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    Strengthen Human Rights

    F AWCO Urges UN to Strengthen Human Rights Procedure

    Mrs Louise Arbour    

    High Commissioner for Human Rights  

    Palais Wilson



     2 Dec 2005

     Dear Ms Arbour,

    Following the "No Action Vote" on Sudan/Darfur on 23 November in the General Assembly, the undersigned organizations have asked CONGO to convey to you the attached letter expressing their most serious concern.  I ask you therefore to give this situation your utmost priority and look into and examine alternate ways of dealing with these severe human rights violations.

    I thank you in advance for your attention and look forward to your continued coooperation.  With best wishes,

    Yours faithfully, 

    Renate Bloem    


    Enclosure: Letter with Signatures 


    Dear Mme High Commissioner:

    In light of the "No Action" vote of the UN General Assembly on November 23, 2005 which prevented any debate on the resolution introduced by the European Union concerning the tragic situation in Darfur, Sudan, we as nongovernmental organizations call upon you to examine alternative ways of dealing with such serious and consistent human rights violations.  Many of our organizations have been involved in efforts to strengthen human rights procedures within the UN, most recently by presenting proposals for a Human Rights Council.

    The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan and other special procedures--and you yourself--have stressed the seriousness of the situation in Darfur, and the climate of impunity that has prevented any effective action to date against those known to have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations in Darfur.

    In introducing the resolution for the European Union, Britain's UN Ambassador Sir Emyr Jones Parry confirmed that "civilians are still being killed, rape is still widespread, and the situation of hundreds of thousands of displaced people remains dire."  The resolution stressed "the continuing climate of impunity in the Darfur region, particularly in the area of violence against women and girls."

    Indeed, the situation in Darfur engages the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, as systematic and multiple rape seems to be increasingly used there as a weapon of war and terror.  The use of rape in such circumstances has been recognized internationally as a war crime. Increased funding and practical and political support would be needed to enable the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women to intervene effectively in this situation. 

    Returning to the blocking of the resolution in the General Assembly, we note that the "No Action" motion has been repeatedly used in the Commission on Human Rights to prevent debate on serious human rights violations. If this culture of "No Action" spreads to the General Assembly's discussion of human rights, there might be a permanent block on addressing such issues no matter what reform of the UN’s human rights architecture were undertaken.

    Therefore we believe that there needs to be a serious examination of alternative approaches, in particular the strengthening of the mandate and independence of the Special Procedures.  Ways in which non-governmental organizations can better facilitate the gathering of information needs to be examined as well as other forms of cooperation between Special Procedures and NGOs.

    We know that you are concerned with the strengthening of the Special Procedures. The "No Action" blockage in the UN General Assembly may be the "writing upon the wall", making this concern all the more essential. We would be happy to cooperate in your further consideration of these matters.

    Association for World Education
    Association of World Citizens
    Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas, Inc.
    Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants
    International Association of Democratic Lawyers
    International Federation of Social Workers
    International Federation of University Women
    International Humanist and Ethical Union
    International Religious Liberty Association
    Lutheran World Federation
    United Nations Watch
    Women's International Zionist Organization
    World Federation for Mental Health
    World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women
    World Union for Progressive Judaism
    World YWCA
    3HO Foundation





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