Economic and Social Council acts on wide range of human rights texts

26 July 2005 –

Acting on a range of measures recommended by the top United Nations human rights body, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has approved guidelines on victims’ rights to a remedy and reparation for gross human rights violations, as well as the creation of a working group to probe the use of mercenaries to derail human rights.

Taking up recommendations forwarded by the recent session of the UN’s Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, on matters ranging from human rights assistance to Somalia, to elimination of violence against women and the rights of minorities, the 54-member ECOSOC acted yesterday on some 43 texts.

The text on guidelines for remedy and reparation for victims of gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law – adopted by a vote of 43 in favour and none against, with 5 abstentions – contained an annex outlining non-binding “victim-centred” principles that could be useful for States in providing equal and effective access to justice, adequate and prompt reparation for harm and access to relevant information, among other things.

Approved by a vote of 29 in favour to 18 against, the text on the use of mercenaries to violate human rights and impede the right to self-determination endorsed the Commission’s decision to end the mandate of its Special Rapporteur dealing with the issue and to instead establish a panel made up of five independent experts representing each of the UN regional groups, to study the subject for a period of three years.

Among country-specific decisions, texts were adopted relating to Myanmar, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Belarus, Sudan, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Nepal, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Afghanistan and Haiti.

Some speakers expressed concern at the continuing practice of adopting such texts, which they said sought to exert political pressure on developing countries through confrontation and humiliation. It was recommended that the international community promote human rights through dialogue with the concerned parties instead.

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