UN rights envoy urges inquiry into abuses of Rohingya in Myanmar

Source: IRIN News

By Jared Ferrie

The front page of Myanmar's state-run newspaper on 9 February 2017 carried two articles about government attempts to investigate alleged military abuses of Rohingya. Pic by Jared Ferrie/IRIN

The front page of Myanmar’s state-run newspaper on 9 February 2017 carried two articles about government attempts to investigate alleged military abuses of Rohingya. Pic by Jared Ferrie/IRIN

The UN should launch an inquiry into military abuses of Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslims, because the government is incapable of carrying out a credible investigation, the UN’s rights envoy will tell the Human Rights Council next month.
Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, told IRIN that she will urge member states to sponsor a resolution for a commission of inquiry when she presents her report to the Council in Geneva on 13 March.
“I never said in the past to a reporter what I plan to put in my report,” she said in a phone interview. “This time I am making this point: I will certainly be pushing for an inquiry, definitely, on the Rohingya situation.”
Rights groups have, over the past few years, been urging the UN to investigate reports of abuses against the Rohingya, a mostly stateless minority forced to live under an apartheid system. But the calls have become more urgent since reports of mass rapes, killings, and other atrocities began to emerge in early October, when the military launched counterinsurgency operations.

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Human rights under increasing attack worldwide

Source: UN OHCHR

Human Rights Day – Saturday 10 December 2016

GENEVA (9 December 2016) – Speaking ahead of Human Rights Day on Saturday 10 December, the largest body of independent experts of the United Nations Human Rights system* urges all Governments around the world to stand up for human rights.

“The greatest achievement of the international community since the end of World War II has been the construction of an international human rights system based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted 68 years ago.

Since that time, enormous strides have been made in establishing universal standards, encouraging the very widespread domestic adoption of those standards, and in effectively defending the rights of groups and individuals who are under threat in their own societies.

But today, a chill wind is blowing through much of the world and the very notion of human rights is under increasing attack. So-called populist movements are invoking nationalism and traditionalism to justify racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic and other forms of blatant discrimination, taking advantage also of the difficulties of the current economic climate.

Hate speech aiming to incite violence, hostility, and discrimination is dramatically on the rise, as is violence against women, children, ethnic, religious or belief groups, persons with disabilities, sexual minorities, migrant and many other groups. Inequality is growing dramatically and democratic institutions are being systematically undermined. Read more

UN experts call on Malaysia to stop targeting human rights defenders under national security legislation

Source: UN OHCHR

GENEVA (9 December 2016) – Malaysia must protect all of its human rights defenders instead of targeting them under national security legislation, said today a group of United Nations human rights experts*.

Their call comes after weeks of heightened pressure on BERSIH 2.0 – a coalition of civil society organizations campaigning for clean and fair elections – and the organizers of the Bersih 5 rally, held in three cities across Malaysia on 19 November 2016.

“We are particularly concerned at the arrest of Maria Chin Abdullah, the Chairperson of BERSIH 2.0, on 18 November 2016 and her subsequent detention under the Security Offences Special Measures Act 2012 (SOSMA),” the experts said.

SOSMA specifically states that no individual will be arrested under the law for ‘political activity’ or ‘belief’ and that its use is strictly restricted to matters pertaining to public order and national security. Read more

‘Make human rights the priority in all conservation efforts’ ‘ UN experts urge governments

Source: Malaysia Sun

Pic drawn from Malaysia Sun

29 August 2016 — Ahead of the world”s largest forum for the adoption of conservation policies on protected areas, two United Nations experts on environment and indigenous peoples today highlighted that effective and sustainable conservation requires respect for human rights.

“The escalating incidence of killings of environmentalists, among them many indigenous leaders, underlines the urgency that conservationists and indigenous peoples join forces to protect land and biodiversity from external threats, notably lucrative resource exploitation,” the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights and the environment, John H. Knox, and on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said in a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Organised every four years by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Conservation Congress (WCC) brings together heads of States, high-level government officials, business leaders, representatives from indigenous groups and leading civil society organisations along with scientists and academics. This year”s WCC takes place from 1-10 September in the US state of Hawaii ” both UN experts will attend with the aim of advocating a human rights-based approach to conservation and biodiversity.

“Protection of biodiversity is a human rights issue as a healthy ecosystem is important for the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights,” Mr. Knox said. “The loss of biological diversity has negative impacts on a wide range of human rights including the rights to life, food, housing, health, water and sanitation and culture. At the same time, the exercise of human rights, including rights to information, participation, and remedy, can provide useful tools for the effective protection of biodiversity.” Read more

Statement of Mr. Alfred-Maurice de Zayas Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order at the Human Rights Council 30th Session

Source: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Statement of Mr. Alfred-Maurice de Zayas Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order at the Human Rights Council 30th Session

Geneva, 16 September 2015

Mr. President,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 18/6, 21/9, 25/15 and 27/9, I have identified in my prior reports challenges to the realization of a democratic and equitable international order, including lack of transparency and accountability, absence of democratic participation in domestic and global decision-making, asymmetric economic, financial and trade practices, military expenditures and denial of self-determination.

In this report, I address the challenge to the international order posed by certain activities of investors and transnational corporations that entail much more than interference in the regulatory space of States but actually constitute an attack on the very essence of sovereignty and self-determination, which are founding principles of the United Nations. Read more

UN experts voice concern over adverse impact of free trade and investment agreements on human rights

Source: OHCHR

GENEVA 2 June 2015 – A number of free trade and investment agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), are currently being negotiated. A group of UN experts* have issued the following statement to express concern about the secret nature of drawing up and negotiating many of these agreements and the potential adverse impact of these agreements on human rights:

“While trade and investment agreements can create new economic opportunities, we draw attention to the potential detrimental impact these treaties and agreements may have on the enjoyment of human rights as enshrined in legally binding instruments, whether civil, cultural, economic, political or social. Our concerns relate to the rights to life, food, water and sanitation, health, housing, education, science and culture, improved labour standards, an independent judiciary, a clean environment and the right not to be subjected to forced resettlement.

As also underlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, States must ensure that trade and investment agreements do not constrain their ability to meet their human rights obligations (Guiding Principle 9). Read more