UN: World leaders should tackle rights crises
(New York) – World leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly in New York should support actions to address major human rights crises around the world, Human Rights Watch said today. They should warn abusive governments, including the most powerful, that they will be held accountable for serious violations.
The General Assembly’s annual general debate begins on September 21, 2021. Dozens of national leaders and foreign ministers will attend in person, unlike in 2020, when most leaders participated by video due to Covid-19 .
“World leaders speaking at the United Nations General Assembly should speak openly and directly about human rights crises around the world, in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, China and elsewhere, and global threats like Covid -19 and climate change, ”said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch. “They must be clear that there can be no standstill with perpetrators of serious rights violations and support UN action which will impose real costs.”
Leaders should address the world’s inadequate response to the Covid-19 pandemic. High-income and upper-middle-income countries have now administered nearly 100 Covid-19 vaccines per 100 people. But due to supply shortages, low-income countries were only able to administer 1.5 doses per 100 people, according to the World Health Organization. The European Union, supported by Germany, Japan, Switzerland and a few other high-income countries, has blocked a proposal by India and South Africa to the World Trade Organization to expand the ‘access to vaccines, exacerbating the global inequalities that fuel the pandemic.
On Afghanistan, leaders should urge the UN Security Council to send a clear message that continued human rights monitoring is essential for the well-being of the Afghan people, especially women and men. girls. The Security Council should maintain in place the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), whose mandate is in the process of being renewed. They should also express their support for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and declare their willingness to accept asylum seekers fleeing the Taliban. The leaders are expected to express their support for urgent action at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to establish a fact-finding mission to monitor human rights in Afghanistan.
World leaders should also urge the Security Council to end its neglect of human rights violations in Ethiopia, where the federal government continues its de facto blockade of the Tigray region. Widespread abuses against civilians in Tigray continue as reports of damage to civilians in neighboring areas mount as the conflict spreads. Delegations must pressure all parties to the conflict to comply with international law and support an international investigation to collect and preserve evidence of serious crimes since the conflict began in November. The Security Council should impose an arms embargo on Ethiopia and individual sanctions on those implicated in abuses.
As for China, leaders should call for a UN investigation into allegations of serious abuses against Uyghurs and other Turkish Muslims in Xinjiang, violations Human Rights Watch has determined to be crimes against humanity. On September 13, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council that years of talks with the Chinese government over access to Xinjiang had not progressed and that she expects to report publicly on the information she has gathered about the abuse.
Delegations should reiterate the UN General Assembly’s call for a global arms embargo against Myanmar in response to crimes against humanity committed by the junta since the February coup and military atrocities against the Rohingya and other ethnic groups. Delegations should urge the UN Security Council to stop neglecting the situation in Myanmar and impose a global arms embargo and sanctions against key military leaders and military and related entities.
Delegations should also commit to ending systemic discrimination in places like Israel and Palestine, where Human Rights Watch has found Israeli authorities to commit the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against people. million Palestinians. The crime of apartheid is also committed in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, Human Rights Watch said. The General Assembly should appoint a global envoy for the crimes of persecution and apartheid with a mandate to mobilize international action to end these crimes around the world.
Other country situations that require urgent attention from UN members include Belarus, Cameroon, Egypt, Nicaragua, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.
Racism is another global problem that UN delegations should tackle. Leaders should commit to supporting the work and implementing the recommendations of a newly created United Nations commission mandated to investigate the root causes of systemic racism and police violence in the United States and around the world .
Delegations are also expected to reaffirm their commitment to tackle global environmental crises, including by supporting the initiatives of the Human Rights Council to establish a special rapporteur on human rights and climate change and to recognize the right to a healthy environment. As the world urbanizes and industrializes, and the effects of climate change intensify, environmental degradation continues to devastate the lives, health and livelihoods of people around the world. This has been particularly evident this year with a marked increase in destructive forest fires, extreme heat, hurricanes and flooding in many parts of the world.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ Call to Action on Human Rights, launched in February 2020, aims to re-engage the UN and its 193 member states to fight human rights violations around the world . Now that his second five-year term, starting in January 2022, has been confirmed, Guterres is expected to prioritize transforming the call to action from rhetoric to reality. For this to happen, it will need to stand up to countries that do not regard human rights as a priority and gain the support of those that do.
“The UN and world leaders committed to human rights should use the podium at the General Assembly to shine the spotlight on the worst violations,” Charbonneau said. “Violent leaders around the world need to know that the world is watching them and that they could one day be held accountable for serious violations. Impunity only encourages more killings, torture and other abuses.