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Human Rights Council Advisory Committee discusses its agenda and annual programme of work

23 February 2012

The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee this morning discussed its agenda and annual programme of work, including new priorities.

Latif Huseynov, Chairperson of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, recalled that during its last session the Committee held discussions in relation to possible research subjects, and proposed that the Committee prepared concept notes on these topics for the consideration of the Human Rights Council. Mr. Huseynov encouraged Committee experts to put forward new topics.

Vladimir Kartashkin, Committee Expert, proposed addressing the issue of human rights and the rule of law; and Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Committee Expert, suggested further research on strategies to fight against corruption and the protection of journalists. Committee Experts also agreed to prepare concept notes on the topics previously agreed on: youth, globalization and human rights; the impact of the use of new technologies on human rights; discrimination against the poor and other marginalised groups in the context of access to justice; human rights strategies to fight against corruption; and price speculation on corn, rice and wheat in the context of the right to food.

The following Committee members took the floor on this topic: Vladimir Kartashkin, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Ahmer Bilal Soofi, José Antonio Bengoa Cabello, and Anantonia Reyes Prado.

The next public meeting of the Advisory Committee will be held on Friday, 24 February at 10 a.m., when it will adopt its report and its recommendations to the Human Rights Council before closing its eighth session.

Agenda and Annual Programme of Work, including New Priorities

LATIF HUSEYNOV, Chairperson of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, recalled that during its last session the Committee held discussions in relation to possible research subjects, including: youth, globalization and human rights; the impact of the use of new technologies on human rights; discrimination against the poor and other marginalised groups in the context of access to justice; human rights strategies to fight against corruption; and price speculation on corn, rice and wheat in the context of the right to food. On this regard, Mr. Huseynov suggested preparing a background paper or expert note and submitting it to the Council alongside relevant initiatives. New priorities could also be put forward and he encouraged Committee members to make suggestions and proposals.

VLADIMIR KARTASHKIN, Committee Expert, said that given continuous changes in the world, the Committee should not stand on the sidelines and it should address the issue of human rights and the rule of law. States could not refer to their internal competence and jurisdiction in order to refuse to implement the obligations they had taken on themselves. This involved not only obligations in ratifying various international agreements, but also broader obligations which States took to uphold decisions by the Security Council and international courts. There were new obligations for States to protect human rights and address violations.

LAURENCE BOISSON DE CHAZOURNES, Committee Expert, in response to the appeal of the Chairman to draw a background paper on these issues and ways to move forward on these subjects, said the human rights strategy to fight against corruption had been studied by the Sub-Committee on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. It was important to look at the resources at the disposal of the Committee to address these issues. In response to the proposal put forward by Mr. Kartashkin and work concerning the protection of journalists worldwide, the Committee as a think-tank could reflect on international law and the protection of journalists to further protect them. Journalism was a crucial profession for the respect of human rights.

AHMER BILAL SOOFI, Committee Expert, supported the idea of drafting a concept note on these issues for the Council to outline some of the legal issues and contribute to the drafting of the terms of reference on which the Committee could continue to work on.

JOSE ANTONIO BENGOA CABELLO, Committee Expert, said that for many years there had been questions concerning the efficiency of procedures of appeals or recourse concerning alleged violations of rights. This was a central question for the United Nations human rights system, linking persons, groups, civilizations and the system. Little was known about the efficiency of the system. Many non-governmental organizations had stopped participating because they believed there was no real practical use in setting cases to special confidential procedures. In some cases human rights defenders had turned to regional instruments. Nobody wanted to acknowledge this situation and some procedures were maintained by inertia despite their usefulness.

LATIF HUSEYNOV, Chairperson of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, recalled the proposal to submit a background paper to the Council and asked whether Ms. Boisson de Chazournes would be willing to prepare one on the topic she had put forward.

LAURENCE BOISSON DE CHAZOURNES, Committee Expert, clarified that she had taken the discussion on the utility of a background paper to suggest a topic that might be of interest; but following the instructions of the Chairperson, Ms. Boisson de Chazournes said she would be happy to prepare a concept note on human rights strategies to fight against corruption for the next session.

ANANTONIA REYES PRADO, Committee Expert, volunteered to work on a draft note on the research proposal on youth, globalization and human rights, which had been put forward by Mr. Bengoa. While it was clear that the Committee members who had previously proposed topics would work on the corresponding background papers, Ms. Prado asked who would draft the concept notes on new topics suggested during these meetings, namely human rights and the primacy of international law and the protection of journalists.

AHMER BILAL SOOFI, Committee Expert, said that currently the agenda items were about these five suggested topics but for upcoming sessions if any other topics came up there should be no restrictions to develop further draft notes for discussions in future sessions. The rights of journalists, including their protection, had been previously discussed in the United Nations, but some of these safety issues were also linked to others concerning law enforcement; for example, the issue of managing sources and information critical for law enforcement.

ANANTONIA REYES PRADO, Committee Expert, recalled that the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Mr. Frank La Rue, was Guatemalan and noted that perhaps he could contribute to the preparation of a note on the issue of human rights and the protection of journalists. Ms. Prado said she would be happy to work with Ms. Boisson de Chazournes.

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For use of the information media; not an official record