Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Human Rights: Human Rights Council concludes interactive dialogue on enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and internally displaced persons

Source: United Nations Human Rights Council

8 March 2011

High Commissioner for Human Rights Commemorates International Women's Day

The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with Jeremy Sarkin, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, El Hadji Malick Sow, Chairperson of the Working Group on arbitrary detention, and Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons. The Council also heard a statement from United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in commemoration of International Women's Day.

In her statement, the High Commissioner reaffirmed that norms and principles of gender equality and non-discrimination were at the core of all fundamental human rights treaties. In addition to legally binding standards, States had made explicit commitments under the Beijing Platform of Action of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, which recognized education as a basic human right and an essential tool for achieving more equal relations between men and women. States had also agreed to promote gender equality and empower women, as well as work towards the elimination of gender disparity in primary and secondary education. In this regard, when measured in enrollment figures, gender disparity in primary education had decreased globally in the last decade. However, the world was still far from full compliance with its legal obligations and political commitments. At present, more than 55 million girls worldwide received no formal schooling whatsoever and in the least developed countries, women were 30 percent less likely to be literate than men.

In concluding remarks, Mr. Sarkin said the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances would like to thank the States which had cooperated with it and urged other States to increase their cooperation with the Working Group. Eighty-eight States had signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and 22 had ratified it and a number of other States had said they would sign it, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. More work needed to be done to ensure the norms and standards in the Convention would be incorporated domestically and the Working Group was gratified that a number of States had reviewed their criminal law and it urged States to implement an autonomous law on enforced disappearance and to create detained registers.

Mr. Sow, in final remarks, said the only substantive criticizing comment concerning the report of the Working Group was that of Venezuela concerning the case of Judge Afiuni. The Chairperson invited Venezuela to re-discuss this issue at the next session of the Working Group, which would facilitate finding a solution. All other comments from delegations which took the floor were encouraging. There were no cases of reprisals against persons which cooperated with the Working Group on arbitrary detention during their country visits, apart from those already reported. The Chairperson asked for the support of the Council to obtain from the Government of Thailand an invitation for the visit to this country.

Mr. Beyani, in concluding remarks, said the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement were elaborated by the Commission on Human Rights and what they did was synthesise the prescriptions of international law and international humanitarian law with regard to protection of internally displaced persons, to which States had already agreed. The resolution of the Human Rights Council creating this mandate recognised the Guiding Principles and encouraged States and other actors to work together in their implementation. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur also requested the mandate holder to ensure the implementation of the Guiding Principles. The role of the Special Rapporteur was to make sure that internally displaced persons issues were part of the humanitarian response, and that response was human rights-based.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue on enforced or involuntary disappearances, arbitrary detention and internally displaced persons were Honduras, Belarus, Venezuela and Congo. The International Organization of La Francophonie also took the floor.

The following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations also took the floor: National Council of Human Rights of Morocco, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Federation of Cuban Women, Colombian Commission of Jurists, Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, International Commission of Jurists, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, International Association for Democracy in Africa, Asian Legal Resources Centre, Human Rights Watch, and Forum Asia.

The Council today is holding a full day of meetings from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the midday meeting, it will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on the right to food and on the right to adequate housing.