UN: Human rights violators must not be allowed to further weaken UN human rights protections
A few member states, including China and Belarus, have also suggested that new country-specific resolutions require a majority of two-thirds in order to pass. A restrictive code of conduct for special rapporteurs, sponsored by Algeria on behalf of the African group, is also on the table.
“The loss of country-specific special procedures, and steps to weaken the mandates and independence of special rapporteurs, would cause even further damage to the effectiveness and reputation of the world’s only global human rights body,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “Those countries that consider themselves democracies—almost 80 percent of the Council, by some counts—must reject these provisions if the Council is to remain viable.”
Currently, 79 percent of Council members belong to the Community of Democracies. Nonetheless, restrictive provisions sponsored by non-democratic countries such as Algeria and China have frequently gained support by a majority of the Council.
Other procedures determining the Council’s future activities will also be voted on this week. In particular, the structure of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which was mandated by the resolution that established the Council last year, will be established. Under discussion is whether outside experts and nongovernmental organizations will be able to play a key role in the review; currently, documents provided by the state in question appear to comprise the bulk of the evidence used for the review.
“It should go without saying that an effective review of a state’s human rights record requires information beyond what that state itself is willing to provide,” said Ms. Schriefer. “At this point, however, one is reminded of Voltaire’s oft-quoted description of the Holy Roman Empire: UPR is moving in a direction that could make it neither universal, nor periodic, nor a review.”
June 11, 2007
[Freedom House is an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world.]