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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
Distr.
GENERAL
A/HRC/13/44
15 January 2010

Original: English

Human Rights Council
Thirteenth session
Agenda item 2
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the
High Commissioner and the Secretary-General



National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights


Report of the Secretary-General* **


Summary
The present report is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council decision 2/102, in which the Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue with the fulfilment of her activities, in accordance with all previous decisions adopted by the Commission on Human Rights and to update the relevant reports and studies.
The report, which covers the period from January to December 2009, contains information on the activities undertaken by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to establish and strengthen national human rights institutions (NHRIs), measures taken by Governments and NHRIs in this regard, and cooperation between NHRIs and international human rights mechanisms.
Specifically, the report highlights the main achievements, challenges and priorities at the national level regarding the establishment and strengthening of NHRIs.1 The activities of NHRIs on thematic issues, such as peace and justice, human rights defenders, migration, business and human rights, rights of persons with disabilities and climate change, are also discussed.2



* Late submission.
** As the present report greatly exceeds word limitations currently allowed under relevant General Assembly resolutions, the annexes are reproduced in the language of submission only.


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I. Introduction

1. The present report outlines progress achieved since the last report of the Secretary-General submitted to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/10/54).

II. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and national human rights institutions

2. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) accords priority to the establishment and strengthening of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) with due regard for the Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles) adopted by the General Assembly (resolution 48/134, annex). OHCHR is also engaged in improving United Nations system-wide coordination on NHRIs, and supports their increased participation in the United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms. OHCHR encourages the sharing of good practices among NHRIs, supports the strengthening of their regional networks, and facilitates their access to United Nations country teams and other relevant partners.

3. During the reporting period, OHCHR continued to support the building of strong NHRIs and to increase the effectiveness of their regional coordinating bodies. Since 2008, the NHRI fellowship programme has hosted staff from A-status NHRIs from States such as Australia, El Salvador, the Republic of Korea and Togo. This programme has enabled the fellows to gain knowledge of and experience with the United Nations human rights system. It has also been beneficial for OHCHR, in terms of both substantive expertise and the consolidation of contacts with staff from national institutions. OHCHR has issued a new call for candidates for 2010. Through this programme, up to four staff members from NHRIs will be selected to work in the National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section of OHCHR for a period up to 12 months.

4. NHRIs compliant with the Paris Principles are essential to national human rights protection systems and are important counterparts for OHCHR. They can play a crucial role in promoting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards at the national level, a role which is increasingly recognized by the international community. This role was highlighted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the opening of the Ninth International Ombudsman Institute World Conference in Stockholm in June 2009. The High Commissioner noted that NHRIs are central elements of a strong national human rights protection framework that also requires an independent judiciary, effective parliamentary oversight mechanisms, fair administration of justice, a dynamic civil society and free and responsible media.
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5. Middle East and North Africa

60. OHCHR assisted in the organization of the fifth Conference of the Arab National Human Rights Institutions, held in Amman on 8 and 9 March 2009, on “Elections in the Arab World and Their Impact on Human Rights”. A total of 80 participants, including representatives of the NHRIs of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, as well as of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. NGOs, international organizations and United Nations agencies attended and adopted a document to assist NHRIs in implementing a human rights-based approach during elections.

61. The United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region, in Qatar, held an inaugural workshop on the international human rights system in Doha on 27 and 28 May 2009. A total of 60 participants, including representatives of the NHRIs of Afghanistan, Algeria, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the Occupied Palestinian Territory attended the workshop.

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Annex II

Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions
3 to 6 August 2009, Amman, Jordan

APF Conference concluding statement

Introduction

1. The Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (the APF), consisting of the national human rights institutions (NHRIs) of Afghanistan, Australia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste, held its Fourteenth Annual Meeting in Amman, Jordan, from 3 to 6 August 2009 under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein.

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Conclusions

The Forum, during its open plenary sessions:

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9. Informed the Conference of the outcomes of the meeting of Forum Councillors held on 3 and 4 August 2009. The following decisions were highlighted:

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The approval of a proposal to use ICC accreditation decisions in determining membership status for the APF. As a result of this decision and in line with ICC accreditation decisions the human rights institutions from the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Qatar became full member institutions of the APF and the Sri Lankan Commission became an associate member of the APF. The APF reiterated that it would provide assistance to the Sri Lankan Commission in seeking to regain its full membership of the ICC and APF and recommended that the Sri Lankan Government appoint the Chairperson and Commissioners in accordance with the Sri Lankan Constitution. The APF also noted the importance of the recommendations of the ICC Sub-Committee on Accreditation to the institutions of Qatar and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the APF offered its support to ensure compliance with the Paris Principles.

The NGO/CSO recommendations on human rights defenders

14. Was informed of serious human rights violations in a number of States throughout the region, especially Myanmar, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of occupation, and the corresponding difficult situation faced by human rights defenders. NHRIs pledged to take all available steps to protect human rights defenders.

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Annex III

Draft notes on the Fifth Conference of the Arab National Human Rights Institutions on “Elections in the Arab World and their Impact on Human Rights”, Amman, Jordan, 8–9 March 2009

Background

Under the patronage of H.E. Nader al-Dahabi, the Prime Minister of Jordan, a two-day conference on the impact of elections on human rights in the Arab world was organized by the National Center for Human Rights of Jordan (NCHRJ) in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Amman, Jordan, from 8 to 9 March 2009. The Conference marked the fifth annual meeting of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) from the Arab Region. Between 70 and 80 participants attended the sessions on both days, amongst whom were representatives of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia;4 representatives of the countries which do not have NHRIs, such as Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, non-governmental organizations from Jordan, Iraq and Bahrain, United Nations agencies such as OHCHR, UNESCO and UNDP, as well as i nternational organizations such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI), amongst many others.

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The Conference was organized into seven working sessions, including a post-Conference event on Israeli violations of human rights in Gaza presented by the Independent Commission for Human Rights of the Occupied Palestinian Territory .

Each session was dedicated to a particular topic related to the protection of human rights at times of elections. While the first day explored a wide range of themes on elections and human rights including international standards pertaining to the organization and conduct of free and fair elections, the second day focused more specifically on the role of NHRIs in promoting free and fair elections. Each session began with presentations of one to three speakers on the given topic.

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During the sixth session dedicated to the role of NHRIs prior, during and after elections, the representatives of NHRIs of Morocco, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Jordan shared their experiences pertaining to the engagement of their respective NHRIs in elections advocacy, monitoring and follow-up. Mr. Abderrazak Rouwane of Morocco described in some detail the organization and engagement of the Human Rights Advisory Council in Moroccan elections monitoring. Mrs. Randa Al-Siniora of the Occupied Palestinian Territory described the immense difficulties faced by the Palestinian elections observers during parliamentary and presidential elections in the occupied territories due to the severe limitation in access and movement across numerous checkpoints. Dr. Ali al-Dabbas of Jordan spoke of the engagement in advocacy (during and after the passing of the Jordanian electoral law) by the National Center for Human Rights and described the difficulties faced by the NCHRJ observers in terms of obtaining licenses and approval to access polling sites by Jordanian authorities.

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___________

1 Additional information on initiatives and assistance provided to NHRIs may be found in the report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly (A/64/320).
2 Relevant documents are posted on www.nhri.net.
4These institutions have both varying records of cooperation with United Nations human rights machinery and different levels of compliance with the international standards relating to national human rights institutions (“the Paris Principles”).


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