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Council alert: A look ahead to the Council's 24th session
Friday, 30 August 2013 17:27

 

(Geneva, 30 August 2013)

Protecting human rights defenders and supporting civil society

At its September session the Human Rights Council (the Council) has an unprecedented opportunity to prove its resolve to end reprisals and intimidation against human rights defenders who leverage the international human rights system to achieve domestic human rights change. A draft resolution to be presented by Hungary would enable the Council to ‘go beyond reporting’, as the UN Secretary-General has demanded repeatedly, and take steps towards protection of human rights defenders, who enable the UN to deliver relevant solutions to the world’s problems by providing it with first-hand information from the ground. The resolution is expected to be adopted at the end of September and will be negotiated among State representatives over the course of the three week session in Geneva. 

 

Other key debates and opportunities for human rights defenders include a new initiative by Ireland, which intends to affirm the international communities' support for and protection to the crucial role of civil society in catalysing human rights change around the world, exposing human rights violations and demanding accountability. Alongside this Austria will present a draft decision on the safety of journalists, and plans to lead a joint statement on this issue, while the Czech Republic will lead negotiations on a text on political participation. In September the Council is also expected to renew the mandate of its expert on freedom of assembly and association, of its expert group on arbitrary detention and the expert on access to safe drinking water and sanitation among others. A full list of announced resolutions is found below. 

 

The annual discussion on gender integration has a civil society focus this year, examining the contribution of civil society to the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Council, the special procedures and the Universal Periodic Review.

 

LGBT rights

Following on from South Africa’s decision not to present a text on sexual orientation and gender identity at the June session of the Council, it remains to be seen whether a text will be presented at this session. Brazil, one of the cosponsors of the fist resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity, will hold a side event (on 13 September from 1 – 3pm) on combatting violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, with the purpose of identifying national initiatives against violence, good practices, and areas for international cooperation.

 

Country situations

On country situations, the Council will hear the initial oral update of its Commission of Inquiry into the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which is mandated to investigate the systematic, widespread, and grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. To counteract its lack of access to the country, the Commission has developed innovative working methods by holding public hearings in Seoul and Tokyo with witnesses who have managed to leave the country.

 

Another example of innovative working methods is the standalone high-level interactive dialogue that will be held on Somalia at this session. Those participating include the High Commissioner for Human Rights, a high-level representative from the Federal Government of Somalia, and the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia. This high level debate provides a novel way of ensuring attention to the situation in the country, and it is to be hoped that the Council will build on the Security Council’s recent resolution on the country, which contained a significantly improved human rights component. At the same time a resolution renewing the mandate of the Independent Expert will be presented.

 

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Sudan is due for renewal at this session. Following from last year’s resolution in which the Council failed to condemn the human rights violations in the country, there is a need for a strong text condemning ongoing restrictions to freedom of expression and assembly, the harassment of journalists, arbitrary detentions and the use of torture and ill-treatment.

 

Given the recently escalating situation in Egypt, the expectations by human rights defenders that the situation in the country will be addressed at this session are high. Similarly, although somewhat forgotten, human rights defenders from Bahrain still struggle to elicit a response from the Council that supports their pursuit of accountability. A follow-up resolution on Yemen will be negotiated at this session, led by the Netherlands, in close consultation with Yemen. It is hoped that this resolution will push for more tangible progress in investigating past abuses.

 

The Commission of Inquiry on Syria will also present its latest report to the session. In other country developments, the High Commissioner will update the Council on the findings from her just-concluded visit to Sri Lanka. This is an opportunity to ensure that attention continues to be given to the situation in the country.

 

Further information

  • Latest programme of work for the Council’s 24th session (subject to change)
  • Webpage for the Council’s 24th session
  • Reports to be presented to the 24th session

 

Resolutions to be presented to the Council’s 24th session (as announced at the organisational meeting on 29 August)

Spain, Germany - Human right to drinking water and sanitation – renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur

RoK - Local government and human rights

Hungary - Reprisals against those who cooperate with UN mechanisms

Thailand - Enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity building; Rights of persons with disabilities

Sierra Leone - Child, early and forced marriage 

Belgium - Regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights 

Ecuador - Impact of transferring weapons on human rights of persons living in countries of armed conflict

Austria - Human rights in the administration of justice; Safety of journalists

Iran (NAM) - Right to development; Human rights and unilateral coercive measures

USA - Rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association –renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur

Russia - Promotion of human rights through sports and Olympic ideals

UK - Contemporary forms of slavery – renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur

France - Arbitrary detention – renewing the mandate of the Working Group

Cuba - Use of mercenaries – renewing the mandate of the Working Group; Promotion of an international democratic equitable order; Social Forum – taking account of the holding of the pervious forum and requesting the holding of the next forum in 2014

Slovenia - World programme for human rights education

Ireland - Civil society space; Preventable mortality and morbidity of children under five

Netherlands - Yemen

Brazil - Extension of mandate of Special Rapporteur on right to health

Ukraine - Role of prevention in promotion and protection of human rights

Guatemala - Human rights and indigenous peoples (omnibus text); Human rights and indigenous peoples – renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur

Costa Rica - Conscientious objection to military service

Czech Republic - Equal political participation

 

Contact: Michael Ineichen, ISHR Program Manager and Human Rights Council Advocacy Director, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , +41 22 919 7100

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 September 2013 15:24
 

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