The UN General Assembly, Reflecting Universality, Must Not Fail Human Rights and Justice

On the week of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly Third and Six Committees’ 64th sessions, respectively on humanitarian and legal affairs, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) publishes its Position Paper documenting the priorities FIDH believes the two committees should not fail to firmly act upon.

FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen stressed that, "Each resolution passed by the General Assembly has a unique significance and legitimacy because it is the only organ of the United Nations in which all member nations have equal representation. The resolutions that will be adopted this fall 2009 must therefore especially not fail to demonstrate the impeccable allegiance of the UN system to the highest norms it represents, which include human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the fight against impunity."

She added "Where Human rights defenders cannot be heard to echo the voice of victims of human rights violations, it is the role of the General Assembly to echo the voice of the voiceless."

In addition, when grave human rights violations are perpetrated in complete impunity and remain unpunished, they will continue to be perpetrated, thereby creating a cycle of violence that prevents conflict-resolution. It is therefore also for peace purposes that the General Assembly must stand firm against violations of human rights.

FIDH, in its Position Paper, focuses this year on three priorities:

- The massive human rights violations in Iran, especially following the June Presidential Elections – FIDH recommends that a UN Special Envoy of the Secretary General on Iran be appointed;
- The possible war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated for many years now by the military junta in Burma / Myanmar – FIDH recommends that an Independent Commission of Inquiry be mandated to investigate and qualify these violations;
- The General Assembly must unquestionably support the international justice system it has spearheaded for the last sixty years, and stand firm against any measure that would undermine the fundamental principle of universal jurisdiction under international law.

Debating these issues at the General Assembly, and when necessary adopting resolutions, is yet only one of the means at the disposal of all nations to strengthen peace and the rule of law – but not one too many.

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