Catholic bodies hail new UN Human Rights Council

Pax Christi, Franciscans and Dominicans have welcomed the launch of the new United Nations Human Rights Council which replaces the much criticised UN Human Rights Commission.

Ekklesia reports that the three international Catholic organisations are among a group of five major Christian bodies to have this week expressed expectation that the newly elected Council will grant a "truly open space" for NGO participation on behalf of victims of human rights violations.

In welcoming the establishment of the new organ, the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, Franciscans International, Dominicans for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International expressed optimism, and affirmed that "on paper", the new UN body "may have some additional potential" for implementing human rights standards.

While highlighting the significant "contributions to the struggle for human rights" of the former UN Commission on Human Rights, they believe the new Council will address the shortcomings of its predecessor and bring to completion pending issues, particularly in the field of standard-setting initiatives.

This is a task, they say, on which the former UN Commission on Human Rights accomplished "too little and often too late."

In their first written submission to the new body, the Christian organisations expressed "their support for a strong, independent and adequately resourced system of special procedures" that both addresses the shortcomings of its predecessor while it ensures the promotion and implementation of international human rights standards.

The Christian bodies hope that during its first session, the Council will "extend for at least one year all of the mandates inherited from the Commission, in order to avoid 'protection gaps' and procedural lapses during the review period" of the system of special procedures.

In addition to considering and acting upon pending reports of the Commission's five intergovernmental working groups, the Christian organisations expect the Council to adopt the draft international convention on enforced disappearances and the draft declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

"This would bring to a successful conclusion the pending standard-setting initiatives," the written submission affirms.

Christian world bodies welcome UN Human Rights Council (Ekklesia 21/06/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Office of United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights
Human Rights Council Frequently Asked Questions
Pax Christi International
Franciscan Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation
Justice and peace: An apostolic priority of Dominican preaching (Dominican website)

Vatican official says new U.N. council members should defend life (Total Catholic, 21/6/06)

22 Jun 2006