NEWS RELEASES – On this Monday 27th, February begins the 34th Human Rights Council (HRC). Apart from continuing from where it stopped during the 33rd HRC, the Council also focus on other crucial human rights issues. As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, stated few weeks ago: “A new era is unfolding before us. We find ourselves in a political earthquake zone. To many of us, it appears the international system could become dangerously unstable. Fresh shocks are opening up, unsuspected fault lines. Weight-bearing pillars are in danger of collapse”.
At its closure, the 33rd HRC focused on conflict zones and situations where freedom of speech is not allowed. The war in Yemen was the main topic of this session because of a lot of NGOs, specialists and UN Rapporteurs tried to raise awareness on this critical situation. They asked to stop attacks on civilian and to ensure humanitarian access. The safety of journalists was an important topic too because of the raise of the attacks against journalists and media workers and the violence they suffering in a lot of countries in the world. The impunity of some of these crimes, like torture, disappearances or murder, has to be stopped. The resolution A/HRC/33/L.6 recalls the importance to protect journalists and their work and to punish people trying to refrain them.
Today, Geneva welcomes the delegations of the 47 countries which form the intergovernmental body of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Eleventh Cycle (2017), presided by Joaquín Alexander MAZA MARTELLI (El Salvador). Always aiming at strengthening and promoting human rights around the world, the Council started its working agenda today under the eye of the world. In fact, this morning, Le Temps explained in an article the importance of this session. The war in Syria, the raise of populism or the global attacks on human rights values are some on the issues the HRC has to discuss. The newspaper underlines the importance on focusing on the possibility of a genocide in the most recent country in the world, South Sudan, as the High Commissioner Zeid stated in December 2016.
The work of the 34th HRC has just started. Nevertheless, a lot has been covered and discussed already and the importance of such a crucial event for human rights cannot be underestimated. On the other side, the role of human rights has been put into discussion several times in the UN panorama. How can human rights be fully integrated in the multifaceted and enormous institution that the UN represents today? How can the Human Rights Council handle the raise of populism and xenophobia as well as the new policies against human rights? These are important questions that should be addressed not to forget that improvement and progress come from constructive criticism and reflection. Hopefully, the 34th HRC will cope with these questions in an attempt to restore faith in human rights and their role in this world.
Sonia Rodríguez – Project Coordinator at CIPADH