States attempt to undermine High Commissioner’s independence
Monday, 27 September 2010 11:39


At the current session of the Human Rights Council, Cuba is presenting a draft resolution on ‘strengthening dialogue, collaboration and coordination’ between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Council. Despite its seemingly positive title the resolution represents a serious risk to the independence of the High Commissioner and her Office.


The resolution requests the High Commissioner to formally present to the Council OHCHR’s ‘Human Rights Programme’, which is part of the UN Secretariat’s Strategic Framework and sets out the priorities and activities of the Office for a period of two years. It also requests her to ‘take into account’ the views of States and other relevant stakeholders before submitting the Human Rights Programme to the General Assembly.


During informal negotiations on the resolution, several States, including USA, Argentina, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and New Zealand expressed serious reservations about the initiative. However, Cuba has received support from States such as Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, the Philippines and Singapore. It has made several concessions and sought to amend the text, including by deleting the request to the High Commissioner to also present her Strategic Management Plan (SMP), an internal management tool, to the Council. Nevertheless the draft resolution remains very problematic as it far exceeds the Council’s authority in relation to OHCHR. The Council has no supervisory functions over OHCHR.


In a joint statement to the Council, the International Service for Human Rights highlighted several important concerns regarding the draft resolution.


Some States (Morocco, Brazil) have argued the relationship between OHCHR and the Council should be dealt with during the review of the Council. Through a Council resolution at the current session, Cuba may be seeking to pre-empt discussions that would best be held in another forum. The outcome of the review of the Council is expected to be consensual and this issue is highly divisive and one where agreement will be difficult to find. It remains to be seen whether Cuba will make further concessions which may diminish opposition to the draft resolution.


As the Council's 15th session enters its last week this draft resolution is only one among many controversial and sensitive issues States will try to find agreement on. Other controversial issues include a new Special Rapporteur on laws that discriminate against women, the future of the Independent Expert on the Sudan and a proposed new Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 September 2010 13:41
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