Human Rights Council elections

 A discussion of candidates’ aspirations and vision for membership

Date/Location: Tuesday, July 9, 2013; 11:00-1:00; ECOSOC Chamber

Speakers: Ms. Kristen Saloomey (Al Jazeera English); H.E. Dr. Peter Wittig (Permanent Representative of Germany); H.E. Ms. Maria Cristina Perceval (Permanent Representative of Argentina); Mr. Francois Zimeray (Human Rights Ambassador for France); Mr. Ahmed Sareer (Permanent Representative of Maldives); Mr. Gonzalez (Foreign Ministries Director for Human Rights of Mexico); Mr. Francis Deng (Ambassador, South Sudan); Ambassador of Macedonia; Ms. Karen Pierce (Permanent Representative of the UK and Northern Ireland to the UN in Geneva); Deputy Ambassador of Uruguay

Written by: Marli Kasdan

Attended by: Sunny Hor, Iman Yashruti, Norah Crossnohere, Janice H.W. Wong, Gregory Swistel

WIT  claims no rights to this image.

WIT claims no rights to this image.

Today, Tuesday 9th of July, in the ECOSOC Chamber a panel discussion was held where 7 candidates for the Human Rights Council gave statements on their aspirations and vision for the future of the council, and what they, as potential members, could contribute. The discussion opened with Ms. Saloomey, H.E. Dr. Wittig, and H.E. Ms.Perceval giving opening remarks on the establishment of the council in 2006, which replaced the former Human Rights Commission.

The speakers addressed the need for the Human Rights Council to ensure universality, objectivity, and non-selectivity when taking on human rights abuses and pointed out the importance of NGOs and civil society in this process.

The candidates represented at today’s discussion are from 4 regional groups and their statements are summarized as as follows:

Mr. Zimeray (France):

* Committed to defending the universality of human rights

* Cultural relativism, clash of civilizations, and double standards are opponents to universality

* Believes Human Rights Council has been more responsive than in the past – especially with response to the situations in Libya and Syria

* Call for more oversight and more reactivity to human rights abuses

 Mr. Sareer (Maldives):

* Emphasized the centrality of human rights and that they are invaluable and universal

* Call for dialogue and partnerships between countries to protect human rights

* Strong belief in inclusiveness and objectivity in promoting human rights in a fairer manner

* Pointed out that special mandates to look at specific human rights issues have increased, but there needs to be more robust mechanisms to get countries to implement these mandates

Mr. Gonzalez (Mexico):

* Human Rights Council has built on work of Human Rights Commission in addressing transnational justice, birth registration, and human rights public policies

* Sees Council as more flexible in dealing with crisis’ than commission was and thinks council promotes universality and non selectivity better

* Mexico will work to strengthen council by working to react swiftly to human rights violations, ensuring greater coherence within the international framework, and engaging member states to promote and protect human rights with the available tools

Mr. Deng (South Sudan):

* Agrees upon improvement of council in universality, but politicization and inadequacy of response mechanisms not addressed enough

* Call to not override countries’ sovereignty

* Call for increased role of NGOs in protecting human rights

 Ambassador of Macedonia:

* Believes Human Rights Council performs better than the commission

* Emphasized the action taken in the Middle East and Northern Africa by the council

* Call for council to address rights as universal and for human rights violations to be addressed in a timely manner

Ms. Pierce (UK and Northern Ireland):

* Addressed commitment and creativity UK would bring to the council

* Call for preserving universality

* UK will strengthen the council by preserving its independence and right to take initiative, promoting human rights in a cooperative manner, and involving civil society

 Ambassador of Uruguay:

* Call to strengthen institutions

* Seeks to address shortcomings of council by supporting non selective, objective, and transparent processes when protecting human rights

* Focus on human rights of women and their empowerment

* Accountability and transparency – two main goals

Edited by; Wayne Dean Doyle

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