On August 30th, the international community will commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, honoring those who have been forcibly disappeared, while encouraging States to cease this practice and remedy the damage it has caused. Enforced disappearance is defined as arrest, detention, abduction, or other deprivation of a person’s liberty by agents of the State, combined with the “refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.” See International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, art. 2. In honor of this year’s International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that enforced disappearance “is a practice that cannot be tolerated in the twenty-first century,” urging States to “provide full information about the whereabouts of persons who have been disappeared [and to] effectively implement the right to the truth, justice and reparation for all victims and their families.” [UN]
A mural urges remembrance, truth, and justice.
Credit: Lisa Reinsberg
The UN Human Rights Committee reviews Sudan
Credit: UN Treaty Body Webcast
Last month, both the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) held regular sessions in Geneva, Switzerland. During these sessions, the committees reviewed States parties’ implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), respectively. Read more
Special Meeting of the AICHR on the Review of the Terms of Reference
Earlier this year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) began a series of regional consultations with governments and civil society on the revision of its Terms of Reference (TOR), one of the commission’s principal governing documents. The AICHR, which began operating in 2009, has been criticized as insufficiently committed to human rights accountability and lacking in independence and transparency.
These consultations are part of a required five-year review of the TOR, but also reflect an interest in reconciling opposing views of the AICHR’s role in regional human rights protection. Civil society, in particular, is advocating for the AICHR to adopt the characteristics of its counterparts in Africa, the Americas, and Europe by expanding its mandate to include country visits, inquiries, and a complaints mechanism, and by ensuring adequate independence and staffing support for its members. [Human Rights in ASEAN] In August 2014, the AICHR will recommend changes to its TOR at the 47th Meeting of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers, but the actual adoption of any changes may not occur until 2016. [Myanmar Times] Read more
26th session of the UN Human Rights Council
Credit: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré
In a new attempt to hold transnational corporations accountable for human rights violations, the United Nations Human Rights Council has decided to establish a working group to prepare a treaty imposing international human rights legal obligations on transnational corporations. [OHCHR Press Release] The mandate of the working group will be to “elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.” UN Human Rights Council, Resolution 26/9, Elaboration of an internationally legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, A/HRC/26/L.22/Rev.1, 26 June 2014, para. 1. Read more
More than 75 people gathered last Thursday for Protecting Women’s Rights: International Law & Advocacy, a full-day conference for advocates and lawyers organized by the International Justice Resource Center (IJRC). The training, held at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, featured some of the most distinguished human rights and women’s rights practitioners in the world speaking on a variety of topics, including international and regional human rights mechanisms, violence against women, gender discrimination, and sexual and reproductive rights. Though the discussion covered a range of advocacy strategies and women’s rights issues, speakers and participants underscored six key insights relevant to women’s rights defenders in the United States and around the world. Read more
Credit: UN/Paulo Filgueiras
The United Nations General Assembly has approved the appointment of Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein as Navanethem (Navi) Pillay’s successor to head the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The High Commissioner is the official with the foremost responsibility for human rights activities at the United Nations. See UN General Assembly, Resolution 48/141, High Commissioner for the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, A/RES/48/141, 20 December 1993, para. 4. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon nominated Prince Zeid for the High Commissioner position and the General Assembly unanimously approved his appointment on June 16, 2014. [UN News Centre] Read more
Commissioner Felipe González, and to his right, Commissioner James Cavallaro during the 150th Session
Credit: Daniel Cima/IACHR
For apparently the first time, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has published a detailed report concerning its most recent session that: identifies forthcoming decisions on the admissibility and merits of petitions; lists the working meetings held between members of the Commission, States, and civil society; summarizes the information gathered through thematic hearings on a range of rights topics; and, describes the progress made toward friendly settlements, among other issues. See IACHR, Report on the 150th Session of the IACHR (2014). The report is full of information that will be of use to petitioners and advocates and which, until now, had not been made publicly available in many instances. Read more
Join the International Justice Resource Center and the New Tactics community for an online conversation on Engaging Regional Human Rights Mechanisms from April 21 to 25, 2014. IJRC’s executive director, Lisa Reinsberg, will join experts and practitioners from around the world in discussing the practical details of seeking justice, accountability, and reform through the regional human rights systems. Read more
The UN General Assembly holds an informal meeting on the treaty body system in July 2012.
Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
During its 68th Session, the United Nations General Assembly last week approved a resolution intended to strengthen the UN human rights treaty body system. The measures and changes called for by the General Assembly seek to improve treaty bodies’ ability to effectively and efficiently monitor States’ implementation of human rights conventions. [OHCHR] This resolution is the next step in the treaty body strengthening process initiated by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2009. [OHCHR] Read more
State Ratification of the ICCPR
During its 110th session last month, the United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded its first reading of Draft General Comment No. 35 on Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects the right to liberty and security of person, including the freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The Committee invites interested stakeholders to submit comments on the draft before June 1, 2014. [OHCHR] Read more