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Council debates situation in Haiti
Monday, 21 June 2010 13:41

 

426492On 16 June 2010, the Human Rights Council (the Council) held an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti Mr Michel Forst,. The session also included presentations by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Kyung-wha Kang, and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Ms Gulnara Shahinian,. The interactive dialogue was followed by a general debate on item 10, ‘Technical assistance and capacity-building’.

 

An interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi had also originally been scheduled for this session. However, it was postponed due to the inability of Mr Akich Okola to come to Geneva. Although Mr Okola had agreed to the possibility of using videoconferencing to proceed with the interactive dialogue as scheduled, this option apparently did not enjoy the support of the Council. Mr Okola’s report will be presented at the 15th session in September. A draft resolution on the extension of the Independent Expert’s mandate (A/HRC/14/L.20) was withdrawn by Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group. It was not clear at then outset why the African group was presenting this resolution as the Independent Expert’s mandate will only expire with the establishment of an independent national human rights institution in Burundi, which is still to be set up.

 

The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Kyung-wha Kang, presented a series of recommendations for the international community based on the plan of action for national recovery and development of Haiti.

The OHCHR compiled these suggestions as per Council Resolution S-13/1, passed at the Council’s special session on Haiti held in January 2010. The recommendations cover two broad themes: ensuring the protection of the population with a focus on groups with special needs (including women, children, the elderly, and the disabled), and the necessity for human rights to be the ‘foundation for reconstruction efforts’. Mr Forst followed with his presentation, echoing the main themes as presented by the Deputy High Commissioner, while also praising the work done by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Finally, Ms Shahinian, on behalf of the special procedures, raised some further concerns including: violence against women in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps; the risk of organised crime and drug trafficking; investments in agriculture; the importance of children returning to school; efforts to cancel Haiti’s external debt; and the importance of sustained financial assistance. As the State concerned, Haiti thanked OHCHR, welcomed the participation of the special procedures, and highlighted some of the on-going efforts in reconstruction In the interactive dialogue that followed, States asked Mr Forst: where Haiti and the international community should place its priorities in reconstruction and reform efforts (France, Japan, Australia); how to ensure the role of women in recovery and reconstruction (France, Senegal); how to coordinate with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women (European Union); how to ensure a human rights-based perspective in long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts (Canada, Mexico); and what sort of alternatives exist to preventive detention (Switzerland). A large number of States commented briefly on specific themes, and then proceeded to outline specific efforts they are taking in regard to Haiti’s recovery (Brazil, USA, Cuba, Argentina, Japan, Australia, Norway, Venezuela, Chile, China). In responding to questions and comments, Mr Forst noted that ‘everything is a priority’ and that Haiti ‘must remain a master of its own destiny’. Specifically, he noted he will illustrate more clearly how to adopt a rights-based approach to reconstruction in his next report, and suggested that there needs to be a better link between the work of the Human Rights Council and the Security Council in coordinating its work in Haiti.

 

The general debate on item 10 that followed was brief. Spain, on behalf of the EU, touched upon the continuing violence in Kyrgyzstan, calling on the provisional government to return to the country to order and democracy, and also expressed concern over Burundi’s decision to expel human rights workers. A number of States made comments on the establishment of OHCHR field offices. While their establishment was welcomed by the USA and Spain on behalf of the EU, Algeria stated that the establishment of such offices should require in-depth consultations with ‘all States concerned’. Denmark welcomed the ‘pivotal role’ of the OHCHR, and ‘warmly welcomed’ the extension of the agreement on the OHCHR field office in Nepal.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 August 2010 07:40
 
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