Geneva, October 6, 2006 — UN Watch expressed deep disappointment that the UN Human Rights Council finished its second regular session this afternoon without taking action on any substantive human rights issue. The Geneva-based non-governmental organization closely follows the Council’s proceedings.
During the session, the Council heard reports from its “Special Procedures,” the 40-odd independent human rights experts mandated to monitor human rights situations around the world. Many of these experts do excellent and important work, and their reports flagged serious human rights issues in many countries, including Belarus, Burma/Myanmar, Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan. (For more on the experts’ presentations, see our press releases here and here.) Yet the Council acted on none of them.
“Given its poor record to date, the Council needed to show at this session that it was willing and able to take specific action against at least some of the many countries in the world that violate human rights. Unfortunately, it utterly failed to do so,” said Hillel Neuer, UN Watch Executive Director. (For a list of compelling situations of human rights violations that UN Watch and a coalition of NGOs asked the Council to address, click here .) In its three months of existence, the Council, which is dominated by countries from the UN’s Islamic group, has adopted only three resolutions on country-specific situations, all of which have been against Israel.
The Council’s inaction on Darfur is particularly appalling, according to Neuer:
“Despite the signing of an agreement in May, the atrocities in Darfur are not only continuing, but escalating. Janjaweed militias, sponsored by the government of Sudan, have subjected hundreds of thousands of victims to crimes against humanity, such as mass rape and mass killing. Millions are displaced. Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel, who himself survived the Holocaust, recently called Darfur ‘the world capital of human suffering, humiliation and despair.’ High UN officials, including Secretary-General Annan, have warned of a coming catastrophe and have urged the Council to act. But the Council failed the Darfur test. It failed the victims of Darfur.”
The Council had been considering 45 draft resolutions, five of which alleged violations in three specific countries—three harsh, Islamic-group sponsored texts against Israel, and one soft text each on Sri Lanka and Sudan. (For more on the draft resolutions, see our press release here). However, due to disagreements among its members, the Council postponed action on any of these drafts until it next meets in late November. It could not even agree on the lesser measure of a Chairman’s Statement that would have addressed fewer issues. “That the UN’s primary human rights body today told victims around the world ‘sorry, we’re closed, we’ll consider your issues in a month and a half’ is an outrage,” said Neuer.