its schedule.
After a short break, the council reviewed draft proposals, which had been deferred from its fifth session.
The council first examined the draft resolution A/HRC/5/L.4, on the follow-up to the report of the commission of Inquiry on Lebanon, introduced by Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Sudan, representing the Group of Arab States. After an oral amendments made by Pakistan, the European Union made a statement with regards to its wish to help the democratic government of Lebanon and the draft resolution was adopted without a vote.
The draft resolution A/HRC/5/L.5, on the Human Rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and follow-up to resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1, was then introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Group of Arab States. Israel, as a concerned party, expressed its criticisms about the present resolution, considering that the mission had already taken place and did not give a fair account of the situation, and considered the resolution to be another attack against the Israeli government. Palestine, also expressing itself as a concerned party, stated that Israel continued to violate human rights on the occupied territories and urged the members of the council to adopt the resolution without a vote. The council subsequently adopted the resolution without a vote. Thereafter, Canada made a statement reaffirming its attachment to the carrying out of the council’s decisions but expressed concerns about the implementation of the cited resolutions. Germany, on behalf of the European Union, also expressed apprehension about the implementation of those resolutions.
Finally, the council considered the draft resolution A/HRC/5/L.6, on follow-up to decision S-4/101 on the situation in Darfur, introduced by Germany on behalf of the European Union and Egypt on behalf of the Group of African States. As a concerned party, Sudan made a statement where it reaffirmed its desire to find a political solution to the crisis of Darfur and expressed hope that the new hybrid force of the African Union and the United Nations will help for its realization. After the adoption of the resolution, Canada commended the work of consensus of all the parties involved, especially the Sudanese government for its commitment to pursue its collaboration with the group of experts.

mardi 19 juin 2007

Human Rights Council, Organizational Meeting, 19th June 2007 (3 p.m. - 6p.m.)

The session began with the election of the members of the bureau. Mr. Doru Romulus Costea, presented by Poland on behalf of the East –European group, was elected by acclamation by the council. He thanked the participants and particularly the ambassador D’Alba for his effort, determination and diplomatic skills deployed. He noticed that the creation of new mechanisms, such as the Universal Periodic Review and the new abilities given to special procedures, revealed that the stated were willing and were making progress in building the new body for the defense of human rights, in a spirit of trust and collaboration. He assured the council that he would do his best to make the new mechanisms work properly. Finally, he stressed the need for finalizing the procedures around the new mechanisms, to start as soon as possible and signal the endeavor and commitment of the council to the promotion and protection of human rights. The council thereafter elected the four vice presidents, representing respectively the States of Uruguay, Djibouti, Netherlands and Sri-Lanka.
Before the president was to continue with the follow-up to decisions of the council made previously, concerning Institution building of the council and the Draft code of conduct for special procedures mandate holders, Canada raised a point of order. The Canadian representative asked whether a decision had been indeed taken concerning those points. The president ruled that the decision had been taken by the council on its 9th meeting on June 18th and his ruling was approved by vote by all the members of the council except Canada.
Thereafter, several Nations made some remarks.
The United Kingdom considered that the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was the sole innovation of the council and regretted that two mandates of the special procedures had not been renewed. He also expressed concerns about the impact of the violence between Hamas and Fattah on the civil population of the Palestinian territories.
Pakistan, on behalf of the Islamic Conference, stated that the UPR mechanism should remain an intergovernmental tool, with its nature depending on the approbation of the State under review.
Bangladesh wished to remind the council that the UPR should be based on the national reports and its outcome should derive from a consensus.
Malaysia thanked the representative of China for his effort and flexibility during the negotiations and wished to see a strong engagement on behalf of the mandate holders. Cuba argued against the double measure system and criticized Canada on not condemning the exactions commitment by the Unites States on the Cuban territory.
Morocco expressed regrets that the council had to vote for the adoption of a document which resulted from several days of negotiations, collaboration and consensus.
On behalf on the Asian group, Sri-Lanka thanked all the actors of the negotiations and stressed that the council should base its activities on cooperation.
Switzerland and France recognized that the adopted text represented a consensus but the former regretted the non-inclusion of independent expertise in the UPR process while France was disappointed that all the special procedures had not been maintained and hoped that the mandate holders would not loose their independence.
Finally, Israel expressed regrets about the adoption of the new document on institutional building, which it thought was the result of a politicized consensus.

jeudi 14 juin 2007

Parallel event: The Right to the truth and transitional justice.

This events was organized by the delegations of Argentina and Switzerland. Switzerland wants to propose a resolution concerning the process of justice in transitional periods. The resolution should be transregional in order to strenghten the high Commissioner of Humand Rights.

Mr. Federico Villegas took the floor (Director of Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International TRade and Worship of Republic of Argentina).
Experience of Argentina with movments like "las Madres de Mayo" and "las abuelas" ask for change in accusation of officials and safety for impunity. It is becoming considered as a common right to know the truth on our past. It is therefore a right of the whole society and a right that contributes to the right to justice. Argentina is a kind of laboratory experience and is the country that has paid the biggest amount of money in the world for the cause of forced desappearances.

Mrs. Mona Rishmawi made a comment on the report (Legal Advisor, Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights).
This is the 2nd report. The first was about situating this right in the international law.
The second report is based on the information that they received from the states and NGOs after a verbal note they sent to them. A lot of states answered, goob basis. It is structured around 3 sections: the nature and content of the right to truth, its link with other riths, and the mechanisms: 1) It is a societal but autonomous right (exists by itself) and 2) it is linked with the right to investigate, the justice and the right to reparation. 3) the legal proceedings and the codes build the mechanisms process.
It is a right that is concerned about how societies emerging from a conflict deal with the past and the present. There are many components: prosectution, truth seeking, institution reform...
The OHCHR provides assistance on transitional justice and this experience brings policy tools. It faces challenges like amnesties. The Council has now to decide if it wants this resolution to go further.

Mr. Federico Andreu took then the floor (Legal Expert, International Commission of Juirists).
He explained a little bit more the historical origins of this right:
- Conference of Berlin and Paris on desappeared persons, end of 19 century. First idea of right to truth.
- Geneva Convention, Protocole 1, Art. 32: right to know
- Jurisprudence, since 1977 imposes not only during war time but also peace time.
- Since the 1990s, legislative process, traduction into norms.
- Convention on the protection of all desappeared persons (1st treaty of the UN): Art 24
- Practice: trial de la Platta, Peru, Bosnia-Herzegovina...
- New developments: resolution on the right to truth
This right is linked to other rights: reparation, identity (for the children mainly)... but also to obligations: inquiry, trial, fight impunity... It is a new right.

Mr. Leandro Despouy finally tok the floor (Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers).
There has been a big evolution during the last 50 years. It is a transformation of the judicial system that no one would have expected. It is characteristic of our times because it shows the changing nature of the relationship between individuals, and between individuals and states. It is a tool for the resolution of other rights. For example, there is an important relationship of reciprocity between this right and the right to justice. It has an important ethic and moral dimension because it concerns the dignity of the victims.
The lgitimity of this rights belong to the families and close persons and the whole society of the crime is grave (genocide).
It is therfore a cultural transformation. We passed from forgetting the past to the right of memory, necessary today to build democracy and solid institutions.

Main general comments:

- Maroc: also got his own experience and created the instence of equity and reconcilitation (IER). It examines the last 43 years (from the independence in 56 to 99, date of the creation of the instence on independent arbitrage) and makes propositions of reforms. It establishes the truth through investigation, public audiances... The recommandations target the rehabilitation (psycho, medical, professional...) and the community reparations (social, eco, cultural development programs). The goal is the restaure the faith int the institutions. (

- Spain: also adopted a law for reparation to the victims of Franco regime.

- France: noted that the process of reparation was often used as a way to turn away from a judicial process. How is it possible to show that this is not the right attitude?
Answer from Mrs. Mona Rishmawi: When UN directly involved there are guidelines or bottom lines: no amnesty. And then the other line is not to close the door for further mechanisms. She would like to see the national consultations as an important aspect. There are bars rather than sequences.
Answer from Mr. Villegas: he sees sequences in this case. It is the creation of a new Jus Cogens. UN can play important role, in exchange of best practices especially.


HRC, 5th session, 14.06, morning

Yesterday afternoon, President De Alba opened the institution building session. He distributed his final paper and explained that it was a compromise formula. The intention is to give a general overview. Thus, it has to be completed. The african group presented their new version of the code of conduct in which they tried to include everyones positions. ..
As the delegations discovered the paper yesterday the session was suspended to let them time to prepare their remarks and questions.

It reopened this morning at 11am, as an informal session. It was therefore open-ended in terms of participation. President De Alba insisted on the fact that we had to concentrate on the new elements. We then heard the general comments. It was again very expectable.
The delegation of Pakistan spoke in behalf of the OIC and claimed again that:
- UPR: outcome must be adopted by consensus but with consent of the state concerned. The principal basis must be the national report, all other sources are secondary. They accept a right to appeal for the mandates' holders but the final decision must be taken by the Council.
- Complaint procedure must be confidential
- not very happy about the fact that the text of the Agenda has not changed yet.
Bangladesh, Saoudi Arabia and others aligned on this declaration.

Cuba and India made very precise comments about the texte itself. Their propositions are available either on the extranet or will be distribute tomorrow.

China, speaking in behalf of 10 members of the Council, mostly said the same as Pakistan but added that the distinction between country mandates and thematic mandate should be maintained because the new nomination "geographic" mandate sounds bizarre to them, and they don't really know what it is refering to. They also insisted on the 2/3 majority for the rules of procedure. As it was still not taken into consideration they want to prepare a written amendment.

Then, we have the other bloc represented by Switzerland, Germany, Canada...
Switzerland noted that the ONGs were still not allowed to participate in the debate and asked for this to change.
- UPR: should not have the possibility to include a rapporteur pertaining to the same geographic area as the country concerned. No right of veto and UPR should work for all recommandations so that we don't get to a system "à la carte".
- Order of the day: insisted on the inclusion of a point called "other issue"
- Complaint procedure: the secretariat should transmit the complaint directly and not examine firstly if the admissibility criteria are fulfilled because otherwise it would damage the mechanisme. The goal is to improve the systeme, however we could have different views on what improvement means...
- UPR: agrees with the fact that the level of development should be considered but this has nothing to do with the standards, otherwise there would be no more criteria of universality. This should be precised in the text.
- Complaint procedure: should be clearly written that it is confidential IN PRICNCIPLE. If the Council decides to use public pression it can give up this rule.

Norway wants the mandates to be extended for 3 years from the date of expiring.


mercredi 13 juin 2007

5th session HRC, 13.06.07, 13 to 15pm

The council concludes discussion on the
Report on the situation of human rights in Darfur prepared by the group of
experts mandated by Human Rights Council resolution 4/8 presided by the
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan.

Speaking on the report were Representatives of India, Morocco, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Australia, Norway, France, African Union, Yemen, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Central African republic, Russian Federation, United states, Tunisia, Palestine, Island, Malaysia, Iraq, Republic of Korea, Canada, Switzerland, Arab Republic of Syria. Most of the states are satisfied by the report and insist on the urgency of implement it.

Then some NGO took the floor: Amnesty International, International Federation of Human Right, Human Right Watch, Femmes Afrique Solidarité, Cairo institute for Human Right Studies, Hawa Society for Women, World Federation of Trade Unions, Africa-America society for Humanitarian and development.
Then the representatives of the group answer and conclude.

mardi 12 juin 2007

5th session HRC, 12.06.07, 12 to 15pm

At midday the special reporteurs on adequate housing and on extreme poverty were still answering the questions and remarks from the delegations.
Mr. Kothari (adequate housing) said that the situation in Zimbabwe was particulary worring. He is also studying the possibility of a mission in Angola. He recommands an expert seminar on landing.

Mr. Sengupta (extremepoverty) stressed that the main problem is the lack of political will concerning this question. It should really be accepted that this is a fundamental question to be able to face the important lobbies in the economic world. States should therefore start programms of coordinated measures allowing to consider extreme poverty as a violation of Human rights and not only as a cause or consequence of such violations.

Zimbabwe took its right to answer and criticized the statement of Germany (according to him, Germany was speaking on behalf of Great-Britain) and said that Grest-Britain is trying to recolonize Zimbabwe and that Germany had still "deep nazi gene". The question of alimentation can not be politicized.
Angola said that the report was not realistic because they started many programs of social housing bulding. The special rapporteur didn't look at credible sources (government informations).

Australia took the floor to precise the exactly amount of money that she pays for every issue in Zimbabwe trying to explain that she remains concern about the situation in the country even if she stopped direct cooperation. Zimbabwe took the floor again, a little bit later and said that the money only goes to certain sectors that put pression for a change of the regime.

Algeria intervened responding to a petition that is circulating. According to the ambassador of Algeria, western based NGOs are demonizing the statements. The propsal that Algeria made earlier was not an algerian one but one in the behalf of Africa. NGOs should conform to the UN rules. (apparently an NGO wrote directly to the head of state of Algeria)

Cambodge and China rejected the allegations of the report. The remarks on China concerned the expropriations made in the context of the preparations for the Olympic Games 2008.
RPDK once again, stated that Japan was trying to drive the Council in a faulse direction regarding the treatment of immigrants from Korea.

We then passed to the report of Mr. Severin on the situation in Belarus. He mainly stated his disappointment regarding the lack of cooperation from the governement of Belarus since 3 years. he was not permited to visit the country and thus, had to base his report on other sources (coming from neighbour states for exemple). The problem is that the political system is not compatible with the Human rights. There are many situations of harrasment and persecution of individuals and international organizations. It is the last country in Europe to maintain death penalty and cases of torture and inhuman treatment are also reported. It is thus scandalous that the Belarus is a candidate for the HRC.

Belarus answered saying that the report was politicized and therefore distortion appear. The report contradicts about 10 other reports from the UN and ONGs. It is the perfect example for why we need codes of conducts.

Observations from states were then aligned on the positions we already know. Russia, Cuba, Algeria, South Africa, DPRK, Pakistan, India, Iran, Sudan, Indonesia.... are opposed to the country mandates and want their termination. The main critics were also directed against one sentence that the special reporter used, where it stands that the special rapporteur have "no limits". Many found that he was going beyond his mandate. The need of codes of conduct were repeated.
The other group, composed of Lithuania, Germany, Sweeden, Poland, Canada ans the USA found the report very good and objective. Poland asked interesting quesitons about the influence of the propaganda and activist politicians in the universities on the young people. They also noted the lack of progress in trade union freedom.

Mr. Severin answered that his mandate was to assess the situation of Human Rights in Belarus. Thus, he has to assess all facts related directly or not, and look in details. But for the victims to assess is not enough, they need effective changes and it is important to find ways of improvement and not just to describe the situation. This is the signification of the "no limit" of his mandate. He recommands to use dialogue, and is trying to do so in order to reach consenus in a situation where both parts have so different views, but he has no optimistic vision of the future.

Finally we listen to the report of Ms. Chanet on the situation in Cuba. She has never got any contact with the autorities of Cuba. She related the injust incarceration, conditions of detentions but also noted the effort of Cuba in education and health despite the blocus. She concludes that the mandate is for many years now coming to nothing and that the Council should review its terms in the context of the new procedures and the UPR. Cuba should be submited to the UPR before the end of its mandate in the Council.

Here again the positions are well known. The main critics were the politization of the mandate, the need of codes of conduct, the problem of 2 weights-2 measures, the consequences of the blocus on the situation of Human rights and the so generous actions of Cuba that distributes medicins in South America, teaches, works and progress a lot despite what is said in the report. The majority wants to terminate the mandate, and Russia even interpreted the words of Ms. Chanet and said that she was very courageous to recognize the need to put an end to her own mandate.

The special rapporteur answered correcting this immediatly. She didn't said the Council had to terminate her mandate but to review its terms. The population can not be kept out of the international community just because the governement doesn't want to report to the Council. She also made it clear that the embargo was not the cause of the violations of Human rights in Cuba, and, that she could do nothing about this situation but, that she expressed clearly her opinion on it (because Algeria said that they find it strange, that the special rapporteur on Belarus evaluates himself capable in such situation and not Ms. Chanet)


5th Session of the HRC, 12 of June, Morning

This morning the council concludes discussion on the 4 reports of the day before:

· Right to food, Jean ZIEGLER
· Toxic and dangerous wastes, Okechukwu IBEANU
· Adequate housing, Miloon KOTHARI
· Extreme Poverty, Arjun SENGUPTA

Speaking on the four reports were Representatives of India, the Philippines, Germany on behalf of the European Union, Cuba, Canada, Indonesia, Finland, Bangladesh, Mexico, Venezuela, Switzerland, Senegal, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Chile, Nigeria, Argentina, Algeria, the Russian Federation, Morocco, Norway, Tunisia, Nicaragua, Thailand, Republic of Korea, Brazil, Uruguay, China, the African Union, Ecuador and Bolivia. The National Human Rights Commission of India also spoke.Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Food First Information And Action Network International, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples in a joint statement with Europe-Third World Centre and International League for the Rights and Liberation of peoples, International Education Development, International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities, Human Rights Watch, United Nations Watch, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, European Union for Public Relations, Mouvement International ATD Quart Monde, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, National Association of Community Legal Centres, Colombian Commission of Jurists, and Commission to Study the Organization of Peace. Speaking in right of reply were Japan, Zimbabwe, Angola, Australia, Algeria, Cambodia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and China

Then the special rapporteurs conclude: JEAN ZIEGLER, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said that it was true that the combat against hunger launched in South America in 2005 had become continent-wide. The campaign of zero-hunger was at the forefront of implementing measures to fight hunger. Twelve billion people could be fed by the food production today The Supreme Court in India was exemplary and should be a model for the whole world. Mr. Ziegler said Germany on behalf of the European Union raised the questions on Darfur and Zimbabwe. On Darfur, the Council had carried out remarkable work. The international community was divided on the initiatives in Darfur. Concerning the question on Zimbabwe, the Special Rapporteur had asked to visit the country. He thought that the mission was going to take place. The urgent appeal to Zimbabwe was listed among the other urgent appeals in the annexes. The question of bio fuels and selling food products for bio fuels represented a danger to the right to food. Concerning the question from Switzerland asking about how a person could be determined as being a hunger migrant, indicators existed defining the regions where the population's survival was in danger, Mr. Ziegler said. Concerning the breast-feeding combat, multinational companies like Nestle were not respecting the international recommendations from the World Health Organization. It was urgent to tackle the tragedy that was currently taking place in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Famine refugees must receive the human rights of non-refoulement from the European countries.

OKECHUKWU IBEANU, Special Rapporteur on Toxic and Dangerous Products and Wastes, thanked all for their interventions which had convinced him that his mandate was a human rights issue and that only a rights-based approach could tackle the problem. In this regard, and in line with the recommendations in his report, this required continued recognition of the responsibilities of both State and non-state actions. It also called for careful tracking and monitoring of hot spots outlined in the text. It called for a full recognition of the need to provide information to communities that may be at risk, and the need for continued clean up in situations in which toxic and dangerous materials may have been used in situations of war. It also called for adequate assistance to States which were not in a position to deal with such situations and to help victims. He welcomed a call to develop a framework of guidelines to monitor the impact on human rights of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, particularly in countries that were undergoing rapid socio-economic transformation and political instability.

MILOON KOTHARI, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, said with regards to the intervention by the Ambassador of Australia, the report was based on a very wide range of sources, and he did not think that these credible organizations could be dismissed as being interest groups. A large part of the work done by civil society in Australia was to cover the gap with regards to the homeless. He stood by his conclusion that the continuing problem of homelessness in a developed country was deplorable and needed to be credibly addressed. The reaction of delegations with regards to the guidelines on forced evictions was appreciated. They aimed to minimise impact on the evicted, and were already in use by civil society organizations. It was hoped they would be integrated into national legislation and policies and adopted at a national level. There had been a number of communications on urgent situations of forced evictions. The Special Rapporteur was in the process of compiling a study on women and housing, and considered the issue of land and property rights were very important for women, and the Council could consider institutionalising the issue as it was linked to others such as women's right to health. The right to housing could not be effectively realised without strategies for the legal recognition of land, he concluded.

ARJUN SENGUPTA, Independent Expert on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty, said that the main motivation was that poverty had for long been recognized as a scourge to human dignity. A social consensus had to be to implement policies. Poverty existed in most developing countries and also in some developed ones. The international consensus on multinational poverty was mentioned. It was important to accept the notion that extreme poverty was a denial of human rights. The obligation was to adopt minimum policies to fulfil basic rights, Mr. Sengupta said. The world should accept the eradication of poverty as a universal obligation.


lundi 11 juin 2007

5th Session of the HRC, 11 of June, Morning

The opening of the session started with the report of the President De Alba about the year that is ending and the progress made until now. Consensus are closed to be found however it is important to assure that the new instrument will be an effective one. The purpose is to build to foundations of the new body, knowing that details are left for ulterior stages.

Ms. Louise Arbour took the floor after President de Alba and reported her work of this year and the situation of the Human rights in the world. Important progress were made in Kirghistan, Congo and Rwanda however there are still high risk of conflict that influence the humand rights, mainly the problem of impunity. (Her report is available on the extranet for people interested).

The programm was then adopted and De Alba explained the procedure. He precised that the code of conduct are now part of the work on institutional building.

2 special raporteurs presented their report. Mr. Despouy on the independance of the juges and Mr. Diène on racism and discrimination.

Mr. Despouy first explained the general situation: corruption, difficult access to justice, slowness of the judicial process, harrying of the juges by the State members, influence of the struggle against terrorism which gives rise to a state of emergency.... he then passed to the situation in Maldives and Congo.
The main problem in Maldives is the balance between international law and the shariah. The judicial system really lacks independance.
In congo, a new constitution was adopted by democratic elections (the first) but tribunals are still not sufficient, the army is very present and summary executions are not punished. It is therefore important to strenghten the judicial power with a better budget and to put emphasis on economic recuparation.

Mr. Diène noted that general tendency are still going on. Racism and political programs are going along. He pointed out the perception of the emigrants as a securtiy problems for many states which makes the situation of the emgirants very unsecure.
He then spoke about his visit in Russia (who invited him) and noted that although there is no official politic of racism there is an important xenophobia within the population that comes from a lack of identity and a social and economic crisis. He thus recommands to officially admit the existence of xenophobia and to set a federal programm of action that involves every national community. He also recommands the adoption of legal measures for the liberty of expression and religion. Liberty of expression must not be a way for discrimination.

Algeria made a first technical remark concerning the timing between the publication of the reports and the traduction. Delegations have no time to prepare their response because reports are distributed to late and they are often not traduced.

The interested states took their right to response and generally accepted the remarks. However Congo tried to explain the failure by the great influence of the war and the autoritarian regime on the lenght of the takes time.
Russia was the only one very upset and rejected the report that is supposed to be not impartial and unrealistic. They deny being in any social or economic crisis and much more lacking from any identity!!

Many countries took then the floor as observers. Mainly they asked for a group of expert on the repression of the new forms of racism. Many islamic countries stressed the hierarchy of the liberties that western countries are imposing. Liberty of expression is seen as superior to liberty of religion.
Morocco made an interesting declaration and spoke about the importance of education and dialogue in the issue of racism. Morocco started a program called "100 imams and rabbins" to promote the intercultural dialogue.
Indonesia made a declaration a little bit contradictory: accept independance of the judicial system but stress that the State should be able to choose its own legislation. Domestic law should be sufficient in a state of emmergency and must not always follow International Law.
Georgia reacted at the declaration of Russia and found the report of Mr. Diène very good.
Zimbabwe and Fijii were the countries for which the delegations asked the more details and questions. The statements followed during the afternoon.


5th Session of the HRC, June 11th, Afternoon

The council started this session by concluding with the remarks on the reports previously presented in the morning.

The representative of Iraq took the floor to respond to the remarks made by Mexico concerning the prevalence of the death penalty. He stressed that though Iraq wanted to abolish it, the country was facing a very difficult situation that did not allow it. He stated that it would be the case as soon as the problems were overcome.
Chile commended the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on his report, for it would be very helpful to those countries seeking the establishment of a sound judicial system. The representative agreed, with the Special Rapporteur on racism and discrimination, on the ancient roots of racism and the unfortunate attempts to legalize it through political means. He thanked Mr. Diène for his endeavour in Latin America and expressed his gratitude for the particular attention given to Chile.
Algeria aligned its remarks on the declaration made earlier by Djibouti on the artificial distinction that was being made between racism, islamophobia and anti-Semitism. He stated that criticizing a Muslim government for its wrong doing was not being islamophobic nor was it anti-Semitic to criticize the Israeli government in similar circumstances. He consequently urged the Special Rapporteur to reconsider both distinctions as forms of racism.
The African Union commended Mr. Diène for his report and his effort to warn the world against all forms of discriminations. He expressed concerns of the African states concerning the legitimization of certain forms of racism through political channels and urged the council to take steps in the prevention and the eradication of such forms of racism.

Thereafter, several Non Governmental Organisations took the floor.
The National Human Rights Commission of India stressed the usefulness of national human rights institutions in the fight for the respect of human rights at the national level. The representative also contradicted the ambassador of India, who had denied the discriminatory nature of the system of caste prevalent in India and expressed regrets that the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons could not present her report.
Nord-Sud XXI, the Union of Arab Jurists and the General Arab Women Federation pointed out the shortcomings of judicial system in Iraq, which was controlled by the United States of America, whose unfair legal procedures had been source of many reports without any noticeable change however. Recommendations were given to the council and the international community to help change if not improve the situation.
Amnesty International raised the issue on how the council should react on the application of a parallel system of justice when terrorism is involved, leading to the non respect of international human rights laws. Additionally, it was asked to Mr Diène the measures that could be taken to fight against xenophobia and racism in general arising with the creation of new political systems rejecting the notions of intercultural integration.
The Asian resource Centre depicted the problems facing the judiciary in Sri-Lanka, with the politicisation of the office of the Chief Justice, which deprives the judges of their independence.
The International Federation for Human Rights reported a case filed in 2004 by a group of Iraqi citizens to the German Federal prosecutor accusing American officials of torture, which it considers was dismissed for political reasons. It urged therefore the participating nations to grant their prosecutors the ability to perform their duty as impartially and objectively as possible.
The International Commission of Jurists expressed its concerns over the declaration of states of emergency and asked for a clarification of the purpose and content of the declaration in such cases. The commission also asked for further information on the situations in Zimbabwe, Sri-Lanka and Pakistan.
United Nations Watch expressed its concerns over the racism and racial discrimination prevailing in Iran and asked for ways to help improve the situation of the minorities subjects to them.
Finally, the Indian Council of South America asked for the Special Rapporteur on racism to pay more attention to the discriminations faced by the indigenous people in America, and particularly in the United States of America.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Doudou Diène, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, started by replying to the Russian Federation, who had felt his report lacked objectivity. Mr. Diène expressed his concerns about the Russian declaration, which denied the existence of racism when his report mention 10 000 to 20 000 victims of racism, according to governmental sources. In his view, the representative made a mistake by not acknowledging the link between the notion of national identity and racism; as national identity should not be a static concept by should evolve to reflect the historical processes undertaken by the Russian society. Acknowledging the declaration of the representatives of South America, Mr. Diène agreed that the labelling of “Latin America” was discriminatory as it did not take into consideration the heritage of the Indian people, as well as the African people leaving in that part of the world. Responding to the request of the European Union concerning the Danish cartoons, the Special Rapporteur recommended the Union to review its official documents, in order to restore a balance between all forms of freedom, in this case freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Finally, on the question of integration, Mr. Diène expressed his apprehension about the “striptease” type of integration, which obliged the immigrant to let go of his culture and heritage and adopt that of the host country and which fails to recognise the benefits of a multicultural integration.

The Special Rapporteur on the Independence of judges and lawyers, Mr. Leandro Despouy responded the debate on his report by thanking the countries that had allowed him to conduct his mission and appealed to the international community to help them undertake the various recommendations. He stated that the concerns expressed on the judiciary situation in Iraq had been answered in previous reports and that he was still waiting for an invitation to visit Sri-Lanka. Finally, Mr. Despouy recognised that major steps had been achieved on the international level and that consensus would guarantee the implementation of the international human rights instruments.

Thereafter, four reports were presented to the council.
Mr. Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, reported that though the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations recognises that the world produces enough food to feed every human being the victims of hunger are increasing ever since 1996. He insisted that the priority should be given to the protection and fulfilment of the right to food of children in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. Mr. Ziegler acknowledged the existence of African famine refugees and urged the council to create a new international law instrument to support them. He made distinction between the traditional economic refugee seeking improvement of his economic and comfort standards and the famine refugee subject to a high level of necessity and urgency. He consequently asked for the creation of an international standard on the right to temporary refugee-ship in cases of famine.
The Special Rapporteur on adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, Mr. Okechukwu Ibeanu, regretted that though an number of measures at the international level had been undertaken, the dumping of hazardous waste and products continued to increase. He acknowledged that the increasing level of toxic wastes to be disposed of was proportionate to the economic growth and demand for energy and consumer product. In industrialised countries, the traditional means of disposal being subjected to restrictions, there was an additional pressure to export those wastes to poor and remote areas. In his report, Mr. Ibeanu stressed the link between armed conflict and the spread of toxic and dangerous products and wastes. A direct effect of armed conflicts on the environment and human rights had been the large amount of oil released in marine environments, oil fires and war debris which discharged toxic products in the environment. Further, he noted the indirect consequences due to the trafficking of dangerous products and their illicit dumping and the lack of access to information by the population due to the absence of rule of law. In this matter, the Special Rapporteur recommended the facilitation of immediate access of clean-up crews and broadcasting of health warnings to the population. Mr. Ibeanu announced that the report on his visit in Ukraine would be available for the next session and gave an account of the initial observations given to the government at the end of his mission.
Mr. Miloon Kothari, Special Rappoteur on adequate standard of living, stressed the practical approach he had always sought to give to the promotion of this right. He expressed the need for the elaboration of an operational framework for the realisation of the right to adequate housing. In his mandate, Mr. Kothari made three country visits. In Australia, he noted a number of policies and tools to address the problem of adequate housing though they did not make a significant impact on the conditions of people, especially indigenous people, across the country. He recommended the government to adopt a comprehensive and coordinated national housing policy to overcome the housing situation. In Spain, the Special Rapporteur admitted the efforts made by the government, but did not fail to acknowledge the low affordability and rise in prices in housing, the domestic violence against women impending their right to adequate housing and the lack of alternative housing possibilities. He recommended the government to review the impact of economic and social policies that affect housing and related issues. He noted the existence of good practices in South Africa but also some mater of concerns, which would be the subject of a forthcoming report.

Dr. Arjun Sengupta, Special rapporteur on human rights and extreme poverty, defined poverty as a composite of income poverty, human development poverty and social exclusion, extreme poverty being an extreme form of them. These concepts are acknowledged to be interdependent and interrelated, although each brings a different dimension to the concept of poverty. Measurable indicators for each of them already exist or can be easily established by social consensus. He expressed for a human rights approach to the notion of extreme poverty, the issue being whether extreme poverty was a consequence of human rights violation or was in itself a violation. Dr. Sengupta noted the differences between the amounts of resources devoted to the eradication of poverty compared to those spent on wasteful consumption. He stated that a consensus on extreme poverty as a human right violation would entail an obligation to remove poverty, through the design and implementation of a program of policies for eradicating extreme poverty.

The presentation were followed by statement of the concerned countries
Ukraine commended Mr Ibeanu for his report, assured him that the authorities were taking all possible measures to protect the population and looked forward to his report.
Australia reported that the report on the right to adequate housing was unbalanced, contained a number of inaccuracies and failed to take into account the information provided by the Australian government.
Spain thanked the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing for his energy, expressed gratitude for the recognised effort it undertook and looked forward for the final report.
Brazil stated the efforts undertaken to eliminate hunger through the launch of the zero-hunger program in 2003 and underlined the fact that fighting poverty was not only about increasing the GDP but also human development thus decreasing the level of inequality.
Cambodia regretted that the Special Rapporteur emphasised only the negative aspect of the housing situation in the country and included inaccuracies in his report.
Pakistan, on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, commended the efforts made by Mr. Ziegler on the issues of hunger and malnutrition. It advocated the council to take into account the report in order to undertake actions to help bring a final note to hunger and malnutrition.
Sudan thanked Mr. Ziegler on his report and assured him that access to food in Darfur had improved.

Finally, a number of nations exercised their right of reply before the session was ended.
Zimbabwe stated disagreement on some of comments given earlier on, accused the United Stated, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada of double standards concerning Zimbabwe, and refuted any accusation of racial discrimination within its borders.
Sudan sustained that the conflict in Darfur was not of religious or ethnic cleansing and that the Janjaweed were outlawed groups from several tribes.
Iraq responded to the Arab Jurists that Saddam had come to power through a bloody revolution and that his regime had killed thousand of people, which legitimated his condemnation.
Japan rejected the statement made by the Democratic republic of Korea claiming that Koreans were facing racial discrimination in Japan. Korea later on replied by stating that such violations were becoming harsher and had been criticised in many United Nations forums.
The Russian Federation refuted the report of Mr. Diène which they said was incorrect, lacked accuracy and revealed a politicised approach. Russia also stated that they were no form of discriminations committed on Georgians, proof being that they are the immigrants subjects to the least number of deportation.


vendredi 8 juin 2007

Open-Ended Session, 8 of May 2007

During this session the delegations could react to the final paper that the President De Alba presented on monday 4. It was a very long and intense meeting but to sum up the 2 most interesting declarations were those from the ambassadors of Germany and Algeria. They illustrate quite well the curant opposition in this institution building process.

Algeria spoke for the African group.
Regarding the mandates' holders they asked for a process of selection and a possibility to appeal in case of potential exclusion. The mandates should be more precise. The Council should be responsible for the decision regarding the terms of the mandates.
They expressed their anxiety concerning the opposition ( from many delegations but mainly Norway) to use humanitarian law as a source for the UPR.
They insisted on the fact that the reports of the States must be the main base for the UPR and that the process should rest on the promise of the latters, which can not be responsible for something he was not engage to do.
Regarding the complaint procedure, the admissibility criteria sould be clearly expressed before the complaint is submitted. 3 monthes is not sufficiant.
In the order of the day, the Council should have the ultimate right to nominate the mandates' holders and so there should be added a point called " nomination of the mandates' holders by the Council". There should also be added a special point on racism.
Finally the ambassador said that they are preparing a new version of the text because they are very concerned about reacting to all the propositions in order to reach a consensus....

Germany made a very impressive declaration, assessing that the paper was all right but really not sufficient. Europe accept the text except the part on the order of the day. This final document is vital for the resolution and therefore it is really important for Europe to accept a proposition that doesn't make everything depending on the consent of the State because the Council must be the one able to evaluate the situation, otherwise it is a "parody".
Regarding the special procedure it is important not to limit the possibility of the Council to act at the right beginning because it would be a failure of its responsability.
The process of selection proposed by the president is not ideal but goes in the right direction. They should avoid the politisation following an election and make sure that independence and expertise are feasible.
Regarding the complaint procedure the ambassador made it very clear that the limit accepted for the admissibility criteria should not be removed.
Concerning the order of the day, the ambassador would like to hear the proposition of the president because it is not part of the final document. He also precised that the paragraph 3 was clear: there exist a possibility to submit to the Council any issue of Human Rights in any part of the world. This is an essential element.
So, Germany is trying to get to a consensus but wants to assure the quality of the future instrument.

Finally there was an other important issue regarding the code of conducts. It is not part of the final paper yet but the swiss delegation is leading the negociations and trying to get to a consensus in order to put the issue in the very final version. Germany stressed that it is a very important issue and was backed by russia.

So mainly the opposistions are between those who want a major role for the state ( Malaysia, Algeria, Singapore...) and those who want an effective body able to exerce some control on the human rights (EU, Canada, Switzerland, Argentina...)