Countries accused of abusing their peoples’ human rights will come under the lens of the U.N. Human Rights Council over the next three weeks. Dozens of thematic issues and country reports on topics including the COVID-19 pandemic will be addressed during the session, which begins Monday.
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, will present an oral update on the human rights crisis unfolding in Myanmar since the military coup there on February 1. Her report is likely to reflect condemnation of the military leaders’ violent crackdown on the civilian population and, what she sees as a looming threat of civil war in the country.
The council also will hear updates on the human rights situation in other countries, including Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, South Sudan, and Syria. Separately, observers view events in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region as one of the most serious human rights issues around.
The executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, says reports of imminent famine, summary executions, rape and other atrocities perpetrated in Tigray warrant action by the Human Rights Council. He is calling for the adoption of a resolution condemning these practices at this session.
“A resolution should clearly name the governments,” he said. “We know that Ethiopian government forces have been major perpetrators of these crimes along with, as you mentioned, the Eritrean forces. It is important to recognize the Eritrean forces did not invade Tigray. They were invited in by the Ethiopian government.”
Violence erupted in Tigray in November when forces of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation front attacked federal military bases in the region. The Ethiopian government responded with the use of military force.
High Commissioner Bachelet also will present a report on police violence and systemic racism against people of African descent. The death of African American George Floyd while in police custody in the United States last year triggered a special council session one year ago.
Roth says he believes the report should have a strong focus on the United States. He adds, however, that systemic racism is a global problem and should be treated as such.
“Our concern is really that the council creates some kind of mechanism to continue this. It is not just a one-off report, but there is a more systematic effort to address root causes and to push for accountability…I do not say that at all to try to minimize the situation in the U.S. The U.S. should be a critical focus of those efforts,” he said.
The council’s last session in February focused on efforts to combat COVID-19-related violations. Bachelet will present a report on how states are responding to the pandemic. COVID-19 also will feature as a sub-theme into reports and panel discussions this session.
Source: Voice of America