Tag - UN ( 10 )

News | Top UN experts urge States to integrate human rights values in current climate change negotiations

Dec 09 2014

GENEVA – The largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system today urged all Governments around the world to integrate human rights standards and principles in the current negotiations taking place at the Lima Climate Change Conference, from 1 to 12 December 2014, and in the agreement to be adopted in Paris in 2015. In a joint statement* issued today in Geneva ahead of Human Rights Day (10 December 2014), the group of 76 human rights experts urged the UN member States to ensure that the principle of climate justice is at the core of climate change governance. “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our generation, with consequences that transform life on earth and adversely impact the livelihood of many,” said François Crépeau, who currently heads the Coordination Committee of international experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. “Human rights must be pivotal in the ongoing negotiations and must be firmly anchored in a new agreement. Any response to climate change must protect, respect, promote and fulfil human rights obligations,” Mr. Crépeau noted. In their statement, the independent experts stressed that understanding and addressing the human consequences of climate change fundamental and therefore, climate change cannot be... Continue reading →

News | Writing in openGlobalRights, Special Rapporteur calls upon incoming UN High Commissioner to ‘hold governments accountable’ for rights pledges

Jul 15 2014

Maina Kiai has called on the incoming UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid, to “hold governments accountable for the human rights pledges that they make” and ensure that human rights is a “real rather than rhetorical” pillar of the UN system. The call came in a commentary by Kiai that was published today in openGlobalRights, a multilingual online publication that covers human rights issues worldwide. The publication is currently running a series of pieces in which global leaders give their advice for the incoming High Commissioner, who takes up his post in September. The catalyst for Kiai’s piece was a recent joint statement by the UN System in Kenya (UN-Kenya) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance in which they expressed concern about an important political rally planned by the opposition party in Kenya. The rally took place on July 7 and concluded peacefully. But according to the statement, UN-Kenya and its business partners were “convinced” in advance that the rally would “… create more tensions anxiety among investors and Kenyans in general.” The only solution to Kenya’s problems, they said, is “… a peaceful, secure environment in which investors are confident that their investments are secure. “Why should UN-Kenya reflexively align itself with... Continue reading →

Discussion | Discussion: Multilateral institutions and their effect on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Jun 21 2014

Global governance has long been the domain of States – whether at the United Nations or other lesser-known multilateral bodies. These organs are typically formed by States, run by States and controlled by States. In recent years, however, civil society has gained increasing recognition as a legitimate actor in the global government process. And this is as it should be, since civil society is one of the primary means for ordinary citizens to organize and peacefully raise concerns with governments and effect change. But just how inclusive are multilateral organizations when it comes to giving civil society a seat at the table? How do multilaterals’ actions and inactions – whether financial, structural, or programmatic – affect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association? This will be the subject of Maina Kiai’s next report to the UN General Assembly in October 2014. Kiai’s report will explore whether States create spaces to interact with civil society at the multilateral level and whether in implementing programs through multilateral institutions they enable or hinder civil society’s voice and involvement. While not all negative practices, strictly speaking, violate the rights to freedom of association and of assembly, identifying restrictive practices and policies... Continue reading →

News | UN Releases Special Rapporteur Kiai’s latest report on groups ‘most at risk’

May 13 2014

The United Nations has publicly released Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai’s third thematic report to the Human Rights Council, in advance of Kiai’s presentation of the report to the Council in June. The report focuses on the challenges facing those most “at risk” when exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful of assembly and of association. This category includes individuals and groups that are often relegated to the margins of society, both in their daily lives and in the exercise of their rights. Some of the groups considered in the report include persons with disabilities; youth, including children; women; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people; members of minority groups; indigenous peoples; internally displaced persons; and non-nationals, including refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers. “Two thousand fourteen is shaping up to be the year of the protest, with the news dominated by stories of mass demonstrations in Ukraine, Venezuela and elsewhere,” said Kiai, who recently began his second three-year term as Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. “But the crackdown on assembly and association rights extends far beyond what we see in the headlines.” “Those at the margins of society face vicious... Continue reading →

News | Without cooperation from States, we cannot do our work for human rights – Key UN expert group

Dec 10 2013

GENEVA  – The largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system today urged world governments to cooperate with them, and allow human rights organisations and individuals to engage with the UN “without fear of intimidation or reprisals.” The appeal by the 72 special procedures experts comes on Human Rights Day, which this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action that led to the creation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Over the years more than 160 UN member States have been visited by at least one of our human rights experts, and a total of 106 States have extended an open invitation to special procedures,” Mr. Chaloka Beyani said on behalf the group charged by the UN Human Rights Council to report and advise on specific country situations and thematic issues in all parts of the world. “However, around 30 States have not yet accepted a visit by any of our experts,” he stressed. “Others have given access to only a select few. “Unfortunately, it has become a reality that a standing invitation cannot necessarily guarantee that a visit will actually take place.” (See Country visits since 1998) Mr. Beyani recalled that, since the first special procedures mechanism was established... Continue reading →

News | Breaking the silence: Experts call for stronger UN role in ending impunity

Nov 22 2013

A group of United Nations independent human rights experts, including Maina Kiai, today called on the UN to adopt a more central role in the fight against impunity, and urged Member States to give more support to and strengthen on-going efforts to secure accountability and justice for human rights violations, including serious crimes. “Ending impunity requires greater scrutiny, prosecution and punishment, and no other international institution is better placed than the United Nations to effectively contribute to this goal,” they stressed. “It is time for the UN to take a more decisive role in combating impunity and focus on all dimensions of the problem, including the erosion of the rule of law and the violation of general principles of justice.” Welcoming civil society’s initiative to commemorate 23 November as an annual International Day to End Impunity, the human rights experts recalled that the Heads of State and Government pledged to ensure that impunity for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law is not tolerated, and that such violations are properly investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned, as stated in the UN Declaration on the rule of law adopted on 24 September 2012. The experts recalled that States are required to hold accountable those who fail to... Continue reading →

News | Colombia: UN experts call on the authorities to reconsider the constitutional reform of military criminal justice

Oct 22 2012

Eleven United Nations human rights experts have called on the Government and the Congress of Colombia to reconsider the proposed reform of the country’s Political Constitution with regard to military criminal law, as the proposal could have serious implications for the rule of law and the enjoyment of human rights in Colombia. “Should this reform be approved, it could seriously undermine the administration of justice for cases of alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including serious crimes, by military or police forces (Fuerza Pública),” the UN mandate-holders indicated in an open letter made public today. “Such a reform would represent a historic setback in terms of progress achieved by the State of Colombia in the fight against impunity and the respect and guarantee of human rights,” the experts said. “It would send the wrong signal to members of the Fuerza Pública of the consequences of committing human rights and international humanitarian law violations.” The experts noted the fact that the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and the crime of enforced disappearances would be excluded from the jurisdiction of military and police tribunals. However, they expressed concern that the proposed changes would expand the jurisdiction of these... Continue reading →

News | Open letter by Special Procedures mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council to the Government of Colombia

Oct 22 2012

In our capacities as Special Procedures mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council, we would like to express our concern at the possible adoption by the Congress of the Republic of a project to reform articles 116, 152 and 221 of the Political Constitution of Colombia, with regard to military criminal law. Should this reform be approved, it could seriously undermine the administration of justice in cases of alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including serious crimes, by military or police forces (Fuerza Pública). We believe that such a reform would represent a historic setback to the progress achieved by the State of Colombia in the fight against impunity and respect and guarantee of human rights. We have noted with serious concern that the constitutional reform project would expand the jurisdiction of military or police tribunals, giving them the power to investigate, process and decide on cases of human rights violations which should be under the authority of the ordinary criminal justice system. For instance, although the current project stipulates that criminal military justice institutions will not have jurisdiction over crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and the crime of enforced disappearances, this detailed and specific listing of crimes -... Continue reading →

News | Rio+20: “No global goals without accountability” – an open appeal from over 20 UN experts

Mar 19 2012

In an open letter* to world Governments, a group of 22 UN independent human rights experts called on States to incorporate universally agreed international human rights norms and standards with strong accountability mechanisms into the UN Rio+20 sustainable development conference’s goals, as the Rio+20 first round of informal-informal negotiations began today in New York. “Global goals are easily set, but seldom met,” the rights experts warned, raising the bar for what the conference can and should achieve. “A real risk exists that commitments made in Rio will remain empty promises without effective monitoring and accountability,” they stressed less than a hundred days before the conference starts. The second Rio Summit, Rio+20, is expected to lay the foundations for a set of global Sustainable Development Goals to complement and strengthen the UN Millennium Development Goals created in 2000. “Learning from the mistakes of the Millennium Development Goals, the new sustainable goals must integrate the full range of human rights linked with sustainable development, and human rights must be the benchmark for whether or not inclusive, equitable and sustainable development is occurring,” the independent experts said Twenty years after the UN Conference on Environment and Development in... Continue reading →

News | New UN Experts begin work on their Human Rights Mandates

May 04 2011

Seven human rights experts dealing with the freedom of peaceful assembly and association; discrimination against women in law and practice; and the particular situation of people of African descent began work this week on the mandates handed to them by the Human Rights Council. Freedom of peaceful assembly and association In September 2010, the Human Rights Council created a new post of Special Rapporteur to emphasize the importance of the freedom of peaceful assembly and of association towards the full enjoyment of all human rights. The Council recognized that these rights are essential components of democracy and called upon States to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights. Among other tasks, the Special Rapporteur is called on to gather all relevant information, including national practices and experiences relating to the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, to study trends, developments and challenges in relation to the exercise of these rights, and to make... Continue reading →