6th Session UNHRC: Council fails to take resolute action on Sudan/Darfur, Myanmar and Pakistan, despite long-awaited substantive debate

Resumed 6th Session of the Human Rights Council: Council fails to take resolute action on Sudan/Darfur, Myanmar and Pakistan, despite long-awaited substantive debate.

15 December 2007

Resumed 6th Session of the Human Rights Council: Council fails to take resolute action on Sudan/Darfur, Myanmar and Pakistan, despite long-awaited substantive debate.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today called on all governments to raise the voice and take bold measures to protect human rights wherever vigorous action is needed, after the UN Human Rights Council concluded its resumed 6th session on 14 December 2007. At the session, the Council extended the mandates of experts on Sudan, Liberia, counter-terrorism and human rights, internally displaced persons, adequate housing and the right to health and established an expert group on indigenous peoples. The ICJ is concerned at the termination of the mandate of the Group of Experts on Darfur and the Council’s failure to adopt sound measures in response to human rights crises in Myanmar and Pakistan.

“The negotiations on country resolutions strove for consensus, not for real improvements in human rights protection. Human rights discourse cannot be subordinated to consensus at almost any cost”, said Nicholas Howen, Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists.

The Council held a long-awaited discussion, after an initial institution-building phase, on numerous human rights situations in different countries, including Afghanistan, Sudan/Darfur, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, SouthAfrica, Israel, Somalia and the United States. Interaction with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, follow-up to the Special Sessions on Darfur and Myanmar and the debate with Special Rapporteurs also enabled substantive exchange on thematic issues. Thematic debate on terrorism, internally displaced persons, adequate housing and right to health focused on good practices in legislation and administrative practice and provided guidance to Special Rapporteurs in their renewed mandates.

Decisive action at this session was frustrated by the weakness of states traditionally advocating human rights protection. “The Council has not responded to calls to establish an Investigation Commission on the recent crackdown in Myanmar and to establish a support team on the ground to assist such an inquiry. Neither has the Council addressed the rule of law crisis in Pakistan, or made a formal request to reinstate dismissed Supreme Court Judges and lift all amendments and practices which maintain martial law”, continued Nicholas Howen.

The Council also failed to extend the mandate of the Group of Experts on Darfur to monitor progress on issues of insecurity, investigation of war crimes, crimes against humanity, combating impunity and other measures requested by the different UN and other bodies. Despite the fact that the Group of Experts confirmed progress only on 4 out of 46 short and medium-term measures, its mandate has not been extended. Yet the task has been vested in a single mandate-holder, the Special Rapporteur on Sudan, whose mandate is different, as she has been tasked with a fact-finding and early warning role. “This move, instigated by the African Group, is starkly inconsistent with the gross and serious violations of humanitarian law and human rights, taking place in Darfur even now”, added Nicholas Howen. The African Group should have shown the same constructive spirit as when extending the mandates on Sudan and Liberia.

“Sound measures to address situations of human rights crisis are a central and non-negotiable objective and purpose of the Council’s work; in which the Council has failed once again. The year, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrates its 60th anniversary must become a turning point, so that universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights would become a reality”, said Nicholas Howen.

The thematic debate at this session suffered from a lack of vision. On terrorism, for example, the Council adopted only a procedural resolution on means of cooperation by the Special Rapporteur with the other bodies dealing with the implications of counter-terrorism measures for human rights.

“The Council must start acting decisively, to bring to an end coercive interrogation techniques, arbitrary detention and other excessive and discriminatory counter-terrorism measures. It must also urge the cooperation of States with special procedures, including unhindered and full access to countries and their places of detention”, said Nicholas Howen.

The Council has also failed to achieve consensus on the important question of elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief. The ICJ considers it essential to find a balance between the international human rights law providing for the enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by individuals and the need to refrain from any sort of religious or other profiling and stereotyping. It should be done so through the application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that stipulates the right to freedom of religion and belief of individuals, prohibits national, racial or religious hatred against individuals and allows also legal restrictions necessary for respect of the rights or reputation of others. “The request for a vote on this issue was a regrettable move, which contradicted the consensus reached on this important issue at the current session of the UN General Assembly”, concluded Nicholas

For further information, contact Mr. Lukas Machon, phone: +41 22 979 38 29 or mobile: +41 76 345 40 65

4 thoughts on “6th Session UNHRC: Council fails to take resolute action on Sudan/Darfur, Myanmar and Pakistan, despite long-awaited substantive debate

  1. What Political Condition In PAKISTAN?All major parties are taking part in National Election, What else you want? When you can not do any thing on your (HRCP) with in Pakistan now calling for your western Syphathiser? I hope all your Human rights directive Fail as you are chasing the Wrong Issues. Go PREACH for EDUCATION and help train the Teachers instead of spreading hatred.How many time did you criticize WEST for Guantamo Bay? With time and Education Human Condition will Improve.Jiyae PAKISTAN

  2. We are open to discussion when it is valid. Seems like you visit this blog with an agenda to malign, blame, accuse and lay false accusations.

    If you read up a little you will see that Asma was 1 of 5 people selected from the WORLD to go see the Guantanamo Bay for evaluation. Unfortunately you have to read these things to know about them. We have always criticized Guantanamo very strongly and the governments role in “giving away” missing persons.

    If you really want to rant please find a better mode of expression.

    And if you think elections are free and fair then really sir that is your opinion and we absolutely fail to agree with you on all technical and ethical aspects. Major parties don’t make a democracy…ALL parties make it. And contrary to your statement all major parties are not participating in the election. Neither is the campaigning that is going on free or fair. Please research more before you make such claims.

  3. And if education, health care, labourers welfare, child rights, womens rights, budget monitoring, vulnerbale prisoners, etc are “wrong issues” then you need to get your criteria for human rights set straight.

  4. As part of the Am I Not Human? campaign, the 27th of each month will be dedicated to providing the necessary tools in an effort to bring to the forefront the atrocities that continue to occur at the hands of the Chinese government in Darfur and Tibet.

    I invite you to read my May, 2008 Am I Not Human post entitled “am i not human? wanted ahmad haran & ali kushayb for crimes against humanity”



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