17 November 2008 The top United Nations official in Iraq today welcomed the country’s establishment of an independent commission to promote and protect human rights in the troubled Middle East country.
Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, issued a statement in Baghdad calling the creation of the Independent High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) “a milestone” that will further existing efforts by the national Government’s human rights ministry, the judiciary, the Council of Representatives, law enforcement agencies and civil society groups.
He said the new body will help advance human rights in many spheres, including the civil, cultural, economic, political and social.
The Council of Representatives agreed yesterday to the setting up of the IHCHR, which is mandated in the Iraqi constitution, after the proposal was presented by the Council’s human rights committee following months of work.
Mr. de Mistura called on both the Council and the Iraqi Government to ensure “the prompt establishment of a strong, credible and independent Commission that from the outset becomes an institution responsive to the needs of the Iraqi citizens, especially those of vulnerable groups such as children, women and minorities,” according to his statement.
He stressed that the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) is ready to help with the selection process for IHCHR members and work the Commission once it is operating, in line with Iraqi law.
On Friday, Mr. de Mistura briefed the Security Council at UN Headquarters in New York on the latest developments inside Iraq, warning that the country is entering a critical period as it prepares for upcoming provincial polls.
The Special Representative said the polls offered an opportunity to shape a new political landscape in the fledgling democracy, while he cautioned that the potential for election-related violence and instability remains.
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