Geneva International Centre for Justice delivered several joint oral statements covering various thematic issues and country-specific situations addressed under the Agenda Items of the Council.
- Item 2: ID with the High Commissioner on the human rights situation of Rohingya people
- Item 3: ID with the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions
- Item 3: ID with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons
- Item 3: ID with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children
- Item 3: ID with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
- Item 3: ID with the Special Rapporteur on trafficking of persons, especially women and children
- Item 3 ID with Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression Meeting
- Item 9: ID with the Special Rapporteur on Racism
- Item 9: ID with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967
Delivered by Mr. Augustine Sokimi
International-Lawyers.Org and Geneva International Centre for Justice welcome the oral update of the High Commissioner and encourages her to intensify the pursuit of accountability for gross violations of human rights. The impunity which states enjoy is an abhorrent reality that must be put to an end. The unspeakable violations by states must be laid bare, there can be no denial or suppression of the violations as that is an insult to all its victims and survivors.
At this 44th session, we urge Myanmar to end its violations in the Rakhine State, to ensure the human rights of Rohingya Muslims, and to undergo a process of deep reflection and reform towards a state built on fundamental democratic principles for all its peoples, including the Rohingya Muslims.
The violence must stop, and investigations into violations must be pursued relentlessly, and transparently, with integrity and credibility. Perpetrators must be held to account, state organs and structures facilitating systematic violations must be dismantled, and the human rights of Rohingya Muslims must be guaranteed through their empowerment to equal citizenry.
This requires true political will and as a first step, Myanmar must comply with the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice and cooperate with the High Commissioner, UN special procedures, and this Council.
Delivered by Mr. Dave Inder Comar
President of the Council,
We would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, for her report, and we urge the international community to openly engage in a public discussion about the ethics, legality, and effectiveness of what the Special Rapporteur describes as the “decapitation” strategy at the heart of drones targeted killings, and about the measures of their success, in terms of a long-term vision for the sustainable protection of human lives and global peace.
As the report discusses, the use of armed drones by a vast array of State and non-State actors, were increased since 2015. Drones are widely used, including for the purpose of use of force, such as targeted killings. Besides the many states, we are witnessing the use of drones by the Iraqi and Houthi militias as well as ISIS.
International-Lawyers Org and Geneva International Centre for Justice support the Special Rapporteur’s call for international scrutiny and oversight over the use of drones, particularly when they are used in targeted killings resulting in an arbitrary deprivation of life.
We also call on UN Member States to respond publicly to cases of pre-emptive self-defense, including those where drones are used, which violate international law.
We urge the UN, and all its independent members states to do all its efforts to enforce international law with respect the use of drones by both state and non-state actors, including militias, and to work to restore the rule of law and compliance with fundamental human rights.
Delivered by Mr. Mathieu J. Fournier
Thank you, Madam President,
We welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally displaced persons for her report and for the report about her visit to Iraq, in which she addresses important issue related to the continued plight of IDPs in Iraq.
As the Special Rapporteur mentioned in her report, many IDP fled conflicts zones due to the Government’s own operations against ISIL. Armed groups, namely the militias have committed heinous violations against IDPs, including killings and abductions, and until nowadays they are preventing many of them from returning to their homes
Unfortunately, the Iraqi Government is based on a sectarian system which is reliant on the militias. Such a system is ill-suited to resolve any issue, including of person displaced on sectarian basis. We note, however, that this discussion is absent from the report and other UN reports.
It must be understood that without profound change of the sectarian system, the Iraqi Government will not have the capacity of resolving this complex issue, nor will it have the political will to do so.
EAFORD and Geneva International Centre for Justice therefore calls on this Council to recognize the dilemma and increase its focus on the human rights situation in Iraq, including those IDPs who have disappeared after being abducted, and those who are prevented to return by the militias.
Delivered by Ms. Eva Kehoe
We thank the Special Representative of the Secretary General on the update on the current situation concerning violence against children and the results achieved on national and international level. Children impacted by violence suffer lifelong consequences. The experience of violence impacts children’s social, emotional and physical development and well-being.
Violence against children poses a great concern and obstacle for meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development goals. Children all around the globe in different social, cultural and environmental settings are exposed to many forms of direct and indirect violence.
Maternal maltreatment and childhood exposure to violence present an important predictive in violent tendencies towards children. Moreover, children may also experience harm when their caregivers are subjected violence by their intimate partners. Yet, the Covid-19 pandemic, the combination of economic and social stresses, the lockdowns have been followed by a global surge in domestic violence directed towards women - almost in all countries. This has extremely negative consequences on mental health of children experiencing such situations. Thus, we wish to ask the Special Representative what are current trends concerning violence against children during the Covid-19 pandemic?
In conclusion, EAFORD and Geneva International Centre for Justice call on the international community to:
- Help to eliminate all forms of violence and children, direct and indirect.
- To continue working on implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16.
Item 3 - ID with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
Delivered by Mutua Kobia
Thank you, Mr. President,
EAFORD and Geneva International Centre for Justice welcomes the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary General. The report identifies the progress made so far without minimizing the efforts that still need to be done.
Conflicts have an appalling impact on communities, and this is most notable against children who remain vulnerable and defenceless. Whether in Syria, the DRC, Myanmar, Iraq, or Yemen, the situation of children in conflict zones is most urgent. Any report stating difficulties of access to information cannot at the same time claim progress.
More alarming, the protection of children in armed conflict has been a subject discussed for decades. We cannot afford a “lessons learned” approach anymore. According to the Report of the Secretary-General, 24,422 violations were committed against children in 2019, about 7,747 were recruited in armed conflicts, and some 10,173 children have been killed or maimed. These are not numbers of an international community that has learned its lesson.
Now, non- actors are posing a significant obstacle to an international order based on state actors. We encourage all efforts to tackle this predicament. It is not sufficient to only rely on, and discuss with, states and regional security mechanisms. The international community needs new, bold, and innovative strategies. Such strategies were needed yesterday.
On the other hand, we remain confused as to the Secretary General’s decision to remove from its shame list some of the violators. Nothing justified such a move and we now fear a trend towards neglect of the issue.
Delivered by Mr. Mutua K. Kobia
Thank you, Mr. President,
We thank the Special Rapporteur for her report on “Trafficking in persons, especially women and children” and note the mention of forced labour in the context of trafficking as a massive widespread phenomenon.
We also recognize that racism and xenophobia further exacerbate the plight of persons in trafficking and creates additional vulnerabilities especially in armed conflict situations. In light of this, EAFORD and Geneva International Centre for Justice would like to draw the attention of the Special Rapporteur to the specific situation of trafficking in regions and areas of conflict where women, children, and men of specific ethnic groups are trafficked for sexual exploitation, sexual gifts, child soldiers, removal of organs, forced labour and forced marriage. Often, the purposes are either to further exacerbate conflict by drawing in capital and by using the trafficked persons in labour or to serve the perpetrators.
In the report, concerns are raised on the issue of how conflict fuels trafficking in persons, however, it is also important to note the impact of various forms of discrimination and xenophobia in this situation.
We would like to ask the special rapporteur if there are any significant trends or links regarding various forms of discrimination and xenophobia in conflict situations where trafficking of persons occurs?
In conclusion, our organisations maintain that trafficking is a multi-faceted issue and trafficking prevention must begin with proper research into local conditions. Furthermore, States should review laws and administrative practices to eliminate discriminatory bias that adds barriers for trafficking victims who are women or racial minorities.
Item 3 - ID with Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression Meeting
The Item 3 interactive dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, held on July 6, 2020, began with the Special Rapporteur’s address. In his statement, David Kaye listed five challenges that he would like States to take on in order to improve individuals’ right to freely express their opinion, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The four key issues, emphasized by States and groups of States that participated in the interactive dialogue, were the importance of protecting the rights of journalists and media, the necessity of governments having an open dialogue with the public in order to spread information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that freedom of expression and opinion are interrelated and interdependent with democracy, and that governments must prevent and urgently respond to disinformation.
First, the Special Rapporteur asserted that it is essential that governments share as much information as possible in order to protect their people from COVID-19. Second, he argued that governments must stop shutting down the internet in their States and should make it is a priority to bring internet access to all individuals in their States. Third, the Special Rapporteur stated that governments must refrain from attacking the media and journalists during and after the Coronavirus pandemic so that information can freely spread. Fourth, he avowed that it is best if governments do not sanction those who spread disinformation so that people who have helpful information feel comfortable sharing their facts without fear of punishment. Finally, the Special Rapporteur emphasized the need for States to implement public health surveillance in order to properly track and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. He made it clear though that this must be done in accordance with human rights law norms and must be non-discriminatory.
After the Special Rapporteur spoke, several States discussed the importance of protecting the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The European Union expressed its deep concern regarding the increased restriction of information and the spread of unreliable information.
The EU asserted that when States restrict information, they prevent individuals from learning about the Coronavirus. This can cause the virus to spread quicker and to become more prevalent. The same goes for unreliable information.
Burkina Faso spoke on behalf of the African Group. The African Group asserted its concern with hate speech and discrimination, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because hate speech and discrimination violate human rights. Thus, although individuals should have the right to express themselves, they should not manipulate this right to make racist statements.
Following the African Group, Sweden delivered a statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic Countries. This group of countries called on States to protect journalists and the media from threats and harm. This is because these entities are essential for the spread of accurate information that individuals can learn from to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Costa Rica spoke on behalf of a Group of Countries. This Group avowed that States should have a dynamic relationship of trust with their people to make sure individuals get accurate developments about the current pandemic urgently. This Group also expressed that managing disinformation is essential for the wellbeing of the general public.
Lebanon suggested that States should hold campaigns of awareness to prevent the spread of fake news. Campaigns can help effectively inform the public because they typically involve social media, billboards, posters, and other forms of advertisements. This recommendation is important because it allows people of all age demographics to easily access helpful information regarding the pandemic. Lebanon also highlighted the importance of medical authorities making sure that they are transparent in providing health information.
The Special Rapporteur then gave the closing remarks. The Special Rapporteur repeated the threats to freedom of expression that must be promptly addressed by governments. He avowed that officials’ harming of journalists, censorship of media, and attacks on artists and academics are plaguing individuals’ natural rights. The Special Rapporteur then urged States to be responsible to ensure the well-being of their people and to lift restrictions on freedoms of individuals that are needed during this pandemic after the pandemic is over.
Delivered by Ms. Daniela Donges
Thank you, President,
We commend the Special Rapporteur’s report on racial discrimination and digital technologies, emphasizing that racial discrimination is embedded in emerging digital technologies such as artificial intelligence. We agree that technology produces racial inequalities and that urgent action is needed to include minorities, assess human rights impacts, and provide effective remedies.
EAFORD and Geneva4Justice call on all member states to make efforts in order for the Digital platforms and big data, to be used to expose inequalities and serve as a platform to contribute to an end of racial divisions.
Regarding the report on Nazism and neo-Nazism, we share the concern about the rise of antisemitism, and agree that more concrete steps need to be taken in addition to the existing international human rights laws. We stress the Special Rapporteur’s point that education is vital to address racism.
To this end, we would like to ask the Special Rapporteur: If the DDPA is comprehensive in eliminating the evils of racism, why has the DDPA and programme of Action still not been implemented by all states? And, what is currently being done to ensure effective commemoration of its 20 Year Anniversary?
To conclude, we urge all member states to:
- Assume responsibility and stay committed to combatting all forms of racism.
- Collect, analyse, and make available reliable data on racial discrimination.
- Lastly, we strongly recommend states to support, adopt and fully implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Item 9 - ID with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967
On 16th July, an interactive dialogue was held with Mr. S. Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.
The Special Rapporteur presented his most recent report (A/HRC/44/60) which focused on Israel’s continued use of collective punishment as a prominent instrument in its coercive toolbox for population control in the occupied Palestinian territories, despite numerous reports and reminders critical of its use. Israel, as a country concerned, did not take the floor to address the report of the Special Rapporteur. The State of Palestine, as a country concerned, expressed disappointment with the international community for failing to take action against violations in the occupied territories since 1967. It condemned the United States “peace to prosperity” plan and called the international community to reject Israel’s annexation plans. Palestine highlighted that the 13-year long Gaza closure is among the worst forms of collective punishment and listed other forms of collective punishment implemented by Israel, including the demolition of Palestinian homes, and pillaging of Palestinian tax and monies.
The Arab Group, Organisation of Islamic Countries, African Group, Non-Aligned Movement, and European Union issued statements which called for Israel to cease its use of collective punishment and to put an end to the illegal occupation since 1967. All States which issued statements condemned Israel’s activities in the occupied territories. The States that issued statements were Tunisia, Malaysia, Qatar, Djibouti, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Libya, China, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Russian Federation, Pakistan, Senegal, Venezuela, Cuba, Kuwait, Namibia, Iran, Chile, Mauritania, Bangladesh, Jordan, Indonesia, Botswana, South Africa, Morocco, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, Turkey, Sudan, Egypt, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Niger, Nicaragua, Spain, and Syrian Arab Republic.
Some of the key issues touched on by States were the condemnation of Israel’s use of collective punishment, the illegal Gaza embargo and blockade, the demolition of Palestinian homes causing displacement, the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements, the illegal annexation plans for the West Bank, the persistent violation of Palestinians’ human rights, and the need to put an end to the illegal occupation since 1967. Several States called for constructive efforts towards the two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders and expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination. Several States expressed their support for the Special Rapporteur and commitment to the continuation of the agenda Item 7 focused on the occupied territories. Several states welcomed the High Commissioner’s database of business enterprises operating in the occupied Palestinian territories and called for its annual update.
Geneva International Centre for Justice extends its continued support to the Special Rapporteur and encourages him to continue his diligence and commitment towards fulfilling his mandate. We further call on the international community to take appropriate action against Israel should they proceed with their plans to illegally annex parts of the West Bank. GICJ remains steadfast in the pursuit of justice for Palestinians, towards guaranteeing their right to self-determination by putting an end to the illegal occupation since 1967, liberating them from suppression.