Cablegate: Commission On Human Rights Informal Meeting

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. The Commission on Human Rights met September 27 in Geneva
to review the work of the OHCHR Secretariat since the close
of the 61st CHR session, and to preview resolutions that
governments plan to introduce during the Third Committee in
New York. Most of the planned resolutions hew closely to
those introduced in previous years. Perhaps due to the
admonition from CHR Chair Makarim Wibisono that the Geneva
CHR meeting was not the venue in which to raise controversial
subjects, no delegation spoke in any detail about the new
Human Rights Council. Belarus took the floor to attack the
"human rights situation in the United States," and plans to
introduce a resolution this year criticizing both the U.S.
and the EU. End Summary.

Statement of High Commissioner for Human Rights
--------------------------------------------- --

2. The opening statement by High Commissioner for Human
Rights Louise Arbour focused on the recent gathering of heads
of state in New York and the Plan of Action of the Office of
the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Mrs. Arbour hailed
the "notable advances" made in New York on human rights
questions and the continued relevance of human rights issues
as one of the pillars of the UN system. She noted the
challenge of translating the consensus about creating a Human
Rights Council into practice and pledged the assistance of
OHCHR to work together with governments to accomplish the
task. Mrs. Arbour further thanked CHR member countries for
their support for OHCHR's Plan of Action, and particularly
for the agreement to double the OHCHR's budget over the next
five years. She said that she would like to see OHCHR's
expertise in thematic human rights issues consolidated and
reinforced, and planned to strengthen her office's women's
rights expertise. OHCHR has set up thirteen in-house task
forces, with each tasked to make detailed recommendations for
implementing a specific aspect of the Plan of Action. The
Plan of Action and its implementation will be the focus of
Mrs. Arbour's report to the General Assembly.

Preview of Planned Third Committee Resolutions
--------------------------------------------- -

3. After updates from Secretariat staff on human rights
agenda items of the Third Committee, several governments and
NGOs made general statements before previewing the
resolutions they plan to introduce in New York. Notable
among them was the insistence of Amnesty International that
NGOs be allowed to participate in the General Assembly
negotiations on the new Human Rights Council. The
Association for the Prevention of Torture commented that the
fight against terrorism doesn't excuse torture by "a number
of governments," including violations of human rights law and
international humanitarian law, the "outsourcing of torture"
and using "dubious diplomatic explanations" to defend this
practice. The Danish delegation will table the relevant
resolution during Third Committee.

4. Mexico will introduce a resolution on migrants with only
minor revisions to last year's text, and will also table a
draft resolution on disabled persons. Mexico will also
sponsor a resolution on combatting terrorism which will argue
that "the fight against terrorism doesn't justify the
permanent suppression of human rights."

5. The UK, speaking in its capacity as EU president, stated
that under item 69, the EU would table its traditional
omnibus resolution on the Rights of the Child, with a
particular focus this year on the rights of children living
with HIV and AIDS. Under item 71, the UK Deputy PermRep
stressed the EU's commitment to combat racism and racial
discrimination, as well as to the Durban Declaration and
Program of Work. The statement stressed the importance the
EU attaches to consensus in the international follow-up to
Durban, and regret that "the consensus conclusions of the
Inter-Governmental Working Group on Durban Follow-Up were not
respected in the Committee on Human Rights." This statement
later brought a heated rebuke from the Ethiopian Ambassador
in his capacity as chair of the Africa Group. The EU will
also table a resolution on the elimination of all forms of
religious intolerance, which will be run by the Netherlands
on behalf of the EU.

6. Russia will introduce a resolution on racial bias,
xenophobia and related problems, with similar text to last
year's resolution. The Russian delegate expressed the hope
that the draft can be adopted without a vote. Finland will
introduce its traditional UNHCR resolution, modelled on last
year's. Chile plans to introduce a draft resolution on the
right to reparations by victims of human rights violations.
Belarus noted that at the 59th CHR it had put forward a
resolution on the situation of human rights in the U.S.
Belarus had not pushed the resolution during the 60th CHR,
but "the signal by Belarus was not welcomed by the U.S. and
the human rights situation in the U.S. has not improved."
Belarus commented further on violations of the rights of
national minorities and migrants in certain countries of the
EU, and said it would table a resolution critical of the U.S.
and EU. Sweden will introduce the Nordic resolution on the
international human rights covenants. Denmark will introduce
the resolution on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and
Degrading Treatment or Punishment referenced earlier by the
Association for the Prevention of Torture. Norway plans
three resolutions: one on CEDAW under item 66, another under
item 73b on protection for IDPs, and a third on human rights
defenders. Finally, Austria plans resolutions on human
rights and the administration of justice, as well as on
ethnic and linguistic minorities.

7. The next formal meeting of the Commission on Human Rights
is scheduled for January 16, 2006.


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