Russian initiatives on the 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights

Posted in Russia | 30-Apr-04 | Author: Dmitry Udalov

The 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights concluded in Geneva April 23. Taking part in the work of this main human rights body within the UN were the delegations of the 53 member states of the CHR, more than 100 observer states, numerous representatives of nongovernmental organizations and regional institutions involved in human rights protection, UN specialized institutions, and other international organizations. Prime ministers and other high-ranking officials addressed the high-level segment of the session. The statement of Ella Pamfilova, the Chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission under the auspices of the President of the Russian Federation, was received with great interest. On the results of the debate on major human rights issues, more than 100 resolutions and decisions were adopted.

The work of the Commission has borne out the evident tendency for a constant expansion of the range of problems being considered in the CHR. In particular, to the traditional, strictly human rights issues are added subjects involving a coordinated search for answers to new challenges and threats, such as the question of international security and of peacemaking and peacekeeping operations. The session opened immediately after the terrorist acts in Madrid, and, naturally, the theme of fighting international terrorism as a phenomenon which encroaches on the primary human right—the right to life—dominated the discussions in the Commission.

“We are glad that the Commission on Human Rights positively responded to the initiative of Russia and adopted a very important resolution on the inadmissibility of extolling former SS men and Nazis, and conniving at them by the authorities in certain countries. This is a kind of contribution by Russia to the arrangements to mark the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Great Victory in World War II,” said Yuri Fedotov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

This year the EU, together with the US, introduced a draft resolution on human rights in Turkmenistan. Last year, when this resolution had first appeared in the CHR, Russia had not supported this initiative, in the hope that the situation of its compatriots in that country could be improved by concrete work with Ashgabat. This year, when the same resolution was again introduced, Russia entered with the Turkmen side into a serious dialogue on the rights of the Russian-speaking population in that state. Before the commencement of the work of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Russia transmitted to the Turkmen side a whole variety of demands and concerns regarding the fate and interests of its compatriots. Actually, little has as yet been done for a radical change of the situation. So this time Russia refrained from voting. But it is quite probable that this question may be raised in the course of the upcoming 59th Session of the UN General Assembly. At that time, Russia will decide on just what position to take with regard to all the circumstances and, primarily, with consideration to the existence or absence of specific changes for the better in the situation of the Russian-speaking population in Turkmenistan.

The problem of the protection of the Russian-speaking population’s rights in Latvia and Estonia was also a chief objective of the Russian delegation in the course of the CHR session. Yet, since these states stand on the threshold of EU admission, they would do well to guide their policies toward minorities by (at least) the standards adopted in most of the EU countries.

Russia submitted an initiative for defining terrorism as a threat to the primary human right—the right to life—and received support. The CHR resolution, Human Rights and Terrorism, was adopted by consensus. Russia continues to think of ways to elaborate a kind of Code of Conduct for Combating International Terrorism.

Within the framework of the UN, a number of additional conventions are being discussed in this sphere of international antiterrorist conventions. They are India's draft comprehensive convention against international terrorism and Russia's draft convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.

Another very important initiative from Russia, which it has been advancing over the last few years, is the integrity of the judicial system and the necessity for its meaning to lie in the protection of civil and political rights.

Sources of information: Ministry of Foreign Affairs news bulletin