The situations in Eritrea, Syria, the Philippines, the Sudan, Venezuela and Venezuela, and the situation of the Rohingya people in Myanmar will also be topics of discussion.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) will review countries’ respect for civil rights and freedoms in the context of the pandemic at its 44th session in Geneva on Tuesday. Other topics for discussion will be the situations in Syria, Venezuela, the Philippines, Sudan, Eritrea and the Rohingya people in Myanmar, as well as reports on Ukraine and Nicaragua.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, will speak on the first day of the session to review the impact of the pandemic on States’ compliance with their rights and freedoms obligations. She is expected to draw renewed attention to issues that she has raised repeatedly over the past months. In March, the High Commissioner advocated for the lifting or suspension of sanctions in the context of the pandemic against countries such as Cuba, Iran, DPRK, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. In April, she expressed alarm over “steps to limit media freedom and freedom of expression. In her view, “vaguely defined actions to combat ‘misinformation’ can be applied to any criticism. In early June, Bachelet expressed concern about “arrests for expressing grievances or allegedly disseminating incorrect information in the press and social media”, which she reported occurred in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
The session of the HRC, which will last until 20 July, will also include an exchange of views on challenges related to the protection of rights. Discussions are planned on migrants’ rights, violence against women and children, freedom of expression. It is expected that the Western countries will try again to use the HRC tribune for political pressure on Syria, Venezuela and other countries. The situation in Hong Kong would also be discussed. In that regard, a video message from Carrie Lam, Chief of Staff of Hong Kong, scheduled for Tuesday, attracted much media attention.
Russia is not a member of the HRC at the moment. However, the Russian delegation is actively participating in the sessions, including the current one.
The HRC is an intergovernmental body of the UN system. It was created in 2006 to replace the Commission on Human Rights, which was often criticized for being biased. The HRC is composed of 47 States, each of which is elected by a majority vote of the UN General Assembly members by direct secret ballot.