Tuesday, June 23, 2009
H.E Mr. Liuz Inacio Lula de Silva : Brazil invests in a south- south cooperation to enhance human rights, in areas such as the access to food, to medicines, peacekeeping attempts through the promotion of economic development which enhances social cohesion and inclusion. Also makes an appeal to peace in the Middle East. Highlights the advancement of Brazils society in terms of the lessening inequalities, exemplified by a growing middle class etc. Hopes that the future global economy will focus on production not speculation and states that Brazil is an open country that has solidarity wit migrant workers and their families.
In terms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance, the Durban review conference must be a guiding principle.
To guarantee and promote peace is the raison d’etre of the HR. Democracy and diversity are essential to this.
World global economic crisis, its causes and effects, and what is occurring is that instead of the poor countries complaining about the crisis, there is discussion between all countries.
Brazil has legalised thousands of migrants who until now have been illegal. Those responsible for the crisis were those that knew how to teach and interfere in the poor states of Latin American and Africa. These no longer know how to analyse the crisis.
There needs to be a fairer distribution of wealth.
Mr. Uhomoibhi: Responds that Brazils attempts to respects human rights is exemplary, and crosses borders.
11th Session Agenda Item 7
President’s Uhomoibhi statement on the Fact Finding Mission
Progress in the mission authorised by the 9th special session of January 2009. justice Richard Goldstone etc to examine the claim of crimes in Gaza. First meeting held in Geneva from 4-8th may, including abroad range of stakeholders, and established terms of reference. From 1 to 5june first field visit was held. Team was denied access through Israel, so instead came through Egypt at Rafa crossing point.
Plans to hold public hearings in Geneva. The mission hopes to visit other areas but has not had cooperation from Israel
High commissioner, Ms. N. Pillay
Res S-9/1 was established to authorise the fact finding mission.
Human rights situation in OPT has deteriorated further since January, especially due to restrictions on imports and exports. Citizens of Gaza rights continue to be severely undermined freedom of movement, food, adequate housing, highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and education
As a result, poverty is increasing.
Need to combat impunity; therefore any claims of attacks on civilians etc must be investigated.
Need to uphold rights of victims.
Unimpeded access should be given to the fact finding mission.
Palestine: The violations must be accounted for, and therefore it is very important to facilitate the fact finding missions. Israel continues to deny its compliance to international legality. It needs to respect its legal responsibility to international humanitarian law, and the fourth Geneva Convention.
Egypt (African Group)
The African group would appreciate a clarification of the concrete efforts made by the Council
Asks High Commissioner what has been done to ensure Israel’s cooperation with the Mission
Latest targeting of Palestine must be accounted for and Report disseminated to General Assembly, which was issued but not given for consideration of GA.
UAE (Arab Group)
The Arab groups looks forward to the second steps of the Mission, where actual meetings take place with those in Gaza
General hearings need to be held concerning the general attacks on OPT
Calls on international organisation to call upon Israel to assume its responsibilities under international law and human rights in particular the fourth Geneva Convention
Look forward to a full report of all Israeli violations, and positive results for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people with its capital in Jerusalem
Czech Republic (EU)
The EU deplores the loss of life that occurred in the OPT
It supports the emphasis on the immediate easing on the restrictions placed on the Palestinian territories
It confirms its arrogance by defying the international community and the UN
The independent fact finding mission was able to establish initial contacts with those within OPT, as well as to physically witness the damage done to people and infrastructure
Hopes that the mission will be able carry out second steps: public hearings in Gaza and meeting public officials in Gaza
the mandate of submitting public reports must be carried out regularily to council sessions
There has not been much change in Gaza and none of the recommendations made have been carried out by Israel.
The blockade by Israel have significantly contributed to deterioration of Gaza strip
No effective accountability processes have been established.
Convening of 9th special session and NAM condemned the air strikes and ground offense by Israel.
There are indications that war crimes and crimes against humanity may have taken place and therefore this needs to be accounted for under international law
There is no military conclusion only a peaceful solution will be feasible, with 1967 borders and Jerusalem as its capital
Hoping to witness a more effective action on behalf of the UN, the targeting of UN facilities in OPT. the report has not been submitted to the GA,
The Security Council has not discussed it as though it has anything to do with peace and security.
The most horrendous fact made available within the Report; the report asserts that there have been nine premeditated and violent attacks, for example of schools.
There has not been comment on the position taken by Israel and it is the right of council to question this position.
There is continuing deterioration of OPT, the loss of life is tragic, but when it is avoidable it becomes a moral issue.
Deeply deplores the loss of life in Gaza
Highlights that the Israeli embargo remains in place which only allows a minimum of goods and movement
Israel must open the borders to Gaza and evidently brings Israel less and not more security.
Settlement activity in the OPT continues and have evolved into a coherent structure strangling the Palestinian economy
The economy of Palestinian is failing, and economic growth must be fostered through the lifting of restrictions. Economic progress is an essential part of bringing this conflict to an end.
The refusal of Israelis to allow the fact finding mission into Gaza resulted in the mission being able to witness first hand the area and problems.
the Gazans are still under siege and the right to life, nutrition amongst others are denied
The responsibility falls squarely on the occupying force not on the Palestinians.
Laws established by the international community should not be forgotten, especially by this Council. The right of persons to freedom, life and an independent country must be ensured.
There should be an attempt to apply these laws so as to ensure peace
The Organisation Islamic Conference
The persons most concerned be met by the mission in order to have a more exhaustative investigation.
The appeal launched by the international community has made it possible to send medicines to Gaza, and humanitarian assistance to the area.
Victims of conflict have a right to justice and reparation and the perpetrators on both sides must be held accountable. Justice goldstone has clearly committed to investigation violations by all parties to the conflict.
Israel has not facilitated the fact finding mission so far but its not too late
International Commission of Jurists
The previous internal investigations found that Israel was not guilty of discriminate attacks and violence which resulted in the loss of life and significant destruction of infrastructure, which was reported to the ICJ.
These claims must be examined and redress for civilian casualties must be granted.
The UN Security Council is still to ensure accountability.
Ms. Kyung-wha Kang Deputy High commissioner of Human Rights,: resolution 10/4 acknowledging that climate change has both direct and indirect effects on the world.
-‘Climate injustice’- vulnerable countries in developing world, with an unequal burden falling on those that are least able to carry its weight.- The human rights framework brings clearly into focus the adverse effects on individuals and communities.
- Those that are already disadvantaged are often the worst affected by climate change
-climate change is intrinsically related to poverty, discrimination, and inequalities
- Human rights perspective underlines the importance of empowerment, such as access to education, ensuring participation etc.
- Most acutely felt by the most vulnerable segments of world population
- Final wording of outcome in Copenhagen do not take away from state responsibilities.
Mr. Feng Gao, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat
Recognition of the human suffering that climate change can have should motivate all to act.
Five key building blocks: - shared vision of long term efforts, a long term global goal
-an enhanced agreement for adaptation for all states
-agreement on emission reduction targets for developed countries
-an agreement for mitigating ….
-an agreement finance, tech, capacity building that will enable these actions
National adaption planning, streamlining technological and financial support, enhancing knowledge sharing and institutional arrangements for knowledge sharing. These will enhance the efforts made in especially in developing countries.
There needs to be a strengthening of sustainable development which should ultimately lead to greater human prosperity.
Dr. Atiq Rahman, Executive Director Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies
Human poverty and security and basic human rights must be observed. Climate change may displace a large number of people which will result in a larger number of climate refugees. Millions will disperse and rights to food water and development will be violated. Climate changes such as rising sea levels etc
there are a large number of rights that have been violated by climate change .
Mr. Dalindyebo Shabalala, managing attorney, Geneva office of the centre for international environmental law
There needs to be the establishment of a lowest threshold below which standards cannot fall.
In terms of mitigation, it is necessary to question the relations between states and between elites in states and their people.
Instrumental role of human rights which requires one to distinguish those that are below or above the threshold and thus makes it possible to determine the least privileged and most privileged.
Ms. Raquel Rolnick Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living
Highlights the fact that poverty, location, more exposure to climate change related events are the most extreme nexus they have ever been.
Mr. John Knox, Professor Wake University,
-climate change is highly complex and arises from many sources, and its causes difficult to untangle from other causes.
-the state has a responsibility to address all human rights related environmental
Maldives ( SIDS +14)
Interrelationship between climate change and human rights is highly important. Small island developing states are especially vulnerable, and inadequacies of new and additional funding etc will make it increasingly difficult fo these states to ensure the fundamental human rights of their populations.
-International cooperation to address climate change, which is vital, there is a clear extraterritorial agreement which limits countries from acting in ways that harms the human rights of other countries.
-imperative that there needs to be a historic responsibility and a ‘polluter pays’ policy
-Report did not take into account the concepts of historic and shared responsibilities.
-20% of the worlds population is responsible for over 80% of the worlds emissions, the poor suffer most from this.
-Hopes that Copenhagen will result in cuts in emissions.
-there are serious threats to India from rising sea levels
-the best and most appropriate way to deal with climate change is to take an integrated approach based on principles of equity and shared responsibilities
-targets assumed under Kyoto have not been implemented which is of great concern, progress achieved so far has not been satisfactory
-There is not sufficient focus on those segments in developed society which are culpable for significant amount of emissions.
-calls for a reduction of trade barriers to technology transfers from developed to developing countries
-certain countries have imposed climate change upon developing countries
-There needs to be respective responsibilities which cannot be attributed to state parties alone,
-Raises the development of its project of Mustar city which will be carbon free and will take a population of 40 0000 and include 1500 companies.
-Is making various attempts to offset carbon such as Zaid Prize
-its own enviroment seriously threatened by emissions and aggravates its impact on vulnerable communities.
- also reiterates the points made concerning the effect of climate change on the worlds most vulnerable.
Switzerland: the changes and dialogue is the only way in which to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The adoption of the resolution 10/4 highlights Switzerland’s efforts.
Climate change is essential to have on the agenda of the HRC
Recalls that in 1992 the Kyoto was finalised a legal instrument. For island states climate change has had severe implications. For other countries heat-waves have affected them, the existence of the populations are seriously under threat.
-Unsustainable amount of production and consumption in developed countries is the main cause of climate change. Growth and development of the south are affected highly.
-UNSCC is the most appropriate forum for dealing with climate change. The right to life is directly threatened and therefore it is the respnsiblity of states to protect their populations from adverse climate changes.
-The council must send s strong message that climate change is already undermining the human rights of millions of people
-State parties have an extraterritorial responsibility.
-In long term the Council should consider the globalised and interdependent world and the need to develop legal instruments that concur with this emerging reality.
Mr. M. FALEH S. HYASSAT
First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Jordan to the UN Office at Geneva
With regards to the issue of discrimination against women and honour crimes there has been an amendment of its penal code to strengthen the minimum sanctions on this crime to see whether it is possible to cancel the death penalty.
NGOS work through special units to provide guidance and counselling services to families to further the status of women.
The government has established special units for the protection of women and families, and to enhance gender equality between men and women.
The Jordanian Government has amended the penal code to make it compatible with the Convention against torture, sanctioning any employee that tries to extract confessions. It has issued guidebooks and provided training to register and monitor acts of torture.
A Code of Conduct is being drawn up to be followed by government officials.
Rehabilitation programs are being established, and it assures that that all detainees are treated well and their rights respected, and those that are not a threat to society are released when possible.
Jordan also provides the example of its Crime prevention act, a law which is applied to three categories of people depending on what level of danger they are to society.
With regards to the recommendation on religion there are no state sanctions on those that change their religion, and Jordan asserts that any problems regarding this stem from the culture of the society.
Recommendation 14 on establishment on independent electoral commission is being reviewed by the government.
Finally, the recommendation applicable to crimes of terrorism is supported by a law on terrorism. It states that such crimes are the outcome of the financing of terrorist groups.
United Arab Emirates commends Jordans efforts to implement national policies such as the promotion of the rights of the Child, and also pay tribute to Jordans efforts with social, economic and cultural rights and its efforts to guarantee its promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms.
Algeria states that it expresses gratitude and welcome to delegation of Jordan which has favourably responded to UPR recommendations. It commends Jordan’s attempts to promote the rights of peoples with disabilities and calls upon Jordan to share its best practices regarding this. Fruitful cooperation with international human rights mechanism has taken place and it should take advantage of international assistance where possible.
Qatar hopes that the recommendations will further improve the human rights judicial guarantees that are incorporate din the countries legal arsenal to ensure international human rights standards. Qatar commends it for its efforts to realise its human rights in a difficult economic environment.
Bahrain also values Jordanian efforts with regards to the rights of the child, and its dissemination of its human rights agenda.
Saudi Arabia commends Jordans efforts concerning the right to education.
China states that Jordan has established a relatively developed framework of human rights, and that as a result poverty has decreased and health care is better developed.
Palestine also commends its efforts with regards to the rights of child and women.
Morocco acknowledges Jordan’s efforts in accepting recommendations made by Morocco to use UPR process to take up challenges to adopt covenants and integrate them into national laws.
Indonesia also commends its national strategy plan to protect people with disabilities etc.
HRW: Raises points relating to instances of torture and violent threats in Jordan and calls for the appropriate measure to be taken with regards to this.
Cairo institute for human rights studies: Asserts that the perpetrators of honour crimes, must be brought to justice and therefore the penal code must be amended.
It also suggests that Jordan revise its law on societies to enhance freedom of association
Egypt ( African Group) highlights the attempt to divert attention from some areas to others within the UPR. Delay in translation of many reports.
Czech Republic (EU) Also highlights need to translate all documents. It commends civil society and raises concerns that with regards to civil society the list of speakers was manipulated, and stresses that and time management must not have an adverse effect on NGOS.
Bahrain is attempting to shift from a rentier economy to a trade economy, Vision 23 30, and in doing so has engaged in the assistance to the population in establishing various trade related
Brazil states that the UPR process has been extremely important in the human rights agenda. It stresses that the correct implementation of the UPR procedures has been problematic especially with regards to NGO involvement. (alluding to the inability of some NGOS to speak due to time constraints)
Russian Federation states that the previously mentioned shortcomings (regarding list of speakers and NGO participation) are only technical and do not need the urgent attention of the Council. This civil society issue is not of great concern. What is of great concern is the lack of adequately translated documents on the working group of the UPR. Also important to stick to rules of procedure, with regards to decision to reflect and accept reports which were not spoken on the meeting floor, therefore these reports should not have been accepted.
Cuba also raises the manipulation of the UPR process, especially with regards to the Geneva based NGOs, to the detriment of national NGOS. Basically it asserts that national NGOs are in the best position to provide insight to the issues raised.
Germany aligns itself with EU statement. It proposes the question of what the aim of the UPR is in contrast to the aim of other treaty bodies and special procedures. The UPR should be used to obtain an overview of each country and its human rights standards. It should be descriptive not prescriptive.
UK also highlights the above remarks concerning the translation of all documents. It also emphasises that it is in the process of implementing all recommendations put to it.
Switzerland asks for the distribution of time to be better respected in the future. It is not in the responsibilities if states to decide what is an informed opinion and what is not with regards to NGOS. Its recommendations have been in the process of being implemented. For example it has made attempts to include civil society, and has made equality of genders a primary issue, as well as having ratified the protocol on torture.
Pakistan (OHC) attaches great importance to UPR, stating that there is a need to maintain its universal character. It asserts that when recommendations are made there is a tendency to align laws with regional organizations. Pakistan thinks this is counterproductive.
It also raises the need to address the issue of translation.
The issue of list of speakers is of great concern, and it shows the interests which clash with the given time limits. There is therefore a necessity to find a transparent and universal solution to this issue.
The new phenomenon of ‘exceptions’ needs to be addressed as well, all these practices need to considered to make the system universal and fair.
China is of the view that the mechanism of the UPR has been operating smoothly, and that it must remain apolitical in all instances.
Australia also states that the role of civil society has an important place in the UPR process.
United Arab Emirates raises the implementation of legislation that ensures the human rights of migrants to the country. A large number of personnel have been trained to deal with such human rights issues by the ILO.
Chad deplores the way in which the list of speakers is manipulated. One of the documents in the UPR states that the signing of the speakers begins 15 minutes before the meeting.
Armenia also disagrees with the previous point and states that it undermines the universality of the process.
Arab Commission for Human Rights also advises that the Report of the UPR should not be adopted unless all speakers have provided their statements.
International service for human rights
This organisation is worried about lack of respect and implementation of the institute building texts. New contraventions of this text, with regards to the list of speakers and the time allotted to NGOs which deviates from standard practice.
A balance must be struck between the state under review and the input of all stakeholders. This NGO asserts that there has been an attempt to manipulate the NGO speaking processes. In addition, poor time management has resulted in the some of the NGOs did not have the chance to speak.
Secretariat responds to the issues raised concerning procedure regarding NGO participation, and states that when queues developed the Secretariat took note of who arrived first.
Right of Reply:
Sri Lanka states that the UN Watch intervention denigrates the UPR process. Urges need to incorporate accountability and transparency with regards to NGO participation, as to where they receive their funding, who they support etc.
· raises the point of the manipulation of the NGO process, this is an issue of transparency with reference to Tuesday June 9th when many NGOs were unable register to speak due to other groups having gained access to the building in advance.
Secretariat states that this was only preregistration, and that while the system is creating difficulties and has explained this in note verbals. List of speakers for NGOs: occurrences of Tuesday 9th June were unusual and coordination was amiss, meaning that NGO delegates could enter UN.
President’s personal view is that statements that were missed will be integrated into the report of the meeting. NGOs were only given ten minutes rather than twenty minutes, therefore their reports will be included today due to time constraints yesterday.
· Accepts and sympathises with Presidents statement however highlights that this can create a precedent. UPR process is full of exceptions.
· There is a procedural problem because the country cannot reply to the statement of the NGOs concerned.
· Fully supports the Presidents statement with including the NGO statements in the report.
· Government takes civil society actors as key to the success of the UPR and therefore the three NGOs statement which were missed due to time constraints should be added to the report today.
Consideration of the UPR outcome on Bangladesh
Bangladesh Mr. Mustafizur Rahman
· With references to the deficits that delegates mentioned, and recommendations made some have already been implemented, whilst others are more difficult to do so. Human rights challenges that Bangladesh faces are due to poverty, therefore the eradication of poverty will result in the respect of human rights. This can be done through government programs such as micro-credits.
· The country in question is doing its utmost to respect human rights principles. They appreciate the information on the first steps taken to uphold the recommendations taken.
· Government of Bangladesh is clearly committed to the implementation of strategies to reduce poverty
· Take a positive view of programs to deal with impoverished groups especially with women. It is genuinely involved in the promotion of human rights in accordance with the UPR processes
Also states that the countries compliance with recommendations is commendable, especially with reference to education
Bangladesh has accepted most of the recommendations made, and has reaffirmed the governments will to protect and enhance human rights. The government is able to show positive results and is protecting the rights of women and the right to education.
Human rights: it is shown by the programs to combat hunger and poverty, and food housing, education and health care. It urges the government to continue its efforts and reiterates its solidarity with the governments and people.
Also reiterates support for Bangladesh especially with reference to women and education as well as hunger.
Also reiterates the fruitfulness of its dialogue with member states regarding the implementations it has accepted.
Also commends the efforts of Bangladesh in combating poverty, and its attempts as enhancing economic standards and achieving the MDGs
Empowering women who can contribute positively to the development of the country
Calls on international community to assist Bangladesh’s approach to dealing with poverty
Also commends its attempts to adhere to the international standards concerning the death penalty
Countries attempts require the international communities assistance in achieving the levels of development and respect for human rights that its states in its report
Also commends the government’s attempts to fulfil recommendations especially with reference to the protection of the rights of the child. In addition also commends the attempts of Bangladesh with regards to disabled persons.
Notes progress made in the field of educations especially with regards to women, and the protection of women and the girl chid.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
Welcomes recent decision to establish war tribunals and raises the case of extrajudicial killings which continue, amongst other issues. Also has not seen much progress with regards to war crimes, torture etc, as well as reparations to the families of those concerned
Draws attention to the need for special training for law community, would like to include transgender community. Special gender and minority cell, within a safety net packages. Particular vulnerabilities of these communities, and the inclusion of these in the decision making processes.
International human rights association of American minorities
Corruption still prevalent as well as inequalities regarding men and women. Child labour is still commonplace etc.
UPR is an intergovernmental process but civil society does have an impact, with regard to national NGOs. Council should facilitate the consideration of mainstream national NGOs.
It acknowledges that there is room for improvement, but government is making sincere attempts to achieve realistic levels of human rights.
There is an educative and institutional framework to deal with human rights violations.
UPR on Bangladesh. Adopted
Consideration on the outcome of the UPR of Russian Federation
H.E. Mr. Gregory Matyushkin , Deputy Prime minister of the Russian Federation:
Government is able to fully implement and approve 70 percent of the recommendations and can express partial agreement of the remaining recommendations. For example within the context of the global crisis, the Russian Federation will strive to increase the level of the social security.
It intends to in a gradual way extend its obligations. For example hope to ratify legislation on the rights of disabled children- integrated or inclusive education system.
Russia continues to accept and host the special procedures of the UN.
Level of congestion of prisons need to be alleviated to achieve international standards concerning custody and health access for prisoners. Also focusing on human rights defenders and journalists.
Will continue to focus on equalities for state parties etc.
Commends Russia in its attempts to adhere to recommendations. Focuses on the successful attempts concerning immunisation campaigns.
Also focuses on detainees and the rights of disabled children.
Also commends social security etc.
Indian Council of South America
Calls on Russian federation to improve the position of indigenous peoples, and on the declaration rights of indigenous people
It is possible to see a recent increase in violence and an increase in xenophobia and neo-Nazi sentiment as well as the targeting of Jews, African, minorities , the Roma, Chechnya etc. calls on Russia to respect the human rights of these groups in accordance with international standards and commitments.
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Highlights the violations of the rights of those in the lesbian, gay and transgender communities. Hate crimes: discrimination on those of these communities must be vigorously prosecuted.
Highlights the issues of Chechnya, and granting of access to special Rapporteur on torture and ten special procedures are pending. Russia should honour these requests.
International work group for international affairs
Minorities from Siberian north of Russia: CERT committee urges Russia to implement plans which would result in the displacement of thousands from the area.
International commission of jurists
Provision for effective investigation and redress for violations of human rights. Serious concern is the harassment of lawyers and journalists. Regular threats to applicants to the European Court of Human Rights.
Mr. Gregory Matyushkin
Concerning the abolishment of the death penalty will depend on the prevailing view of it within the society. De facto since 1996 they have stopped executing the death penalty and in 1999 all those previously sentenced to death were imprisoned for life instead.
Ratifying the UN convention on the rights of migrant workers requires in depth study to see whether it is possible in light of the Russian legal system.
Consideration on the outcome of the UPR of Cameroon
S.E. M. Joseph Dion NGUTE :
Wishes to reaffirm his countries commitment to interests of human rights through the implementation of the new roadmap. Accepted forty recommendations and rejected four and continue examination of two others. In total of forty one recommendations received Aids, deportation, and optional protocol on torture.
Decriminalisation of homosexuality; criminalisation of sexuality is not contrary to the UNDHR or international covenant on civil and political rights. It is not denied to enjoy rights or benefits due to sexual orientation. It is against the understanding of morality of Cameroon, and it is acceptable to curtail rights that go against the morality of a state and its society. The government does ensure that the rights of all citizens are protected.
Elections: democratic process is made more fair and transparent through Elecam.
Cameroons commitment to human rights is evident in the optional protocols in the rights of the child to protect children from violence or trafficking.
Also evident in the rights of migrant workers
To continue its efforts in places of detention also highlights this willingness to promote and protect human rights. Reiterates its comment to the international community to provide technical assistance
Cameroon has provided a candid account of its human rights challenges.
With regards to the reform of the criminal code, all assistance must be given to it both financial and human resources to aid Cameroon in this task to guarantee the best possible outcome.
Commend its neighbour on its efforts on the adoption of the Report, and its recommendations such as investments in prison infrastructure and the assertion of the human rights of its people.
Supports the recommendation to ensure Elecams independence, and independence of the press.
International covenant on civil and political rights, abolishment of the imprisonment of journalists
Land rights of pygmy communities
Repressive issues concerning HIV victims; criminalisation of homosexuality results in discrimination of individuals.
Still many problems concerning the rights of the child, recommendations concerning this issue touch upon trafficking, child labour, rape and handicap amongst others. The recommendations made under the UPR offer the opportunity to assess the programs already in place.
With regards to education there is still a gender gap and a lack of resources for educational purposes. Adoption of the protocol on disabled persons should be adopted.
International federation of ACAT
There is a necessity to eradicate corruption for example in the prison system. Cases of torture are also raised, these must be addressed.
Country is in a process of reform within the areas mentioned particularly in terms of the judiciary. Confident that it shall meet its obligations and policy ends, promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of its developmental process.
Consideration of the UPR outcomes of Cuba
H.E. Mr. Juan Antonio Fernandez Palacios, Permanent Ambassador of Cuba to the UN office in Geneva
Cuba in its national capacity and as president of the non-aligned movement, undertook UPR to interact open and transparently with all states and confirm the usefulness of the process. Results of the UPR are a victory for the Cuban people. In the context of the UPR there was a clear reaffirmation in condemning the blockade by the USA on Cuba which is a serious obstacle for the full achievement of human rights. The resistance of the people and efforts of the government were recognized. Objected to a few recommendations due to incompatibility with the right to self determination and some showed an inexplicable lack of knowledge of Cuban reality. In the midst of the difficult situation in Cuba due to the blockade and the global crisis it continues the development into a just and equal society.
It has continued strengthening of health access, education, women’s rights, literacy programs, and children’s rights, thus continuing to work in accordance with human rights.
Cuba is still constrained by the blockade which has afflicted the national priorities, but it does cooperate with NGOS as well as claims made by people with regards to human rights.
Addressed the lack of administrative issues such as translation of all documents into various languages
Has made some recommendations concerning health services.
Cuba continues to uphold principles of impartiality etc.
The UPR has made it possible to highlight Cuba’s efforts, and supports it in promoting and protecting human rights on its territory despite of the many difficulties. Proof of this is the success of the UPR.
Commend the human and social development of the Cuban government and its role in NAM.
Also commends Cuba for its efforts at ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights.
Despite the constraints that it is under, Cuban doctors and individuals are instrumental in health issues across the world.
Reiterates that the blockade must be brought to an end and that this is the primary obstacle the full enjoyment of human rights.
Cuban achievement in the area of ensuring gender equality and the rights of women and children, religious rights and social and economic rights is commendable.
It should be stressed that the sanctions against Cuba continue constrain it. It has played an important role as president of NAM, which has made useful interventions within the Council.
Cuba has responded positively to the many recommendations made by states including Belarus. Its approach is an indicator of its wish to protect and promote human rights.
Also highlights the conditions that Cuba is affected by as a result of the US sanctions. Its contribution is not limited to collective rights.
Also refers to foreign embargo lasting over forty years etc. it has made important contributions to the international human rights cause.
Cuban assistance to Africa in terms of health shows its solidarity and commitment to international cooperation. Best illustrated by huge number of recommendations accepted by Cuba during the process.
UPR on CUBA – NGOs
World Federation of Trade Unions
Congratulates the government of Cuba for succeeding in providing a considerable level of social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights. It highlights that Cuba has also been instrumental in positively affecting other areas of the world.
There are hundreds of prisoners of political conscience in Cuba and there is no care for them within the prisoners and suffer from severe illness once they are incarcerated.
Public freedoms are not recognized in Cuba, highlights 21 deaths in Cuban prisons for example. There has been suppression and torture of Cubans amongst other constraints upon the freedom of expression.
Human Rights Watch
Concern with UPR with regards to the independence of judges which are under the power of the National Assembly. High number of political prisoners in Cuban prisons, including journalists and human rights defenders. There is repression of dissidents.
HRW asks for the repeal of any laws restricting political freedoms and the end of arbitrary detentions.
Mr. Juan Antonia Fernandez Palacios final remarks:
It is the beginning of a new stage with the follow up of the UPR and implementation of the recommendations. Cuba reiterates its commitment to working in cooperation with the Council and the UPR outcomes, and the promotion of all human rights.
Consideration of the UPR outcomes of Saudi Arabia
Accepts the majority of recommendations, with the exception of its accession the the International Criminal Court. With regards to violence it is endeavouring to create a framework to register violence against women and children.
Rights of expatriate workers are provided with urgent assistance. The state has provided an appropriate environment for them and greatly improved their living conditions.
Studies on the situation of women, extremist rehabilitation and other issues concerning human rights have been conducted. Social and cultural circumstances must be taken into account.
Venezuela, Qatar, Algeria, Cuba, Belarus, China, Egypt, UAE, etc all support the attempts by Saudi Arabia to promote and protect human rights.
Welcome the efforts made by Saudi Arabia especially with regards to women, terrorism amongst others.
It congratulates Saudi Arabia to establish a favourable environment for migrant workers.
Urges Saudi Arabia to ratify international instruments which it is not yet part of, especially with regards to women who are still seen as second class citizens., situation of religious freedoms with regards to Shia minority is of great concern, therefore the Cairo Institute calls on the Kingdom to ensure freedom of movement and expression. Also calls for the end of human rights abuses such as flogging, which is in contravention to international agreements on torture.
Rejection of recommendations concerning death penalty of minors is of great concern to Amnesty International. States should have engaged Saudi Arabia more strongly with regards to human rights abuses.
It and calls on the government to end all detention of political prisoners and the end of constraints on the freedom of expression and assembly.
Arab Commission of Human Rights
Commends the Kingdoms UPR. Stresses the importance of adhering to the recommendations. Raises the issue of acceding to the international protocol on the prohibition of torture.
Also welcomes recommendation number 23 regarding minors, and expresses concern at claims about the death penalty and requests that the country respects all recommendations concerning this issue.
Calls upon the kingdom to send a special invitation for the Special Rapporteurs concerning human rights.
International Commission of Jurists
Given numerous credible reports concerning human rights reports the ICJ calls upon the Kingdom to respect and adhere to the recommendations within the report. Saudi government must reform its laws to ensure the human rights of its population.
The government should also incorporate the equality of genders within the law and society. Abolishing the partriarchical system must be a priority.
It should accede to the ICCPR and other human rights instrument, and to abolish the death penalty.
H.E. Mr. Zaid Bin Abdul Muhsin Al- Husain:
It has explained the situation in its country with regards to Sharia law and migrant workers. One of the important aspects for the country is the death penalty, which is only applied to the most odious of cases, and has been reviewed by thirteen judges.
Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, the UN independent Expert of Human Rights and Extreme Poverty presented two reports to the Council, an annual report and a report on her visit to Ecuador. Both reports are concerned with the relationship between extreme poverty and human rights and aim to establish concrete initiatives to alleviate the situation of those living in poverty.
Mrs. Carmona addressed the cash transfer programs (CTP) that have been implemented in various regions such as Latin America, Africa and South Asia. These programs provide payments to those living in extreme poverty with the aim of improving their conditions. She stated that CTPs have been conceptualised by many states as effective tools for poverty eradication, the reduction of economic inequalities and the intergenerational transmition of poverty.
Mrs. Carmona asserted that CTPs have had significant benefits with regards to obtaining adequate standards of living, health and work. However she stated that CTPs are not necessarily the most appropriate or effective means of tackling extreme poverty and ensuring the protection of human rights. She emphasises the need to implement CTPs within a wider social protection system due to the multidimensional nature of poverty.
Her report stresses the necessity of ensuring that human rights are respected in the implementation of CTPs, and that this needs to be done in a fair and transparent manner.
With regards to Ecuador, Mrs. Carmona focused upon the adoption of a human rights-based approach to the elimination of poverty. She stressed that there is a continuing prevalence of socio-economic inequalities in Ecuador which are exacerbated by historically rooted differences between ethnic groups, regions and genders. She focused on the CTP in place in Ecuador, emphasising the need for the improvement of access to this program by indigenous groups for example.
Mrs. Carmona concludes her report by stressing the necessity of combining CTPs with broader social protections systems so as to ensure the promotion of universal access to social security.
Mr. Cephas Luminas, Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.
Focuses particularly on foreign debt as a human rights issue so as to establish best practices concerning these issues and to generate draft general guidelines on foreign debt and human rights to ensure that compliance with commitments arising from debt do not undermine the capacity of States to fulfil their human rights obligations.
Mr. Luminas proposed a preliminary conceptual framework which is premised upon the notion that foreign debt is a human rights issue because it entails the diversion of scarce national resources away from programmes aimed at improving a variety of social conditions.
He highlights the limits of current debt relief programmes and focuses upon Norway and Ecuador as creditor and debtor states.
Most importantly he highlights the lack of an internationally accepted definition of illegitimate debt. He emphasises the need to restructure the current global financial system, and the development of a framework for responsible financing.
Ecuador: The state has conducted an audit which has shown alarming outcomes with regards to debt, including huge inequities which have adversely affected much of the Ecuadorian population
Most states concur that while CTPs are effective to a certain extent, they are not a substitute for a comprehensive approach to alleviate the debt burden, and that the achievement of the MDGs are looking increasingly unlikely, especially in light of the current global economic crisis.
USA: asserts that debt is not necessarily a negative tool, and is concerned that a rights based approach to foreign debt could be problematic.
India: states that the challenge is to find a socially just and viable approach and that CTPs are necessary within its governments approach, and asserts each states autonomy in deciding the best manner in which to implement universal human rights principles.
Ghana: Raised the question of the interrelation between CTPs and civil and political rights and the implications of these relations.
Palestine: Stresses that the Palestinian economy is unable to develop and grow and that the exchange of goods and trade are severely restricted by the occupying power. The economy is being reduced to a state of total destitution and there is a lack of acknowledgment of this at the international level.
Brazil: calls for a reform of the IMF and World Bank so as to ensure appropriate multilateral policies, and highlights its high development index. It also states that CTPs are low cost initiatives, much less than 1 % of its GDP, and a useful tool especially in South-South cooperation to further human rights.
Egypt: States that debt servicing hampers poverty reduction attempts, and the impact of this is most acute in African countries which constitute the highest number of LDCs.
CETIM: Assert the need for debt audits to establish which debts are legal and illegal, and creditor states also need to examine obstacles and the effects of their policies upon their own populations as well as those of developing countries.
Dr. Luminas: emphasise this need for states to establish a voluntary set of standards that determine the illegality of particular debts, and advocates the cooperation of lending institutions such as the IMF and World Bank in establishing these standards.
Right of Reply
Sri Lanka: The government suggests that if there will be an examination of human rights abuses by the Council, then it is necessary to not only apply this examination to states such as Sri Lanka, but to also examine the abuses that began before this time, and to therefore not ignore those that were committed by states such as the United States or various European states amongst others. This is especially important because the normative goals of the Council are concerned with universality and therefore it is necessary to apply its principles to all member states unequivocally.
Brazil: criticises Alston’s report on extrajudicial summary, stating that there is data concerning the reduction of violence in Brazil, for example in research conducted by Sao Paolo University. Brazil thus asserts that Alston’s’ report is prejudiced and does not reflect the information that does exist concerning violence in Brazil.
Item 3 Interactive dialogue (ID) with Special Rapporteurs
John Ruggie : Human rights and transnational corporations
J. Bustamente: Human rights and migrants
V. Munoz: the Right to education
Leandro Despouy: The independence of judges and lawyers
Franck La Rue Lewy : The right to the Freedom of Expression
Anand Grover: The right to the highest standard of physical and mental health- looking specifically on the effect of the TRIPS Agreement and FTA’s on the right to health. Grover takes the stance that when patents are taken to limit competition they can have a severe impact on access to medicines. Developing countries should be enabled to use TRIPS flexibilities. Generic producers such as India have become TRIPS compliant which has raised the prices of drugs. Pressure from pharma and developed countries has adversely affected LDCs and developing countries. Non-state actors share a responsibility to access to health as with GKS
Sri Lanka: With reference to the current situation in the country, the conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, the security forces were under order to ensure the protection of civilian life and therefore could not deal directly with the terrorist threat. Nevertheless E. Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe states that the Governments’ undertakings have been successful in combating the terrorist threat posed by the LTTE.
Its’ ‘Northern Spring Program’ of reconstruction and resettlement are premised upon the provision of humanitarian assistance.
The post-war peacebuildng processes - including the reintegration of previous combatants- has been the subject of working groups whose aim it is to develop a sustainable peace within the concerned region.
EU Commission: European Union wants to discover ways to implement the suggestions embodied within the Ruggie report concerning human rights and transnational corporations. In so doing it focuses especially upon transnational corporations acting abroad, for example in supply chain practices.
Senegal: Raises the issue of the lack of reliable data on migration patterns which are essential to the monitoring of migratory flows. It is especially concerned with the rights of children during migration – when these are absent human rights abuses occur more frequently. Senegal therefore questions whether this issue is adequately covered at the international level.
Ghana: With regards to human rights and business relations, Ghana raises the issue of extraterritoriality which allows many TNCs to violate human rights standards due to being situated outside of national legislation. It therefore asserts the need for an adequate legally binding instrument to control TNC actions.
Palestine: With regards to the right to education, the Israeli state does not allow Palestinian detainees access to education within its prisons, and also engages in the systematic obstruction to the access to education in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The UN Charter states that occupying forces must allow education. In fact Israel often detains, tortures, and interrogates students, and in the January 2009 conflict, schools were often targeted and raided. The wall separating Israel and Palestine also hinders access to education and consequently the overall quality of education has dropped considerably. This is important because education is the means for a population to advance itself and thus by curtailing Palestinian access, the state of Israel is essentially limiting the possibility of development of the occupied territories.
Amnesty International and the Arab commission for human rights: Raise the issue of the criminalisation of immigration, which subjects irregular migrants to abuses by both criminal gangs and officials, most of which are never reported. This is often accompanied by economic and financial hardship. We have seen a hardening of migration policies and slowing solidarity, manifested in the growth of the exportation of detention centres for example.
John Ruggie: state and TNCs must act together to protect human rights, in fact states have the primary responsibility. Non judicial remedies have their place in that they can act as preventative measures, but judicial remedies are primary.
Bustamante: currently the situation of the human rights of migrants is growing increasingly vulnerable to abuses. There is a lack of ratification of legislation on migrant workers and their families. The current economic climate implies that the violations of the HR of migrants will worsen.
Mr. Vener Munoz Villalobus: A focus on the rights and access to education in detention centres, this should not be very difficult to promote.
Human Rights Council 11th Session
Notes on Friday Wednesday 03 June 2009
Item 3 Cont’d
Phillipines: highlights that with regards to the TRIPS sufficient standards need to be in place to keep certain knowledge in the public domain.
UAE – Representing the Arab Group, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Algeria and Egypt all Dissatisfied with the La Rou Report on the freedom of expression, states that the Special Rapporteur went beyond his Mandate when speaking about religion, and that he should abide by the Code of Conduct, which he has breached. This amounts to procedural and substantive breaches within the report. Sri Lanka asserts that there is slight tendency to interpret the Mandate through a particular political view. Special Rapporteur included personal views.
UAE, Pakistan, Thailand, endorse the Grover report especially with regards to occupied territories, and the transfer of technology to developing countries respectively.
USA: supports the outcome of La Roe report, and concerned by statements about Mandate, which should maintain its independence and freedom.
While it does recognize the right to health, it does not recognize it as a policy issue and disagrees on the Grover reports’ conclusions concerning the adverse impact of TRIPs on the access to medication.
Columbia: with regard to the rights to independence of judges and lawyers, it will redouble its efforts to fight impunity.
Switzerland: Is concerned with the weakening of the TRIPS regime. Insufficient market incentive is given as the reason for the lack of research.
Switzerland, UK, USA, Supports the independence and freedom of the Mandate holder.
Brazil: endorses La Roe report, Grover report, and emphasises the primacy of health over trade, therefore does not support the accession of developing countries to TRIPS plus standards.
Phillip Alston: there is a need to reform judicial processes with regards to extrajudicial summary or arbitrary killings. There is a need for military related civilian casualties to be given greater transparency. For example Drone attacks by US army, the governments should disclose information associated with the outcomes of these attacks. There is a lack of responsibility which has created a zone of impunity; therefore transparency and accountability are essential for example in the setting up of independent tribunals. Focuses on Kenya amongst other examples, with regards to extrajudicial killings such as police killings etc as well as the systematic harassment and intimidation of HR defenders.
Yakin Erturk: Violence against Women its Causes and Consequences
Brazil: rates of extrajudicial killings have dropped by 20 %, has two initiatives in place the National Program and the Unified system of Public security which combine crime prevention with the respect of human rights. The favelas cannot continue to just be stigmatized; the Brazilian government has been investing much time and attention in trying to regenerate these areas as well as raising the wages of police officers.
Kenya: Accepts the fact that extrajudial summary occurs within its borders, however states that the government is dealing with this, which is exemplified by the tribunals set up to prosecute those police guilty of such crimes.
USA response to Alston: criticises the Alston report, stating that Capital punishment is not in contravention to international law. Delegate states that prosecution and sentencing practices do need to be aware of racial profiling, but does not agree with the assertions of the Alston report. With regards to increased transparency in US military actions, there is currently proposed legislation in place, as well as the awareness of a need for military commissions. Also an awareness that private contractors do commit crime and that the US government will attempt to prosecute these crimes.
Response to update by the High Commissioner Navi Pillay which focused specifically on the situation of civilians in areas of armed conflict, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Columbia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Chad, Nepal, and Sri Lanka amongst others.
The concerned countries replied as follows:
Afghanistan: stated that the government does not condone the killings of civilians within its borders and that these were mainly the responsibility of criminal gangs either using civilians as protection against attacks or attacking them purposefully.
Pakistan: asserted that its government was actively involved in law enforcement measure against militants, terrorists and violent extremists.
Iraq: Clarified that the level of security has improved as a result of the antiterrorist campaign that was launched two years ago. This has directly resulted in Iraq’s credibility within the region growing, especially with regards to issues such as the human rights of women.
Israel: stated that the safeguarding of human rights should be independent of an attempts of politicization, due to the fact that the Council exists to ensure the universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. It stated that any restriction on the freedom of the Palestinian people was due to the particular security environment. It stressed that with regards to the Gaza strip, it is still controlled by Hamas who continue to hold an Israeli soldier hostage, and that it is not only Israel that is responsible for allowing humanitarian aid access to this area.
Palestine: Highlights that Israel itself has politicized a human rights issue in the above statement and that the occupying power have a negative impact upon the territory, especially with regards to the construction of the Wall.
Columbia stated that its population is the victim of endemic violence perpetuated by criminal gangs affiliated with drugs trafficking and terrorism.
Somalia asserted that its government was faced by the threat of being overthrown by a non-state actor determined to decimate its legitimate institutions and that its commitment to defending the human rights of its population was unwavering. In addition it highlighted that the areas in which human rights abuses did occur does not encompass of the whole geographic entity of the Somalia but that in fact there are regions of calm and stability.
Sudan challenged the credibility of the information upon which the High Commissioners’ report was based and asserted that many of the statements were the result of incorrect information.
Chad stated that it had proved its commitment to the implementation of human rights which is manifested in the government setting up an independent enquiry into the human rights violations of February 2008.
Sri Lanka urged that issues of accountability would be considered and that it would not have any problems granting access to humanitarian aid. However it stressed that any solution would be one decided by the government itself.
Nepal stated that it was in the transitional phase to a democratic government following a decade of armed conflict and that it was working at institutionalising democratic forms of governance.
Location: Conference Room 6, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY
Speakers: Professor Curtis F.J. Doebbler, Professor Thomas Pogge, Ms. Sara Flounders
Attendees: State delegates, summer interns, NGO members, members of the press
(note: there were last minute meetings called that conflicted with the time of this meeting which inevitably decreased the number of states attending)
Summary of Discussion:
Professor Doebbler opened with remarks emphasizing that the meeting topic ‘is perhaps the most important topic to the most people in the world today: that is the denial of human rights because of poverty.’ He noted that more than half the people in the world live off less than 1000 USD per year...and that in a country like Sudan where some of these people live, a bottle of clean drinking water often costs more than it does here in New York City. They do without clean water, adequate health care, work, education, social security, things that are fundamental human rights that most government represented in the UN building have solemnly agreed to ensure by undertaking legally binding obligations to their people and to the international community.
Dr. Doebbler expressed concern that despite UN mandates to consider the effects of extreme poverty on human rights (including social and economic rights), as well as several mechanisms that were established to contribute to securing these rights, many Western countries, including the one in which the UN is headquartered feel uncomfortable raising these issues. He noted that a rare exception to this general code of silence has been Miguel D'Escoto, ‘the most senior official in the UN and…the President of the General Assembly who has raised these issues and has insisted that they be raised in the Economic Summit that he is trying to ensure takes places on 24 to 26 June, just a few weeks away’. He mentioned documents that reiterate obligations of cooperation, for example, the Millennium Declaration in its partnership for development, and the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. and also the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' 'Draft Guidelines on a Human Rights Approach to Poverty Reduction Strategies' which has been available since 2002. More recently, the Northern-based NGO Amnesty International has launched a campaign the need for which it describes as the fact that "Poverty is not inevitable. The billions of people who live in poverty are shut out, ignored and denied security by the actions and failures of the powerful.”
Professor Doebbler then introduced Professor Pogge as another of the voices that has broken this silence and confronted the history of inequality, denying the status quo whereby, in his words, “the 955 million citizens of the affluent countries are morally entitled to their 81 per-cent of the global product in the face of three times as many people mired in severe poverty”, calling for the North to recognize its debt to the South, and publicly recognizing the man-made disaster of poverty that plagues so many and denies so many their human rights.
Dr. Doebbler expressed hope that the discussion would encourage us to consider our economic relations in light of the value they bring to individuals in terms of ensuring respect for their basic human rights. He observed that such varied individuals as Karl Marx and Adam Smith agreed that economic relations have no intrinsic value; they are only valuable in so far as they contribute to the well-being, the value, of human beings, adding that Professor Pogge conveys a similar message with a striking reminder of the responsibility that it creates.
Professor Pogge then presented a comprehensive talk entitled 'The Crisis as an Opportunity for Structural Change: Where should reform energies be focused?” This was composed of four parts:
Part 1: Competitive/Adversarial Systems
-systems are framed by rules must be administered in an impartial and transparent way
-rules lose their effectiveness when efforts to corrupt are lucrative
-moral attitude toward rules must be ingrained in the culture and internalized by the players, especially those formulating or modifying the rules
-money is becoming the pre-eminent reward
-richest players influence the rules to their own advantage
-growing incoherence of the whole scheme of rules (diverse players, interests)
-hypothesis: even the rich and mighty, if they think long-term, have an interest in the reduction of economic inequality; they must expect more damage from manipulation efforts of other strong players than gain from their own such efforts
Part 2: The Inequality Spiral
-in 2002-2006, per capita income in the U.S. Grew 12%
-top 1% gained 51%, remainder of population gained 4%
-in US, top one hundredth (30,000 people) hold nearly half as much income as bottom 150 million
-in China, income declining at bottom level, increasing at top level
-growth in international inequality has stalled except in the poorest countries (the bottom billion)
-growth in global inequality has increased due to what is happening within countries; many more trapped in sever poverty than the 'bottom billion'
-at current global exchange rates, the poorest half of the world population (3,400 million) have less than 2% of the world income, while the most affluent (300,000) in the US have 3%
-among ca. 6800 million human beings, 963 million are undernourished, 2000 million lack access to essential drugs, 884 million lack safe drinking water, 924 million lack adequate water, 1600 million have no electricity, 2500 million lack adequate sanitation, 774 million adults are illiterate, 218 million children (age 5-17) do wage work outside their homes often under slavery-like and hazardous conditions
-worldwide poverty deaths during 1990-2008 amounted to 300 million, more than double the deaths suffered in several major wars including WWI and WWII
Part 3: More Cosmetics
-the 1996 World food Summit pledged yo reduce the number of undernourished people by half by the year 2015
-the 2000 Millenium Development Goal I pledged to halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day, and the proportion of the world's population who suffer from hunger...subsequently interpreted by the UN as halving the proportion of extremely poor in developing countries
-required annual rate of reduction keeps bring diluted due to changing interpretations and denominators
-there are four 'International Poverty Lines'
-definition of what constitutes poverty, and manipulation of figures, grossly underestimates the true scope of world pverty
Part 4: A Way Forward?
-Dr. Pogge described his project, the Health Impact Fund as one way to start to address the problem of world poverty and its impact on human rights. The fund would retain a balance of $6billion to be subsidized by governments. The fund would reward developers of medicines that would be efficacious against widespread diseases suffered in poorer countries, e.g. malaria. The medicines would be made available at the lowest possible cost and licences to manufacture the drug would be granted.
-Under the TRIPS agreement, part of the World Trade Organization agreement, inventors or new medicines must be granted 20 year patents enforcible in all WTO member states. TRIPS:
-keeps prices high limiting access by the poor
-reinforces neglect by pharmaceutical companies in developing medicines for diseases suffered by the poor
-bias toward maintenance drugs
-patenting, litigation and deadweight losses
-Health Impact would be assessed annually
-Financing requires long-term commitment by funders (governments)
-Access to medicines by the poor is consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Sara Flounders reinforced the message that the overwhelming proportion of poverty in the world is unacceptable and that the concentration of wealth seems to be getting more pronounced. She offered the analogy of a few huge dinosaurs stomping over millions of ants. She posited that the most effective approach to dealing with all of this is at the grass roots level – citizens must group together and proclaim their intolerance of this inequality. She gave several examples of successful protests at the local and national level. In commenting on Professor Pogge's presentation, she commented that his description of the manipulation of the numbers was quite enlightening, which only intensifies the need for protest.
Ms. Flounders did question the Health Impact Fund proposal in that it rewards big Pharma and proliferates their power.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
In conjunction with the June UN Summit on the World Economic Crisis and organizing for protests at the G20
New York City
Sunday, May 31
Starting Time 11 a.m.
Main Session 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Dag Hammerskjold Plaza,47th & 1st Avenue
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
47th St. & 1st Ave.
Special focus panels & breakouts, including:
-Defending Immigrant/Worker Rights
Why do migrants leave their homelands? What is behind the anit-immigrant climate? How can we build a workers’ rights movement that includes legalization, EFCA, etc?
This and more will be discussed in a panel by members of May 1st Coalition, Bayan-USA, La Pena del Bronx, Pakistan-USA Freedom Forum, Million Worker March and others.
-Building a Struggle of Youth & Students
Hear youth from member organizations – Anakbayan, FiRE, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and FIST, along with students from Hunter College, BMCC, and others – join forces to deliver a perspective on combating not only the crisis of the capitalist system, but also the struggles against national, women and LGBT oppression, imperialism, etc.
-Communities of Faith for Peace with Justice
As people of faith and conscience, we will discuss the failed economic system and its impact on our poor and oppressed communities, and how we can change it by denouncing the social sins of male supremacy, hetero-sexism/homophobia, classism, racism, ethnocentrism and xenophobia (to just mention a few). Participation of San Romero Church and others.
-Capitalist Crisis, Racism, Political Repression & the Prisons
The lack of jobs or a future has resulted in the U.S. having the largest prison population in the world with majority Black, Latino/a and Native prisoners, and growing repression against youth, immigrant workers, and Arab and Muslim peoples. With participation of: NY Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, Millions for Mumia, Lynne Stewart, N.Y. Committee to Free the Cuba Five, N.Y. Friends of MOVE (9).
-People’s Speakout in Two Parts:
A discussion of strategy and tactics from those who have lost jobs, homes, healthcare, and their future.
Workers’ Struggles in the U.S. – The fight for jobs; the EFCA and against layoffs; growing unemployment; foreclosures; evictions – with Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Million Worker March Movement, NYC Labor Against the War, Picture the Homeless, Take Back Our Union.
Struggles Against U.S. Corporate Power Around the World – The impact of the capitalist crisis, militarism, environmental destruction and imperialist policies in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Caribbean and Latin America.
-Full Plenary Sessions
Starts at 1 p.m.
Invited Speakers to Include: UN Delegates, Cynthia McKinney, Ramsey Clark, Howard Zinn, Nawa El Saadawi, Medea Benjamin, Ajamu Sankofa, Vinie Burrows, Nellie Bailey, City Councilperson Charles Barron, Chris Silvera, Brenda Stokely, Larry Hamm, Lynne Stewart, Rev. Lucius Walker, Sonny Africa, Paul Quintos, Dulphing Ogan, Curtis Doebbler
First Plenary – 1 to 2:30 p.m.
A NEW WORLD IS URGENTLY NEEDED…
Panelists examine the roots of the economic meltdown and present the case for alternatives to capitalism and imperialism.
Second Plenary – 2:30 to 4 p.m.
But We Must Fight for it!
Panelists discuss building the mass movement; formulating programs and strategies to force a struggle for jobs, an end to foreclosures and evictions, and new rights and powers for working and poor people.
Third Plenary – 4 to 6 p.m.
Special session on preparing for the G20 Summit in September in NYC and plans for the Detroit People’s Summit and Tent City.
ENDORSING ORGANIZATIONS for MAY 31 Peoples Summit
(partial listing)Action Center for Justice, NCAl Awda, NY PalestineRight to Return Coalition, NYCAnakbayanArab Muslim American FederationArab Women’s Solidarity Assoc.Artists & Activists United for Peace;Asia Pacific AllianceBayan USA– National Alliancefor Filipino ConcernsCode PinkFiRE– Filipinas for Rights& EmpowermentFIST– Fight ImperialismStand TogetherGuyanese American Workers UnitedHaiti-LibertéHarlem Tenants CouncilInt’l Action CenterInt’l League of Peoples StruggleInt’l Migrants AllianceJersey City Peace MovementKatrina-Rita Diaspora Solidarity, NYCLa Peña del BronxLeague of Filipino Students–SFSUMalcolm X Grassroots MovementMay 1st Coalition for Worker& Immigrant RightsMichigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice-MECAWIMillion Worker MarchMillions for MumiaMoratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures & EvictionsMovement in Motion, Bronx NYNetwork to Stop Foreclosures& EvictionsNew Abolitionist Movement, NYCNYC Labor Against the WarNodutdol for Korean Community DevelopmentNord Sud XXIPakistan USA Freedom ForumPeoples Organization for ProgressPhil Berrigan Inst. for Non-ViolencePicture the HomelessResist!San Romero de Las Américas ChurchTake Back Our Union MovementU.S./Cuba Labor ExchangeWomens Fightback Network
Endorse the call Become a local organizer/volunteer
Bail Out the People Movement
55 W. 17th St. #5C
New York, NY 10011
With the conflict ended the task of rehabilitation and reconciliation needed to begin. HRC expressed its willingness to work with the government of Sri Lanka, reminding that dialogue was the way to move forward.
A video message by Mrs. Pillay was played. Human rights and humanitarian consequences needed to be addressed. Media and humanitarian aid should be given access. IDPs needs were to be addressed. She spoke of the severe overcrowding. She said that unrestricted humanitarian aid was necessary. She pointed out that it was crucial to correct flaws to discern between civilian and LTTE members. LITTE had prevented civilians from leaving war zones, that this needed to be investigated. She spoke of the suicide attacks, the use of heavy artillery by the government and shelling on hospitals is grave. Victims right to remedies was reaffirmed. Pillay said, granting amnesties to those who had committed war crimes, hindered law from being implemented. It was important to heed the advise of the Secretary General, in his appeal to the government of Sri Lanka to address the root causes of this long lasted conflict.
Ms. Magdelaena Sepuldeva Carmona Independent expert on HR and Extreme Poverty, addressed the lack of transparency. Evoked the problem of IDPs. She reiterated the need to distinguish between combatants and civilians. She said that LTTE having used civilians as human shield had violated humanitarian law. Arbitrary detention was a persisting problem according to Sepuldeva. She informed that on the 18th of May, most vulnerable had been released from the camp but that there was a critical humanitarian situation, access to food, health care etc, that UN personnel were denied access to conflict zones. She listed the violations of HR, arbitrary detention incommunicado, persecution, Impunity, torture, extra judicial killings and forced disappearances. She said that HR defenders were held imprisoned without charge. That it was important to take measures for victims of HR abuses. She said it was necessary to establish the Rule of law and non discrimination with the right of minority, in society, constructive dialogue, assessment of what had happened.
Mr. HE Mr Haahina Samarasinghe, Minister of disaster and HR in Sri Lanka stated that there ws access to conflict zones, confirming that the conflict was over, challenge for sustainable peace and solution. He pointed out that the High Commissioner had failed to refer to this in her speech. He shared that the terrrorist organization had been eradicated after thirty years of conflict, that hostages been rescued. He corrected the information given earlier, denying malnutrition, starvation, and the like as untrue, also informing the access to 52 organizations to aid government in the urgent humanitarian work, adding that 250 000 are being taken care of currently. He said that the objective was to resettle all in their homes if they wished to do so. 9 000 surrenderees will be put through rehabilitation programme to reintegrate into the Sri Lankan society, there was collaboration with the UNDP, ILO and IOM towards this objective. Taht they were prepared for a post conflict era in rehabilitation. There was much work to do in demining, restoration of facilities, to provide basic services, infrastructure, sustainability...Military solution as a final solution was never the goal, socio- economic solution was the way forward seeking political solution through dialogue. He said they would continue to work with regional and cross regional groups. He hoped for support for the implementable resolution. Institutional structure and Independent judiciary was also necessary according to the Minister. He stated that there was consistent basis with 13 core HR legislation, that the mechanisms were there in place to protect children. He ended on an optimistic note upholding the diversity and multi-cultural aspect of Sri Lanka.
Czech Republic took the floor to firstly confirm the importance of convening the special session. It continued on to point out the problem of the IDPs, child soldiers recruited by the LTTE, the missing rule of law, problem of discrimination on the part of the Sri Lankan Government, that there was a need for due process, freedom of movement, IDPs needed to return to their homes the earliest possible, that the rights of victims needed to be respected, and that perpetrators of crimes needed to be brought to justice.
Cuba spoke on behalf of NAM and welcomed the Sri Lankan minister and said it was testimony of the government of Sri Lanka to the HR Council. Cuba saw the calling for the special session as lack of understanding on the part of those who had initiated it and hoped that such behaviour ought not to be repeated in the future. It recognized the post conflict work that would now be needed. Egypt on behalf of the African group also expressed its disappointment of the holding of the special sessions. It called for all to aid Sri Lanka in the reconstruction and rehabilitation process in the post conflict era. Pakistan for the OIC also against the convening of the sessions reiterated the need to aid Sri Lanka, naming the IDPs, child soldiers, as two of the most important problems to address at this time. It said that Sri Lanka was not a state with a record of HR violations, a functioning democracy and that the government of Sri Lanka was justified in its war against terrorism. Finally it called for support for Sri Lanka in the rebuilding that needed to happen. Qatar, China, India, Egypt, Cuba, Brazil, Malasia, Argentina Nicaragua, S. Arabia, Bolivia, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Zambia, Algeria, Bhutan, Thailand, Iran, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and Sudan were other who strongly supported the government of Sri Lanka. All expressing similar concerns for IDPs, and child soldiers. S. Africa evoked double standards in regard to convening of the sessions, giving the example of the situation in Iraq without naming it as such to illustrate that no such measure had been taken at the time. Syria reminded of the Israeli aggressions going unaddressed. It was also explained by these states that there had been a lack of transparency in calling for the special sessions but all showed their good will in calling for support in aiding Sri Lanka towards progress.
Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, UK, Italy, Israel, Austria, Australia, Ireland, Denmark and the US were amongst the “others” who perceived the calling of the special sessions as justified. They too evoked the problem of tens of thousands of IDPs and the recruitment of child soldiers by the LTTE, but added freedom of press, freedom of expression, arbitrary detentions, calling for the government of Sri Lanka to allow for humanitarian aid. Also requesting justice in prosecuting for human rights and humanitarian violations.
The NGO spoke out defending the rights of Tamil victims. None seem to have the slightest sympathy for the Government of Sri Lanka. Nord Sud XXI stood alone in presenting their view that the calling of special sessions by states not of the region was in itself incorrect and that there was risk of not abiding by the Charter of the UN in calling such sessions on a selective basis, hence giving the impression of not treating all states on equal basis. It upheld the need for human rights and humanitarian law to be respected by the government of Sri Lanka, called for the International community to aid Sir Lanka in demining the affected zones for displaced persons to be able to return to their homes in safety. Nord Sud XXI encouraged a political solution to be sought by the government of Sri Lanka through constructive dialogue with minority groups especially the Tamils. It finally called for the international community to aid Sri Lanka in the rebuilding process towards achieving lasting peace in the 29 para document, the L1 Rev 2. With the joint statement of the Secretary general and Government of Sri Lanka fully endorsed in the resolution. There was a package of amendments proposed by Germany, rule 117, evoked by Cuba calling for the closure of the debate. There was a vote on the motion. This concluded with a yes majority. There was a vote on the adoption of the L1 Rev2 which concluded with the adoption of resolution in question. Several states explained their position. Canada voiced particularly strong thoughts in a clearly arrogant tone making further demands of the Government of Sri Lanka, one wondered what gave Canada the right to express such superiority.
- NGO Forum 9-11 May, 2009
- 45th Session of the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights, Banjul, The Gambia.
An intensive three day NGO Forum preceded the 45th session of the African Commission with an opening speech by the Commissioner Sanji Monageng. The NGO Forum which takes place twice a year with the aim to promote and protect human rights in Africa is a platform which civil society uses through NGOs to bring to the table the concerns they wish to raise in the African Commission sessions which follow. There are discussions, presentation and sharing of information which is educative in raising awareness of human rights situation to better address violations of human rights.
The NGO Forum is significant in that it gives access to civil society to directly reach the African Commission, allowing for collaboration between the African Commission and the civil society. The discussion and sharing during the Forum is a healthy tool to exploring new ways to promote and protect human rights or to finding solutions to human rights issues which have become chronic. This platform also becomes a place where much networking takes place, expanding and enlarging the work in the field of human rights.
The NGO Forum includes plenary meetings with presentations by speakers and there are special interest groups that meet to discuss specific human rights situations in different regions in Africa which then report to the plenary. The NGO Forum comes up with draft declarations and resolutions drafted by a drafting committee on thematic issues of human rights. They are presented during the plenary meetings for adoption by the Forum and submitted to the African Commission to be considered for possible adoption or incorporation into the work of the African Commission.
The possibility to hold side events is a further enhancement of the NGO Forum’s work on special situations of human rights violations in African states, or on relevant themes.
With possibilities to make statements on given items, the intensive work of the forum, the concrete resolutions which they present to the Commission and the eventual advocacy and lobbying that they may choose to do gives the civil society a significant opportunity to add its valuable contributions to the ongoing work of the African Commission.
The special group meetings were particularly intense at the May 2009 Forum, with the objective of drafting resolutions, they covered themes such as, Prevention of Torture, an in-depth discussion on the situation of African prisons, focusing on Rwanda and Sudan. There was unanimity on the subject of abolishing the death penalty amongst the NGOs gathered at the Forum. Human Rights Defenders discussed the freedom of expression, association, movement which are being denied to many human rights defenders in numerous African states. The presentation on sexual orientation by NGOs became an educative session, and fellow participants showed much openness to this rather difficult area. Right of women was very important and all joined forces to combat for the violations thereof. The indigenous community and their rights proved to be an area deserving more efforts. The NGOs gathered in Banjul for this Forum demonstrated enthusiasm and a will to end human rights violations.
The unanimous conclusion was that the problems lay clearly in the implementation of the instruments which were already in place. With some twenty resolutions adopted at the plenary and passed on to the African Commission the NGO Forum ended to be resumed in November 2009 before the next African Commission’s Sessions.
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
This session was attended by some 15 to 20 African States (?) chaired by Commissioner Sanji Manageng, Vice-chaired by Commissioner Mukirya Nyanduga; with Commissioners and Special Rapporteur on Prison and Detention, Mr. Muba Mallila; Commissioner and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, Mrs. Soyata, Miaga; Commissioner and Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, IDPs and Migrants in Africa, Mr. Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga; Commissioner and Special Rapportuer on Human Rights Defenders, Mme Reine Alapini-Gansou; Commissioner and Chairperson of the Working Group on the Situation of Indigenous People’s/Communities in Africa; Commissioner and Chairperson of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa and Chairperson of the Working Group on the Special Issues Relevant to the Work of the African Commission, Dr. Angela Melo; Commissioner and Chairperson of the Working Group on Death Penalty, Mrs. Zaainabo Sylvie Kayitesi; Commissioner Yeung Kam John Yeung Sik Yuen; Commissioner and Chairperson of the Follow up Committee on the implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines, Mrs. Catherine Dupe Atoki.
The 45th Session commenced with an opening speech by the Chairperson of the African Commission, Mrs. Sanji Monageng, ‘Strengthening the Rule of Law in Pursuit of Justice and Democracy’ was a most fitting theme for the session to follow. She reminded of the gains thus far in the combat for human rights and justice, namely the recognition of rape as a crime against humanity and tool of war and the accountability attributed to such crime. Mrs. Monageng continued to remind all those gathered at the session of the lack of justice, peace and security in the African communities across the continent. She spoke of the situation of war and conflict, the resulting destruction and millions of African people’s suffering which needed to be addressed, reiterating the most vulnerable, women and children in all situations especially that of internal displacement. In her speech Mrs. Monageng reminded that African countries were severely affected by situations of war and conflicts and also reflected high levels of human rights violations, impunity, injustice and lack of democracy. She said that it was a collective responsibility to hold the governments of the African states directly responsible for the situation of the suffering of the millions of African people across the continent, that it was the governments duty and obligation and the people’s right to have peace, justice, security and a society in which they could prosper. Her speech ended with a quotation by Nehru which rendered high responsibility on behalf of all suffering of injustice in all nations, a note of inspiration and obligation to combat injustice…
According to the Agenda, the session progressed covering the agenda items as adopted. There were statements on the Human Rights situation in Africa by States, the African Union groups, intergovernmental groups, international organizations, and NGOs.
Nigeria took the floor bringing to the table the issue of poverty, the importance of criminal justice, due process, and also the necessity of a close collaboration with civil society and for a national action plan as key to improving the human rights situation.
Sudan evoked the spirit of African solidarity in the fight for HR. The importance of democratic elections was brought up especially at a time when many African states are preparing for elections. Proportional balloting was key, and women needed to run for seats stated the representative of Sudan as some of the key issues for change. In response of NGOs’ request for a ceasefire, it promised immediate ceasefire and reminded of the ongoing peace talks, the Addis Ababa meeting on the peace process and the Doha peace talks. It acknowledged the plight of the IDPs’ and Refugees’ suffering and reported that it was allowing for certain NGOs and humanitarian organizations to enter the country. It showed its good will by extending invitations to special rapporteurs to come to examine the situation on women, IDPs and the disappeared.
Secretary General of the Representative of Africa to the UN evoked the Coup d’Etat which has brought a serious security threat to West Africa. He spoke of the food and financial crisis, the aggravated drug trafficking, climate change and its impact on land and property related conflicts, the link between human rights and peace and security, role of women in the peace process and urgent need to address impunity.
Cote D’Ivoire had the question of death penalty and impunity at the top of their list of agenda.
Zimbabwe addressed the migrant issues, sharing its own progress of regularization of those living in the country. Gender was a topic of discussion and it informed of the policies and framework that it uses to bring about gender equality.
The Inter-American Commission of HR shared its good will to collaborate with the African Commission.
The ICRC made statement stressing the situation of the IDPs in Africa, the danger of cluster bomb usage, forced disappearances and the need of for the recognition of human rights law.
The National HR Institution of Burkina Faso, South African Human Rights Commission and the Rwandan HR Commission were amongst the organizations to take the floor voicing their support to uphold human rights by fulfilling the obligations under the African Charter.
Nord Sud XXI made noticeable contribution to the Human Rights concerns, with strong and substantial statements composed by Professor Doebbler on various themes. Professor Doebbler reminded the participants of the 45th session of the Durban Review Conference and its discriminating policies, namely the treatment and lack of support in the organization for the NGOs of the African states. He explained the manner in which the outcome document had been prepared with the forced restraint and demanded sacrifices from the Southern countries. His statement brought clarity and understanding for many African people who had not received adequate information to truly understand the workings of the DRC. Other Nord Sud statements were on rights women; Condition of Detention, especially that in Uganda, prisoners on death row for more than three years due to problems of backlog and inhumane treatment amongst others; Working Group on the Economic and Social Rights, emphasizing the exacerbated situations of inequality at a time of global financial crisis and recession and its impact on the African countries. It invited the commission to be present at the UNGA meeting of June 2009 in New York. The Refugees, Asylum Seekers, IDPs and the Migrant group too received Nord Sud’s address, here the timeliness of the Commission’s response was called for the on behalf of the victims of groups. The death penalty was challenged as violation to the most basic rights of all human rights, the right to life, by Nord Sud. It defended the rights of the Indigenous communities and populations calling for their respect and protection. The human rights defenders protection was also an issue of importance to Nord Sud and it suggested the creation of a database system towards the protection of this targeted group. Cooperation between the ACHPR and NGOs was an important one as it considered a revision of the Rules of Procedures draft to be adopted in the upcoming weeks. Nord Sud XXI had some important suggestions to make for improving the cooperation between NGOs and the Commission. Professor Doebbler had come up with some key issues to be addressed under this item, such as requesting more transparency from the commission especially in regard to the adoption of the new Rules to be adopted. He requested for more transparency and inclusiveness of the NGOs in this process. He also asked for amendments on the reporting period, that of every two years to be prolonged to every five years, for the reasons that the Commission did not actually have the time to consider two yearly reports and the two yearly reports were a administrative burden for many NGOs. This would also help the Commission to better involve the NGOs in the reports of the Commission. Nord Sud XXI became an inspiration for many and while the Commission thanked Professor Doebbler for his participation at the 45th session many NGOs looked for possibilities to seek its support in their own work of human rights.
There were periodic State reports presented by Republic of Mauritius, Republic of Uganda and the Republic of Benin. These showed good will on the part of the states and each in their turn gave an account of all the instruments, regional, national, or international to which they were parties, they assured of their sincere efforts in all areas of concern. Yet their reports left the issues to be answered unaddressed and the commissioners followed with elaborate lists of questions and recommendations after each reports especially in the case of Uganda. Although it took the time to prepare its replies it seemed to have worked hard mostly to attempt to avoid the important concerns.
The work of the Commission is a challenging one especially in the follow up of these reports but even more so in the work to ensure the implementations of the obligations to which most African States are bound by their ratifications. The capacity of the African Commission, due to lack of budgeting and personnel, seems almost disproportionate when compared to the large African continent and the uncountable human rights violations or the ongoing wars and conflicts, and the extreme situations of poverty, not to mention the climate change which continues exacerbated the already existing conflicts, also adding hundreds of thousands to the list of the internally displaced.
It is the demonstration of the collective will of the African people at the 45thsession which impressed as being the key, a solidarity between the Commission and civil society, a link which along with the strong aspiration for democratic values and rule of justice and law can empower and accelerate any process in the promotion and protection for human rights. The commission will need to improve and expand become more transparent and augment its collaboration with the Civil Society, taking into account advise and suggestions from the civil society/NGOs in order to continue to progress to better fulfill its duties as an important mechanism, for the protection and promotion of justice and human Rights on the African continent.