THE NORTH KOREAN CASE: WHY A COMMISSION OF INQUIRY WORKS Juliette de Rivero, Geneva Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch
When the UN established a Commission of Inquiry on North Korea in 2013, many were skeptical about the value of such an effort. The commission's methods quickly changed that. It held public hearings at which victims of the North Korean regime described their horrific experiences.
The international media started to follow the investigation and the shocking picture of a country committing atrocities that challenge the founding ideals of the United Nations started to emerge... more
The Council adopted 42 resolutions at its 25th session, including significant resolutions in relation to human rights defenders, peaceful protest, and accountability for gross human rights violations in North Korea, Sri Lanka and Syria. A full list of the resolutions and voting records are available here.
Username: hrc extranet
APPOINTMENTS of SPECIAL PROCEDURES POSTPONED The session should have seen the appointment of 19 special procedure mandate holders, including the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. The appointments were, however, postponed until April at the request of Peru.
Peru argued that the President had not justified the few instances in which he had chosen to select another candidate than the one recommended by the consultative group based on the interviews they had carried out; and that the final group of selected candidates did not adhere to requirements of gender or regional balance. Peru was specifically unhappy at a lower representation of experts from Latin America amongst the special procedures.
COUNCIL CALLS FOR HIGH COMMISSIONER TO INVESTIGATE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN SRI LANKA The Human Rights Council has approved an international investigation into alleged serious human rights violations and abuses in Sri Lanka, with the goal of ensuring accountability. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is requested to carry out the investigation.
Sri Lanka, along with Pakistan, China, Cuba, Venezuela and India, expressed their strong opposition to such an inquiry on the basis that it interferes with State sovereignty. However the Council stood firm, rejecting both a no-action motion proposed by Pakistan, and a specific proposal to remove the paragraph creating the investigation.
COUNCIL CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE CONTEXT OF PROTESTS The Human Rights Council voted in favour of an important resolution underlining the responsibilities of States in protecting the human rights of protesters and laying the grounds for greater guidance on how to put that protection into practice. The resolution calls upon States to promote safe environments for protests, recalling their responsibility to ensure that national legislation and practices comply with international human rights law... more
COUNCIL CALLS FOR SITUATION IN THE DPRK TO BE REFERRED TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL The Council has recommended that the General Assembly submit the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the Security Council for possible referral to the ‘appropriate international justice mechanism’.
Presenting the resolution, Japan noted that in many cases the violations committed amount to ‘crimes against humanity’, reiterating that now that the international community knows the truth, it cannot fail to act. The resolution was opposed by Cuba, Russia, Vietnam, Venezuela, Pakistan and China.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS CRUCIAL RESOLUTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a crucial resolution on the protection of human rights defenders. The resolution calls on States to protect human rights defenders from attacks and reprisals and ensure that national laws and policies support and enable their work. The resolution also renews the mandate of an independent international expert tasked with supporting and protecting human rights defenders… more
ISHR WELCOMES FIVE KEY DEVELOPMENTS AT THE COUNCIL'S 25TH SESSION
As the 25th session ended ISHR welcomed five key developments, including the resolutions on peaceful protests and human rights defenders and the steps towards accountability in Sri Lanka and the DPRK, but deplored the continuing incidents of reprisals against human rights defender, recalling the legal and moral obligation placed on the Council, its President, and member States to end reprisals, including by speaking out swiftly and publicly.
LEADING NGOS URGE STATES TO REJECT PROPOSALS FROM SOUTH AFRICA TO WEAKEN RESOLUTION ON PEACEFUL PROTEST
A letter calling on States to reject proposals being made by South Africa and a group of like-minded States that would undermine a Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests was sent to representatives of all UN member States in Geneva. The Council subsequently rejected the proposals. The letter was sent by a coalition of leading NGOs including ISHR… more