Veteran human rights advocate named to lead UN monitoring group in Nepal
“Our new office in Nepal is extremely important and I am pleased to have someone of Mr. Martin's vast experience to lead our efforts there,” Human Rights High Commissioner Louise Arbour said today while announcing the appointment in Geneva. This follows the UN’s recent agreement with the Nepalese Government to begin setting up a regional monitoring operation to prevent further violations by all sides in the nine-year-old armed conflict with Maoist rebels.
Mr. Martin has 30 years of experience in human rights, both with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and with the UN. He has held top posts in key UN peace operations, including in East Timor (UNAMET) in 1999, and from 2000 to 2001 in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).
As the High Commissioner’s Special Adviser in Sudan, he helped strengthen the UN's human rights presence in Darfur. He is presently the Vice-President of the New York-based International Centre for Transitional Justice. He was also Secretary General of Amnesty International from 1986 to 1992.
Mr. Martin's first task will be to head a group of eight monitors preparing to go to the Himalayan kingdom in early May. They will join human rights staff already in the country, bringing the total to 12 and laying the groundwork for the deployment of a larger contingent in the coming weeks. The UN’s goal is to set up an office in the capital Kathmandu and up to five regional field offices to ensure rapid responses to violations reports.
Yesterday during a press conference in New Delhi, India, where he concluded an official visit, Secretary-General Kofi Annan was asked about the situation in Nepal. He said that he had met with King Gyanendra recently in Jakarta, Indonesia, and had stressed the need for the country to return to constitutional rule as soon as possible and for political parties to resume their activities.
“From my discussions with the King, I hope this will happen,” Mr. Annan said, adding that in the meantime, the UN was and would be very active on the ground and that he hoped the human rights team set to arrive there shortly would “dissuade those who are inclined to abuse the human rights of others that they would be held accountable.”