Human Rights Council Starts Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence

Council Concludes General Debate on the High Commissioner’s Global Update and Hears Address by a Dignitary from Equatorial Guinea

The Human Rights Council this afternoon began an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence. It also concluded its general debate on the global update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and heard an address by the Third Vice-Prime Minister in charge of human rights of Equatorial Guinea.

Fábian Salvioli, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, presenting his thematic report on the international legal standards underpinning the pillars of transitional justice, said he had observed with great concern the reality of many transitional justice processes that were shipwrecked by political decisions that resulted in the de-legitimisation of truth-seeking processes, impunity, the lack of comprehensive reparation for victims, the maintenance of institutional frameworks that had favoured violations, the vindication of violations committed in the past, and the absence or boycott of memory programmes. These setbacks re-victimised victims and their families, and seriously jeopardised the future of societies.

Mr. Salvioli said actors involved in the design and implementation of transitional justice processes should take into account the international legal standards examined in this report, with a view to avoiding repeating the mistakes of the past and the painful effects they had on victims. It was also important to establish adequate mechanisms to monitor the full implementation of transitional justice.

The Special Rapporteur spoke of his visits to the Republic of Korea and to Serbia and Kosovo [All references to Kosovo shall be in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)]. Republic of Korea and Serbia spoke as countries concerned.

In the discussion, some speakers said past crimes must be adequately addressed in order to build democratic, inclusive and peaceful societies. They underlined that no statutes of limitation applied to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including conflict-related sexual violence, notably rape. Only by respecting the right to truth, to justice, to reparation and to guarantees of non-repetition would it be possible to overcome the past and create solid foundations to build unity in the spirit of harmony and cooperation with respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The reality of many transitional justice processes had been marred by politicisation, gravely jeopardising the future of societies. Actors involved must avoid the mistakes of the past.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council was addressed by Don Alfonso Nsue Mokuy, Third Vice-Prime Minister in charge of human rights of Equatorial Guinea, said the Government of Equatorial Guinea was committed to the promotion and protection of the highest human rights standards. The State was determined to grapple seriously with its the human rights challenges and was working on the past, the present and the future. The country was pooling efforts to defend human rights. This was the path to follow to tackle the root causes of inequality and the threats caused by global political instability. It was hoped that human rights would establish bridges between communities.

The Council also concluded its general debate on the global update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, hearing speakers raising such issues as climate change, the impact of sanctions, the need for tolerance and impartiality, and the rights of protestors, refugees, and human rights defenders, among others.

In the general debate, some speakers said the current global challenges called for deep introspection and renewal of concrete and genuine commitment by the international community to the ethos of multilateralism. Global peace, security, stability and sustenance of democratic gains could be achieved through deeper cooperation and constructive engagements, rooted in the respect for the rule of law, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States. Speakers echoed the High Commissioner’s appeal to cultivate humanity’s natural reflexes of empathy, justice and compassion. It was incumbent upon all duty bearers to address the multiple and intersecting crises the world faced with a commitment to fulfil rights across the board, without hierarchy or distinction. States must heed the High Commissioner’s calls to address the planetary crisis and end hunger.

Speaking in the general debate were Dominican Republic, Libya, South Sudan, Nigeria, Lebanon, Chad, Burundi and Rwanda.

Also speaking were Human Rights Watch, Justice for Iran Ltd, World Evangelical Alliance, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Amnesty International, Mouvement National des Jeunes Patriotes du Mali, International Muslim Women’s Union, Global Srilankan Forum United Kingdom, United Nations Watch, Pax Romana (International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs and International Movement of Catholic Students), Elizka Relief Foundation, Il Cenacolo, Medical Support Association for Underprivileged Iranian Patients, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos, Rahbord Peimayesh Research Educational Services Cooperative, Association pour la défense des droits de l’homme et des revendications démocratiques/culturelles du peuple Azerbaidjanais-Iran, Women’s Human Rights International Association, Asociacion HazteOir.org, Peace Brigades International, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Sikh Human Rights Group, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Conectas Direitos Humanos, Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue, International-Lawyers.Org, International Service for Human Rights, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Commission of Jurists, Institute for Human Rights, iuventum e.V., Institute for Reporters; Freedom and Safety, International Bar Association, Meezaan Centre for Human Rights, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Women NC-NC Committee for CSW/CEDAW, Global Action on Aging, Alliance Creative Community Project, Global Appreciation and Skills Training Network, Association Internationale pour l’égalité des femmes, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation, Economique Internationale, World Muslim Congress, International Action for Peace, Sustainable Development, Réseau Unité pour le Développement de Mauritanie, and Association Ma’onah for Human Rights and Immigration.

Speaking in right of reply were Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Cuba, El Salvador, Armenia, India, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Türkiye, Belarus, Rwanda, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Tunisia, China, and Lithuania.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence were European Union, Argentina on behalf of a group of countries, United Nations Women, Brazil, Egypt, Costa Rica, Sovereign Order of Malta, Luxembourg, Chile, France, Iraq, Belgium, Paraguay, Croatia, Switzerland, Lithuania, Colombia, United States, Honduras, China, Armenia, Indonesia and Ukraine.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s fifty-third regular session can be found here.

The Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 14 September, to hold its biennial panel on unilateral coercive measures and human rights. It will then continue its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

Statement by Dignitary from Equatorial Guinea

DON ALFONSO NSUE MOKUY, Third Vice-Prime Minister in charge of human rights of Equatorial Guinea, conveyed a greeting of peace on behalf of Equatorial Guinea and congratulated the President of the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their work. The Government of Equatorial Guinea was committed to the promotion and protection of the highest human rights standards. The State was determined to grapple seriously with its the human rights challenges and was working on the past, the present and the future. Equatorial Guinea, after its independence, went through a period of barbarous dictatorship which restricted the rights of people and was a sad chapter. The freedom coup of 1979 had enabled victims to have their social, political and economic rights restored.

Looking towards the future, the right to development was a human right, which was interrelated with climate change. The annual report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had noted that Equatorial Guinea had abolished the death penalty. The State had implemented a significant number of recommendations that it had accepted at its last Universal Periodic Review. The country was pooling efforts to defend human rights. This was the path to follow to tackle the root causes of inequality and the threats caused by global political instability. It was hoped that human rights would establish bridges between communities. Equatorial Guinea reiterated its commitment to the existing human rights system and wished the Council success for its fifty-fourth session.

General Debate on the Global Update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

A summary of the presentation of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of his global update can be found here, and the beginning of the general debate and its continuation can be found here and here.

In the general debate, some speakers said the current global challenges called for deep introspection and renewal of concrete and genuine commitment by the international community to the ethos of multilateralism. Global peace, security, stability and sustenance of democratic gains could be achieved through deeper cooperation and constructive engagements, rooted in the respect for the rule of law, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States. Speakers echoed the High Commissioner’s appeal to cultivate humanity’s natural reflexes of empathy, justice and compassion.

The right to development played a fundamental role in ensuring a decent standard of living to all. Access to food was a crucial part of this right, but climate change was threatening this. Acute poverty in all its forms was of great concern, resulting from environmental degradation and climate change, especially in Africa: there must be justice for Africa, and reforms in the financial sector in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and reduce poverty. The international financial architecture needed to be adapted to ensure increased fairness in debt relief. It was incumbent upon all duty bearers to address the multiple and intersecting crises the world faced with a commitment to fulfil rights across the board, without hierarchy or distinction. States must heed the High Commissioner’s calls to address the planetary crisis and end hunger.

While the whole world was alarmed by global warming and climate change, the effects of climate mitigation measures on people’s work had created obstacles in the way of establishing effective climate change adaptation measures. At the same time, economic sanctions which were imposed on countries beyond the authority of the United Nations created another obstacle to climate change mitigation measures, such as efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or accessing clean and green energy and technology, and providing populations with working opportunities in these sectors.

Some speakers said sanctions hindered international cooperation, undermining multilateral agreements, reducing trust and dialogue, and creating conflicts and instability. Sanctions also reduced economic development, slowed or blocked the transition towards a greener economy, and reduced environmental sustainability by limiting trade and investment. The Council should fortify efforts to urge sanctioning countries to remove economic sanctions so that developing countries could implement suitable transition policies and establish renewable energy options to meet their obligations under international climate agreements.

The incidents of burning the Holy Quran around the world were deplored by some speakers, and the High Commissioner was urged to ensure that respect was afforded to religions, and the elimination of all forms of Islamophobia and religious discrimination. There was an urgent need in many areas to intensify efforts to protect religious minorities.

The right to access justice could not be under-estimated, a number of speakers said. The Council’s indifference or selective silence on severe and systematic human rights violations in some parts of the world was a stain on its credibility. The promotion and protection of human rights were about empowering people to work towards equality and inclusive societies. The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development envisaged a world that respected cultural diversity as that would contribute to shared prosperity.

One speaker said that the violent repression of protesters and dissident voices, in parallel with the deprivation of fundamental rights of life, freedom from torture, freedom of expression and assembly, and the right to privacy on the basis of lack of conformity with traditional gender norms, pointed to the commission of crimes against humanity, including the crime of gender persecution. Any meaningful reconciliation process that foresaw the creation of an inclusive, tolerant society should help recreate the multicultural fabric torn by separatist ideology. Human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, guaranteed every person’s fundamental right to equality and non-discrimination, including the right not to experience any distinction on the basis of sex and gender.

The activities of this esteemed Council needed, a speaker said, to be seen to be governed by the principles of universality, objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues. It must not be seen to be prioritising certain rights over others or creating new rights that were unknown to international human rights law. An end must be put to the practices of selectivity and double standards – some countries were pointed at due to politicisation, and this practice must cease. The Council must put an end to the practice of resolutions aimed at certain countries, and must avoid all incidents of politicisation. The Council should respect the sovereign rights of countries to handle their internal affairs, without any interference.

Some speakers shared the High Commissioner’s concerns over continued disregard for the rights and lives of people on the move, including in situations of conflict, urging the Council to ensure robust investigation of rights violations at borders. Rates of racism intertwined with sexual violence had also increased, as cases of rape of refugee women had been recorded. The High Commissioner and the Secretary-General should form an international investigation committee to look into human rights violations committed in this context, and also work towards establishing a compensation fund for women and children who were victims of physical and verbal violence.

The importance of the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on civic space could not be under-estimated: the capacity of the Office to work on economic, social and cultural rights should be further enhanced, and this should, a speaker said, come with an enhancement of both the Office’s country presences and its civic space-related work. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders its twenty-fifth, and the Office its thirtieth, speakers highlighted the value of these instruments and the Office for human rights defenders.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence

Reports

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence on international legal standards underpinning the pillars of transitional justice (A/HRC/54/24), as well as two addenda on his country visits to the Republic of Korea (A/HRC/54/24/Add.1) and to Serbia and Kosovo (A/HRC/54/24/Add.2)

Presentation of Reports

FÁBIAN SALVIOLI, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, presenting his thematic report on the international legal standards underpinning the pillars of transitional justice, as well as the reports of his visits in 2022 to the Republic of Korea and to Serbia and Kosovo [All references to Kosovo shall be in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)], said today would be his last presentation to the Council in his capacity as Special Rapporteur, with his mandate ending in April 2024. Mr. Salvioli thanked countries that had received him on an official visit in 2022; Colombia and Armenia that would receive him for official visits in 2023; and Finland and Brazil that would receive him for official visits in 2024.

Transitional justice processes were established in transitional contexts, following armed conflict or authoritarian regime, to tackle the legacy of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The violations committed gave rise to clear legal obligations for States, defined in relation to the five pillars of the mandate: truth, justice, reparations, guarantees of non-recurrence, and memorialisation. Mr. Salvioli said he had observed with great concern the reality of many transitional justice processes that were shipwrecked by political decisions that resulted in the de-legitimisation of truth-seeking processes, impunity, the lack of comprehensive reparation for victims, the maintenance of institutional frameworks that had favoured violations, the vindication of violations committed in the past, and the absence or boycott of memory programmes. These setbacks re-victimised victims and their families, and seriously jeopardised the future of societies.

Actors involved in the design and implementation of transitional justice processes should take into account the international legal standards examined in this report, with a view to avoiding repeating the mistakes of the past and the painful effects they had on victims. The present standards must be taken into consideration, used and applied in good faith by States, which must be transparently accountable to the international community for the measures taken in this regard. It was also important to establish adequate mechanisms to monitor the full implementation of transitional justice.

Regarding his visit to the Republic of Korea, Mr. Salvioli said progress had been made in consolidating the rule of law and democratic governance; the adoption of a legal framework to address past serious human rights violations; and the establishment of truth-seeking and commemoration processes. However, these efforts needed to be redoubled to ensure that the violations and suffering of all victims was thoroughly investigated, recognised and redressed. Mr. Salvioli had noted with concern the absence of criminal accountability for the perpetrators of serious human rights violations committed, and the lack of progress made in reforming the institutional and regulatory framework that led to past State violence. He urged the Korean authorities to continue to move forward to address the pending aspects of the transitional justice agenda.

Regarding his visit to Serbia and Kosovo [All references to Kosovo shall be in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)], Mr. Salvioli noted that since the end of the conflict, the authorities had endeavoured to address the complex aspects of its legacy. The search for disappeared persons and criminal prosecution had dominated the transitional justice agenda and efforts of local and international actors had led to substantial progress in these areas. However, in recent years, progress had stalled alarmingly due to insufficient political will, which had further exacerbated the suffering of the victims.

Mr. Salvioli took due note of the reparatory processes established by the authorities, but said that many victims in Serbia and Kosovo had not received adequate reparation, due to the shortcomings in their respective legal frameworks. In Kosovo, the stigmatisation of victims of sexual violence continued to create enormous difficulties for them. Mr. Salvioli was concerned about insufficient measures to promote memory of past violence, and was alarmed at the continued use of nationalistic and biased narratives about the conflict, throughout Serbia and Kosovo. He called on the authorities in these areas to renew their efforts to advance the transitional justice agenda.

Statements by Countries Concerned

Republic of Korea, speaking as a country concerned, said the Special Rapporteur’s recognition of its efforts to make progress in adopting a legal framework to address the serious human rights violations committed in the past and establishing truth seeking and memorialisation processes were appreciated. The Korean Government would like to take note of his observations and recommendations regarding the grave human rights violations that took place in the Republic of Korea in the twentieth century, including during the Second World War, the Korean War, and the democratisation process. As the past human rights violations were inextricably linked to the current human rights situation in the country, there was a need for the older and younger generations to work together to resolve them.

In this regard, the Korean Government was making great efforts to promote truth, justice, reparation, memorialisation, and guarantees of non-recurrence of the past human rights violations, including through improving its legal framework. The Government was committed to the promotion of human rights, including truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence, based on its strong emphasis on adhering to universal values and norms. In this process, it would continue to work closely together with the human rights mechanisms, including the United Nations Special Procedures.

Serbia, speaking as a country concerned, said Serbia was ready to cooperate with the Special Procedures and was open to a constructive exchange of views with Special Rapporteurs, with full respect for their competencies and recommendations. Serbia expressed gratitude to the Special Rapporteur for his visit to the country as the issues within his mandate were treated as a priority within Serbia. Serbia thanked the Special Rapporteur for his recommendations contained in the report, which had been taken seriously by the competent authorities. Serbia would have appreciated receiving the report in its entirety and called on the Special Rapporteurs to practice a fully impartial approach in the preparation of their reports.

Serbia was fully committed to peace and reconciliation, the processing of war crimes, resolving the fate missing persons, establishing truth and justice regarding the past, eradicating any kind of racial hatred, and adopting appropriate legal frameworks with civil society engagement, in line with international standards. The country was ready to cooperate in good faith with institutions of other countries and the Special Procedures. The Special Rapporteur was thanked for his diligent execution of his important mandate.

Discussion

Some speakers said past crimes must be adequately addressed in order to build democratic, inclusive and peaceful societies. They stressed that no statutes of limitation applied to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including conflict-related sexual violence, notably rape. Only by respecting the right to truth, to justice, to reparation and to guarantees of non-repetition would it be possible to overcome the past and create solid foundations to build unity in the spirit of harmony and cooperation with respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The five pillars of truth, justice, reparation, memorialisation, and guarantees of non-recurrence were essential international legal standards in transitional justice processes. Respect for and compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law were fundamental to the legitimacy of a transitional justice process. The report gave an exhaustive analysis of international legal standards that underpinned the five pillars in the field. The cross-cutting implementation of a gender-based approach throughout the report was appreciated.

A number of speakers said the reality of many transitional justice processes had been marred by politicisation, gravely jeopardising the future of societies. Actors involved must avoid the mistakes of the past. Additionally, the report was clear that the representation of women in truth-seeking and non-recurrence measures was crucial, and that women’s views should be reflected in memorialisation policies. The preservation of memory and the search for truth were important parts of the path towards democracy and justice. It was the duty of States to investigate and address the legacy of serious human rights violations of the past.

The rule of law was a fundamental guarantee for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, some speakers said. Achieving transitional justice required serious commitment from all parts of a State, including transformation into effective mechanisms to ensure that victims of serious crimes could achieve justice, and that lasting, sustainable peace could be established, ensuring solid foundations for future generations to grow in peace and allowing for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16.

The international human rights courts at the regional level and the United Nations treaty bodies should, within their competence, pay due attention to addressing cases of non-compliance with obligations arising from transitional justice processes, and issue rulings or judgments accordingly when non-compliance resulted in new violations of treaty obligations, a speaker said. There must be effective independent investigations to highlight the machinations that led to the abuses of human rights and to identify the perpetrators, ensuring truth and justice, with lasting reconciliation for the victims. States that could not or did not wish to live up to these should have the situation examined by regional and international courts. No country could ignore its duties to truth, health and development in its actions, a speaker said.

Among questions raised were: how to guarantee and facilitate knowledge of past violations in view of reparation for the victims in the absence of proper access and conservation of records and historical sites; what could a State do to rebuild confidence, trust and credibility of the justice system for victims; how to ensure that victims of racism and persons belonging to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and other communities did not suffer from gender bias during efforts for transitional and restorative justice; how to combat efforts to destroy memory, which in and of itself engendered more violence; what could States do to encourage States that were embarking on transitional justice to take the issue of impunity more seriously; and could the Special Rapporteur share best practices in involving civil society in truth, reconciliation and justice processes?

Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the media;
not an official record. English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.

HRC23.109E

Logo-favicon

Sign up to receive the latest local, national & international Criminal Justice News in your inbox, everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Sign up today to receive the latest local, national & international Criminal Justice News in your inbox, everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

This post was originally published on this site