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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

HR/CN/982
1 May 2000

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS CONCLUDES FIFTY-SIXTH SESSION

(Reissued as received.)



GENEVA, 28 April (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Human Rights concluded this afternoon an annual series of meetings marked by the appointment of two new Special Rapporteurs and a new Special Representative on various human- rights matters; by the adoption of two draft protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child; by a decision that a Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues be established as a subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council; and by extensive discussion of the situation in Chechnya and a visit by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the region.

In addition, the Commission, at its fifty-sixth session, approved a Chairman's statement on the situation of human rights in East Timor, held a "special dialogue" on human rights and poverty, and approved a series of modifications to its mechanisms for promoting and protecting human rights.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, following a five-day visit to the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation and the region, called for the appointment by the Russian Government of a national commission of inquiry into alleged human-rights violations committed in the course of the Chechen conflict -- a request echoed by the Commission in a resolution subsequently passed which also called on parties to the conflict to end immediately all use of force and to begin a political dialogue with the aim of achieving a peaceful solution to the crisis.

The Russian Federation charged that the resolution gave a false picture of the situation, ignored the impact of terrorism on Russia and other countries, constituted interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation, was politically motivated, and was an illustration of "double standards" in the field of human rights. The resolution was adopted by a roll-call vote of 25 in favour and 7 opposed, with 19 abstentions.

The Chairman's statement on East Timor welcomed several steps taken by the Indonesian Government to investigate human-rights violations on the island and to bring those responsible to justice, and urged a rapid solution to the problem of refugees from last year's conflict.

The Commission's adoption of draft optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child -- the first on children and armed conflict and the second on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography -- came with a request for their quick acceptance by the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly, so that they could soon be opened for signature by States parties to the treaty. The first draft, among other things, stipulates that no one under age 18 should participate in hostilities. The second, among other things, calls for States parties to ensure at a minimum that such offences as the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography are fully prohibited under criminal and penal law and are subject to penalties reflecting the grave nature of the abuses.

The Commission's approval of a Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues -- a matter considered for a number of years, and still subject to ratification by the Economic and Social Council -- calls for a body consisting of 16 members, eight members to be appointed by the President of the Council on the basis of broad consultations with indigenous organizations; and states that five years after its establishment, an evaluation of the functioning of the Permanent Forum, including the method for selection of its members, should be carried out by the Council in the light of the experience gained.

The Commission decided to appoint new Special Rapporteurs on the right to food and the right to housing, and called for appointment by the Secretary-General of a Special Representative to pursue greater protection of human-rights defenders around the world.

Numerous dignitaries addressed the Commission during its six-week session, including Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who said in a speech on 4 April that persons around the world who were suffering from human-rights violations needed genuine, effective and lasting action in defense of their rights and liberties, and that it was up to Governments, the United Nations, and all who cared about human dignity to answer the call without delay.
In her closing statement, the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the resolutions adopted underlined the fundamental nature of the principle of equality and the Commission's continuing determination to combat all forms of discrimination on grounds of race, sex, language or religion. Mrs. Robinson expressed her concerns about gross human rights violations, one of the greatest challenges facing the international community. There was a significant scope for further action in this area and reflection was required on the integration of preventive strategies on a national, regional and international level.

Mrs. Robinson said the current situation in the Horn of Africa required immediate response. There had been three consecutive years of poor rainfall in the relevant countries which had led to the cumulative erosion of people's assets in both pastoral and agricultural communities. The negative effects of the drought were at present containable and every effort should be made to undertake preventive measures before a widespread loss of life. As many as 16 million people in the region stood at risk of losing their lives and fast provision of relief assistance to the drought-affected people was critical in order to prevent a major humanitarian crisis. She launched a solemn appeal to the international community to help protect the right to life in the face of this potential disaster.

Shambhu Ram Simkhada, Chairman of the Commission, said in closing remarks that the emerging global consensus that extreme poverty was the most serious denial of human rights needed translation into a compact of moral duty of the international community along with the emerging emphasis on the moral authority to demand universal compliance with basic human rights standards. Some recent examples stood testimony to some of the most serious violations of human rights in situations of conflict and violence, making conflict prevention and conflict resolution the most important priority in the pursuit of the promotion and protection of human rights.

Under the Commission's agenda item on the question of the violation of human rights in any country, resolutions were adopted criticizing states of affairs in Afghanistan, Burundi, Iran, Myanmar, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Equatorial Guinea and Sudan -- all of which had mandates for relevant Special Rapporteurs or Special Representatives extended -- and in Cuba, Sierra Leone, and southern Lebanon and West Bekaa. A no-motion action forwarded by China on a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in China was approved.
Under a separate agenda item the Commission condemned, as in previous years, the human-rights situation in the Arab territories occupied by Israel.

In addition to the Chairman's statement on East Timor, Chairman's statements were read out on the human-rights situation in Colombia and on the question of resources for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Resolutions were adopted related to advisory services programmes and human- rights situations in Haiti, Cambodia, and Somalia.

In a closed meeting held on 31 March under its "1503 procedure", the Commission decided to discontinue discussion of situations in Chile, the Republic of the Congo, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, Viet Nam, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.
Activity of an inter-sessional Working Group on enhancing the effectiveness of the mechanisms of the Commission resulted in a report that was adopted in its entirety by the Commission. The report recommends that the Economic and Social Council endorse Commission decisions to merge the mandates of the Independent Expert on structural adjustment and the Special Rapporteur on foreign debt, thus creating a post of Independent Expert on structural adjustment and foreign debt; and to endorse a Commission decision to establish a time limit of two terms of three years for members of special-procedures working groups, as well as for Special Rapporteurs. Following this decision, the Commission, in a subsequent resolution, appointed Fantu Cheru as Independent Expert on the effects of structural-adjustment policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of human rights.

Among resolutions passed related to its thematic mechanisms, the Commission renewed mandates for its Independent Expert on extreme poverty, its Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and its Working Group on arbitrary detention. It also requested the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, its principal subsidiary body, to appoint one of its members as Special Rapporteur on the rights of non-citizens; and requested the Subcommission to carry out a study on the topic of human rights and human responsibilities.
By the end of the session, the Commission had adopted 87 resolutions, 13 decisions, and 4 Chairman's statements.
Dates for next year's session -- the Commission's fifty-seventh -- were set for 19 March to 27 April 2001.

Chairman's Statements on Country Situations

In a statement of the Chairman, the Commission took note of the need to complete systematic investigations of violations of fundamental human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated in East Timor; welcomed the general progress made and some concrete steps already taken by the Indonesian Government to investigate fully violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and to bring those responsible to justice, and welcomed the willingness of the Government to inform the Commission on further developments. The Commission fully supported the Secretary-General's intention to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to conduct forensic investigations and to provide assistance to ongoing procedures; and it urged a rapid solution of the East Timorese refugee problem in West Timor.

In a Chairman's statement, the Commission said it remained deeply concerned about the lack of a permanent cease-fire and about grave and persistent abuses of international humanitarian law despite the ongoing peace process in Colombia. It called on the parties to the conflict to reach as a priority a comprehensive human-rights and humanitarian agreement and to initiate discussions on how victims of the conflict could be recognized and could obtain reparation. The Commission cited a deterioration of the situation in Colombia during 1999; unequivocally condemned the persistent and grave violations and abuses perpetrated by military groups and guerrillas; strongly condemned all acts of terrorism committed by guerrilla groups, including the systematic kidnapping of children; noted with concern the continued use of child soldiers and anti-personnel mines by the guerrillas; cited concern about an increase in the number of internally displaced persons; and strongly condemned continuing attacks on human-rights defenders, journalists and labour union members.

Country-by-Country Examination of Situations of Human Rights

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- expressed concern at the adverse impact of ongoing conflict on the situation of human rights and its severe consequences for the security and well- being of the civilian population throughout the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; at the continuing violations of the cease-fire provided for in the Lusaka Agreement, and at the continued use of warlike language; at the preoccupying situation of human rights in that country, particularly in the eastern parts of the country; at the continuing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law throughout the territory of the Congo; also expressed concern at the excessive accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons and the illicit distribution, circulation and trafficking of arms in the region and their negative impact on human rights; and urged all parties to the conflict to implement fully the cease-fire agreement in accordance with the new timetable agreed on by the parties and to establish the authority of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo throughout the territory;

-- urged Governments to refrain from all acts of intimidation or reprisal against those who sought cooperation with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies, or who had provided testimony or information to them; those who availed or had availed themselves of procedures established under the United Nations auspices for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and all those who had provided legal assistance to them for that purpose; those who submitted communications under procedures established by human-rights instruments; and those who were relatives of victims of human-rights violations;

-- expressed grave concern at increased repression of any form of public political activity in Myanmar; at arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and systematic surveillance of those exercising their rights to freedom of thought, expression, assembly and association; deplored the continuing pattern of gross and systematic violations of human rights in Myanmar, including extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, particularly in areas of ethnic tension, and enforced disappearances, torture, harsh prison conditions, and abuse of women and children by government agents, among other things. It also deplored the lack of independence of the judiciary and continued violations of the human rights of, and widespread discriminatory practices against, persons belonging to minorities; and urged the Government of Myanmar to cooperate fully with all United Nations representatives, in particular with the Special Rapporteur, to allow him urgently to conduct a field mission and to establish direct contacts with the Government and all other relevant sectors of society;

-- deplored continued Israeli violations of human rights in southern Lebanon and west Bekaa in the occupied zone in southern Lebanon and west Bekaa, demonstrated in particular by the abduction and arbitrary detention of civilians, the destruction of their dwellings, the confiscation of their property, their expulsion from their land, the bombardment of villages and civilian areas, and other practices violating human rights; called upon Israel to put an immediate end to such practices and also of air raids and the use of prohibited weapons, and to implement Security Council resolution 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978 requiring Israel's immediate, total and unconditional withdrawal from all Lebanese territories and respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Lebanon;

-- strongly condemned systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror; suppression of freedom of thought, expression, information, association, assembly and movement; widespread use of the death penalty; summary and arbitrary executions, including political killings and the continued so-called clean-out of prisons, as well as enforced or involuntary disappearances, routinely practiced arbitrary arrests and detention, and consistent and routine failure to respect due process and the rule of law, for example the execution of delinquents for minor property offenses and customs violations; and widespread torture and cruel and inhuman punishments; called upon the Government of Iraq to respect and ensure the rights of all individuals; to cooperate with United Nations human-rights mechanisms, in particular by inviting the Special Rapporteur to visit the country and allowing the stationing of human-rights monitors throughout Iraq pursuant to relevant resolutions; and to release immediately all Kuwaitis and other nationals still held in detention and inform families about the whereabouts of arrested persons;

-- strongly condemned mass killings and systematic human-rights violations against civilians and persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict in Afghanistan, and noted with alarm the resumption by the Taliban of the wider conflict during the past summer, resulting in the massive forced displacement of the civilian population, in particular of women and children; noted with deep concern the continued displacement of millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran, as well as in other countries; condemned the continuing grave violations of the human rights of women and girls, including all forms of discrimination against them, particularly in the areas under the control of the Taliban; and the frequent practice of arbitrary arrest and detention and of summary trials and executions;

-- encouraged the Government of Equatorial Guinea to adopt quick and effective measures to comply with the recommendations made by the Commission and its Special Representative; to guarantee fully enjoyment of freedom of movement and association; freedom of information, opinion and expression and the principle of the rule of law; to adhere to the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; to safeguard the right to justice and the independence of the judiciary, and to ensure that military jurisdiction was not applied to civilians; to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and protect the rights of children; and to fulfil commitments to hold municipal elections called for 28 May 2000;

-- supported the political compact between the Government of Burundi and the National Assembly, and the Arusha peace process; welcomed the designation of the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, as the new Facilitator of the Arusha peace process; appealed to all armed factions and other Burundian political forces to join the negotiation process, to conclude a cease-fire as soon as possible, and to sign a peace agreement; encouraged the Government to continue actions to bring back democracy and peace; remained concerned at ongoing violence and the security situation in parts of the country, forcing many people to leave their homes; deplored the unacceptable living conditions in the regroupment camps and displaced-persons sites, and recommended that the Government and UN agencies and NGOs provide humanitarian assistance; requested the Government to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need in Burundi; and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Burundi for one year;

-- welcomed the cooperation and assistance extended by the Government of Rwanda to the Commission's Special Representative and the continuing efforts of the Government to build a State based on the rule of law and respect for human rights; expressed concern that most of the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide and other gross violations of human rights continued to evade justice; reiterated its request that all States cooperate fully with the Government and the International Tribunal for Rwanda to ensure that all those responsible for the genocide and other grave violations were brought to justice; noted the indications of improvement in the human-rights situation in Rwanda; expressed concern at continued violations of human rights and urged the Government to continue to investigate and prosecute such violations; condemned the illegal sale and distribution of arms; called upon the Government to improve conditions of detention; encouraged the Government to strengthen the capacity of the independent judicial system; and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Representative on Rwanda for another year;

-- welcomed the steps taken by the Government of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leonean civil society to create a human-rights infrastructure, in particular the efforts to establish an effectively functioning Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a National Human Rights Commission and a Commission for the Consolidation of Peace; expressed grave concern at continuing abuses of human rights and humanitarian law in Sierra Leone, including rapes, abductions, hostage- taking, summary executions, mutilations, forced labour and the targeting and abuse of women and children, the recruitment and use of child soldiers contrary to international law and the continued detention of abductees; at the slow pace of the disarmament, demobilizing and reintegration programme; and deplored ongoing atrocities committed by the rebels;

-- called upon the Government of Cuba to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to provide the appropriate framework to guarantee the rule of law through democratic institutions and the independence of the judicial system; expressed the hope that further positive steps would be taken with regard to all human rights and fundamental freedoms; noted certain measures taken by Cuba to enhance freedom of religion; called upon the Government to consider acceding to human-rights instruments to which it was not yet a party; reiterated its concern about the continued repression of members of the political opposition and about detention of dissidents; and called upon the Government to release all persons detained or imprisoned for peacefully expressing their views;

-- expressed grave concern at ongoing serious violations of human rights and the deteriorating situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) caused by the repressive policies and measures of the authorities; condemned continued repression of the independent media, political opposition and non-governmental organizations; expressed grave concern that discrimination and violence against ethnic minorities had worsened during the year; condemned all acts of ethnic violence and intimidation by all parties in welcomed the democratic election of a reform-oriented new Government in Croatia; called upon the new Government to sustain that progress and the concrete measures under way to ensure full compliance with international norms and standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms; condemned in the strongest possible terms the intimidation of and perpetuation of violence against minority refugees and internally displaced persons returning to their homes in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and condemned all forms of discrimination against refugees and displaced persons;

-- welcomed the expressed commitment of the Government of Sudan to respect and promote human rights and the rule of law; and recent efforts to improve freedom of expression, association, press, assembly, and the right to education, to address the problem of internally displaced persons, and the release of political detainees by the Government; expressed deep concern at the impact of the armed conflict on the situation of human rights of civilians; the occurrence of summary or arbitrary executions; the occurrence in southern Sudan of cases of enforced or involuntary disappearance, forced displacement, arbitrary detention, torture, and the ill-treatment of civilians; abduction of women and children to be subjected to forced labour or similar conditions; and conditions imposed by the Sudanese People's Liberation Army on humanitarian organizations working in southern Sudan; and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Sudan for a further year;

-- welcomed the progress made in Iran in the area of freedom of expression, in particular towards a more open debate on issues of government and human rights, while remaining concerned at restrictions on the freedom of the press and cases of harassment and intimidation of journalists; progress made with regard to the status of women in some areas; expressed concern at the fact that since 1996 no invitation had been extended by the Government to the Special Representative to visit the country; at continuing violations of human rights in the country; also expressed concern about discrimination against religious minorities, in particular the unabated pattern of persecution of Baha'is, including death sentences and arrests; at the continued lack of full and equal enjoyment by women of their human rights as reported by the Special Rapporteur; and called on the Government to invite the Special Representative to visit the country and to resume its full cooperation with him and to continue its positive efforts to consolidate respect for human rights and the rule of law;

-- decided to retain on its agenda sub-item (a), entitled "Question of human rights in Cyprus", under the item entitled "Question of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world" and to give it due priority at its fifty-seventh session, it being understood that action required by previous resolutions of the Commission on the subject would continue to remain operative;

-- called on all parties to the conflict in Chechnya to end immediately the use of force and to begin without delay the holding of a political dialogue and effective negotiations with the aim of achieving a peaceful solution to the crisis, which fully respected the territorial integrity and the Constitution of the Russian Federation; and called upon the Government of the Russian Federation to establish urgently, according to recognized international standards, a national, broad-based and independent commission of inquiry to investigate promptly alleged violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law committed in the Republic in order to establish the truth and identify those responsible, with a view to bringing them to justice and preventing impunity;

-- and approved a no-action motion forwarded by the delegation of China on a draft resolution tabled on the situation of human rights in China. The draft resolution would have welcomed the readiness of the Government of China to exchange information on human rights while expressing concern at continuing reports of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country.

Indigenous Issues

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- decided to establish as a subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council a Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues consisting of 16 members, 8 members to be appointed by the President of the Council, on the basis of broad consultations with indigenous organizations taking into account the diversity and geographical distribution of the indigenous people of the world as well as the principles of transparency, representativity and equal opportunity for all indigenous people; decided that all members would serve in their personal capacity as independent experts on indigenous issues for a period of three years with the possibility of re-election or reappointment for one further period; called for the forum to hold an annual session of 10 working days; and decided that five years after its establishment, an evaluation of the functioning of the Permanent Forum, including the method for selection of its members, should be carried out by the Council in the light of the experience gained;

-- decided to approve the Subcommission's request to the Secretary-General to transmit as soon as possible the second progress report on the working paper on indigenous people and their relationship to land to Governments, indigenous people and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations for their comments, data and suggestions;

-- urged the Working Group on indigenous populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and those involved with the International Decade of the World's Indigenous people to continue a comprehensive review of developments and of the diverse situations and aspirations of the world's indigenous people; and recommended that the Economic and Social Council authorize the Working Group to meet for five working days prior to the fifty- second session of the Subcommission;

-- and expressed its appreciation for the work of the Economic and Social Council in considering applications from organizations of indigenous people to participate in the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights to elaborate a draft declaration in accordance with paragraph 5 of General Assembly resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994; recommended that the Working Group meet for 10 working days prior to the fifty-seventh session of the Commission; and recommended to the Council for its approval a draft decision authorizing the open-ended inter- sessional working group.

Civil and Political Rights

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- called upon all Governments to implement fully the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; condemned all forms of torture, including through intimidation, and reminded all States that prolonged incommunicado detention might facilitate the perpetration of torture and could in itself constitute a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; urged States to respect the safeguards concerning the liberty, security and dignity of the person and to become parties to the Convention against Torture as a matter of priority and to ensure education and training for persons who might be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment; and appealed to all Governments, organizations and individuals to contribute annually to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture and, if possible with a substantial increase in contributions;

-- condemned all acts of hostage-taking, anywhere in the world; demanded that all hostages be released immediately and without any preconditions; and called upon States to take all necessary measures, in accordance with relevant provisions of international law and international human-rights standards, to prevent, combat and punish acts of hostage-taking;

-- unequivocally condemned all acts, methods and practices of terrorism, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations; condemned incitement of ethnic hatred, violence and terrorism and urged the international community to enhance cooperation at the regional and international levels in the fight against terrorism; called upon States to take appropriate measures for the purpose of ensuring that an asylum-seeker had not participated in terrorist acts, including assassinations; and urged all relevant human rights mechanisms and procedures to address the consequences of the acts, methods and practices of terrorist groups in their forthcoming reports to the Commission;

-- called upon States to consolidate democracy through the promotion of pluralism, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the participation of individuals in decision-making and the development of competent and public institutions, including an independent judiciary, effective and accountable legislature and public service, and an electoral system that ensured periodic, free and fair elections; and called upon States to create and improve the legal framework and necessary mechanisms for enabling the participation of all members of civil society in the development of democracy;

-- strongly condemned all extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and demanded that all Governments ensure this practice was brought to an end; noted with concern that impunity continued to be a major cause of such and reiterated the obligation of all Governments to conduct exhaustive and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of such arbitrary executions, to identify and bring to justice those responsible and to grant adequate compensation to the victims or their families; noted with concern the large number of cases of killings committed in the name of passion or in the name of honour, of persons killed because of their sexual orientation and of persons killed for reasons related to their peaceful activities as human-rights defenders or as journalists; and requested the Special Rapporteur to enhance dialogue with Governments and to pay special attention to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions of children, violations of the right to life in the context of demonstrations and other peaceful public manifestations and against persons belonging to minorities;

-- welcomed the increased use of forensic science investigations in situations where grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law had occurred, and encouraged further coordination concerning the planning and realization of such investigations among Governments, intergovernmental and non- governmental organizations;

-- condemned all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief; urged States to ensure that their constitutional and legislative systems provided adequate and effective guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief to all without discrimination; urged them to ensure that no one within their jurisdiction was deprived of the right to life or the right to liberty and security of persons, subjected to torture, arbitrary arrest or detention on account of religion or beliefs; stressed the need for the Special Rapporteur to apply a gender perspective, and decided to change the title of the Special Rapporteur from Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance to Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief;

-- called upon States to review their current laws and practices in relation to conscientious objection to military service in the light of Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/77; and requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a compilation and analysis of best practices in relation to the recognition of the right of conscientious objection to military service and the provision of alternative forms of service;

-- took note of the report of the Working Group on the draft Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and requested the Working Group to meet prior to the fifty-seventh session of the Commission for a period of two weeks, with a view to completing expeditiously a final and substantive text;

-- requested Governments concerned to take account of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions views and to take appropriate steps to remedy the situation of persons arbitrarily deprived of their liberty and to inform the Working Group of the steps they had taken; encouraged Governments concerned to implement the recommendations of the Working Group concerning persons mentioned in its report who had been detained for a number of years; and not to extend states of emergency beyond what was strictly required by the situation; urged all Governments to invite the Working Group to visit their countries; requested them to give the necessary attention to urgent appeals addressed to them by the Working Group on a strictly humanitarian basis and without prejudging its possible final conclusions; and decided to renew, for a three-year period, the mandate of the Working Group;

-- stressed the importance of the work of the Working Group on the question of enforced or involuntary disappearances and encouraged it to continue to promote communication between families of disappeared persons and the Governments concerned; to continue to pay particular attention to cases of children subjected to enforced disappearance and children of disappeared persons and to cooperate closely with the Governments concerned in searching for and identifying these children; to pay particular attention to cases of disappearance of persons working for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and to make appropriate recommendations for preventing such disappearances and improving the protection of such persons; and noted that some Governments had never provided substantive replies concerning cases of enforced disappearances in their countries or acted on the recommendations made in the reports of the Working Group, and stressed that impunity was one of the underlying causes of enforced disappearances;

-- expressed its continuing concern at the extensive occurrence of detention, long-term detention and extrajudicial killing, persecution and harassment, and threats and acts of violence and of discrimination directed at persons who exercised the right to freedom of opinion and expression, many times through the abuse of states of emergency without formal declaration; called for the release of persons detained for exercising such rights and freedoms; and said the Special Rapporteur was to draw the attention of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to situations regarding freedom of opinion of particularly serious concern;

-- appealed to Governments to include in their national development plans the administration of justice and to allocate adequate resources for the provision of legal-aid services; invited Governments to provide training, including gender- sensitive training, in human rights and in the administration of justice, including juvenile justice, to all judges, lawyers, prosecutors, social workers, immigration and police officers, and other professionals concerned; and took note of the concern of the Committee on the Rights of the Child that the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child relating to the administration of juvenile justice were in many instance not reflected in national legislation or practice;

-- urged States to reinforce their commitment to promote tolerance and to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as a way to strengthen democracy and transparent and accountable governance; and invited the mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights and the treaty bodies, in particular the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance, to continue to pay particular attention to violations of human rights stemming from the rise of racism and xenophobia;

-- called upon the international community to give due attention to the rights to restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for victims of grave violations of human rights and requested the Secretary-General to circulate to all member States the draft text of the relevant basic principles and guidelines on the matter; and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to hold a consultative meeting in Geneva with a view to finalizing the principles and guidelines;

-- and stressed the importance of the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and the independence of the legal profession; invited the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide technical assistance to train judges and lawyers and to associate the Special Rapporteur in the elaboration of a manual on the training of judges and lawyers in the field of human rights; encouraged Governments that faced difficulties in guaranteeing the independence of judges and lawyers to consult and to consider the services of the Special Rapporteur, and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further period of three years.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- reaffirmed that all people were entitled to economic, social and cultural rights; emphasized that promoting and protecting one category of rights should never exempt or excuse States from the promotion and protection of other rights; and called upon all States to give full effect to economic, social and cultural rights and to guarantee that they would be exercised without discrimination; and appointed, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur whose mandate would focus on aspects related to the right to adequate housing;

-- reaffirmed that hunger constituted an outrage and a violation of human dignity and said urgent measures were required at the national, regional and international levels to ensure the right to food; stressed the need for optimum allocation and use of technical and financial resources from all sources, including external debt relief for developing countries, to reinforce national actions to implement sustainable food security policies; recommended that the High Commissioner for Human Rights organize a third expert consultation on the right to food; and decided to appoint for a period of three years a Special Rapporteur on the right to food;

-- urged all States to refrain from adopting or implementing unilateral coercive measures contrary to international law and the Charter of the United Nations, in particular those with extraterritorial effects; invited all States to consider adopting administrative or legislative measures to counteract the application or effects of such measures; and rejected the use of such measures as tools for political or economic pressure against any country, particularly against developing countries, because of their negative effects on the realization of all human rights of vast sectors of their populations;

-- reaffirmed that extreme poverty and exclusion from society constituted a violation of human dignity and that urgent national and international action was therefore required to eliminate them; and that it was essential for States to foster participation by the poorest people in the decision-making process in the societies in which they lived; and decided to renew for a period of two years, the mandate of the Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty;

-- affirmed that discrimination in law against women with respect to acquiring and securing land, property and housing, as well as financing for land, property and housing, constituted a violation of women's human rights; and reaffirmed the obligation of States to take all appropriate measures to eliminate such discrimination against women;

-- approved a recommendation of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights that Subcommission members J. Oloka-Onyango and Deepika Udagama be appointed Special Rapporteurs to undertake a study on globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of human rights;

-- and stressed that structural-adjustment policies had serious implications for the ability of developing countries to improve the economic, social and cultural rights of their citizens; stressed that the permanent solution to the foreign-debt problem lay in the establishment of a just and equitable international economic order which guaranteed the developing countries better market conditions and commodity prices, stabilization of exchange rates and interest rates, easier access to financial and capital markets, adequate flow of new financial resources and easier access to the technology of the developed countries; and appointed for a period of three years an Independent Expert on the effects of structural adjustment policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights.

Right to Development

Under this agenda item, the Commission

-- reaffirmed the importance of the right to development; said that for peace and stability to endure, national action and international action and cooperation were required to promote a better life for all, a critical element of which was the eradication of poverty; reaffirmed that democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, were interdependent and mutually reinforcing; and expressed concern that the gap between developed and developing countries remained unacceptably wide, that developing countries continued to face difficulties in participating in the globalization process, and that many risked being marginalized.

Human Rights in Occupied Arab Territories, Including Palestine

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- condemned continued violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in particular the continuation of acts of wounding and killing perpetrated by Israeli soldiers and settlers against Palestinians, in addition to the detention of thousands of Palestinians without trial, and the continuation of the confiscation of Palestinian lands; the extension and the establishment of Israeli settlements, the confiscation of Palestinian property and expropriation of their land, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the uprooting of fruit trees; and called upon Israel to cease immediately those acts, which constituted a major obstacle in the way of the peace process; further condemned the use of torture against Palestinians during interrogation, and called upon the Government of Israel to withdraw from the territories it had occupied since 1967;

-- called upon Israel, the occupying power, to comply with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and of the Security Council related to the occupied Syrian Golan; called upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan; and emphasized that the displaced persons of the population of the occupied Syrian Golan should be allowed to return to their homes and to recover their properties;

-- and expressed grave concern at continuing Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Arab territories, in spite of the Government's moratorium on new construction permits, including the expansion of the settlements, the installation of settlers in the occupied territories, the expropriation of land, the demolition of houses, the confiscation of property, the expulsion of local residents and the construction of bypass roads; and also strongly condemned all acts of terrorism whilst calling upon all parties not to allow any acts of terrorism to affect the ongoing peace process negatively.

Right of Peoples to Self-Determination

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- noted with satisfaction the agreements reached between Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y de Rio de Oro for the implementation of the settlement plan on the situation of the Western Sahara during their private and direct talks; urged the two parties to continue their cooperation with the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy, as well as with his Special Representative, and to refrain from undertaking anything that would undermine the implementation of the settlement plan and the agreements reached for its implementation; and further urged the two parties to implement faithfully and loyally the Secretary-General's package of measures relating to the identification of voters, the appeals process and the revised implementation timetable;

-- affirmed that the use of mercenaries and their recruitment, financing and training were causes for grave concern to all States and violated the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations; and urged all States to take the necessary steps and to exercise the utmost vigilance against the menace posed by the activities of mercenaries and to take legislative measures to ensure that their territories and other territories under their control, as well as their nationals, were not used for the recruitment, assembly and financing of mercenaries;

-- and reaffirmed, in a measure on the situation in occupied Palestine, the permanent and unqualified Palestinian right to self-determination, including the option of a State, and looked forward to the early fulfilment of that right; requested the Secretary-General to transmit the present resolution to the Government of Israel and all other Governments.

Rights of Child

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- recommended the draft protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography for adoption by the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly and that they be open for early signature;

-- called upon all States and relevant bodies of the United Nations system to promote and protect the rights of the child; to pay particular attention to the development of sustainable health systems and social services to ensure the effective prevention of diseases, malnutrition, disabilities and infant and child mortality; to give importance to the treatment and rehabilitation of children with and affected by HIV/AIDS; to make primary education compulsory and free; and to take necessary measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by girls of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and to eliminate all forms of discrimination against them;

-- and condemned in the strongest terms the Lord's Resistance Army for the abduction, torture, killing, rape, enslavement and forcible recruitment of children in northern Uganda; demanded the immediate cessation of all abductions and attacks on all civilian populations, in particular women and children; and called for the immediate and unconditional release and safe return of all abducted children.

Specific Groups and Individuals

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- requested States effectively to promote and protect the fundamental human rights of all migrants; strongly condemned all forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia against migrants, including discrimination related to access to employment, vocational training, housing, schooling, health services and social services, as well as services intended for use by the public;

-- expressed, in relation to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, its deep concern at the growing manifestations of racism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination and inhuman or degrading treatment against migrant workers in different parts of the world; and urged countries of destination to review and adopt measures to prevent the excessive use of force and ensure that their police forces and competent migration authorities complied with the basic standards relating to the decent treatment of migrant workers and their families;

-- recognized that tolerance and pluralism were indivisible elements in the promotion and protection of human rights and condemned unequivocally all violent acts and activities that infringed upon human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy and reiterated the obligation of all States and the international community to protect effectively the human rights of all persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities;

-- recognized that any discrimination against persons with disabilities inconsistent with the United Nations Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities was an infringement of the human rights of persons with disabilities; expressed grave concern that situations of armed conflict had especially devastating consequences for the human rights of persons with disabilities; and called upon the United Nations Development Programme and all intergovernmental institutions for development cooperation to integrate disability measures into their mainstream activities;

-- reaffirmed the obligation of States to ensure the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities so that they might exercise fully and effectively all human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination and in full equality before the law; and requested the relevant Working Group, within its mandate, to contribute to the preparations for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance;

-- expressed its appreciation to those Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations which had provided assistance and protection to internally displaced persons and had supported the work of the Representative of the Secretary-General; called for continued efforts to ease the plight of the internally displaced; and encouraged the Representative of the Secretary-General through continuous dialogue with Governments and all intergovernmental and non- governmental organizations concerned to continue his analysis and ways to strengthen protection, assistance and solutions for the internally displaced;

-- called upon concerned Governments to put in place penal sanctions to punish perpetrators of violence against women migrant workers and, to the extent possible, to provide the victims of violence with the full range of immediate assistance; and requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Commission a comprehensive follow-up report on the problem of violence against women migrant workers;

-- and called upon States to address human-rights situations that led to mass exoduses and displacements; emphasized the responsibility of all States and international organizations to cooperate with those countries, particularly developing countries, affected by mass exoduses of refugees and displaced persons; recognized that women and children constituted the majority of most refugee and displaced populations; and called upon States to protect and promote and respect the human rights of all refugees and displaced persons.

Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and All Forms of Discrimination

Under his agenda item, the Commission

-- expressed profound concern at and unequivocal condemnation of all forms of racism and racial discrimination, including related acts of racially motivated violence, xenophobia and related intolerance; called upon all States to declare illegal and prohibit organizations which promoted and incited racism and racial discrimination; noted with concern the increase in the use of new communications technologies, in particular the Internet, to disseminate racist ideas and incite racial hatred; and noted that the use of such technologies could also contribute to combatting racism;

-- decided to recommend a draft decision to the Economic and Social Council that the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights appoint one of its members to prepare a comprehensive study on the rights of non-citizens;

-- and expressed concern at negative stereotyping and defamation of religions; also expressed concern that religious belief was sometimes associated with human-rights violations and with terrorism; expressed its concern at any role in which the print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means was used to incite acts of violence and discrimination towards any religion; and urged all States to take all appropriate measures to combat hatred, discrimination, intolerance and acts of violence, intimidation and coercion motivated by religious intolerance, and to encourage understanding, tolerance and respect in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief.

Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- called upon all States to promote and give effect to the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; requested the Secretary-General to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Representative who should report on the situation of human rights defenders in all parts of the world and on possible means to enhance their protection;

-- affirmed that every human person and all peoples were entitled to a democratic and equitable international order; reaffirmed that all States should promote the establishment, maintenance and strengthening of international peace and security and, to that end, should do their utmost to achieve general and complete disarmament under effective international control, as well as to ensure that the resources released by effective disarmament measures were used for comprehensive development, in particular that of the developing countries;

-- requested the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Right to undertake a study on the issue of human rights and human responsibilities;

-- recognized that a transparent, responsible, accountable and participatory Government, responsive to the needs of the people, was the foundation on which good governance rested, and that such a foundation was a sine qua non for the promotion of human rights; and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to invite all States to give practical examples of activities that had been effective in promoting good governance for inclusion in a compilation of indicative ideas and practices that could be consulted by interested States when required;

-- called upon all States parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that had not yet done so to consider acceding to or ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant, aimed at the abolition of the death penalty; urged all States that still maintained the death penalty not to impose it for any but the most serious crimes and only pursuant to a final judgement rendered by an independent and impartial competent court, and to not impose it for crimes committed by persons below 18 years of age; to progressively restrict the number of offences for which it could be imposed; and to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to completely abolishing the death penalty;

-- welcomed with satisfaction the adoption by the General Assembly of the Declaration and Plan of Action on a Culture of Peace; requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize a panel/forum on a culture of peace; and requested the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to take into account and reflect in its deliberations, as appropriate, the provisions of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace;

-- reaffirmed the importance of the status of international covenants on human rights and stressed the importance of fully taking into account a gender perspective in the implementation of the international covenants on human rights at the national level;

-- emphasized the importance of combatting impunity for the prevention of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and urged States to give necessary attention to the question of impunity and to take appropriate measures to address this important issue; called upon States to support the work of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda; and requested the Secretary-General to seek the views of Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations on the issue of the possible appointment of an Independent Expert charged with examining all aspects of the issue of impunity;

-- recognized the desirability of seeking ways of ensuring the effective promotion and protection of fundamental standards of humanity; recognized the desirability of a process of identifying and respecting fundamental standards of humanity in all situations in a manner consistent with international law; and requested the Secretary-General to submit a further report on the subject;

-- reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation in the field of human rights and that efforts to improve cooperation should be guided by the principles of universality, non-selectivity, objectivity and transparency;

-- urged Governments and inter-governmental organizations, on the topic of information and education, to contribute to the mid-term global evaluation of progress made towards the achievements of the objectives of the Decade for Human Rights Education by providing appropriate information on steps taken in that regard; and urged all Governments to contribute further to the implementation of the Plan of Action, in particular by establishing, in accordance with national conditions, broadly representative national committees for human rights education;

-- recommended a draft decision to the Economic and Social Council to approve the appointment by the Subcommission of Francoise Hampson as a Special Rapporteur on reservations to human rights treaties, taking into account previous and ongoing work done by various international bodies;

-- and categorically condemned the dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes in developing countries and urged all Governments to take legislative and other appropriate measures to prevent illegal international trafficking in toxic and hazardous products and wastes.

Report of Subcommission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- reaffirmed its recognition of the work of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights over the past fifty-three years, and the need for clarification and adjustment of the mandate of the Subcommission;

-- and decided that the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights should further review during its fifty-second session, in the light of the developments in the work of the Subcommission, its proposal to hold a Social Forum on economic, social and cultural rights.

Human Rights of Women

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- urged Governments to take appropriate measures to address the root factors, including external factors, that encouraged trafficking in women and girls for prostitution and other forms of commercialized sex, forced marriages and forced labour; to provide better protection; to punishing perpetrators; to ensure that the victims of those practices were not penalized; and to conclude bilateral, subregional, regional and international agreements to address the problem and to work for the early finalization of the draft convention against transnational organized crime, including a draft protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children;

-- condemned all acts of gender-based violence against women and called for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence in the family, within the general community and where perpetrated or condoned by the State; and emphasized the duty of Governments to investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts were perpetrated by the State, by private persons or by armed groups or warring factions, and to provide access to just and effective remedies and specialized assistance to victims;

-- emphasized that the goal of mainstreaming a gender perspective was to achieve gender equality and included ensuring all United Nations activities integrated the rights of women; emphasized the need for further activities in the United Nations system to strengthen expertise concerning the equal status and human rights of women; and requested all human-rights treaty bodies, special procedures and other human-rights mechanisms of the Commission and the Subcommission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights regularly and systematically to take a gender perspective into account in the implementation of their mandates.

Effective Functioning of Human Rights Mechanisms

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- considered that it was necessary, on the topic of the composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to take urgent, concrete and immediate action to change the currently prevailing geographical distribution of staff of the Office in favour of a more equitable distribution of posts, particularly by recruiting personnel from developing countries; and invited the High Commissioner for Human Rights to consider the establishment of a task force within her Office with the mandate to work in cooperation with relevant components of the United Nations Secretariat in the recruitment and training of qualified personnel from developing countries for the staff of the Office;

-- urged full cooperation by States with human rights thematic procedures; encouraged all Governments to respond without undue delay to requests for information made to them through thematic procedures, so that the procedures might carry out their mandates effectively; urged States to consider inviting thematic special rapporteurs, representatives, experts and working groups to visit their countries; and invited States to study carefully the recommendations addressed to them under thematic procedures;

-- reaffirmed that developing and strengthening national capacities for the promotion of human rights in accordance with national conditions provided the strongest foundation for effective and enduring regional cooperation in the field of human rights in the Asia and Pacific region;

-- encouraged, in pursuit of effective implementation of international instruments on human rights, including reporting obligations under international instruments on human rights, each treaty body to continue to give careful consideration to the relevant conclusions and recommendations contained in the reports of the meetings of the chairpersons of the human rights treaty bodies and, in this context, encouraged enhanced cooperation and coordination between the human rights treaty bodies;

-- reaffirmed the importance of the development of effective, independent, and pluralistic national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights; and encouraged Member States to establish or, where they already existed, to strengthen such institutions, as outlined in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action;

-- and called, in relation to the subject of the protection of United Nations personnel, on all organizations of the United Nations system to report systematically any incident involving the safety and security of staff to the United Nations Security Coordinator so that a comprehensive record may be maintained; and urged all States to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel.

Advisory Services and Technical Cooperation in Field of Human Rights

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- called upon the Government of Haiti to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; insisted on the importance, for combatting impunity and for the realization of a genuine and effective process of transition and national reconciliation, of the investigations undertaken by the National Commission for Truth and Justice, and once again strongly urged the Government of Haiti to institute legal proceedings against perpetrators of human-rights violations and to create effective facilities for providing support to the victims; reiterated its concern over the lack of a functioning Parliament and over the lack of a fully independent local government; deplored the recent increase of acts of violence; and called upon the Government to investigate properly politically motivated crimes and take vigorous action to eliminate any continuing human rights violations;

-- noted with concern continued problems related to the rule of law and the functioning of the judiciary in Cambodia, including interference by the executive with the independence of the judiciary; expressed grave concern about continued violations of human rights, including torture, extrajudicial killings, excessive pre-trial detention, violation of labour rights, illegal confiscation of land and forced relocation, as well as the apparent lack of protection from mob killings as detailed in the reports of the Special Representative, and noted some progress made by the Government of Cambodia in addressing those issues; expressed serious concern about the continued prevalence of impunity in Cambodia; noted with serious concern the problem of child labour; noted with concern the prison conditions in Cambodia; and urged an end to racial violence against and vilification of ethnic minorities;

-- declared that advisory services and technical cooperation in the field of human rights constituted one of the most efficient and effective means of promoting and protecting all human rights, democracy and the rule of the law; and noted the interdependence between social and economic development, poverty eradication and the promotion and realization of all human rights;

-- and expressed deep concern at reported cases of rape, arbitrary and summary executions, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and violence in Somalia, in particular against women and children, and at the absence of an effective judicial system; condemned widespread violations and abuses of human rights and humanitarian law, in particular against minorities, women and children, as well as forced displacement of civilians; all violations of international humanitarian law, including forced recruitment of children by the militias and acts of violence such as hostage-taking, abduction and murder, particularly of humanitarian relief workers; and decided to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia for a further year.

Organization and Rationalization of Work of Commission

Under this agenda item, the Commission:

-- decided to approve and implement comprehensively and in its entirety the report of the inter-sessional open-ended Working Group on Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights, and recommended merging the mandates of the Independent Expert on structural adjustment and the Special Rapporteur on foreign debt, thus creating a post of Independent Expert on structural adjustment and foreign debt; to endorse a Commission decision to establish a time limit of two terms of three years for members of special procedures working groups, as well as for Special Rapporteurs, allowing for transitional steps to that end for two working groups, on arbitrary detention and enforced or involuntary disappearances; to endorse a Commission decision to reduce the duration of the annual meeting of the working group on contemporary forms of slavery of the Subcommission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights to five working days from the present eight days; and to approve a draft resolution that would endorse review of the 1503 procedure of confidential consideration of alleged human-rights violations in countries and would endorse various reforms to Commission operations on communications related to the 1503 procedure;

-- decided, pending adoption by ECOSOC of a draft resolution entitled "Procedure for dealing with communications concerning human rights", that those communications and the replies thereto on which the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights at its fifty-first session decided to defer action to its next session should be referred back to the Working Group on Communications and that those communications and replies should be examined by the Working Group on Communications at its next annual session with a view to determining whether or not they should be brought to the attention of the Working Group on Situations;

-- decided that the dates of the fifty-seventh session of the Commission should be from 19 March to 27 April 2001;

-- and decided, in a matter related to organization of the work of the fifty-seventh session of the Commission, to recommend to the Economic and Social Council that it authorize 30 fully serviced additional meetings, including summary records for the Commission's fifty-seventh session; and to request the Chairperson of the fifty-seventh session of the Commission to make every effort to organize the work of the session within the times normally allotted, so that the additional meetings that the Council might authorize would be utilized only if they proved to be absolutely necessary.

Report of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Follow-Up to World Conference on Human Rights

Under this agenda item, the Commission

-- called upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the matter of strengthening of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to continue to emphasize the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights in the activities of her Office; and declared that advisory services and technical cooperation provided at the request of Governments with a view to developing national capacities in the field of human rights constituted one of the most efficient and effective means of promoting and protecting human rights and democracy.

Commission Bureau

Chairman of the Commission session was Shambhu Ram Simkhada of Nepal. Vice- Chairmen were Krzyszt Jakubowksi of Poland, Ibrahim Mirghani Ibrahim of Sudan, and Victor Rodriguez Cedreno of Venezuela. Marie Gervais-Vidricaire of Canada was Rapporteur.

Composition of Commission

The Composition of the Commission for 2000 is as follows: Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Venezuela, and Zambia.


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For information media - not an official record