Human Rights Council to hold 15th session
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 17:57


A number of important resolutions will be negotiated and adopted at the Human Rights Council's 15th session, which will take place from 13 September to 1 October. These include renewing the special procedures mandates on the rights of indigenous peoples, counter-terrorism, arbitrary detention, the right to health, the right to housing, contemporary forms of slavery, and the human rights situations in Cambodia and Somalia. The mandate on the Sudan will also need to be renewed but there has been no announcement yet by the African Group, the main sponsor, of any intention to do so.


The organisational meeting for the 15th session took place on Monday 30 August and the programme of work for the session was endorsed. The High Commissioner will present an update on the first day of the session, which is expected to focus, among other things, on the review of the Council.


Eleven of the Council's special procedures will present their annual reports. Belgium (on behalf of the European Union) argued that the traditional clustering of interactive dialogues with special procedures should be limited to where there is a clear connection between the issues to be discussed. This request is unlikely to be taken up at this stage but may be an issue that will be discussed further during the review of the Council.


The session will also see the annual discussion of integration of a gender perspective into the Council's work. This year it will focus on evaluating to what extent the Council and its mechanisms have actually integrated a gender perspective into their work. A panel on the elimination of discrimination against women will also be held and will discuss the High Commissioner for Human Rights' study (A/HRC/15/40) on the same topic. Some States are seeking to set up a mechanism to monitor and report on discrimination against women, but the idea has so far received some opposition from other States. Mexico and Colombia announced that they would seek to take the issue forward at this session.


Among the country-specific special procedures that will report are the Independent Experts on Burundi and on the Sudan. The Independent Expert on Burundi has not appeared before the Council since September 2008 when it was decided that he would only report after the establishment of a national human rights institution. The Independent Expert, who in the meantime has been replaced, will exceptionally present an oral update on his findings and activities since 2008. Another interesting debate will be the 'stand-alone' discussion on Somalia and the status of technical cooperation programmes in the country. The debate, which will take the form of a panel, is expected to see participation of representatives of the African Union, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, the Transitional Federal Government, and civil society in Somalia. The debate is expected to have major impact on whether the mandate of the Independent Expert on Somalia will be renewed.


The Council will also receive an update from the fact-finding mission on progress to investigate the Gaza flotilla incident, in which Israel attacked a humanitarian boat convoy (A/HRC/15/21). The President of the Council has appointed Judge K. Hudson-Phillips, former judge of the International Criminal Court, Sir Desmond de Silva, Queen's Counsel and former Chief Prosecutor of the Sierra Leone War Crimes Tribunal, and Ms Shanthi Dairiam former member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to undertake the fact-finding mission.


Further, the Committee of independent experts to assess investigations by Israel and the Palestinians into the 2008/2009 Gaza conflict will present its first report to the Council (A/HRC/15/50). The Secretary-General's report (A/HRC/15/51) on progress in implementing the recommendations of the Goldstone report will also be discussed. This comes shortly after his similar report to the General Assembly in which he recommended that the Council and its Committee of independent experts should assess such progress.


The session will also focus on the human rights of indigenous peoples with both the Special Rapporteur and the Expert Mechanism on indigenous peoples presenting their reports.


The United States announced that it is 'exploring the possibility' of a new resolution on freedom of assembly and association and stated its commitment to it being a broadly supported cross-regional initiative. Other resolutions to be negotiated include: the right to water with a focus on the role of the private sector; human rights of migrants; right to education with a focus on asylum seekers, migrants and refugees; guidelines on extreme poverty, leprosy; and protection of witnesses.


Many States again regretted that reports for the session are not yet available. The Council will discuss this further as it considers the report of the Secretary-General on how to improve conference and secretariat services for the Council (A/HRC/15/17).


The Council will also adopt the UPR outcomes on 16 States reviewed in May 2010.


Information for NGOs on how to participate in the session is available from OHCHR.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 December 2010 14:25
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