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A Un High Commissioner In Defence Of Human Rights: "No License To Kill Or Torture" [Hardcover]

By B. G. Ramcharan (Author)
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In contemporary international relations the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is a central actor, promoting human rights laws and institutions within countries, speaking out against gross violations of human rights, integrating human rights into efforts for conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, development and humanitarian affairs. The author exercised the functions of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a turbulent period involving the conflict in Iraq, the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire, and the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. In this unique work he tells the story of the role of the High Commissioner in leadership and advocacy, crisis response, diplomatic initiatives, mainstreaming human rights, and strengthening the Office of High Commissioner. The texts of the principal reports referred to the essays contained in Part One are reproduced in Part Two, offering the reader important insights into the reasoning, the methods and the techniques used in the work of the High Commissioner. This is the first book ever written by a serving High Commissioner in the history of the institution. It is obligatory reading for all students and practitioners of human rights.



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Item Specifications...


Studio: Hotei Publishing
Pages   854
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.7" Width: 6.7" Height: 2.3"
Weight:   2.95 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 31, 2004
Publisher   Brill Academic Publishers
ISBN  9004142983  
ISBN13  9789004142985  


Availability  0 units.


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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > Freedom & Security > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > Freedom & Security
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General



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Important public Docment on Human Rights Advocacy  Feb 16, 2005
A UN High Commissioner In Defence Of Human Rights: "No License To Kill Or Torture" by Bertrand, Dr. Ramcharan (Martinus Nijhoff: Brill Academic) It is often difficult to understand the role of diplomancy in keeping the small flame of human rights alive in a world rife withpolitical, ethnic and economic conflict, this record of what the Un High commissioner should open the eyes to what entails in diplomatic intervention. In contemporary international relations the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is a central actor, promoting human rights laws and institutions within countries, speaking out against gross violations of human rights, integrating human rights into efforts for conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, development and humanitarian affairs.
The author exercised the functions of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a turbulent period involving the conflict in Iraq, the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire, and the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. In this unique work he tells the story of the role of the High Commissioner in leadership and advocacy, crisis response, diplomatic initiatives, mainstreaming human rights, and strengthening the Office of High Commissioner. The texts of the principal reports referred to the essays contained in Part One are reproduced in Part Two, offering the reader important insights into the reasoning, the methods and the techniques used in the work of the High Commissioner.
This is the first book ever written by a serving High Commissioner in the history of the institution. It is obligatory reading for all students and practitioners of human rights.

Excerpt: In a world of convulsions, the international norms on human rights provide a cornerstone for the future world order. Governance must be approached through the lens of human rights. Development, equity, conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacebuilding, and the quest for justice must all take their starting points from the international human rights norms. Unless we anchor the governance of human affairs in international human rights standards, we are bound to lose our way and the world will surely experience further chaos and injustices.
In the contemporary world, the mantle of human rights is worn by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. After a career in the United Nations spanning 31 years in the fields of human rights, speech writing and policy planning, peace-making, peace-keeping and peace-building, the author was privileged first to be Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for five years, and then to perform the functions of High Commissioner for 14 months. While the author has cumulatively spent 20 of his 31 years in the United Nations in the field of human rights and has had fascinating experiences, wearing the mantle of the High Commissioner was the highest calling. One felt a sense of responsibility for upholding human rights globally. One felt the call of the inter-national human rights standards, the call of moral principles, and the need for political sensitivity and wisdom. There was the need to react to fast-breaking situations for the protection of persons at risk. Sometimes one acted behind the scenes.
This work presents glimpses into these windows into the mind of a serving High Commissioner: leadership, trouble-shooting and diplomacy. It also illustrates how I sought to develop the role of the Office and to shape a human rights vision through practice. There are two other windows into the mind of the High Commissioner that are also presented: efforts to integrate and mainstream human rights and efforts to administer and strengthen the Office of High Commissioner, now 10 years old. I was conscious that I would have to set for myself policy goals while attending to structural-managerial issues. On broad policy goals, I wrote for myself in the days preceding my assumption of the position that I would have in view: the rule of law; the strengthening of national protection sys¬tems within countries; protection issues; justice issues; safeguarding human rights in the struggle against terrorism; United Nations reforms in the human rights sector; the role of the Security Council in human rights matters; and backing up the Secretary-General. I would also have to be attentive to human rights initiatives in Africa, Central Asia, Central Africa (where a new UN Centre for Human Rights and Democracy had just been established), and cooperation with regional bodies. Relations with non-governmental organizations would also require attention.
On structural-managerial issues, I noted for myself that alongside ef¬forts for United Nations reforms, there was a major report of the United Nations Inspector's office to be implemented; there was need to introduce an integrated contractual regime for different categories of personnel; I would have to steer the launching of the Annual Appeal for voluntary con¬tributions and account for the disposition of the previous year's contribu¬tions ; and I would have to watch over a study by the Joint Inspection Unit on the staffing and management of the Office.
On situations to which I would have to be attentive, I listed the follow¬ing so that I could be prepared for them: Afghanistan, Cambodia, Chech¬nya (Russian Federation), Colombia, Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Guantanamo detainees, Indonesia (Aceh and past involvement in East Timor), Iraq, Laos, Liberia, Myanmar, Nepal, Palestine, Timor Leste, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe. There were others one could add to the list but it was my hunch that I would more than likely be called upon to react to events in these countries.
On issues that I might be called upon to react to, I listed the following: the AIDS pandemic, anti-Islamism, anti-Semitism, bio-ethics, poverty, protection challenges, racism, slavery, terrorism, torture, and trafficking in human beings. I would need to have a good fix on the human rights di¬mensions of these issues.
The broad policy goals and the structural managerial issues became in¬tertwined into the major leadership thrusts I became involved in and, by the end of my 14 months on the job, I had undertaken a number of initia¬tives and had made over one hundred public speeches to different United Nations organs or public fora which were issued as United Nations press releases. In addition, I had issued some fifty statements on problem situations, mostly in trouble-shooting mode. I also undertook some two dozen diplomatic facilitation actions behind the scenes. This was in addition to the efforts to keep the Office running smoothly. Throughout my tenure, I was without a deputy or other experienced senior official in the front office other than the five branch-chiefs. This meant keeping in the air several leader-ship, trouble-shooting, diplomatic, mainstreaming, and structural-managerial balls at the same time.
I sought to seize the initiative from the outset. On leadership and policy issues, I had, by the end of the first two months, defended the interna¬tional definition of torture against attempts to water it down; spoken out against terrorism and the need to safeguard human rights while countering terrorism; supported the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; supported United Nations special rapporteurs and treaty bodies; advocated a strong human rights role for the Security Council; articulated the human rights role of ECOSOC; laid out policy options for the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights; laid out human rights issues before African Ministers of Human Rights and the NEPAD peer review panel; called for reforms in the functioning of the UN voluntary fund for human rights technical cooperation; pleaded for the human rights of indigenous populations; spoken out against racism and racial discrimination; advocated changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production which led to the marginalization of women and the increase of poverty; advocated gender mainstreaming; advocated a gender perspective on human rights issues and the consolidation of human rights norms that centralize the gender dimension; spoken out against anti-Islamism and anti-Semitism; highlighted the continuing problems of slavery and slavery-like practices; acted to encourage consideration of human rights cooperation in least-developed countries; pressed for the establishment of clear and enforce-able legal guidelines when UN staff are accused of improprieties while in peace-keeping operations; supported commissions of inquiry for Afghanistan and East Timor; advocated reform of the Commission on Human Rights; called for support from human rights perspectives, of the bicente¬nary of the Haitian revolution; stressed the need for the prevention of human rights violations committed with small arms and light weapons and stressed the overlap between human rights and security issues; supported the Barcelona Forum; acted on human rights reforms in the United Nations; submitted proposals to restructure the Office of High Commis¬sioner; advanced proposals for an integrated contractual regime in the Office of High Commissioner; steered the 2004-2005 budget; called for attention to social discrimination against persons with, or recovering from, leprosy; and initiated examination of the role of human rights in the future of the United Nations (the annual report of the High Commissioner, which I submitted, had this theme). I had thus moved on a range of leadership and policy issues. I continued to do this over the 14 months during which I performed the functions of High Commissioner.
On trouble-shooting issues, I had, by the end of the first two months, acted on situations in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Guantanamo, Iraq, Laos, Liberia, Myanmar, Timor Leste, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and terrorist incidents in Russia and Indonesia. I had also sup-ported the Sierra Leone Prosecutor in his indictment of Charles Taylor. I added to this list over the 14 months.
On diplomatic initiatives, I had acted to try to save the Bosnia-Herzegovina human rights court; to facilitate the efforts of the Special Repre¬sentative on Cuba; to support the Special Rapporteur on Iraq in his request to visit the country. I had also supported the Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions and the Special Representative on Human Rights De-fenders in problems they were having with particular countries. I also acted in exercise of human rights good offices. I wrote a letter to the President of ECOSOC urging that an NGO, Reporters without Borders, not be suspended for protesting against the election of a Libyan Chair of the Commission on Human Rights. I facilitated a meeting in the United Nations on social discrimination against persons suffering, or recovering from, leprosy. I sought to promote human rights issues at the forthcoming World Infor¬mation Summit.
The above is a reasonable set of initiatives on leadership and policy, trouble-shooting, and diplomatic facilitation in the first two months. They show that there was need, and opportunity, to seize the initiative from the outset. One weakness that one felt, however, was the difference between a General Assembly-appointed High Commissioner and an Acting High Commissioner. The former can go after violators without fear, while the latter could be challenged at any time - and the authority-base would be weaker. This required a fair amount of finesse in seeking to activate the High Commissioner's voice in the circumstances.
Over the course of 14 months I would continue along these courses, as the following pages will show.
 

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