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Cablegate: Strategies to Renew the Haiti Special Rapporteur

Hana J Ros 10/07/2008 02:10:57 PM From DB/Inbox: Search Results

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------------------BED3A8 311001Z /38
R 310952Z JUL 08
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6905
INFO HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS GENEVA 000636


SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM UNHRC PINR HA
SUBJECT: STRATEGIES TO RENEW THE HAITI SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR
MANDATE

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The "Group of Friends" of the Haiti
mandate of the Human Rights Council met to address their
concerns that some countries might seek to scale back or
eliminate that mandate when it comes up for renewal in the
Council. The Group members focused on gaining the support of
the GoH for the mandate, and saw good relations between
Port-au-Prince and the new mandate holder, Michel Forst, as
vital. For his part, Forst has, for the moment, taken a
cautious approach toward his mandate. Several Group members
agreed that they would begin lobbying to renew the mandate in
hopes of ensuring its renewal and making it as strong as
possible. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Looking to lay the groundwork for next year's
planned renewal of the mandate on the human rights situation
in Haiti and to begin working with the recently selected
special rapporteur on Haiti, Michel Forst, the French Mission
held two sessions of the "Group of Friends" of that mandate,
on July 18 and 23. At the Human Rights Council's June
session, Forst, who is French, replaced Louis Joinet, who had
served as special rapporteur since 2002.

PROSPECTS FOR MANDATE RENEWAL
-----------------------------

3. (SBU) While Group of Friends members agreed on the
importance of ensuring the renewal of a strong mandate,
several also expressed concern that achieving this may meet
resistance from Egypt and the African Group as part of their
general push to eliminate country-specific mandates. Noting
that the current political situation in Haiti might also
present difficulties, the Group stressed the importance of
securing Haiti's full support before moving ahead with
demarches requesting the support of other countries,
including Cuba, China, and Asian Group members. Without the
full support of the GoH it would be difficult to persuade
those countries to support the mandate's renewal.

4. (SBU) Participants noted that the GoH had previously
supported the renewal and had indicated that it found the
work of Joinet to be beneficial. The Chilean representative
said that Joinet had worked hard to gain Haiti's trust, and
that Forst's relationship with the GoH could bear on its
support for mandate renewal. Mexico noted that Haiti's
upcoming review in 2010 under the Universal Periodic Review
would assist in renewing the mandate, because Haiti would
want to show cooperation with international mechanisms.

NEW RAPPORTEUR'S IMPACT
-----------------------

5. (SBU) The July 23 meeting was the first between the Group
of Friends and the new mandate holder. Forst also plans to
meet with Joinet and the new Human Rights Council President,
Nigerian Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, at the end of August.
A statement endorsing the new mandate from Uhomoibhi would be
especially helpful in countering opposition within the
African Group, participants agreed. Forst told the Group
that he plans to keep the main recommendations from Joinet's
most recent report to the Council and would emphasize
economic, social, and political rights.

6. (SBU) Forst demonstrated a cautious approach to his new
mandate, noting that to date, he had had only one informal
meeting with the GoH and that he plans to wait until the
mandate is renewed next year before arranging more formal
meetings. Group of Friends members disagreed with that
approach, urging him to meet with the GoH sooner in order to
develop better cooperation. Forst currently plans on two
trips to Haiti, one in late October or early November 2008
and one in the beginning of 2009.

7. (SBU) Germany questioned Forst on how he would tie his
past experience with National Human Rights Institutions
(NHRIs) to his work as mandate holder. Forst responded that
he has already been in contact with Haiti's NHRI and with
Haitian NGOs to strengthen NHRI involvement. Strengthening
GoH institutions, including the country's NHRI, would be
necessary to follow through on the Special Rapporteur's
future recommendations, he noted.

8. (SBU) The July 23 meeting ended with plans for Canada,
Germany, Guatemala, and France to meet with the Haitian
delegation in Geneva at the end of the month to discuss the
mandate. As of July 25, the Group of Friends had received
word that Port-au-Prince had yet to send guidance, and as a
result, that meeting was postponed. In the interim, the
French Mission sent emails to other Geneva-based delegations,


including ours, urging bilateral demarches requesting GoH
cooperation on the mandate. At the Group of Friends
meetings, several delegations urged active U.S.
participation, citing our influence in the region and our
past involvement in promoting human rights in Haiti.

BACKGROUND OF THE NEW SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR
----------------------------------------

9. (SBU) Michel Forst is the Secretary General of the
Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l'Homme de la
Republique Francaise (French NHRI). He is a founding trustee
of Frontline, the International Foundation for the Protection
of Human Rights Defenders. Forst has previously worked in
the human rights section of UNESCO's headquarters in Paris,
is a former Director General of Amnesty International
(France) and was Secretary General of the 1998 Paris Summit
for Human Rights Defenders. He has also managed the French
League Against Cancer and several French NGOs. A source at
OHCHR told us that while Forst comes across as reserved and
very diplomatic, he has been known to be forceful when
necessary in his position as SyG of the French NHRI.
TICHENOR


NNNN


End Cable Text

Hana J Ros 10/07/2008 02:10:57 PM From DB/Inbox: Search Results


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