Primer Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn addresses the United Nations General Assembly
Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak
In response to the continued suppression of protests in Ethiopia, international and regional human rights bodies as well as political figures have voiced their concerns and called for investigations into the government’s use of force. These observers question police tactics against anti-government peaceful protesters, who have been demonstrating during the last year against the expansion of the capital’s borders and recently against police forces’ use of tear gas and firearms during a religious ceremony earlier this month causing a stampede and resulting in deaths. [Al Jazeera: Merkel; OHCHR Press Release; ACHPR Press Release] United Nations experts have urged authorities to cease violent intervention in peaceful protests and allow an international commission to conduct an investigation, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has also called for an investigation into the stampede. [OHCHR Press Release; ACHPR Press Release] German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during her recent visit with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, encouraged the government to engage in an open discussion with those fighting to be heard while allowing protests to continue, as long as law enforcement’s response is kept proportional. [Al Jazeera: Merkel]
While recent remarks focus on the unrest of the last year, civil society has documented the ongoing suppression of journalists, bloggers, and voices critical of the government since before the May 2015 elections. [Amnesty International; HRW] Ethiopia’s international human rights obligations require it to respect and uphold the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, to freedom of association, to freedom of expression, and to life. Read more
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Andrew Gilmour
Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
On October 3, 2016, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in consultation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, announced a new mandate for the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, to lead UN work on ending intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders. [United Nations Information Centre] In a recent report, Ban Ki-moon emphasized the range and severity that reprisals can take and their connection to engagement with and the functioning of the United Nations human rights system. See Human Rights Council, Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights: Report of the Secretary-General, UN Doc. A/HRC/33/19, 16 August 2016. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders has similarly noted, in particular, the risk to human rights defenders who are also members of other vulnerable groups, such as women, and the need to put an end to impunity for attacks on them. See Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, UN Doc. A/70/217, 30 July 2015. The new mandate is in keeping with the Secretary General’s previous recommendation that United Nations bodies do more to respond to early warning signs before reprisals grow more severe. See Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, paras. 50-55. Civil society praised the Secretary General’s decision to entrust a senior official with leading these efforts. [ISHR] Read more
After a severe financial crisis threatened to effectively shut down major operations at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) this year, the IACHR recently announced that the immediate crisis is now over. Many States and other entities have agreed to donate funds, allowing the IACHR to salvage its budget and continue operating. Because the IACHR has overcome the crisis, it will be able to hold its second period of sessions for the year, in Panama City from November 29, 2016 to December 7, 2016. [IACHR Press Release: Panama] It will also avoid laying off staff, nearly half of whom were at risk of losing their positions. [IACHR Press Release: Crisis]
While the IACHR expressed its gratitude to donors and its relief at avoiding disaster, it emphasized that its overall financial health remains precarious and States must do more to fund its effective functioning. To that end, the IACHR and its judicial counterpart, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), have drafted a joint budget proposal for 2017. The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) will review the proposal and adopt the OAS budget on October 31. [IACHR Press Release: Overcome; IACHR Press Release: Proposal] Read more
The Palais des Nations
Credit: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré
During the month of September 2016, several supranational bodies will review States’ implementation of their treaty obligations, regional judicial bodies will conduct hearings, and four UN special procedures mechanisms will conduct country visits.
Four United Nations treaty bodies will hold interactive dialogues with more than 20 States regarding their implementation of treaty obligations related to economic, social, and cultural rights and to the rights of persons with disabilities, children, and migrants and their families. The UN Human Rights Council and two working groups under it will conduct sessions as well. The UN General Assembly will host the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. In addition, UN independent experts will visit Israel and Palestine, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, and Mexico to assess the country situations with regard to violence against women, human trafficking, the intersection of human rights and business enterprises, and human rights defenders, respectively.
The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold a session on State compliance with employment related rights. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear a case on freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will complete its consideration of cases against Ecuador, Guatemala, and Colombia during its 55th Special Session. The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will hold its third ordinary session of the year.
The treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Web TV. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar. Read more