Update: 09.01.2008

6th session of the UN Human Rights Council (2nd part)

The sixth session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from 10 to 14 December 2007 in Geneva. The opening day was dedicated to the memoration of the 59th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The following days the Council worked on the upcoming issues such as reports on Darfur and Burma. 

Darfur: Group of experts scrapped

The group of experts, which was set up in June 2007 following a resolution adpoted at the special session on Darfur in December 2006, presented its report. This report states that many of the recommendations formulated by the group of experts have not been fully implemented by the government of Sudan. The Council, however, decided to end the mandate of this group. This decision is once again the result of a divergency between African and Islamic Countries and European States. «It was a necessary trade off with the African and Islamic countries, who hold the balance of power at the Council» a European diplomat admitted. Those countries are pushing for the removal of all Special Rapporteurs with a country mandate and therefore also wanted to end the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Sudan. The European Countries decided that it was preferable to losing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Sudan, who now has to review the implementation of the group's recommendations, in addition to his own workload.  

Burma: requests of the Special Rapporteur

The Special Rapporteur for Burma/Myanmar presented his report on his visit to Rangun in November 2007. It mentions the excessive force used to break up demonstrations in autumn 2007, the use of non-governmental law enforcement officials, arrests, disappearences and arbitrary detentions as well as the use of cruel and degrading methods and torture. Furthermore, he mentioned that he had not had complete freedom of movement during his visit and was not allowed to visit all prisons he wanted to. He was also not allowed to meet the Nobel peace price winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mandate of Kälin renewed

At the end of the session the Council discussed the revision of the Special Procedures. However, the discussion centred only on the revision of twelve mandates for Special Rapporteurs, but did not conclude on a framework decision for all Special Procedures. The mandate of Walter Kälin as Special Rapporteur for Internally Displaced People was renewed by consensus. 

Several NGOs and observers criticised the Council for failing to come up with a framework decision on the mandates of the Special Procedures. Until now, most of the 53 UN Special Rapporteurs still do not know if their mandates will be renewed. They mostly blamed the current president of the Council, Doru Costea, for this situation. He also failed to make progress on the issue of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The so-called troika that has to be set up for each member of the Council for the review of the reports has still not been nominated, although the review is supposed to begin next spring.

Rumours around the 6th session

Switzerland is allegedly preparing the canditature of Jean Ziegler for the Consultative Council. This Council is to be made up of 18 members, only three of which will be reserved for the group of Western Countries.

The Human Rights Council does still not have the budget to put the UPR into practice. The Office of the High Commissioner and NGOs estimate that the costs will amount to more than 13 million dollars. The problem lies once again in the conflict between the General Assembly and the Council, even though it was the General assembly itself that agreed to make the Human Rights Council a permanent organ and approved the principle of Universal Periodic Review, the well informed «Tribune des droits humains» reports. 

Sources of this article

Official documents by Switzerland for the sixth session of the Human Rights Council

  • 12.12.2007 : Reprise de la 6ème Session, Déclaration de M. Blaise Godet, Ambassadeur, Représentant permanent de la Suisse auprès de l'ONUG (pdf, 3 pages in French, no longer available online)
  • 11.12.2007 : Reprise de la 6ème Session, Déclaration de M. Blaise Godet, Ambassadeur, Représentant permanent de la Suisse auprès de l'ONUG (pdf, 3 pages in French, no longer available online)
  • 10.12.2007 : Reprise de la 6ème Session, Déclaration de M. Blaise Godet, Ambassadeur, Représentant permanent de la Suisse auprès de l'ONUG - 60ème anniversaire de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme (pdf, 3 pages in French, no longer available online)

 

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