Pillay Pitches Stronger Security Council Role for Successor

Special Session Human Rights Council
Aug. 21, 2014, Outgoing UN human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, on Thursday suggested her successor provide informal monthly briefings to the Security Council to avert future crises.

Pillay’s pitch came after she scolded the 15-nation body over its inaction on crises during her tenure such as Syria, Gaza, Sri Lanka and Iraq. “I firmly believe that greater responsiveness by this Council would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” she said in her final address to the Council.

The South African jurist was appointed in 2008 for a four-year term but fell foul of the US over her criticism of Israel and was only given a two-year second term.

The Council tends to act when a humanitarian situation arises out of conflict but Pillay stressed that human rights abuses are evident for years, even decades, before a major crisis erupts and the Council must must do more to prevent, rather than react to, conflicts.

Pillay also said Ban Ki-moon can do more in providing early warning to the Council on emerging crises. Ban launched the Rights Up Front plan last year in response to the UN’s “systematic failure” in responding to the final months of the 2009 war in Sri Lanka.  The plan’s aim is to prevent human rights abuses by acting on early warnings of human rights abuses.

“Within Rights Up Front, the Secretary-General can be even more proactive in alerting to potential crises, including situations that are not formally on the Council’s agenda,” she said.

Article 99 of the UN Charter empowers the secretary-general to “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”

The human rights chief, who will be succeeded by Jordan’s outgoing UN envoy, Prince Zeid, also suggested the Council build on the new Arms Trade Treaty, “which requires arms exporters and importers to confirm that weapons will not be used to commit violations.”

“Where there are concerns about human rights in States that purchase arms, one condition of sale would be that they accept a small human rights monitoring team, with deployment funded by the Treaty’s Trust Fund,” she said.

The five permanent members of the Security Council are among the six biggest arms sellers in the world.

Prince Zeid assumes the role of high commissioner for human rights on Sept. 1. He has been succeeded as UN envoy by Dina Kavar, who becomes the sixth female ambassador to currently serve on the Council.

– Denis Fitzgerald 
On Twitter @denisfitz

 

Image/UN Photo

Mary Robinson’s Appointment Highlights Lack of Women Among UNSG Envoys

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March 19, 2013 – Former Irish President Mary Robinson’s appointment on Monday as Secretary-General Ban Ki moon’s special envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes Region makes her only the sixth woman to currently hold such a post.

Of the 37 current personal and special representatives, envoys and advisors of Ban, 31 are men.

Non-governmental organizations have been pointing out for years that women are underrepresented in peace negotiations. In fact, no woman has ever been the lead negotiator in UN-sponsored peace talks.

Resolution 1325 passed in 2000 aimed to address that and calls for equal and full participation in peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding but progress has been slow because of a long held preference for appointing men to post-conflict roles.

As UN secretary-general in 2001, Kofi Annan had 54 personal envoys, including deputies, but only one was a woman.

That has slowly begun to change under Ban and he appointed Hilde Johsnon from Norway as his special representative to South Sudan, Karin Lundgren of Sweden as his special representative to Liberia and Margaret Vogt of Nigeria as his special representative and head of the integrated peacebuilding office in Central African Republic.

Among deputy personal envoys, he has appointed Finalnd’s Kaarina Immonen to Liberia and Burkina Faso’s Rosine Sori-Coulibal to Burundi.

Mary Robinson will represent Ban as the UN readies a new plan to end conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

A full list of Ban Ki-moon’s personal envoys is here.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

photo: Un Photo/Paulo Filgueiras