Ambassador Munir Akram permanent representative of Pakistan, Coordinator of the OIC Working Group on Human Rights in Geneva, on behalf of the OIC, at the 57th Session of the Commission on Human Rights, on Item 3, “Organization of the Work of the Session”
Geneva, 20 March 2001
On behalf of the members States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, I have the privilege to congratulate you and the other members of the bureau on your election. Your stewardship assures of a successful outcome to his important session of the Conference. We also wish to felicitate other members of the Bureau on their election.
2. The tenets of Islam and the OIC Charter, as also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, accord primacy to the promotion of human rights and a culture of peace and tolerance for other religions and civilizations. These principles inspire the Islamic countries to actively participate in the work of the Commissions and its mechanisms.
3. The OIC welcomes the adoption of a report of the Working Group on Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Mechanisms of the Commission during its 56th Session. The OIC would appreciate an evaluation of its impact in improving the work of the Commission.
4. The violations of human rights in various regions of the world prominently figure on the agenda of the OIC Summit and Ministerial Conferences. The OIC has consistently condemned the violations of human rights in occupied Palestinian territories, Syrian Golan. Lebanese territory occupied by Israel, Kosovo, Jammu and Kashmir, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Armenian Aggression against Azerbaijan and the inhuman isolation imposed on the Turkish Cypriot people.
5. The grave and unabated violations of human rights of the Palestinian people by the Israeli Defense forces continue to evoke deep concern in the Islamic world. A primary task at this year’s Session of the Commission should be to bring an immediate end to the grave breaches of the Humanitarian law and violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people which have been also referred by the High Commissioner and the Commission of Inquiry and Special Rapporteur in their reports.
6. The convening of the 5th Special Session of Commission on Human Rights and its outcome was a manifestation of the international community’s deep concern over the grave situation on the occupied Palestinian territories. It is disturbing to note that the implementation of the resolution of the Fifth Special Session has not received the attention which the gravity of situation warrants. We regret that only four Special Rapporteurs have expressed interest to visit the region. The remaining Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups appear to have ignored the call of the Commission. We reiterate our request to all special mechanism listed in the resolution to accord priority to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
7. The OIC is opposed to politically-motivated country specific resolutions. These are used to point fingers and politicize human rights issues. If essential, these resolutions on specific situations should be put forward only in cases where there is proof of gross and consistent violations of human rights and consensus should be sought where possible. The presentation of resolutions against a number of Islamic countries year after year may be interpreted as a prima facie indication of a built-in bias against the world of Islam. Greater restraint in this regard would considerably improve the prospects of harmony among different groups. For example, there is a case of a country among the OIC members whose human rights situations has been considered for eighteen years in this Commission despite the fact that its progressive human rights development is appreciated and acknowledged by the international community. The abolition of this practice would considerably improve the prospects of harmony among different groups.
8. The OIC considers that the timely availability of all documents is an important requirement for an informed debate during the Session. There should be no deviation from the rule regarding the availability of country reports by Special Rapporteurs six weeks prior to the consideration of the relevant agenda item. These reports must adhere to the 32 page limit prescribed in the UN General Assembly resolution 53/208 with integration of the responses of the concerned countries. These reports should be written objectively and should not aim to condemn the countries concerned .
9. The Special Rapporteurs and Special Representatives have been entrusted with high responsibilities in specific areas of human rights. The OIC greatly values their work. We are however concerned over the tendency of some to misinterpret their mandates. The OIC recommends that the Special Rapporteurs should carry out their work within their defined mandate. They should accord equal importance to all aspects of their mandate and avoid selective reporting. We also hope they will be present during the Commission’s debate on their reports. The practice of presenting joint reports by the Rapporteurs also needs our careful consideration.
10. The OIC awaits keenly the final shape of the Code of Conduct for the Special Rapporteurs in conformity with the Commission’s decision 2000/109. We would request progress report on this issue from the Secretariat.
11. The OIC states have small delegations in Geneva. It is not possible for them to keep track of simultaneous negotiations and consultations often held nwithout prior notice or schedule. We would therefore urge that information about negotiations on resolutions should be available at least 24 hours before they are held. These negotiations must be held in a transparent fashion.
12. The OIC would like to reaffirm its support and appreciation for the important role and contributions of civil society representatives in the work of the Commission. In view of a rapid increase in the number of NGOs participating in the Commission, we would encourage them to make joint statements. This would facilitate the participation of more NGOs in addition to saving precious time and resources. Their participation should also conform to the established rules and norms.
13. Keeping in view the fact that we have a heavy agenda to deal with, the OIC would propose self-restraint in the presentation of resolutions, specially long and repetitive resolutions, where developments are slow, resolutions could be biennialized. Together with rationalization of its deliberations, consideration should also be given to the possibility of reducing the duration of the Commission from six to four weeks.
14. The OIC deeply appreciates the think tank role of the Sub Commission. We respect and applaud the independence and caliber of its experts. We wish to assure them that the OIC would guard against any effort that seeks to marginalize its role. We particularly appreciate that Sub Commission managed its work with in three weeks. We also welcome its efforts to avoid duplication of work being carried by the Commission itself.