New website launched to monitor Asian governments’ candidacy to the new Human Rights Council
2 May 2006 12:00 am

The Asian Forum for Human Rights (FORUM-ASIA), jointly with its national members and partners, is officially launching today a new website for the Asian Campaign on the Human Rights Council, available at hrc.forum-asia.org.

The campaign will monitor and assess the Asian candidates’ suitability as potential members of the Human Rights Council.

The website currently provides information on eleven Asian candidate countries that fall under the scope and mandate of FORUM-ASIA and its members and partners. These are: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand (South East Asia), Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (South Asia), China, Japan and South Korea (North East Asia).The Asian Forum for Human Rights (FORUM-ASIA), jointly with its national members and partners, is officially launching today a new website for the Asian Campaign on the Human Rights Council, available at hrc.forum-asia.org.

The campaign will monitor and assess the Asian candidates’ suitability as potential members of the Human Rights Council.

The website currently provides information on eleven Asian candidate countries that fall under the scope and mandate of FORUM-ASIA and its members and partners. These are: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand (South East Asia), Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (South Asia), China, Japan and South Korea (North East Asia).

What does the website offer?

  • Current actions and campaigns undertaken at the national level by various civil society actors;
  • Analyses of the Asian candidates’ pledges to stand for the Human Rights Council’s election on 9 May 2006;
  • Asian candidates’ cooperation with the UN human rights mechanisms to date, such as ratification records, reservations to international human rights treaties, reporting history to the treaty monitoring bodies, outstanding requests by country visits by the Special Procedures, and key recommendations to be implemented;
  • Media coverage, including press releases, articles and comments in the news about the campaign;
  • Regional comparison of Asian candidates’ human rights records and pledges issued to date; and
  • How to take action: with a list of current updates and activities at national and regional levels on how you can contribute and support the campaign.

As this website is designed as a blog, it allows all interested users to leave comments on each of the posts, in order to encourage interactions among civil society on each of the topics. Registration is quick and easily done via the website.

Background

The Asian Campaign on the Human Rights Council will be divided into three stages:

1. From now until the election of the new Human Rights Council in New York on 9 May

The national and regional campaigns at this stage will continue to focus on engaging and lobbying the respective Governments to improve their pledges with better human rights commitments. Many of the pledges so far are general and vague, focusing on self-appraisal rather than issuing specific commitments on ways to improve the promotion and protection of human rights.

Hence, there is a need to exposure this, and to ensure that Governments are held accountable to the requirement by the GA Resolution that all members must “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”.

2. From 9 May until the first session of the Human Rights Council on 19 June

The UN General Assembly election rules require all Member States to acquire at least 96 votes in order to sit in the Human Rights Council. There is a high possibility that some Asian countries would fail to gain sufficient votes, which may lead to continuous rounds of balloting until all of the 13 seats allocated for the Asian Group have been filled with Members that received 96 votes.

During this time, the campaign will focus on lobbying the remaining Governments to further improve their voluntary pledges and to undertake immediate remedies which could bring eventual improvements in Governmental policies at the national level.

Once the election has been completed, the campaign will focus on entering into dialogue with the elected Asian Members to lobby for the establishment of the Rules of Procedures of the Council that allow maximum participation for NGOs, and to ensure that the agenda of the first session of the Council will address substantive human rights issues that were sidelined in the last session of the Commission on Human Rights.

This will include things like lobbying for the adoption of the Draft Declaration on Involuntary or Enforced Disappearances.

3. From the first session of the Human Rights Council on 19 June

This Asian campaign on the Human Rights Council will continue to operate after 19 June to hold the Asian members of the Human Rights Council accountable to their pledges.

The first session of the Human Rights Council is expected to be two weeks long (19 – 30 June), with the first week dedicated to the High Level Segment. During the High Level Segment, it will be critical to monitor the statements made by the Asian Governments, and to come up with timely mobilization at the national level.

The second session of the Human Rights Council is expected to be in September, when more substantive human rights issues are likely to be addressed. During this session, it will be vital for NGOs from Asia to lobby for the Human Rights Council to take action on situations of human rights violations in Asia.

For further information, please contact FORUM-ASIA’s UN Advocacy Programme at unadvocacy@forum-asia.org