Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, June 08, 2007

U.N. human rights chief speaks at CHRC briefing

As part of her Washington visit, Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke today at a Congressional Human Rights Caucus Members’ Briefing. Arbour discussed the international human rights framework and her requests for legislative action on the part of the United States.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is charged with promoting and protecting the rights enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and in numerous international human rights laws and treaties. The OHCHR mandate includes preventing human rights violations, securing respect for all human rights, promoting international cooperation to protect human rights, coordinating related activities throughout the U.N., and strengthening and streamlining the U.N. system concerning human rights. OHCHR also leads efforts to integrate a human rights approach within all work carried out by U.N. agencies.

OHCHR acts as one of the three major U.N. human rights institutions. Along with OHCHR, international human rights treaties and conventions and the Human Rights Council, help to collectively ensure human rights advocacy and protection. One new development emphasized by Arbour today was the likelihood of a new Human Rights Council obligation to perform Universal Periodic Reviews to monitor and critique the status of human rights in all U.N. member nations. In addition to this new additional system of review, the Human Rights Council will also hold talks on the continuation of the primary discussion concerning human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. While the council will vote at the next scheduled meeting, Arbour was confident that the issue would continue to be discussed based on the need to ensure that human rights protection is universally implemented in all cases.

The High Commissioner also called for the U.S. to ratify several human rights treaties. Arbour was critical of the disconnect between America’s rhetorical advocacy for human rights and lack of actual formal support for treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the forthcoming Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

For more information on the OHCHR, click here.

For details on binding international human rights law, click here.

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