Zoey Liu / Staff reporter

According to the article written by New York Department of Public Information —- General Assembly Establishes New Human Rights Council by Vote of 170 in Favour to 4 Against, with 3 Abstentions, on March 15, 2006, the United Nations General Assembly established the United Nations Human Rights Council, a replacement of the previous one — the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. 15 years later, the United Nations Human Rights Council devotes itself to the persuasion of human right. Recently, there was a series of the discussions happened for the human right concerns in Afghanistan due to the complete withdrawal of American military force.

The United Nations General Assembly

The decision of establishing the council to replace of the previous one —- the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, was approved with only four opposing votes on the vote session hold by The United Nations General Assembly.

Jan Eliasson, the assembly president, said today’s session is a “decisive moment”- not only for human rights, but for the standing of the United Nations as a whole.

“Today, we stand ready to witness a new beginning for the promotion and protection of human rights.” said Eliasson.

But there were also some deep concerns to the new body. Before the vote of establishing the council, Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, the Cuban Ambassador, declared that the decision has been driven by the need of ending the “huge discredit”, which had happened to the Commission due to the “political manipulation, hypocrisy, and double standards imposed on its work by the United States and the European Union.” The draft of the new body doesn’t show any strong, sufficient responses to the existing problems. Indeed, the new body is not going to against these injustices.

Cuba hopes the establishment of this new council can contribute to strengthening the international system of promoting as well as protecting human rights through the genuine cooperation. The previous approach —- “punitive and sanctioning”, which made by the U.S. and its allies, was now evinced by a provision in the text. It allows the suspension of the rights of those who questioned, interfered, or just disagreed with the “hegemonic domination plans of Empire”.

“Too many countries sought membership to protect themselves against criticism, or to criticize others,” the secretary-general said, “and absent assurance of a credible membership.” He’s not sure if the council would be better than its predecessor.

Peter Maurer, ambassador of Switzerland, said that the resolution was a “good compromise”. The new members would not only be carefully selected, but also are required to cooperate with the new council and make commitments. The resolution also build a framework for a “Fresh Start”, and “it is our sincere hope that we will not fall back into old patterns of behavior”, said Maurer.

Maurer doesn’t hope the re-existence of political hypocrisy. He thinks that the adoption of resolution was a significant strategic achievement, for the reform process of the whole United Nations.

“Indeed, change is a process, not an event”, Maurer added.

Over the recent 15 years, as Maurer hopes, the council keeps advancing and promoting human rights. Recently, the situation in Afghanistan suddenly changed due to the withdrawal of American army. Afghans are now facing serious violations of their basic human rights. With that, the United Nations Human Rights Council held a special session —- “The Serious Human Rights Concerns and Situation in Afghanistan” to address the existing problems in Afghanistan.

On August 24, 2021, according to the article written by United Nations Human Rights Council —- High Commissioner for Human Rights Urges Special Session of the Human Rights Council on Afghanistan to Establish a Dedicated Mechanism to Closely Monitor the Evolving Human Rights Situation in Afghanistan, the United Nations Human Rights Council held this session to deal with the serious human right issues, and hearing the urge from the high commissioner.

The United Nations Human Rights Council

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations high commissioner of human rights, declared that there are credible reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses happened under the Taliban’s control, such as restrictions of women’s rights to go to work, girls’ rights to attend schools, etc. People fear the reprisals by Taliban that against people who work in the Government, international communities, people who work to advance human rights as well as justice, or the people whose lifestyles or believes are perceived as opposing the Taliban ideology. The Taliban committed to protect and respect the human rights under the Islamic law. It is the Taliban’s responsibility to carry this commitment to the Afghans, this includes the fundamental human rights and the public services.

Bachelet strongly urged the Taliban to conform the commitment, to uphold the human rights. The females’ situations under the Taliban’s treatment was certainly a red line. The Taliban’s actions would be a key indicator to their commitment. There must be zero reprisals against the human rights defenders. She appealed the Council to establish a mechanism to closely monitor the evolving human rights situation, as well as the Taliban’s implementation of its commitment.

The Taliban

Anita Ramasastry, chair of the coordination committee of special procedures, stated that the actions taken by the council would set a direction for the future of Afghanistan. They represent a test case for the United Nations Charter – urgency and moral clarity was required. Right now, the protection of vulnerable groups (especially the Afghan females) had to take priority.

The chairperson of the Afghanistan independent human rights commission, Shaharzad Akbar, said the resolution tabled today was a travesty. The Taliban’s recent crimes are well-documented. Afghan activists are now facing direct threats to their lives. They demanded better from the council.

In the following discussions, the speakers called the immediate restoration of security and civil function, a return to the society ruled by law, the respect for citizens, dignity and property. They also expressed the concerns of the human rights issues Afghan females are facing. The women lost their rights to work and the girls lost their rights to attend secondary education. The journalists, human rights defenders, and the religious and ethnic minority are also living at risk. However, the Taliban had declared that they were willing to solve the existing problems, build an inclusive government, protect women’s rights and the freedom of speech.

The next meeting will be hold on this afternoon at 3pm, aimed to continue the discussion and take action on the draft resolution before closing the special session.