Bahrain, Burundi, China
, Middle East & North Africa

Human Rights Council | State non-cooperation must be met with consequences

States that fail to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council, or seek to silence those who defend universal human rights, should face real consequences.

(Geneva) – States that fail to cooperate with the UN, or seek to silence those who defend universal human rights, should face real sanctions and consequences, ISHR told the Human Rights Council today.

The statement came after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, condemned a worsening pattern of States refusing access to UN human rights monitors and engaging in acts of intimidation and reprisals against civil society actors, victims and witnesses for their cooperation with the UN.

‘Human rights violations will not disappear if a government blocks access to international observers and then invests in a public relations campaign to offset any unwanted publicity. On the contrary, efforts to duck or refuse legitimate scrutiny raise an obvious question: what, precisely, are you hiding from us?’ High Commissioner Zeid asked the Council.

‘States may shut my Office out – but they will not shut us up; neither will they blind us. If access is refused, we will assume the worst, and yet do our utmost to nonetheless report as accurately as we can on serious allegations,’ High Commissioner Zeid said.

Responding to the High Commissioner’s global update at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, ISHR Director Phil Lynch said ‘States that systematically fail to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms – and that seek to silence civil society at the national level, and, in some cases, at the UN itself – should face real consequences.’

In this regard, and echoing many of the concerns expessed by the High Commissioner, ISHR’s statement called for:

  • States in a position of influence over Bahrain to ensure that the country pays a real political and economic price for its systematic repression of civil society
  • The Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner to continue to push for and oversee an independent and effective investigation into the death of Chinese human rights lawyer Cao Shunli
  • Burundi to be suspended from the UN Human Rights Council in light of the gross and systematic violations in the country and its unprecedented non-cooperation with the UN Committee against Torture
  • The UN Secretariat, the UN Secretary-General, the High Commissioner and Member States to discharge their duties to prevent and ensure accountability for reprisals by implementing a comprehensive, effective, high-level response without any further delay

ISHR’s full statement to the UN Human Rights Council in response to the High Commissioner’s global update is available here.

ISHR has published ‘at-a-glance’ scorecards which provide an overview of the level of cooperation of candidate States for the Human Rights Council for the period 2017-19.

Together with a coalition of 20 leading international, regional and national NGOs, ISHR has also published a policy paper outlining concrete recommendations and reforms to strengthen State cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council and adverse consequences for persistent non-cooperation.

Watch ISHR’s statement here



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