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United Nations / Human Rights Council
United Nations
11 January 2006

Essential Elements of a Human Rights Council

To: Foreign Ministers of U.N. Member States
U.N. Permanent Representatives

Re: Essential Elements of a Human Rights Council

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals dedicated to protecting and promoting human rights, have closely observed the discussions aimed at creating a new Human Rights Council for the United Nations, as proposed by the Secretary-General and agreed by heads of state in September. As the negotiations resume in the period 11-16 January 2006 (with the hope of a final resolution), we write to underscore the elements which we believe are absolutely essential to create a new Council that would be truly an improvement over the existing Commission on Human Rights.

Much progress is reflected in the draft resolution dated 19 December 2005. The following provisions are now included as non-bracketed text, and are of central importance to us:

Affirmation that "the Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon," repeating the clear language agreed by world leaders in the World Summit Outcome Document (OP3).

Provisions stating that membership in the Council shall be based inter alia on the "contribution [of candidate countries] to the promotion and protection of human rights," and that "members elected to the Council shall abide by the highest standards for the promotion and protection of human rights and fully cooperate with the Council" (OP6 and OP8).

OP9 language that "members of the Council shall be reviewed under the universal periodic peer review mechanism during their term of membership."

The decision that the Council "shall meet regularly throughout the year" and that special meetings may be called as needed (OP 11).

The decision that the rules of procedure of the Council shall provide for the participation of nongovernmental organizations and other observers based on the arrangements and practices observed by the Commission on Human Rights (OP 12).

There are three issues still presented in brackets where the choices made in final negotiations will determine whether this reform creates a stronger human rights body, a Commission on Human Rights by another name, or an even weaker body:

1.Membership: The resolution must ensure an improved membership in which states engaged in gross, systematic human rights violations are not elected. We believe that this objective can be secured by: (a) ensuring an individual and direct vote of two-thirds of the General Assembly; (b) requiring regional groups to put forward more candidates than the number of seats allocated to their region; and (c) stipulating that an entirely new Council should be elected rather than declaring that current members become the first members of the new Council.

2.Meeting Schedule: The resolution should provide that the Council should schedule no fewer than six meetings per year for a total duration of no less than twelve weeks, especially given the time and resource demands should universal review be added to the current work of the Commission.

3.Consideration of Country-Specific Situations: The ability of the new Council to consider country situations and adopt resolutions must not be limited. In particular, adoption of country-specific resolutions should continue to require a simple majority of Council members in accordance with usual rules.

Only a Human Rights Council that builds on the Commission’s successes, strengthens the status of human rights across the U.N. system, and is a real improvement on the existing Commission will have the support of human rights and other organizations like ours, and more importantly, will fulfill the hopes of human rights stakeholders worldwide. A reform that enhances respect for human rights and demonstrates your own government’s support for these universal principles will bring credit to the United Nations, and to all of us working together to bring about the new Human Rights Council. We respectfully ask your government to insist upon these essential elements in the General Assembly resolution establishing a Human Rights Council.

With assurances of our highest consideration and respect,

Sincerely,

Karin D. Ryan, Senior Advisor for Human Rights
The Carter Center

Yuri Dzhibladze, President
Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (Russia)

Charles J. Brown, President and CEO
Citizens for Global Solutions

Ted Piccone, Executive Director
Democracy Coalition Project

Sidiki Kaba, President
Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’Homme / International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Thomas O. Melia, Acting Executive Director
Freedom House

Gay McDougall, Executive Director
Global Rights

Gabor Rona, International Legal Director
Human Rights First

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director
Human Rights Watch

Hélène Sackstein, Permanent UN Representative in Geneva
International Alliance of Women

Gareth Evans, President and CEO
International Crisis Group

Bob Arsenault, President
International League for Human Rights

Chris Sidoti, Director
International Service for Human Rights

Felice D. Gaer, Director
Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights

Robin Phillips, Executive Director
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights

Morton H. Halperin, Director of U.S. Advocacy
Open Society Institute

Eric Sottas, Director
Organization mondiale contre la torture (OMCT) (Switzerland)

Leonard Rubenstein, Executive Director
Physicians for Human Rights

Matteo Mecacci, U.N. Representative
Transnational Radical Party

William R. Pace, Executive Director
World Federalist Movement

James C. O’Brien, Principal
The Albright Group LLC

Silvia Alonso Félix, Executive Secretary
Alianza Cívica

Iosif Lakhman, President
American Antifascist Association of Immigrants from the Former USSR

Armen Grigoryan
Analytical Center on Globalization and Regional Cooperation (Armenia)

Bani Dugal, Principal Representative
Bahá’í International Community, U.N. Office

Marina Rikhvanova, Co-Chair
"Baikal Environmental Wave" (Russia)

Alexander Gezalov, President
Karelian Regional Public Youth Organization "Balance" (Russia)

Alexey Zimenko, Director General
Biodiversity Conservation Center (Russia)

Natalia Ablova, Director
Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law (Kyrgyzstan)

Sergei Shapkhaev, Director
Buryat Regional Department on Lake Baikal (Russia)

Nicole Mlade, Program Director of Global Alliances and Senior Policy Analyst
Center for American Progress

Lene Schumacher, Director of Programs
Center for Development of International Law

Anna Pastukhova, Chair
Center for Information and Protection of Human Rights (Russia)

Alexander Radevich, Board Chairman
Center of Social and Educational Initiatives (Russia)

Lev Shlosberg, Director
Center for Social Projecting "Vozroshdenie" ("Revival") (Russia)

G. Jasper Cummeh, III
Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL)

Charlotte Bunch, Executive Director
Center for Women’s Global Leadership

Me Dieudonné Been Masudi Kingombe, Executive Director
Centre des Droits de l’Homme et du droit humanitaire (CDH)

Joseph Yav Katshung, Executive Director
Centre for Human Rights, Democracy and Transitional Justice Studies / Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche en Droits de l’Homme, Démocratie et Justice Transitionnelle (CERDH) (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Samantha Namnum, Head of the Human Rights and the Environment Program
Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA) (Mexico)

Nikolai Shchur, Director
Chelyabinsk Regional Public Foundation Helping Hand (Ruka Pomoschi)

Jan Mortier, Executive Director
Civitatis International

Svetlana Aleshchenko, Director
International Charitable Fund "Christian World" (Ukraine)

Svetlana Gannushkina, Chair
Civic Assistance Committee (Russia)

Edil Baisalov
Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society (Kyrgyzstan)

Natalia Serdukova, Director
Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Sochi, Russia

Richard C. Rowson, President
Council for a Community of Democracies

René Plaetevoet, Chair
December 18 (Belgium)

Askhat Kayumov, Director
Ecological Center "Dront" (Russia)

Galina Grishina, Director General
"East-West: Women Innovation Projects" (Russia)

Alecu Renita, President
Ioana Bobina, Director of Information and Coordination Center
Ecological Movement of Moldova (Moldova)

Dr. Magdy Abdel-Hamid, Chairman of the Board of Directors
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE)

Peter Diakonov, Chairman
Ekaterinburg Anti-Fascist Center (Russia)

Anna Pastukhova, Chairperson
Ekaterinburg Society Memorial (Russia)

Thabo Madihlaba, National Director
Environmental Justice Networking Forum (South Africa)

Alexander Nikitin, Council Chair
Environmental Rights Center "Bellona" (Russia)

Ilona Mihaies, Executive President
Euroregional Center for Democracy (Romania)

Ibragimjon Domuladjanov, Chief of Organization
"For Ecologically Clean Ferghana" Association (Uzbekistan)

Gayar Iskandyarov
Chair, Foundation for Development of Muslim Peoples (Russia)
Boardmember, International Human Rights Assembly (Russia)

Olga Crivorucico, President
Ecological Public Organization "Friends to Animals and Nature" (Moldova)

Me S.A.ALAO, President
GERDDES Africa

Peter Newell, Coordinator
Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (U.K.)

Judge Mukete Tahle Itoe, Global Secretary General
Global Network for Good Governance (GNGG) (Cameroon)

Gerald Thorns
Global Protect All Children

Richard Achunji Anguaseh, Program Director
Global Welfare Association (GLOWA) (Cameroon)

Michael M. Bogomolov, Vice-President
International Public Informational-Enlightment Movement "Goodwill - Without Borders" (Russia)

Elena Vasiljeva, President
Oleg Mozgovoy, President
"Green Cross" Murmansk Region, NGO "Green Club" (Russia)

Mary Shevchenko, Head of the Team
Team of Biological Conservation "Green Future" (Ukraine)

Roberts Putnis, Executive Chairperson
Transparency International (Latvia)

Layla Rajab Zayed, Chairperson
Gulf Center for Democracy Development

Sergio D’Elia, Secretary General
Hands off Cain (Italy)

Arthur Sakunts, Coordinator
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, Vanadzor Office (Armenia)

Tolekan Ismailova
Human Rights Center, "Citizens against Corruption" (Kyrgyzstan)

Oleg Orlov, Chairman
Human Rights Center "Memorial" (Russia)

Zohra Yusuf, Vice-Chairperson (Sindh)
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Brilliant Mhlanga, Secretary-General
Human Rights Organization "Imbovane Yamahlabezulu" (Zimbabwe)

Oleg Pecheniuk
Independent Ecological Expertise (Kyrgyzstan)

Sergey Kovalev, President
Valentin Gefter, Executive Director
Institute of Human Rights (Russia)

Oxana Alistratova, President
Interaction / Vzaimodeistvie (Moldova)

Daniel Ozoukou, Chairman
International Conference for Nonviolence and Democracy (Côte d’Ivoire)

Sara Winkowski
International Council of Jewish Women

Sylvie Bukhari de Pontual, President
International Federation of the Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) (France)

Eylah Kadjar-Hamouda, Coordinator
International Federation Terre des Hommes (Switzerland)

Dr. Nikolay Diko
President, International Foundation for Humanitarian Innovations (Russia)
Coordinator, International Committee of Citizen Diplomacy (Russia)

Sviatoslav Zabelin, Co-Chairman of Council
International Socio-Ecological Union

Vasiliy Vyuzhanin, Director
Inter-Regional Ural NGO Support Center (Russia)

Konstantin Reutskiy, Chair of the Board
Charitable Foundation "Jivaya Traditsia" ("Living Tradition") (Ukraine)

Isse Abdi Isse, Executive Officer
KISIMA Peace & Development Organization (Somalia)

Natalia Paegle, Chair
Karpinsky City Center of Study of Oral History of Russia (Russia)

Yevgeniy Zhovtis, Director
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (Kazakhstan)

Nozima Kamalova, Chairperson
Legal Aid Society (Uzbekistan)

Natalja Tagiltseva, Director
Regional NGO "Legal Protection" (Russia)

Andrey Tumanov, President
Youth NGO "Little Prince" (Russia)

Peter N. Prove, Asst. to the General Secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights
Lutheran World Federation (Switzerland)

Andrei Blinushov
Memorial-Ryazan/HRO.org/Karta Journal

Mariclaire Acosta, Former Vice Minister for Human Rights and Democracy (2001-2003)
Mexico

Svetlana Gannushkina
Migration Rights Network, Civic Assistance Committee (Russia)

Olga R. Gulina, Executive Director
NGO Research Center of Human Rights and Civic Initiatives (Russia)

Telman Zeynalov, President
National Center of Environmental Forecasting (Azerbaijan)

David Ajetunmobi, National Secretary
Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association (NATA)

Vladimir Panteleev, Chair of the Board
Nizhny Novgorod Association of Communist Terror Victims (Russia)

Sergey Shimovolos, Chairman
Nizhny Novgorod Union for Human Rights (Russia)

Ginfranco Dell’Alba, Secretary General
No Peace without Justice (Italy)

Simon Burall, Director
One World Trust

Arsenikhin Anatoliy, President
Open Alternative (Russia)

Tatyana Tagieva, President
Ekaterinburg Regional Center of Support to Civic Initiatives "Open Society" (Russia)

Tatyana Mikhailova, Chair
Oryol Regional Soldiers Mothers’ Committee (Russia)

Andrea Sanhueza, Executive Director
PARTICIPA (Chile)

S. Shaparenko, President
Environmental Group "Pechenigy" (Ukraine)

Jiwan Pradhan, Assistant Secretary General
Peoples Forum for Human Rights and Development (PFHRD) (Bhutan)

Anna Vanina, Director
"Pskovskaya Glubinka" (Russia)

Natalia Taubina, Director
"Public Verdict" Foundation (Russia)

Liz Scurfield, Joint Representative
Quaker Council for European Affairs

Vo Van Ai, President
Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam

Carol Bower, Executive Director
Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (RAPCAN)

Evgeny Egorov, Director
Free Creative Association "Roundabout" (Russia)

Stanislaw Dmitrievsky, Co-Chairman
Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (Russia)

Son Chhay, Member of Parliament
Sam Rainsy Party (Cambodia)

Lidiya Sviridova, Chairperson
Saratov Regional Union of Soldiers’ Mothers (Russia)

Andrey Kuvshinov, Chair
Siberian Human Rights Network "Rights Society" (Russia)

Tatiana Shchur, Head of the Group
Snezhinsk Step Towards Human Rights Group (Shag Navstrechu)

Natalia Serdykova, Chairperson
Sochi Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers (Russia)

Valery Borshyov, Chair of the Board
"Social Partnership" Foundation (Russia)

Abdinasir Nur, Director
Somali Youth for Peace and Democracy (SYPD)

Maxim Burmitskiy, Chairman
South-Siberian Human Rights Centre (Russia)

Tiziana Stella, Executive Director
Streit Council for a Union of Democracies

Anastasia Maltseva, Co-Chair
Sverdlovsk Regional Branch of the Russian "Memorial" Society (Russia)

Volodymyr Shcherbachenko, Head of the Board
East-Ukrainian Center of Civic Initiatives "Total Action of Support to Human Rights and Democracy" (Ukraine)

Sergio Stanzani, President
Transnational Radical Party (Italy)

Farid Tukhbatullin, Chairman
Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (Austria)

Vadim Postnikov, Director
Tyumen Chapter of All-Russian Movement "For Human Rights" (Russia)

Yevhen Zakharov, Chairperson of the Board
Volodymyr Yavorsky, Executive Director
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU) (Ukraine)

Valentina Melnikova, Responsible Secretary
Ida Kuklina, Member of the Coordination Council
Union of Soldiers’ Mothers Committees of Russia (Russia)

Dr. Dmitry Dintsis, Coordinator
United Civil Front (Russia)

Kim Gleeson, Executive Director
Universal Rights Network

Mikhail Zolotukhin, Director
Urals Human Rights Bureau (Russia)

Vladimir A. Shaklein, Chairman of Coordinating Council
Ural Inter-Regional Human Rights Center (Russia)

Kennedy Ossano, Secretary General
WESNO_KE (Kenya)

Larisa Vasilyeva, Chair of the Board
Women’s Commonwealth / Zhenskoe Sodruzhestvo (Russia)

Bo Tedards, Coordinator
World Forum for Democratization in Asia

Pierre Galand, Chair
World Organisation against Torture, European Office (OMCT-Europe)

Razmik Sardaryan, Chairman
"Youth Canal" NGO (Armenia)

Elena Rusakova, Director
Youth Center for Human Rights and Legal Culture (Russia)

cc: H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, President of the U.N. General Assembly
H.E. Mr. Ricardo Alberto Arias, Co-Chair, Human Rights Council Negotiations
H.E. Mr. Dumisani Shadrack Kumalo, Co-Chair, Human Rights Council Negotiations
Mr. Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary-General
Ms. Louise Arbour, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
Last Update 11 January 2006
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