UN human rights panel opens annual session in Geneva

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said in her opening remarks that thanks to its expertise and experience, the 26-member Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights has been able to provide the UN with useful recommendations on many issues.”The United Nations and the human rights community have long benefited from the expertise of the Subcommission in drafting human rights standards, increasing our understanding of new issues, and devising procedures for the protection of human rights,” Ms. Robinson said. “It goes without saying that to maintain its high standing the Subcommission must continue to meet the highest standards of precision and objectivity.”Among the issues on its provisional agenda for this year’s session, which is scheduled to last until 17 August, the Subcommission is expected to look at questions related to the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all countries; economic, social and cultural rights and the prevention of discrimination and protection of indigenous peoples and minorities.The panel will also examine the administration of justice, as well as the rights of women, slavery, trafficking in persons, the rights of asylum-seekers, the right of return of displaced persons, terrorism, and the promotion of democracy.Created by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1947, the Subcommission is made up of independent experts who conduct studies and make recommendations to the Commission. The panel is credited with spurring current worldwide interest in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, and with leading a widening campaign to end traditional practices such as female genital mutilation that are harmful to the health of women and children. read more

Ban calls on Egypt to mark anniversary of revolution with push for

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, he reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to support the country in building the future for all Egyptians, with dignity, freedom, responsible governance and development that inspired the uprising of 2011, which toppled President Hosni Mubarak nearly three years ago after mass protests. “The Secretary-General believes that one of the central challenges moving forward is pluralism: the guarantee that all voices are heard, represented and have a stake in the system, regardless of political or religious affiliation,” the statement said, underlining the “crucial need to guarantee the political space on which a stable and inclusive democracy can be built.”Last July, renewed protests, in which dozens of people were killed and wounded, led to the military deposing President Mohamed Morsy and the setting up of an interim government. A new constitution was adopted in a referendum earlier this month.“The Secretary-General encourages Egyptians to rediscover common ground,” the statement said. “In his view, credible parliamentary and presidential elections in a free and open atmosphere are crucial steps ahead in the transition.”A national independent committee set up for fact finding and gathering evidence about the events of last July “can be an opportunity to combat impunity and to ensure effective investigation and prosecution of those responsible for serious violations of international law,” it added.“Protection of human rights – and the rights and participation of women, in particular – is an essential foundation for the future. Political parties must commit themselves to non-violence,” the statement concluded, stressing that a peaceful and democratic Egypt is what the people of Egypt deserve and is critical for the entire North Africa, Middle East region and beyond. read more