How Idriss Jazairy tried to muzzle UN rights monitors

Idriss Jazairy
Hypocrisy reached new heights in March 2015 when the UN Human Rights Council appointed Idriss Jazairy as one of its human rights monitors – this is the same man who, as Algerian ambassador, personally headed a major campaign to muzzle the Council’s human rights monitors, by imposing a “Code of Conduct.”
NYU law professor Philip Alston, himself a UN expert, documented Jazairy’s key role:

The Code as it emerged was essentially an Algerian initiative, driven by its Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Idriss Jazaïry. While Ambassador Jazaïry was always careful to act under the aegis of the African Group within the Council, and was strongly supported in his efforts by states such as China, Cuba, Egypt and Pakistan, as well as by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (an umbrella grouping of Islamic states), it was ultimately his personal project. He commissioned a respected Algerian jurist, Fatsah Ougergouz, to prepare a first draft of the Code, he revised and submitted each of the successive drafts to the Council, he conducted the negotiations and wrote the notes explaining which proposals had been accepted and which rejected, and the timing of the adoption of the draft on 18 June 2007 was dictated in significant part by the fact that Algeria’s membership of the Council ceased at the end of that day. And, most unusually for such an important initiative, the draft resolution containing the Code was put forward by a sole sponsor – “Algeria (on behalf of the African Group)”.

Here is how Jazairy’s initial draft, later modified, would silence independent monitors, and prevent them from criticizing governments:

Alarm bells sounded on June 5, 2007 […] when Ambassador Jazaïry tabled a revised
version of the Code that was said to have incorporated suggestions made by various, albeit
unidentified, delegations. The new Algerian draft would have radically reduced the scope of
activities for most SRs, as well as seriously restricting their independence. The details of
country visits, for example, would have had to be planned in close cooperation with the
government concerned, which would also have been given a carte blanche to impose whatever
“security” measures they felt warranted. Mandate-holders could not make any public statements without first giving the state concerned “adequate time for investigation, reply and, when appropriate, action”, thus implying a delay of many months. Urgent appeals to
governments, which had hitherto been made in a variety of situations, would now be restricted
to those involving either the actual loss of human life or “eminently life-threatening”
situations. And the routine complaints, the so-called “allegation letters”, could only be sent if
the original complaint did not have “political motivations”, if it identified the rights alleged to
have been violated, if the complainants had both direct and reliable knowledge of the violation, if
domestic remedies had been exhausted, and if the relevant situation was not being dealt with by
any other human rights procedure. A conservative estimate is that this would have eliminated
at least 90% of the allegation letters previously sent to governments. Finally, the draft proposed
the establishment of an “Ethics Committee of the Human Rights Council”. In other words, the
Code’s application would be overseen by the governments themselves.

The proposal was astounding:

The draconian nature of these proposals spoke volumes about the motivations of the
sponsors. They could not, as proclaimed by Ambassador Jazaïry, have been designed to
“enhance the moral authority of mandate-holders and their independence in the context of their
recognized prerogatives and accountability therefore.” To most observers, they amounted to a
concerted effort to limit the mandate-holders’ scope of action, introduce extensive delays in their work, and put governments firmly in the driver’s seat in relation to the work of SRs seeking to hold those governments to account.


UN Watch