Essential Elements of the U.N. Sub-Commission that should be retained in any UN human rights reform

11/11/2005
Human Rights Sub-Commission

item 1 : organization of work. Joint NGO spoken statement by CETIM and 26 others NGO.



Access the statement in PDF

We strongly encourage the following elements of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights be protected and retained in any reforms initiated to the UN human rights system:

1. Working groups, studies. Active working groups (including the Social Forum), expert studies and working papers, in which NGOs are permitted to actively participate, receive information in an open and transparent manner, to submit comments and to contribute to discussions

2. Intersessional groups. Working groups should be primarily intersessional so that they do not compete with plenary discussions of other substantive agenda items

3. NGO accreditation. Flexible NGO and civil society credentialing for meetings, including continuing the practice of permitting non-accredited NGOs, indigenous peoples groups, and other representatives of civil society to attend the Social Forum and the working groups of the Sub-Commission

4. Preserve think tank role. The Sub-Commission should be given the flexibility and support to perform its role effectively as a think tank, examining new, innovative approaches, programs, standards, and country situations to promote and protect human rights, identify gaps in standards, enforcement and implementation, and identify emerging trends

5. Economic, social & cultural rights. The strong emphasis on economic, social and cultural rights should be maintained

6. Standard setting. The standard-setting activities, including suggestions for new norms and standards, should continue to be a major part of the Sub-Commission mandate

7. Session schedule. The Sub-Commission sessions should be at least three weeks long, hopefully longer, and scheduled in the July-August time period when students, academicians and other representatives of civil society can best attend

8. OHCHR. The Sub-Commission should receive full resourcing and support from the OHCHR in carrying out its work

Some NGOs support the idea of a Human Rights Council; others do not. All NGOs signing this statement however support protecting and retaining the essential elements identified here.

In addition, in light of the potential disruption which could be created in the next months if a new Human Rights Council is established, we would also strongly recommend the following transition period actions

9. Selection of members. The new Council should establish working methods which include a process for selecting members of the Sub-Commission in a fair, impartial manner, with a view to balancing different regions, gender and expertise, protecting the independence and impartiality of the experts, and preserving continuity of the Sub-Commission work from session to session. Terms should be at least 4 years in order to be able to complete 3-year studies during a single term. If no new elections are possible in Spring 2006, the existing members should continue to serve until a new selection process is implemented.

10. Continuity of work. Studies and working papers begun by a member of the Sub-Commission should be completed by that member (if he or she so wishes), regardless of whether or not the member seeks or receives re-election. All work existing and ongoing in the 57th session should be continued in the 58th session.

11. NGO participation in new working methods. NGOs should be consulted and be afforded full participation in the deliberations which establish working methods for any new or replacement bodies to the Sub-Commission

This statement is joined by the following NGOs:

Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights
Geneva for Human Rights
Worldwide Organization for Women
Pax Romana
Dominicans for Justice and Peace
Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action (FAIRA)
Europe – Third World Centre (CETIM)
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations
International Federation of University Women
International Educational Development
Indigenous World Association
Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation
Bangsa Adat Alifuru (Maluku)
The Koani Foundation
Japanese Honorary Debts
International Human Rights Association for American Minorities (IHRAAM)
International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Interfaith International
Organisation of African Trade Union Unity
The International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)
Afro – Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization (AAPSO)
Hawaii Institute for Human Rights
International Council of Jewish Women
International Council of Women
European Federation of Women Active in the Home
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries

[Note: this list is open. Several other NGOs have indicated an interest in joining this statement and will be added at a later time]


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