The United Nations Examines Status of Human Rights in Syria, Yemen, and the Occupied Territories; Focuses on Judicial Independence and the Right to Peaceful Protest

In Arab Countries, United Nations Human Rights Council by CIHRS

Photo by: Kirolos Nathan, CIHRS

Photo by: Kirolos Nathan, CIHRS

Today, Tuesday, June 10, the UN Human Rights Council inaugurates its 26th session in Geneva; the session is scheduled to end on June 27. During this time, the council will discuss the state of human rights in various Arab countries, including Syria, Yemen, and the occupied territories.

Non-governmental organizations play an important role in highlighting the status of human rights in many countries and in confronting governments about their human rights violations, in both oral and written interventions at HRC sessions. The CIHRS is using the opportunity afforded by the council’s discussion of issues relevant to the Arab world to submit interventions and testimonies on the situation in the region. The CIHRS enjoys consultative status with the HRC, which enables it to present interventions and reports to the council.

The CIHRS is scheduled to submit oral interventions on the state of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Syria, and Yemen. In some of its interventions, the CIHRS will focus on judicial independence and the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of association.

The Human Rights Council will discuss reports from several UN special procedures, including the special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and the special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. The HRC will also discuss reports from the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions and will examine the reports of the Working Group on discrimination against women.

During this session, Yemen will also undergo its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), during which the Yemeni government will declare the recommendations it will comply with in the next four and half years to improve the status of human rights in the country.

On the sidelines of the session in Geneva, the CIHRS is also organizing several meetings and seminars on the state of human rights in the Arab region. On June 13, it will host a seminar in conjunction with the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network on the right to peaceful assembly and protest in the Euromed region, with a focus on Turkey, Algeria, and Egypt. The special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association will take part in the seminar, and will present his observations regarding the application of these rights.

On June 11, in conjunction with FIDH, Human Rights Watch, CIVICUS, the Bahrain Center for Human rights, and Americans for Human Rights in Bahrain, the CIHRS is organizing a special meeting to discuss human rights in Bahrain. Prominent rights advocate Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, will attend the meeting. Rajab was recently released after serving two years in prison in Bahrain.

On June 18, the CIHRS, in conjunction with Human Rights Watch, CIVICUS, International Service for Human Rights, and the Gulf Center for Human Rights, is hosting a seminar on the state of human rights in Gulf states, with a focus on Qatar. This is in addition to a special meeting on June 16 organized to discuss the state of human rights in Syria, which have deteriorated markedly in view of the current events.

On June 19, in tandem with Yemen’s UPR—a UN instrument that involves a review of the status of human rights in every UN member-state—CIHRS is organizing a side event on human rights in Yemen. On June 25, CIHRS is also hosting a seminar focusing on judicial independence in Egypt.

The Human Rights Council is the primary UN body concerned with human rights. The council holds three regular sessions every year to discuss human rights issues in various countries. It is comprised of 47 member-states, elected for fixed terms. The council began operation in 2006, inaugurating its first session on June 19, 2006.

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