U.S.| UN calls on U.S. to “stop secret detention and abuse” ahead of report to Human Rights Council

posted on 01.28.2010 by

The United Nations has called on the U.S. and others to put an end to secret detention policies and human rights abuses in their “war on terrorism”, IDN reports. Read more

DPRK| Op-Ed: “Sufferings in North Korea Must Be Brought to Light”

posted on 12.07.2009 by

Kjell Magne Bondevik, President of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, and former Norwegian prime minister, sheds a spotlight on the human rights situation in North Korea ahead of the Universal Periodic Review in the UN Human Rights Council. In his argument, Bondevik invokes the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and calls on the UN to analyze whether North Korea has violated the doctrine. Read more

Report| Independence of Lawyers and Judges

posted on 11.24.2009 by

International Law Observer analyzes the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, issued 24 March 2009. The report was endorsed by the Human Rights Council during its twelfth session this past October. Read more

Committee Against Torture Opens 43rd Session in Geneva

posted on 11.03.2009 by Lisa

Opening its forty-third session in Geneva on 2 November, the Committee Against Torture was briefed by a representative of the Secretary-General, Ibrahim Salama, Chief of the Human Rights and Treaty Branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Read more

Gaza war crimes debate to reopen

posted on 10.13.2009 by Lisa

The U.N. Human Rights Council based in Geneva will reopen the debate on alleged war crimes in Gaza later this week. According to officials, Palestinians succeeded in gathering enough support to call the special meeting. AP reports:

The debate will start Thursday, a day after the U.N. Security Council in New York discusses the Goldstone report, which accuses Israeli forces and Palestinian militants of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during their Dec. 27-Jan. 18 war. [...]

U.N. officials say 18 of the council’s 47 members signed a motion calling for the debate. The backers are: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Senegal.

Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian Authority’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva, said the two-day debate would examine the report as well as recent incidents of violence in Jerusalem. [...]

“We’ll wait to take a stance on the debate itself once it begins,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. “We still think that this report is very dangerous and is disconnected from reality. This report was based almost exclusively on Hamas propaganda.” [...]

More here.

Human Rights Council: Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Finds Progress Lacking and Calls For Legislation

posted on 10.08.2009 by Lisa

An independent group of 18 human rights experts, the Human Rights Council Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) oversees compliance with the CERD treaty. In March last year, the committee strongly criticized the U.S. record on racial discrimination and recommendations for U.S. compliance. The report to the committee by the Bush administration, submitted in January, was criticized by a number of human rights groups as being a last-minute whitewash report with numerous ommissions, according to the Amercian Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

From an ACLU press release on the CERD’s recent review of the U.S.:

NEW YORK – In a letter to the Obama administration made public by the American Civil Liberties Union today, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concerns over a lack of progress to end racial discrimination in the United States. The letter urged the Obama administration and Congress to do more to end racial profiling, strengthen efforts to provide adequate and affordable housing to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, end the practice of sentencing juveniles – most of whom are persons of color – to life sentences without parole and address the deprivation of Western Shoshone American Indians of their ancestral lands. [...] Read more

Keeping the Goldstone Report Alive

posted on 10.05.2009 by Lisa

Palestinian authorities had a change of heart, calling it a “mistake” to have deferred Goldstone action.

From the Jerusalem Post:

A member of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s inner circle said Wednesday that the Palestinian leadership had erred by suspending action on the Goldstone Report, which alleged that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last winter.


Last week, Abbas apparently gave in to US pressure and agreed to suspend the push for war crimes tribunals. Abbas aides defended the decision by saying they were only delaying, not dropping action.


However, on Wednesday, senior Abbas adviser Yasser Abed Rabbo said that “we have the courage to admit there was a mistake.” [...]

More here.

HRC Concludes 12th Session

posted on 10.02.2009 by Lisa

The Human Rights Council today concluded its twelfth regular session, adopting texts on a wide range of issues, including on discrimination against women, adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, human rights and unilateral coercive measures, the right to development, freedom of opinion and expression, protection of the human rights of civilians in armed conflict, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, human rights and international solidarity, the situation of human rights in Honduras since the coup d’état of 28 June 2009, and on Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Myanmar.

More here at UNHCHR.

UN Defers Decision on Probe into Gaza Conflict

posted on 10.02.2009 by Lisa

UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferre

UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferre

The UN Human Rights Council decided today to defer action on a draft resolution on the “Goldstone report”. Read more

Posner says Goldstone report “flawed,” judge defends findings

posted on 09.29.2009 by Lisa

UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferre

UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferre

The U.S. has urged its close ally Israel to conduct credible investigations into allegations of war crimes committed by the IDF in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, saying it would help advance the Middle East peace process, Reuters reports.

Michael Posner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, surprised human rights advocates on 29 September when he said that Goldstone’s report was “deeply flawed,” without elaborating on details. Speaking before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Posner said Washington disagreed with the report’s “methodology and many of its recommendations.” He added that the Council paid “grossly disproportionate attention” to Israel, but that the U.S. delegation stood ready to engage in a balanced debate.

He encouraged Israel to “utilize domestic [judicial] review and meaningful accountability mechanisms to investigate and follow up on credible allegations.”

“If undertaken properly and fairly, these reviews can serve as important confidence-building measures that will support the larger essential objective which is a shared quest for justice and lasting peace,” he said. More here.

Goldstone defended his report (AP) that accused both Israel and Palestinian militants of war crimes during the Gaza conflict, rejecting the criticism by Israel that the report was politically motivated.

“We believe deeply in the rule of law, humanitarian law, human rights and the principle that in armed conflict civilians should to the greatest extent possible be protected from harm,” he told the U.N. Human Rights Council before the intense day-long debate of the Human Rights Council. Read his full statement here and the subsequent press release on presentation of the report to the Human Rights Council. A transcript of the press conference is also available.

Webcasts are also available at the UNHRC archive.

Read the full Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
Executive Summary (Advance 1)
Conclusions and Recommendations (Advance 2)

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