Regional human rights officials gather for UN initiative to enhance cooperation

3 May 2010

Some 300 representatives from international human rights organizations converged in Geneva today for a United Nations-organized gathering intended to strengthen global cooperation in efforts to promote human rights and protect victims of violations.

“Better cooperation between the regional and international mechanisms would bolster protection of victims of human rights abuses,” said Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, when she opened the two-day workshop.

Delegates will discuss concrete proposals on ways to strengthen cooperation between the UN human rights system and regional human rights mechanisms. They will also seek to identify strategies to overcome obstacles to the promotion and protection of human rights at the national, regional and international levels.

The workshop brings together members of the African Commission and Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African sub-regional human rights mechanisms, the Inter-American Commission and Court on Human Rights, several Council of Europe human rights mechanisms, as well as the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency.

Also attending are representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the recently established human rights bodies within the League of Arab States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Officials from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) are also attending, and so are regional and UN independent experts and academics. Governments, national human rights institutions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world are also represented.

Meanwhile, Ms. Pillay today announced the appointment by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of Ivan Šimonovic of Croatia as Assistant Secretary-General to head the High Commissioner’s New York office. He becomes the first person to hold the new post, which was approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2009.

Mr. Šimonovic has extensive experience in the fields of international development, human rights, peace building and development of national institutions. He was Croatia’s justice minister since 2008, after previously serving as assistant minister and deputy minister in the foreign ministry.

Earlier, Mr. Šimonovic served as Croatia’s permanent representative to the UN in New York for six years and was Senior Vice-President and President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from 2001 to 2003. He was born in 1959.

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