The morning meeting of the Human Rights Council (the Council) began with the conclusion of the general debate on Item 4 relating to the situation of human rights in specific countries. A vast number of country situations were raised by remaining member States and over 30 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including the situation of human rights in Burma/Myanmar, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Somalia, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Tibet, and Zimbabwe.
In the afternoon, the Council continued the review of mandates, which it had started at its 6th session in September 2007. So far, the Council has reviewed 12 mandates, and all of them where renewed. During its 7th session, the Council is asked to review 14 mandates. On 14 March, the Council reviewed the following mandates:
· Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; · Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; · Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; · Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; · Independent Expert on the effects of economic reform policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights; · Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders.
Most mandates enjoyed unequivocal support. During the review of the mandate on the sale of children, some States raised concern about potential overlap in the system of special procedures. However, this concern seemed not to be large enough to endanger the renewal of the mandate. As expected, the Council was split over the mandate on the DPRK, as a number of States expressed general opposition to country-specific mandates. However, the opposition seemed not as fierce as during the institution-building process, and it remains to be seen what the Council decides in relation to that mandate.
There was a lot of interest in the review of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression with a large number of States and NGOs taking part in the interactive dialogue. On the other hand only three States and one NGO made comments during the review of the Independent Expert on economic reform policies.
Somewhat surprisingly, there was very little active engagement by States in the review of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders. During the day, informal consultations also took place on the draft resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders.Published in: Council Monitor, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), 14 March 2008.