Human Rights Council sets up independent monitoring group on Darfur
The United Nations Human Rights Council today agreed to set up a group of independent rights experts to work with the Sudanese Government and the African Union (AU) to monitor the situation on the ground in the war-torn Darfur region.
In a resolution adopted by consensus, the 47-member Council voiced “deep concern regarding the seriousness of the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur,” citing armed attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers, the widespread destruction of villages and the lack of accountability for the perpetrators of gender-based violence against women and girls.
Calling on all sides to the conflict to end the violence, especially against civilians and humanitarian workers, the Council voiced regret that its recent five-member High-Level Mission led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams could not visit Darfur.
The resolution backs the establishment of a new group to be presided over by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Sima Samar. The group will work with Sudan and the AU to ensure that all resolutions and recommendations on Darfur by UN human rights institutions – including the Council – are implemented and followed up.
The other members of the group are: the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston; the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the situation of human rights defenders, Hina Jilani; the Secretary-General’s Representative on human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Walter Kälin; the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, Manfred Nowak; and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Yakin Ertürk.
The resolution was adopted amid mounting international concern at the situation inside Darfur, where at least 200,000 have been killed and 2 million others forced from their homes since rebel groups took up arms against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militias in 2003.
The Darfur resolution was one of seven adopted, as well as two decisions, on the last day of the Council’s fourth session, held at its headquarters in Geneva.
In its other resolutions, the Council agreed to:
emphasize that development should be at the centre of the international economic agenda;
strengthen the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, so that the promotion and protection of the right to development is reaffirmed;
rectify the legal status of the Committee on Economic, Social and Economic Rights so that it is on a par with all other treaty-monitoring bodies;
urge States to take resolute action to ban the dissemination of racist or xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constituted incitement to racial or religious hatred or violence;
ask the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, to report on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination.
The Council, which replaced the discredited Commission on Human Rights last year, also decided to request Ms. Arbour to consult States, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others on ways to enhance international cooperation in the UN human rights machinery, and to ask Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to seek the views of all States on the issue of human rights and unilateral coercive measures.
The Council’s next session will be held from 11 to 18 June.