NGOs urge open debate on non-cooperating countries at UN (UN statement)

The ICJ today joined other NGOs in urging open discussion and debate about countries at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, including in discussions of cooperation, despite attempts by some States to interrupt and suppress debate.

The statement was delivered in a General Debate on items 2 and 10 of the Council, by Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) on behalf of the group of NGOs. It read as follows:

“Thank you, Mr. President. While we appreciate the importance of technical cooperation, we wish to stress that a debate on technical cooperation will be incomplete if it does not address non-cooperation and country situations that have worsened despite technical cooperation. We are alarmed by efforts to restrict discussion on such situations by some states under Agenda Item 10, including for instance by (the Bolivarian Republic of) Venezuela earlier today.

While we recognise that all delegations including NGOs are required to speak on the topic under discussion, we are deeply concerned when NGOs making relevant statements are interrupted and not given a chance to explain the relevance of their statement, and in some cases are even prevented from finishing the statement. This has happened even when an NGO is speaking specifically on concerns addressed by UN reports listed for discussion in the relevant debate. Statements on Cambodia during the March session of the Council are recent examples.

The concept of international cooperation should never be invoked to shut down any criticism of human rights situations in individual countries. Cooperation cannot succeed without accountability. To be effective, debates on technical assistance and capacity building must be open to frank discussion of the true gravity, character and extent of on-going violations in the country in question, as well as the impact or lack of impact of any assistance already undertaken.

Thank You”

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Conectas Direitos Humanos

Freedom House

Human Rights House Foundation

Human Rights Watch

International Commission of Jurists

International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

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