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2000 children forcibly separated from their parents and other topics – Human Rights Council Briefing

2000 children forcibly separated from their parents and other topics - Human Rights Council Briefing



Thank You mr. president mr. president excellencies distinguished delegates colleagues and friends as this is my last global update to the Human Rights Council in a regular session and before I turn once again to the important matter of access and cooperation I wish to draw on some final reflections I heard recently a UN official telling others there is really no such thing as universal human rights musing that they were picked from a Western imagination I remember thinking to myself that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the most translated document in the world was negotiated by the same political leaders who poured universal values into the Charter creating the United Nations is the UN also then somehow not Universal where its value is sourced only from a Western tradition unrepresentative of the rest of the world no a clear rejection of this comes from a look at the negotiating record itself the San Francisco conference which established the UN was a circus of sound shaped from many tongues its result was not a solo tune from a Western instrument had that been the case had the countries that joined the organization believed they were being pinned to alien Western values why then did they not stream for the exits why did they not withdraw from the UN but then why is the Universal Declaration and the whole body of human rights law that followed it the object of so much attack now and not only from the violent extremists like the attack series but also from authoritarian leaders populist demagogues cultural relativist some Western academics and even some UN officials I have spent most of my career at and in the UN what I have learnt is this the UN is symptomatic of the wider global picture it is only as great or as pathetic as the prevailing state of the international scene at the time I also have come to understand how weak human memory is that too many people history matters only insofar as it can be on sheathed and flung into political battle they do not view it as a service to deeper human understanding there is a dangerous remove and superficial and sorry superficiality to so many of our discussions so much so that the deepest core issue seems to have been lost on many is it not the case for example that historically the most destructive force to imperiled the world has been chauvinistic nationalism when raised to feral extremes by self-serving callous leaders and amplified by mass ideologies which themselves repressed freedom the UN was conceived in order to prevent its rebirth chauvinistic nationalism is the polar opposite of the UN it's very Antonin and enemy so why are we so submissive to its return why are we in the UN so silent the UN's resin d'etre is the protection of peace rights justice and social progress its operating principle is therefore equally clear only by pursuing the opposite to nationalism only when States all work for each other for every for all people for the human rights of all people can peace be attainable why are we not doing this those of us in the UN Secretariat originating from all 193 member states work collaboratively and we do not answer to any state in contrast to many governments represented at the UN will often pull in the opposing direction feigning a commitment to the common effort yet fighting for nothing more than the thinly thought interests taking out as much as they can from the UN politically while not investing in making it a true success the more pronounced their sense of self-importance the more they glory in nationalism the more unvarnished is the assault assault by these governments on the overall common good on universal rights on universal law and universal institutions such as this one and as the attack on the multilateral system and its rules including most especially international human rights law intensifies so too will the risk increase a further mischief on a grander scale the UN's collective voice must therefore be principled and strong not weak and whining obsessed with endless wrangling over process the small things as it is the case today if my office and of which I am very proud and I have gotten one thing right over the last few years it is our understanding that only fearlessness is adequate to our task at this point in time not ducking for cover or using excuses or resorting to euphemisms but a fearlessness approaching that shown by human rights defenders around the world for only by speaking out can we begin to combat the growing menace of chauvinistic nationalism that stalks our future I appeal to you to do more to speak louder and work harder for the common purpose and for universal human rights law to better our chances for a global peace this Council session will consider numerous essential issues among them you have before you the report of my office on Kashmir and the coming report on Venezuela you will also be informed of the findings of the team of experts on the casa regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and as I transition and out of my position the office will continue its work on the database of business enterprises engaged in specific activities related to Israeli settlements as called for by the council with an update possibly before September at the September session the fact-finding mission report on Myanmar will be presented to the council alongside the report of the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar and you will also receive the report on Yemen prepared by the eminent international experts in that context I emphasize my grave worry regarding the Saudi and Emirati LED coalition's ongoing attacks in medida which could result in enormous civilian casualties and have a disastrous impact on life-saving humanitarian aid to millions of people which comes through the port mr. president twice in the course of my mandate I have reported on the troubling failure by a number of countries to grant access and I will do so again today these refusals of access constitute a serious affront to our work and where there is sustained denial of access and serious reasons to believe violation are occurring we will consider the option of remote monitoring the offices mandate to conduct to conduct such monitoring is unassailable and if the government concerned fears there may be inaccuracies it should permit us in to see the situation on the ground mr. president in Syria the leadership's contempt and disregard for human rights was what laid the ground for this conflict and fuelled it for the first year at least the horrific violations and abuses committed since then principally by the government and its allies but including also the violent extremists and their supporters have destroyed much of the country along with many of its people both my office and the council's Commission of Inquiry have been refused access to all regions the government's recent selective acceptance of one reporter's visit when so many other requests have been outstanding for an extended period is in no way an adequate standing for compliance with this council's resolutions as 18 – 1 and 19 struck 22 which called for full cooperation with my office and the establishment of a field presence our extensive remote monitoring of human rights violations in Syria will continue in Myanmar as the council is aware there are clear indications of well-organized widespread and systematic attacks continuing to target through hinder in Rakhine State as an ethnic group amounting possibly to acts of genocide ifs are established by a court of law in Chechen and northern Shan States conflict has again escalated since October last year and long-standing and widely reported human rights violations in the country include allegations of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances torture and inhuman treatment rape and other forms of sexual violence forced recruitment of children into armed forces and indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks arising from conflicts between security forces and armed groups although myanmar has stated that it will investigate allegations and prosecute alleged perpetrators its actions to date have not met minimal standards of credibility or impartiality due to continuing refusals to permit access or HC HR the country Special Rapporteur and the fact-finding mission have conducted remote monitoring in the context of the MOU that the government of Myanmar has established with UNDP and UNHCR for the repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh I reiterate that no repatriation should occur in the absence of sustained Human Rights monitoring on the ground in the areas concerned given the gravity and scope of the human rights violations in Venezuela and continuing denial of access to my office we will continue a remote monitoring and reporting and our second report will be published in the coming days and we firmly believe the council needs to establish a commission of inquiry since last June the government has issued three invitations to special procedures the first since 1996 however the authorities having have ignored a long list of requests by others whose mandates are particularly relevant to the current human rights crisis in the country despite Burundi's agreement to cooperate with the team of experts mandated by the council last year the team was expelled from the country last month and has not been able to return access is also denied to the International Commission of Inquiry set up in 2016 and the authorities have refused to finalize discussions on the renewal of the MoU with my office meanwhile the human rights situation continues to deteriorate throughout the country the government's continuing restrictions on civic space and its decision to revise the Constitution through a referendum last month have generated a host of human rights concerns including at least 44 alleged cases of arbitrary arrest and detention and may further deepen grievances I strongly encourage the government to re-establish engagement with all international human rights bodies I have sought to engage substantively with both India and Pakistan over the past two years regarding the situation in Kashmir on both sides of the line of control refusals by both India and Pakistan to enable unconditional access have led us to conduct remote monitoring with the first report issued last week I encourage the council to consider establishing a commission of inquiry for a more comprehensive investigation of the human rights situation in Kashmir and reiterate my calls for access I am tremendously saddened by the assassination last week of sujod Bihari a courageous human rights defender actively working for peace including through his participation in the track to diplomacy seeking to help both India and Pakistan put an end to the violence in Nicaragua anti-government protests over the past two months have led to the killing of at least 178 people almost entirely at the hand of the police forces and by armed pro-government groups including allegedly the use of snipers with at least 1500 people wounded this in addition to reported abductions and disappearances I deplore the violence including the horrific arson attack two days ago the gravity of these developments may well merit International Commission of Inquiry I expect the commitments made at the resumption of the national dialogue on the 15th of June to be upheld including the cessation of all forms of violence and threats thereof and the commitment to extend an urgent invitation to OHCHR to visit the country as we have repeatedly requested this invitation should be sent without delay in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea remote monitoring by my office has found little change in the country's long-standing grave and systematic violations of human rights the people of the DPRK risk their lives and their dignity for the exercise of their fundamental human rights including seeking to leave the country and communicating with individuals abroad while I regret the persistent lack of cooperation with the country mandate holder the DPRK s recent engagement with the human rights mechanisms through one special report or visit and treaty body reviews is encouraging I call on the authorities to step up that engagement significantly and without selectivity including cooperation with the country mandate the experience of my office has repeatedly demonstrated that making human rights as part of peace talks contributes to meaningful and sustainable peace in the long term our door remains open for greater engagement and cooperation Israel continues to deny access to the occupied Palestinian territory by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 this has been the case for three successive holders of the mandate access has also been denied to all of the council's previous Commission's of inquiry including on Gaza in 2014 I believe the council's advocacy of impartial monitoring and expert recommendations is entirely justified by the gravity of the situation and I urge as to provide access to all human rights mechanisms including the investigative body mandated last month to enable impartial monitoring and advanced accountability and justice in China despite efforts by my office to establish conditions conducive to an effective dialogue my staff have not been given unfettered access to the country including to the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the sim John Wheeler Autonomous Region where the human rights situation is reportedly fast deteriorating moreover although to mandate holders have visited the country in the past five years China has in that period accumulated more than 15 pending requests for visits I am therefore dismayed by China's continuing efforts to prevent independent members of civil society from engaging with human rights mechanisms including treaty body reviews this UPA this council's UPR and many mandate holders I encourage the authorities to enable all actors to contribute to all the International Human Rights mechanisms and to cooperate with them in a spirit of open and mutual partnership in order to improve respect for the rights and freedoms of China's people regarding this situation in Turkey an invitation for the High Commissioner to visit Ankara is not a substitute for access for the office to directly and objectively assess the situation in the southeast where the authorities have consistently failed to conduct credible criminal investigations into the civilian deaths which occurred during security operations in 2015 and 2016 in the absence of adequate access the office will continue remote monitoring of the situation I note that Turkey received visits relating to torture freedom of expression and enforced disappearances in 2016 and courage the government to allow further visits in the near future unconditional access to Bahrain continues to be refused to my office and the and to special procedures amid continued crackdowns on civil society and additional legislation which further restricts the people's fundamental rights I encouraged the kingdom to reverse these profoundly damaging trends and to facilitate effective engagement with the international human rights mechanisms and my office stands ready to provide technical and legal expertise I deeply regret that there has been no progress regarding access for the office to all protracted conflicts in the South Caucasus to enable us to assess people's human rights needs and assist in addressing protection gaps in addition to date access has not been granted by the authorities in control under the framework of this council's resolutions 37 sorry 34 strug 37 and 37 through 40 on cooperation with Georgia in South Sudan I acknowledge and welcome the government's cooperation with this council's Commission on human rights in South Sudan however in violation of the Status of Forces Agreement human rights officers working with armies have been regularly denied access to locations where serious human rights violations and abuses are allegedly committed impeding on misses mandated task of monitoring the human rights situation these include facilities run by the National Security Service where hundreds of people are believed to be arbitrarily detained in conditions that could amount to torture I am deeply concerned about the intensification of indiscriminate attacks against civilians particularly a pattern of rapes and killings perpetrated by government forces and their proxies in Unity State since April 2018 human rights officers have documented the rape of children as young as four years old and numerous cases of women elderly people and others being hanged or burned alive in what appears to be a deliberate scorched earth policy I welcome Security Council resolution 24 14 on Western Sahara which strongly encourages enhancing cooperation with OHCHR I reiterate my readiness of the redness of my office to undertake as soon as possible a follow-up technical mission to Western Sahara I am concerned by the suspension of a visit to Rwanda by the Subcommittee on the prevention of torture late last year dude due to serious obstruction regarding access to some places of detention the confidentiality of interviews and concerns about potential reprisals the SPT decided to resume the visit in 2018 but there has been no positive engagement with the authorities I call on them to provide full cooperation so that the subcommittee can fulfill its important mandate in Indonesia I'm concerned that despite positive engagement by the authorities in many respects the government's invitation to my Oval Office to visit Papua which was made during my visit in February has still not been honored Bangladesh has granted extensive and commendable access to the office and all relevant Human Rights mechanisms with respect to the reinjure refugee crisis however it has more than ten outstanding requests for visits by mandate holders to assess the human rights situation in Bangladesh itself I encourage greater engagement particularly with respect to concerns about the shrinking space for civil society and allegations of extra judicial actions by the Security forces in Mexico despite a positive record of openness which we deeply appreciate I regret the lack of access for the Committee on enforced disappearances despite repeated requests under article 33 of the convention since 2012 the committee has registered over 310 urgent cases on urgent actions on cases of enforced disappearances in the country which represent more than 60% of all urgent actions registered to date in Cameroon I trust that a recent promising discussions with the authorities will swiftly lead to approval for a mission by the office to all parts of the country to date this access has been refused despite the growing crisis in the Anglophone regions with fighting between up to a dozen armed groups and the security forces we have received reports of abuses and violations by all sides including burning of schools and private property mass arrests and arbitrary detentions and the use of torture and excessive force by security personnel leading to the displacement of 150,000 people within the country and over 20,000 to neighboring Nigeria on Crimea we have repeatedly asked the Russian Federation for access in line with the General Assembly's requests special procedures mandate holders have also sought to visit Crimea most recently the Special Rapporteur on torture the Russian Federation's replies while incompatible with GA resolution 68 stroked to 60 to 70 one-stroke 205 and 72 stroked 190 nonetheless recognized that international human rights mechanisms must extend their reach to Crimea I hope these encouraging responses can pave the way for additional steps to enable our access in the interests of the human rights protection of the people of the region mr. president almost 40 states have received no visit by a special reporter over the past five years despite requests among them 15 states have more than five pending requests Bahrain Belarus Bolivia Colombia the Democratic Republic of the Congo Egypt Ethiopia Iran Jamaica and Nicaragua Pakistan Turkmenistan Uganda Yemen and Zimbabwe I take this opportunity to emphasize that attempts by governments to selectively cherry-pick which mandates they will invite to their country undermine the integrity of the entire international human rights architecture their own commitments to the equality and dignity of all their people and the authority of this council there is also no exception to the requirement of cooperation for states in disagreement with the majority of council members indeed such an approach would eviscerate the meaning of the council's decisions I deplore the openly voiced refusal of a number of states to cooperate with this council's independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity notably the Russian Federation has formally refused to respond to any communications from the mandate holder including joint submissions with other experts mandated by the council despite serious allegations of violence discrimination and exclusion of members of the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender community especially in Chechnya in many states LGBTI people face severe and often official discrimination and almost everywhere they are inadequately protected from violence and bigotry protecting all human beings including the LGBTI community is not outside the international legal framework ending discrimination and violence for everyone everywhere is absolutely a central to our to our principles and work mr. president at the same time I am pleased to note a number of positive developments with respect to access for these special procedures these include an increased response rate to communications now at 68% an increase of 13% over 2016 and Afghanistan's issuance of a standing invitation to all mandate holders taking the number of states having done so to 118 UN member states and one non-member observer state I note and commend the following states which have hosted at least five visits by limited mandates in the last five years Argentina Australia Azerbaijan Brazil Chile Georgia Ghana Greece Honduras Italy Kazakhstan Mexico the Republic of Korea Serbia Sri Lanka Tunisia Ukraine the UK and the u.s. regarding engagement with the treaty bodies I welcome the submission of long-standing reports to the committees by Bangladesh cap over the Central African Republic Guinea Mali Mauritania Niger Tonga and Zambia allow me also to applaud cut off its accession to the Covenant and Afghanistan's accession to the optional protocol to the convention against torture and other cruel inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment my office stands ready to support them in efforts to implement these commitments to ensure respect for their people's rights and I urge other countries which have not ratified these and other human rights treaties to do so mr. president in a number of areas I am heartened by significant progress regarding access during my second mission to Ethiopia in April I was impressed and encouraged by the Prime Minister's commitment to undertake reforms that could well advance the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights and principles including a broad space for expression peaceful assembly and a civil society participation following a long period of reluctance to engage with international human rights bodies the recent conclusion of a much awaited MOU will facilitate an extensive role for the office in the country and I encourage the authorities to also accept visits by and guidance from special procedures experts in the context of the ongoing reforms I applaud the lifting of the state of emergency earlier this month as well as the release of a number of political d-day detainees while recognizing challenges I look forward to assisting the authorities in furthering respect for the human rights of all in Ethiopia I welcome our Mina's recent decision to enable the office to contribute more effectively to upholding the rights of armenia's people including its invitation to provide technical assistance through presence a presence of our staff on the ground I again commend Tunisia for its extensive cooperation with the office and special procedures and its establishment of a national monitoring and reporting framework to strengthen engagement with the treaty bodies OHCHR has unconditional access to all areas of the country including two prisons and the official visit of 12 mandate holders has been fully facilitated by the government since it extended a standing invitation to special procedures in 2011 in Moldova my office and mandate holders have recently been given access to the Transnistria region I am hopeful that we will see deeper engagement with the office and the UN and I encourage other states in a similar context in Europe and worldwide to review and build on these good practices breaking with 15 years of refusals of visits by the special procedures which Pakistan received the mandate hold on freedom of religion or belief in October 2017 and in May Parliament adopted a roadmap on implementing his recommendations the UN country team has also reviewed has also received I'm sorry the government's approval for a project by UNDP support and follow-up to nuclear recommendations and I understand that the authorities have rolled back a number of restrictions on civil society activity Libya following my visit to Tripoli in October accepted its first ever mission from a mandate holder the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons and other mandate holder visits are planned should the security situation allow Libya has also co-sponsored this councils resolution 37 stur 45 which encourages monitoring and reporting by an smell on human rights violations and abuses in the country and calls for cooperation with human rights mechanisms the recent decision to redeploy you and staff to Tripoli should also open the door for greater access across the country the council may also wish to note the deployment of human rights advisers to Belarus and Zimbabwe to countries where there have been access issues in the past mr. president people do not lose their human rights by virtue of crossing a border without a visa I deplore the adoption the adoption by many countries of policies intended to make themselves as inhospitable as possible by increasing the suffering of many already vulnerable people in recent weeks I have become increasingly alarmed by two issues regarding access for civil society organizations to migrants in Hungary I'm deeply concerned about a bill presented to Parliament last month which if adopted would effectively criminalize Human Rights monitoring at borders and within border zones as well as criminalizing the provision to migrants of information legal aid and assistance the bill would also eliminate or impede judicial review in many cases it is essential that independent monitoring bodies including not only all International Human Rights bodies but also National Human Rights institutions and civil society be able to monitor the human rights situation of migrants without fear or obstruction these prohibitions and related measures adopted by the government of Hungary in recent months stigmatize and harm migrants and vulnerable situations and those who seek asylum as well as punishing the admirable work of human rights defenders who seek to help them in the United States I'm deeply concerned by recently adopted policies which punish children for their parents actions in the past six weeks nearly 2,000 children have been forcibly separated from their parents the American Association of Pediatrics has called this cruel practice government-sanctioned child abuse which may cause irreparable harm with lifelong consequences the thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable I call on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children and I encourage the government to at last ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child in order to ensure that the fundamental rights of all children whatever their administrative status will be at the center of all domestic laws and policies mr. president we request access so we can better work to help bring States laws and practices in line with the commitments we they themselves have made every decision to engage more productively with the human rights system is a decision to create openings towards a more harmonious society one where there is greater justice more sustainable peace and better development I am heartened by the new areas where access has been achieved over the past year it is not easy to highlight conflicts which have been averted violations which have been warded off inspiring violence that has been interrupted and diminished but every step towards greater implementation of the Human Rights agenda is an act of prevention which gathers and strengthens the bonds between communities and reinforces inclusive development and peace I am convinced that the human rights ideal has been the most constructive movement of ideas in our era and among the most successful over the past 70 years a sustained peace has been achieved in in between many societies conflicts have been resolved with respect and through law a vastly increased number of people had been able to meaningfully express their views and access education healthcare and opportunities for development without discrimination some may take these achievements for granted but they are the enactment of policies policies and laws that uphold the universal principles of human dignity and equality and they are not the norm every societies history is bloody with conflict and deprivation we need only look back a little way to grasp the dangers which our work averts when leaders undermine human rights and human rights law this is in no way an act of patriotism they are eroding the structures which can ensure the safety of their people pitching their societies backwards into violence destruction exploitation and the faster they are recreating the rule of brute force and exploitation within countries in between them true patriotism consists in viewing every state and humanity as a home as a community of mutually of mutual responsibilities with shared needs and goals the true patriotism consists of the work of creating tolerant communities which can live in peace I depart an office which is strong absolutely committed to its gargantuan task and which in the face of heavy headwinds has made progress these new areas of access are a testament to the credibility of our operations and the Justice of our cause I remain convinced that the monitoring and reporting we have achieved our capacity building for civil society and States and our clear steady and impartial advocacy have been significant contributors to governance that is more inclusive and respectful of the rights of people societies which are more peaceful and development that is broader deeper and of more benefit to all finally mr. president I wish to end my last statement in this formal setting with a series of acknowledgments this is the hardest most challenging most fulfilling responsibility I have held it has been hard on my family and it has affected my relationship with the government of the country of my birth the country I had the honor of representing diplomatically for so many years that it makes me sad this is so however this price is small in comparison to that paid by so many human rights defenders and civil society more broadly who sacrifice so much more again and again who to me are the real heroes genuine heroes of the human rights movement similarly I hold in high regard those members of my office both international and national staff who work in some of the most dangerous and difficult parts of the world this council needs to recognize what they do we owe them a very special gratitude it has also been an honor for me to work with my brilliant deputy Kate Gilmore an exceptional and courageous leader in her own right and from whom I have learnt a great deal I've also benefitted greatly from the advice and support of Assistant Secretary General Andrew Gilmore drawn from his extensive knowledge of the UN and thank him for his leadership to all the directors led by adam abdel mola georgette gallo and Peggy Hicks and all the senior officials of whom there are too many to name I admire all of you and thank you too as well as the as well as all the professional and national staff here in Geneva those in our New York office in the regional offices and country presences I owe you all my gratitude to my spokesperson Rupert Koval and his hard working team I feel a special indebtedness to you for your extraordinary work and then there is Ruth Marshall who has been my amazing speech writer and from whom it would be difficult to separate we have been operating in each other's heads for the last four years I thank also the in all those in the front office led by the incomparable merit kohonen sharif supported by Cecile Abdul both of whom I conferred with almost every day in the last four years as I did with my old friend Anton nikiforov as well as with Cecilia kanessa Carol ray and Katherine vesali all of you have been close family to me to my security officers I'm especially grateful for your warmth dedication and professionalism and to many other staff to name to numerous to name whose commitment and dedication to their work for human rights drives them to work day and night to further the cause I salute you and finally to my brother Muhammad in sword who accompanied me from New York via unmanned and has been with me every step of the way and will always remain a very special friend thank you I also wish to acknowledge all the ambassadors and their staffs here the personal friendship and support of so many diplomats who notwithstanding their official positions understand what it is we're trying to do has been deeply meaningful to me and as I close out my last two and a half months I'm very keen to reunite with my wife Sarah and our three children without their love for the strange man it was or it is impossible for me to see how I could have managed the stresses of this position I hope I have made them proud for soon to borrow from the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson this Hunter shall be home from the hill I thank you mr. president [Applause]

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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