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Human Rights Council Monitor - 4-10 June 2013

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Council Monitor
4-10 June 2013
 

BREAKING

Joint statement delivered on behalf of 33 States on sexual orientation and gender identity

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Opinion

It’s time for principled leadership to combat senseless discrimination

ISHR Program Manager, Dr Heather Collister

A draconian bill passed by the Nigerian House of Representatives which, if enacted, would criminalise same-sex relationships, the ‘aiding or abetting’ of same-sex relationships, the formation of LGBT groups, and even advocacy against the bill itself is just the latest example of the discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity that is widespread and invidious throughout the world... more

 

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS


Statement on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (at 00:50.15)


Statement on violence against women and women human rights defenders (at 00:59.24)


 

 

ISHR ADVOCACY

ISHR CALLS ON COUNCIL TO ACT URGENTLY ON LGBT RIGHTS

ISHR has called on member States of the Human Rights Council to take action on LGBT rights before the issue falls off the Council’s agenda… more
 

ISHR CONCERNED ABOUT ATTACKS ON UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

Together with a coalition of 72 NGOs led by UPR Info, ISHR has called on the Human Rights Council to maintain the integrity of the Universal Periodic Review. At the last session of the UPR, Russia took the unprecedented step of lobbying (ultimately successfully) for certain recommendations made by States to be removed from the draft report on the basis that they were ‘not relevant’. This is deeply regrettable and incompatible with Resolution 5/1, which provides that the UPR report is a ‘summary of the proceedings’. The content should reflect the discussion held in the room and not be subjected to negotiations by countries (see also Presidential statement A/HRC/PRST/8/1 from 9 April 2008). The joint NGO statement calls on the Council President to issue a ruling that recommendations made by States during the UPR must not be removed, negotiated or censored by the State under review.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS AT THE COUNCIL

In Brief

HUMAN RIGHTS IN ERITREA AND BELARUS

The first interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteurs on Eritrea and Belarus saw both countries strongly dismiss the reports of the experts as ‘political’ and ‘biased’. The report on Eritrea highlighted serious concerns including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, and torture while the report on Belarus covers the continuing imprisonment of political opponents, human rights defenders on spurious criminal charges. In response, Belarus accused the Special Rapporteur of fulfilling a political mandate pushed by the European Union. It dismissed criticism of its failure to cooperate with the special rapporteur noting that it had participated in the UPR and describing this as the only viable procedure to evaluate the human rights situation in countries. Neither country has granted access to the special rapporteur to visit its territory. Eritrea faced strong criticism from Ethiopia in particular for its failure to cooperate in this respect.

COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON SYRIA HOLDS LATEST DIALOGUE WITH THE COUNCIL

Following the urgent debate that was held at the start of the 23rd session of the Council, the Commission of Inquiry on the situation of human rights in Syria participated in an interactive dialogue with States and civil society last Tuesday. It was made clear by a number of speakers that gross violations of human rights are being committed by all parties of the conflict, both the government as well as the opposition forces. Calls for referral to the International Criminal Court were reiterated and made by the following States: Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Estonia, France, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Portugal and the EU.

NO ACTION FROM THE COUNCIL ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY

While expectations were high prior to the session that, two years after the initial and groundbreaking resolution adopted by the Council on sexual orientation and gender identity, this session would see a follow-up resolution, ultimately there will be no action from the Council. At a side event organised to screen a video of the outcomes of the regional meetings that had been held in the run-up to the session, South Africa spoke to set out its own plans for the future, which include a regional meeting in Africa, as well as a high-level event in Geneva. It remains unclear when these events will take place and how they fit into a plan to ensure that the Council does ultimately take action. More clarity from South Africa on its roadmap for this issue, and how it envisages the Council fitting into that plan, would be welcome.

In Depth

FOCUS ON WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS

The Council has held a series of discussions on women’s rights over the course of the past week, covering women’s participation in politics and violence against women… more

SIDE EVENTS

Women in Conflict – a close look at Syria: 11 June, 14:00, room 21

Gold – you can do more than you think (film screening): 11 June, 18:00, room 21

Wrap up of the Human Rights Council: 12 June, 13:00, room 25


All events take place in the Palais des Nations, Geneva

 

Next on the agenda

PANEL ON DEMOCRACY AND RULE OF LAW

This panel on 11 June will looks at efforts in States to secure democracy and the rule of law, particularly relevant to States in transition. It will examine the common challenges facing States in both established and transitioning democracies from a human rights perspective. Panelists will discuss how the international community can best engage the State to support the process of securing and maintaining democratic societies. The aim of the panel is to provide a basis for formulating recommendations for the Council’s consideration, including on how the international community could develop a strategic framework to support nascent democracies.


SITUATION IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES BEFORE THE COUNCIL

The Council will open its final week with a discussion on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The Special Rapporteur on the OPT, Mr Richard Falk, will report on the general human rights situation in the Gaza Strip, and the expansion of Israeli settlements. Amongst other recommendations the Special Rapporteur calls for the international community to establish a commission of inquiry into the situation of Palestinians detained or imprisoned by Israel, and to investigate the activities of businesses that profit from Israel’s settlements. Mr Falk also refers to attacks from UN Watch (a civil society organisation) on his work and position as mandate holder. Mr Falk recommends that OHCHR establish a mechanism to support special procedures who are subject to defamatory attacks.


COUNCIL TO ADOPT RESOLUTIONS

The Council’s final week will see the adoption of resolutions on thematic and country situations. Resolutions were tabled this week and the full list can be accessed here (username: hrc extranet; password: 1session). The Council will consider several resolutions on women’s rights. 
 

Violence against women (presented by Canada)

It is hoped that in the resolution on violence against women, due to be considered by the Human Rights Council next week, violence against women defenders in both public and private spheres will be condemned. By participating in political and public life, women defenders challenge traditional social roles ascribed to women. They can experience sexual violence at the hands of community and family members. The resolution should acknowledge and seek to protect women defenders from such violence wherever it occurs and whoever the perpetrator.


Elimination of discrimination against women (presented by Colombia and Mexico)

Renewing the mandate of the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice, this text recognises the critical role of women’s independent civil society organisations in promoting equality and eliminating violence against women, including against women human rights defenders.


The role of freedom of opinion and expression in women’s empowerment (presented by the US)

This resolution calls upon States to ensure women’s freedom of expression and opinion both online and offline, and invites the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression to include in his reports an analysis of how freedom of expression can improve women’s participation in public life and the challenges women face in exercising their freedom of expression. 


Situation of human rights in Eritrea (presented by Djibouti, Somalia, and Nigeria)

This draft, presented by Eritrea’s neighbour Djibouti, renews the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, and calls for Eritrea to cooperate fully, in particular by permitting the Special Rapporteur to visit and to access the information she needs. It strongly condemns the widespread and systematic violations of human rights in Eritrea.


Situation of human rights in Belarus (presented by Ireland on behalf of the EU)

With a draft text that focuses on the need for legal and judicial reform, this resolution would renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and calls for Belarus to allow him to enter the country to carry out his work.

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