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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS


11 March 2004


COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TO HOLD SIXTIETH SESSION AT PALAIS DES NATIONS FROM 15 MARCH TO 23 APRIL 2004


The principal human rights organ of the United Nations will conduct its annual six-week session for 2004 from 15 March to 23 April.

The Commission on Human Rights, created in 1946 and made up of 53 Member States, will begin its series of meetings at the Palais des Nations with a three-and-a-half-day "high-level segment" featuring speeches by Government officials of elevated rank and by chiefs of various United Nations agencies.

It will then work its way through an agenda covering such topics as human-rights violations around the world; racism; the rights of minorities, migrant workers, and indigenous peoples; the rights of women and the prevention of violence against women; the rights of children; the prevention of torture, disappearances, and summary executions; efforts to end religious intolerance; the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights; and the advancement of the right to development.

Among long-standing topics of consideration will be a review of the human rights situation around the world. Numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) generally address the subject. Accountings also will be presented by the Commission's Special Rapporteurs or Special Representatives on the status of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, Myanmar, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Iraq. Reports of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will address situations in Sierra Leone and Timor Leste. A report of the Secretary-General will deal with the question of human rights in Cyprus. All these situations fall under the Commission's agenda item on "the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world".

The situation in Colombia will be reviewed under an agenda item on "organization of work", and matters in Afghanistan, Somalia, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Timore Leste and Haiti will be debated when the Commission discusses "advisory services and technical cooperation in the field of human rights".

Trends and themes in the field of human rights deemed pressing enough to warrant the appointment of Special Rapporteurs, Special Representatives, Independent Experts, or Working Groups also will be reviewed. Reports will be presented, among other things, on combating defamation of religions as a means to promote human rights, social harmony and religious and cultural diversity; the use of mercenaries to undermine the right to self-determination; the right to development; unilateral coercive measures; the right to education; the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes; structural adjustment policies and their effects on human rights; the impact of globalization on the full enjoyment of human rights; extreme poverty; the right to food; adequate housing; the right to physical and mental health; access to medication in the context of pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; human rights and terrorism; incompatibility between democracy and racism; arbitrary detention; torture; enforced or involuntary disappearances; extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; freedom of opinion; and freedom of religion.

In addition, as in previous years, in closed meetings under what is called the "1503 procedure", the Commission will discuss communications concerning alleged violations of human rights in specific countries.

The Commission on Human Rights in January elected Ambassador Mike Smith of Australia as Chairperson of the sixtieth session. It also elected Saeed Mohamed Al-Faihani of Bahrain, Manuel Antonio Gonzalez Sanz of Costa Rica, and Gordan Markotic of Croatia to the Bureau. Michael Gbadebo Omotosho of Nigeria was elected as rapporteur.

Questions to be Examined

Specific Situations Concerning Human Rights

Under its agenda item on the right to self-determination the Commission is scheduled to take up the situation in occupied Palestine, and will have before it a report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/2004/14).

There is also the Commission's annual agenda item on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, for which there is the report of its Special Rapporteur, John Dugard (E/CN.4/2004/6 and Add.1). In addition, there is a report of the Secretary-General on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan (E/CN.4/2004/24).

Under the agenda item on the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world, there is a series of documents :

-- a report of the Secretary-General on the human rights situation of Lebanese detainees in Israel (E/CN.4/2004/28) ;

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Thematic Mandates

The Commission has appointed Special Rapporteurs, Special Representatives, Independent Experts, and Working Groups to examine aspects of human rights deemed important or timely, and has requested reports on various topics from the High Commissioner for Human Rights.


Under its agenda item on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination, the Commission will consider the report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance Doudou Diene (E/CN.4/2004/18 and Add.1-3); reports on combating defamation of religions as a means to promote human rights, social harmony and religious and cultural diversity by the High Commissioner for Human Rights (E/CN.4/2004/16) and a progress report by the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism (E/CN.4/2004/19); the report of the High Commissioner on the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (E/CN.4/2004/17 and Add.1-3); the report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (E/CN.4/2004/20); the report of the Working Group of five independent experts on people of African descent (E/CN.4/2004/21); and the note by the secretariat transmitting the recommendations adopted by the independent eminent experts on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (E/CN.4/2004/112). .


Under the Commission's agenda item on the right of peoples to self-determination and its application to peoples under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation, there is a report of its Special Rapporteur, Enrique Bernales Ballesteros, on the use of mercenaries to undermine the right to self-determination (E/CN.4/2004/15).

On the right to development there is a report of the Commission's Working Group on the subject (E/CN.4/2004/23) and a report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the subject (E/CN.4/2004/22).

Under its agenda item on economic, social and cultural rights, the Commission will consider, among other things

-- a report of the Secretary-General on the negative impact on the right to development of unilateral coercive measures (E/CN.4/2004/37) ;

-- reports on the question of the realization in all countries of the economic, social and cultural rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and study of special problems which the developing countries face in their efforts to achieve these human rights of the Working Group on the subject (E/CN.4/2004/44); and of the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/2004/38).

-- a report of its Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Katarina Tomasevski (E/CN.4/2004/45 and Add.1 and 2);

-- a report of its Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, Fatma Zohra Ouhachi Vesely (E/CN.4/2004/46 and Add.1-3);

-- a report of the Commission's Independent Expert on the effects of structural adjustment policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of human rights, Bernards Andrew Nyamwaya Mudho (E/CN.4/2004/47 and Add. 1 and 2);

-- a report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of human rights (E/CN.4/2004/40);

-- a report of the Commission's Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty, Anne-Marie Lizin (E/CN.4/2004/43 and Add.1);

-- a report of its Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler (E/CN.4/2004/10 and Add.1 and 2);

-- a report of the High Commissioner on the promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for different cultural identities (E/CN.4/2004/41);

-- a report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, Miloon Kothari (E/CN.4/2004/48 and Add. 1 and 2);

-- reports on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health of the Special Rapporteur on the subject Paul Hunt (E/CN.4/2004/49 and Add. 1 and 2)); and of the High Commissioner (E/CN.4/2004/42);

-- and the report of the Secretary-General on access to medication in the context of pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (E/CN.4/2004/39).

A series of documents will be before the Commission under its agenda item on civil and political rights. They include:

-- a report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the interdependence between democracy and human rights (E/CN.4/2004/54);

-- a report of the Secretary-General on human rights and terrorism (E/CN.4/2004/50);

-- a report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance Doudou Diene on the incompatibility between democracy and racism (E/CN.4/2004/61);

-- a report of the Working Group on arbitrary detention (E/CN.4/2004/3 and Add.1 and 2 and Add.2/Corr.1 and Add.3);

-- a report of the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, Theo C. van Boven, on matters relevant to the issue of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (E/CN.4/2004/56 and Add.1-3); and the annual report of the Secretary-General on the subject (E/CN.4/2004/52);

-- a report of the Secretary-General on the operations of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (E/CN.4/2004/53 and Add.1);

-- a report of the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances (E/CN.4/2004/58); and a report of the Commission's Working Group to draft a legally binding international instrument for the protection of persons from enforced or involuntary disappearances (E/CN.4/2004/59);

-- a report by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Asma Jahangir (E/CN.4/2004//7 and Add. 1-3);

-- a report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Ambeyi Ligabo (E/CN.4/2004/62 and Add.1-4);

-- a report of the Secretary-General on human rights in the administration of justice, in particular juvenile justice (E/CN.4/2004/51);

-- a report of the High Commissioner on the second consultative meeting on the right to restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for victims of grave violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms (E/CN.4/2004/57);

-- a report by the Special Rapporteur on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors and the independence of lawyers Leandro Despouy (E/CN.4/2004/60 and Add.1);

-- a report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Abdelfattah Amor (E/CN.4/2004/63 and Add.1 and 2) .

-- and a report of the High Commissioner on conscientious objection to military service (E/CN.4/2004/55).


Under an agenda item titled "integration of the human rights of women and gender perspective", there will be reports of the Secretary-General on integrating the human rights of women into the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations (E/CN.4/2004/64); and a report of the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of violence against women, Yakin Erturk (E//CN.4/2004/66 and Add.1 and 2).

In discussing the rights of the child, the Commission will review reports of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children affected by armed conflict, Olara Otunnu (E/CN.4/2004/70); of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Juan Miguel Petit (E/CN.4/2004/9 and Add.1 and 2); and a progress report of the Secretary-General on the Study on the question of violence against children (E/CN.4/2004/68).

Human rights issues related to specific groups and individuals will be debated with the help of a report of the Secretary-General on violence against women migrant workers (E/CN.4/2004/71); a report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Gabriela Rodriguez Pizarro (E/CN.4/2004/76 and Add.1-4); a report of the Secretary-General on promoting the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (E/CN.4/2004/73); a report of the High Commissioner on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities (E/CN.4/2004/75); a report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons, Francis Deng (E/CN.4/2004/77 and Add.1-4); a report of the Secretary-General on the financial situation of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery (E/CN.4/2004/78 and Add.1); a report of the Secretary-General on missing persons (E/CN.4/2004/72); a report of the High Commissioner on the human rights of persons with disabilities (E/CN.4/2004/74).

Discussion of indigenous issues will be carried out with reference to reports, among other things, of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Rodolfo Stavenhagen (E/CN.4/2004/80 and Add.1-4); of the Working Group to elaborate a draft declaration in accordance with paragraph 5 of General Assembly resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994 (E/CN.4/2004/81 and Add.1); and a report by the High Commissioner on a seminar held in December 2003 on treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements between States and indigenous peoples (E/CN.4/2004/111).

Review of the Commission's agenda item on promotion and protection of human rights will be carried out with the help of reports of the Secretary-General on fundamental standards of humanity (E/CN.4/2004/90); a note by the secretariat on the role of good governance in the promotion of human rights (E/CN.4/2004/92); a report of the Secretary-General on capital punishment (E/CN.4/2004/86); a report on protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism by the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/2004/91) and a note by the secretariat (E/CN.4/2004/114); a report of the Secretary-General on impunity (E/CN.4/2004/88); a report of the Secretary-General on the status of the International Covenants on Human Rights (E/CN.4/2004/85); a report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, Hina Jilani (E/CN.4/2004/94 and Add.1-3); a report of the High Commissioner on follow-up to the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (E/CN.4/2004/93); and a report of the Secretary-General on human rights and the environment as part of sustainable development (E/CN.4/2004/87).

Also pending this session under this agenda item is consideration of draft resolution E/CN.4/2003/L.92) entitled human rights and sexual orientation and the proposed amendments thereto (E/CN.4/2003/L.106-110).

Consideration of the Commission's agenda item on the effective functioning of human rights mechanisms will include consideration of a note by the Office of the High Commissioner on effective implementation of international instruments on human rights, including reporting obligations under international instruments on human rights (E/CN.4/2004/98); a report of the Secretary-General on regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Asian and Pacific region (E/CN.4/200489); a report of the Secretary-General on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (E/CN.4/2004/101);

a report of the High Commissioner on the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (E/CN.4/2004/100) and of the Joint Inspection Unit on the same subject (E/CN.4/2004/95); and a report of the Secretary-General on protection of United Nations personnel (E/CN.4/2004/96).

The work of the Commission's principal subsidiary body, the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, will be reviewed through consideration of the Sub-Commission's report of its 2003 session (E/CN.4/2004/2-E/CN.4/Sub.2003/43); and the report of the Chairperson of the fifty-fifth session (E/CN.4/2004/83).


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