Conversations (1)

Greetings to all.

These are all interesting questions and cannot be answered in a one-dimensional way. On Monday, I was privileged to speak to a group of postgraduate students from American University, most of whom could not think of a single achievement of the Commission on Human Rights. One said it was probably a start, but needed to go. Another was astonished when I indicated that it had provided a space for civil society greater than other areas of the UN and that the Council had built on that.

As with all issues, discussions of the Council would benefit from a long view. It is a political body which, of course, means that there will be politics. But there are achievements, many of which have been sponsored and supported by the US. Perhaps it would have been a different body if the US had engaged early on. Perhaps not, but US attention and membership have been crucial. Ahmed can certainly expand on this.

Will the house of cards topple if it withdraws?
Not topple, but the balance will shift and the UN’s peak body for human rights’ foundation will be less secure.
I listened carefully to Ambassador Haley when she came to Geneva last month and when she spoke at the Graduate Institute, and reached the conclusion that she was personally very compelled by human rights, albeit not a specialist in the area, and not on top of what human rights in short-hand means in long-hand.

Her questioning of the Human Rights Council focused on its members, and those which aspire to membership, and one of its agenda items. Many are suggesting a new review of the work and functioning of the Council, but I am not convinced much would be achieved, particularly considering the last review. The review of the Council’s status is an urgent need and careful preparation is required. A rerun of last year’s attempts at the General Assembly to review the Council’s work cannot be ruled out, and should be precluded by institutional change.

And the Security Council as the main vehicle for the protection of human rights? I am not so sure, the pillars are interlinked, but need sustained attention.