8 July 2009


The recently concluded UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva proved to be a disappointment according to Franciscans International (FI).

Three weeks after the shameful Special Session on Sri Lanka, where the Council "commended" the government for the measures taken to address the crisis – a crisis that had led to the death of thousands of civilians and the displacement of hundreds of thousands persons, who lacked the most basic assistance in government camps – it took the same body a very tight vote to prorogate the mandate of the expert on Sudan, a country that is experiencing some of the most serious human rights violations in the world.

The session also saw multiple attacks against the UN’s independent experts on human rights (the so-called "special procedures") and increased restrictions for NGOs to participate, among other things.

The adoption of some reports under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) also proved to be disappointing; in particular when some States used their State-sponsored NGOs to take the floor, thereby preventing independent NGOs from expressing their concerns.

On the final day of the session the International Service for Human Rights presented a critique of the first three years of the operation of the Human Rights Council that highlighted some of the concerns also expressed by FI. The series of statements issued by ISHR are available on the above website.

It is to be hoped that in the future more governments will be genuine in their efforts to promote and protect human rights around the world.

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