Council hears update from High Commissioner for Human Rights
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 04:26


ceiling_room_20.jpgOn 15 and 16 September, the Human Rights Council (the Council) heard and discussed an update from the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem Pillay. The High Commissioner focused on a number of ‘overarching issues’ that that will be priorities of her Office for the next biennium including combating discrimination; protection of civilians in armed conflict and fighting impunity; revitalised pursuit of economic, social and cultural rights; the rights of migrants; attacks on freedom of expression and human rights defenders; and strengthening the human rights system, in particular the treaty bodies, the special procedures and the Council itself. In addressing these issues, Ms Pillay drew attention to concerns and positive developments in relation to more than 35 specific countries. States broadly endorsed the High Commissioner’s statement as highlighting important issues of concern to them. Many also specifically appreciated the drawing examples from countries around the world as a sign of objectivity and a balanced approach. The statement prompted several States to reply to the High Commissioner’s comments. Whereas some provided useful clarifications, others including Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the Sudan, refuted the comments as baseless and an expression of double standards.


Many States and NGOs took up the High Commissioner’s call for the Council to do more to address violations of human rights. It remains to be seen how the Council may follow up on the concerns brought to its attention in relation to a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Honduras, Iran, Myanmar, Sri Lanka. At this session, the Council is expected to take action on follow up to the report on the fact finding mission on the Gaza conflict released on 15 September, and extend the mandates on Somalia and Cambodia. It also seems likely that at least informal discussions on the situation of human rights in Honduras will take place during the session. Finally, the Council will also appoint an Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan.


Last Updated on Monday, 21 September 2009 05:17
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