Question of Palestine home
9 September 1999
Item 117 (b) of the provisional agenda*
Human rights questions: human rights questions,
including alternative approaches for improving
the effective enjoyment of human rights and
National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights
Report of the Secretary-General
1. The present report has been prepared pursuant to paragraph 16 of General Assembly resolution 52/128 of 12 December 1997, entitled "
National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights", in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to report to it at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the resolution.
2. In resolution 52/128, the General Assembly welcomed the growing interest shown by Member States of different regions in the establishment and strengthening of effective, independent and pluralistic national institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights, as encouraged by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions adopted by the Assembly in its resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993.
3. The General Assembly urged the Secretary-General to continue to give high priority to requests from Member States for assistance in the establishment and strengthening of national human rights institutions as part of the programme of advisory services and technical assistance in the field of human rights, and encouraged the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to further extend activities in support of national human rights institutions, including the holding of regional meetings of national institutions and international meetings of the Coordinating Committee created by national institutions, to promote the exchange of information and experience concerning the establishment and effective operation of such institutions.
4. The present report contains information on the various activities undertaken by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish and strengthen national institutions and on the measures taken by Governments and national human rights institutions themselves in these areas, as well as the work of the treaty monitoring bodies and the special mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights to undertake further consultations with established national human rights institutions.
5. The report covers activities for the period from 15 October 1997, the date of the report on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights to the fifty-second session of the General Assembly,1 to 15 August 1999. This report complements the annual reports presented to the Commission on Human Rights during this period pursuant to Commission resolutions 1997/34 of 11 April 19972 and 1998/55 of 17 April 1998.3 More information on assistance to national human rights institutions can be found in the reports of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the programme of advisory services and technical assistance in the field of human rights, on activities of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Assistance in the Field of Human Rights and on the activities of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
A. Advice for the establishment of national institutions.
9. During the last two years the Office of the High Commissioner provided information, advice or assistance, at their request, to the following Governments or entities in the process of establishing national human rights institutions or contemplating the establishment of such institutions: Armenia, Bangladesh, Burundi, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Germany, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and, most recently, Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Activities and programmes of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific region
24. Since 1997, the field office in Gaza has developed a close and constructive relationship with the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens'
Rights. The overall programme of assistance of the Office of the High Commissioner in Palestine includes three components that are complementary in reinforcing elements of law, policy and institutional structure. While local non-governmental organizations and the Independent Commission have a role to play in all of these areas, the assistance of the Office to the Independent Commission centers on the programme component dedicated to the goal of establishing a Palestinian legal framework consistent with human rights standards. To date, the Office has provided assistance to the Palestinian Independent Commission by way of direct institutional strengthening, support for its field workers programme, law reform and other technical support for training and human rights promotion activities. The law reform programme has supported the work of the Commission to comment on priority legislation that the programme covers, by promoting a consultative approach to law reform in Palestine. The field workers programme, which has posted three field workers in the West Bank and one in Gaza, has permitted the Independent Commission to raise awareness on human rights in each region of the country and to monitor violations and collect complaints and testimonies of alleged violations at the local level. The Office of the High Commissioner has also provided two grants to the Commission to support efforts to build up its collection of human rights documentation and legal materials.