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UN Week – 3/18/13

April 13, 2013

This blog entry is written by members of our blogging community and expresses those experts’ views alone.

John and Douglas Carey, Editors

Contents of this issue: US declares for all women, not just most; UN help after civil war; freedom of expression and pro-nazism; Russia under the magnifying glass.

US declares for all women, not just most

          On March 16th, the US Mission to the UN stated that, “The United States welcomes today’s adoption of the Agreed Conclusions on the theme of the elimination of violence against women and girls. This agreement is a testament to both the gravity of the issue and the seriousness with which it was treated by the members of the Commission [on the status of women]. * * *

          “While delegates have shown flexibility in reaching an outcome we can all be proud of, we lament that some important aspects were left out. Most notably, we believe that the Agreed Conclusions should and must apply to all women, regardless of their sexual orientation or/and gender identity. We regret that some delegations prevented this recognition explicitly, but are confident that a day will come soon when we are able to do so. We also hope that the term intimate partner violence more accurately captures the range of relationships where abuse can take hold, and will continue to press for that important distinction. Today’s agreement is only a beginning.”

UN Help after civil war.

          Let’s assume that in 1865 there had been a UN Human Rights Council that offered to assist the North and South in dealing with post-US Civil War problems. We can to some extent judge how effective such outside intervention would have been based on recent experience in Sri Lanka.

          The two parts of Sri Lanka that struggled for years are separated by geography, culture, ethnicity and religion. The north, whose territory reaches yearningly towards nearby India, is largely Hindu, and its people Tamil. The much larger south is predominantly Buddhist and Sinhala.

After the final decisive battle, “2. In June 2010, the Secretary-General appointed the Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka to advise him on accountability issues in Sri Lanka and offered it as a resource to the Government, and particularly to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation  Commission. The Panel  . . . found credible allegations of potential serious violations of international law committed by the Government of Sri Lanka and by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). * * * ” A/HRC/22/38 at 3.

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission “concluded that ‘the root cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lies in the failure of successive Governments to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people” and that the “process of reconciliation requires a full acknowledge-ment of the tragedy of the conflict and a collective act of contrition by the political leaders and civil society of both Sinhala and Tamil communities.”

With that much background, I want now to run through some of the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and we can all be thinking how such steps might have worked out in post-Civil War America. [read from pages 16 and 17.]

Freedom of expression and pro-nazism.

          On December 20, 2012, the General Assembly adopted resolution 67/154, entitled “Glorification of Nazism: inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” For some reason the resolution was not published on the web until March 13, 2013.

Russia under the magnifying glass.

            As part of the Universal Periodic Review, the Russian Federation was the subject of a compilation prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, A/HRC/WG.6/16/RUS/2, which “does not contain any opinions, views or suggestions on the part of OHCHR other than those contained in public reports  and statements issued by the Office.” Id. at 1. I will skip through the compilation and highlight some notable portions

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