UN logoOn Tuesday 28 March the last ever session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) was attended by Ms Tsering Jampa, Executive Director of ICT Europe, and Stewart Watters, Campaign Coordinator of ICT Europe.

The UNHRC was founded in 1946 and has for many years been a crucial forum for Tibetans to address Chinese human rights violations publicly and directly through written and oral statements, as well as via briefing sessions and informal contacts with diplomats and NGOs.

On the 15 March, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to establish the new Human Rights Council, which NGOs hope will prove a more effective forum for the monitoring and combating of human rights violations.

ICT co-signed an NGO statement delivered during the final session, which acknowledged that human rights organizations and other NGOs had played “an important role…in the promotion and protection of human rights” during the Commission’s 60 years.

The NGO statement further expressed its “disappointment and sense of loss” that NGOs and the victims of human rights violations had not been allowed full participation at the final session of the Commission.

The election of the new Council’s 47 members will take place on 9 May. ICT looks forward to continuing its hard work at the United Nations within the new Human Rights Council, which is expected to convene for its first session in 19 June 2006.

The entire statement follows:

Statement to the Final Session of the Commission On Human Rights by 265 NGOs

This statement is made on behalf of 265 non-governmental organisations. It cannot be made on behalf of all non-governmental organisations because we have no authority to do so.

During the 60 years of the Commission on Human Rights, non-governmental organisations have played, in the words of the General Assembly, “an important role at the national, regional and international levels, in the promotion and protection of human rights”. Unfortunately the arrangement made for their participation in the final session of the Commission through a single statement does not allow this important role to be reflected. Non-governmental organisations are very diverse, reflecting the variety and multiplicity of human experiences. They have brought to the Commission the voices of the voiceless and of victims of violations throughout the world. That diversity and those voices cannot be encapsulated in a single statement. With disappointment and a sense of loss, we note that they are missing from the final session of the Commission.

We have decided therefore not to make a single non-governmental statement to assess the work of the Commission. We cannot accept that this is an appropriate way to proceed now or in the future and we urge States to acknowledge this.

We look forward positively to the establishment of the Human Rights Council. We remind all States of the terms of the recent General Assembly resolution which committed the future Human Rights Council to “ensuring the most effective contribution” of non-governmental organisations to its work “based on arrangements…and practices observed by the Commission”.

We invite all here today to join us in standing and observing a moment of silence for those who have suffered human rights violations during the life of this Commission, to mark with dignity its closing.