NGOs for an Effective Human Rights Council

UPDATE:  Sri Lanka was defeated for re-election to the Human Rights Council in the General Assembly vote held on May 21, 2008. This website will not be further updated, but the Coalition's statement following the election is available here.
Dissapearances in Sri Lanka SAY NO TO SRI LANKA

U.N. Members should not elect Sri Lanka to the Human Rights Council

On May 21, the United Nations General Assembly will hold elections for 15 of the 47 seats on the new Human Rights Council. Human Rights activists from around the world urge U.N. member states to reject the candidacy of Sri Lanka because of its clear failure to meet the council’s membership standards.

Human rights defenders in Sri Lanka, one of the states seeking election to the Council this year, have urged U.N. members to “hold the Sri Lankan government accountable for the grave state of human rights abuse in the country” by rejecting its candidacy. The Sri Lankan defenders observe that their government fails to meet the Council’s membership standards, has “presided over a grave deterioration of human rights protection” since first winning membership in 2006, and “has used its membership of the Human Rights Council to protect itself from scrutiny.”

The 2008 HRC Elections

On May 21, 2008, the UN General Assembly will elect fifteen new members to the UN Human Rights Council. NGOs from around the world are engaged in the electoral process to ensure that members of the Council meet the standards stipulated in resolution 60/251 creating the Council. This page contains information about some of their efforts to strengthen the Council by monitoring its work and supporting the election of states committed to the protection and promotion of human rights.
Q & A

Q. What is the U.N. Human Rights Council?

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In establishing the Human Rights Council in 2006, the General Assembly required that Council members “shall uphold the highest standards” of human rights and “fully cooperate” with the Council. Sri Lanka fails both of these tests. In considering “the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights,” the General Assembly should now reject Sri Lanka’s candidacy.
Sri Lanka’s Record of Abuses

In the last two years, government forces have been implicated in:
  • Hundreds of extrajudicial killings, including of humanitarian workers
  • Hundreds of enforced disappearances
  • Arbitrary arrests and long-term detentions without indictment or trial
  • Widespread torture of detainees
  • Forcibly returning internally displaced persons to unsafe areas
  • Restrictions on media and threats to journalists
  • Complicity with the recruitment of child soldiers by the Karuna militia
Record of Non-Cooperation

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Sri Lanka impedes special procedures appointed by the Council, refuses to implement their recommendations, harshly attacks senior U.N. officials who report on human rights issues, and has refused to allow international human rights monitoring under U.N. auspices.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu opposes Sri Lanka’s HRC bid. In a commentary published by The Guardian, Tutu calls on UN member states to “ to ensure that the Sri Lankan bid fails.”

Nobel laureate, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, calls on UN member states to reject Sri Lanka’s HRC bid. In a commentary published by Buenos Aires’ Página 12, Esquivel compares Sri Lankan government actions to the abuses committed during South America’s own “dirty wars.”

"Rather than promote human rights worldwide,” one Sri Lankan Human Rights activist writes, “Sri Lanka in fact is using its Council membership to protect itself from criticism, particularly any resolution which would address the human rights situation in Sri Lanka."
Fiction and Fact

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Fiction: Sri Lanka claims it has taken adequate measures to investigate serious human rights abuses by appointing an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) to observe the work of the Sri Lankan Commission of Inquiry.