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Human Rights: a Media Guide to the new UN independent experts and mandates (2012)

GENEVA (14 December 2012) – This past year the United Nations Human Rights Council has created new monitoring and reporting mechanisms on the situation of human rights in Syria, Eritrea and Belarus, as well as human rights and the environment, transitional justice and international order. It has also appointed new independent experts for existing mandates. Currently, there are 36 thematic mandates and 12 mandates related to countries and territories, with a total of 72 mandate holders.

What are the new mechanisms? Who are the new independent experts? What is their role? And how can you contact them?

New mandates:

Human rights in Syria
This new mandate will start once the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic’s mandate ends: Pablo Sérgio Pinheiro (Brazil) will be the first Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic. Mr. Pinheiro, who has a PHD in political science, University of Paris, has taught courses and seminars on international human rights law, human rights bodies and mechanism at universities in Brazil, the USA, the UK and France. He has more than 30 years of experience in the research on human rights and more than 20 years monitoring human rights for the IACHR-OAS, the ICRC, and the UN. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on Burundi (1995-1998) and on Myanmar (2000-2008). He headed the UN Independent Special Commission of Inquiry on Timor-Leste, 2005, and as member of the UN International Commission of Inquiry on Alleged Violations in Togo, 2000. He currently chairs the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.

Language for interviews: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

OHCHR Country Page – Syria: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/SYIndex.aspx

Contact: Reem Mazzawi (+41 22 928 9147 / rmazzawi@ohchr.org) or write to srsyria@ohchr.org

New mandate: Sheila B. Keetharuth (Mauritius) is the first Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. Ms. Keetharuth, who holds an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law and Civil Liberties at the University of Leicester (UK), has worked in Africa for over 25 years in the area of human rights, including research, advocacy, litigation and training, and as a broadcaster. She joined the Bar in Mauritius in 1997, and then worked for Amnesty International regional office in Uganda. Ms. Keetharuth was also the Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa. She is currently enrolled as a doctoral candidate at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Language for interviews: English and French

OHCHR Country Page – Eritrea: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/ERIndex.aspx

Contact: Birthe Ankenbrand (+41 22 928 9465 / bankenbrand@ohchr.org) or write to sr-eritrea@ohchr.org

New mandate: The first Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus is Miklós Haraszti, a Hungarian author, professor, and human rights promoter. Mr. Haraszti was a founder of Hungary’s human rights and free press movement in the 1970s, and a Member of Parliament in the 1990s. From 2004 to 2010, he served as the OSCE’s Representative on Freedom of the Media. Recently, he headed the OSCE’s election observation missions for the United States and Kazakhstan. He has been teaching on media democratization at several universities. Mr. Haraszti took up his mandate as Special Rapporteur in November 2012.

Language for interviews: English and Magyar

OHCHR Country Page – Belarus: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/BYIndex.aspx

Contact: Fiona Frazer (+41 22 928 9336 / ffrazer@ohchr.org) and Vrej Atabekian (+41 22 928 9808 / vatabekian@ohchr.org) or write to sr-belarus@ohchr.org

New mandate: John Knox (USA) is the first Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Mr. Knox is the Henry C. Lauerman Professor of International Law at Wake Forest University (USA), where he teaches and writes on human rights law, environmental law, and their relationship with one another. He has advised a number of international and national bodies, including by serving as chair of a national advisory committee to the US Environmental protection Agency and as a special counsel to the Center for International Environmental Law, and as a pro bono advisor on human rights and climate change to the Government of the Maldives. Mr. Knox took up his functions as Special Rapporteur in November 2012.

Language for interviews: English

The Independent Expert’s mandate: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/IEEnvironment/Pages/IEenvironmentIndex.aspx

Contact: Ramin Pejan (+41 22 917 9159 / rpejan@ohchr.org) or write to ieenviroment@ohchr.org

Transitional justice
New mandate: The first Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence is Colombian human rights activist Pablo de Greiff, who is currently Director of Research at the International Center for Transitional Justice, a human rights NGO based in New York. Mr. de Greiff graduated from Yale University (USA) in 1986, and completed his PhD. at Northwestern University (USA) in 1992. He has published extensively on transitions to democracy, democratic theory, and the relationship between morality, politics, and law, and is in the board of editors of the International Journal of Transitional Justice. Mr. De Greiff's took up his functions as Special Rapporteur in May 2012.

Language for interviews: English and Spanish

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/TruthJusticeReparation/Pages/Index.aspx

Contact: Julia Raue (+41 22 917 9118 / jraue@ohchr.org) and Brenda Vukovic (+41 22 917 9635 / bvukovic@ohchr.org) or write to srtruth@ohchr.org

International order
New mandate: Alfred de Zayas (United States of America) is the first Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order. He is currently professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy. Mr. de Zayas practiced corporate law with the New York law firm Simpson Thacher and Bartlett and is a retired member of the New York and Florida Bar. He has been visiting professor of law at numerous universities including the University of British Columbia in Canada, DePaul University in Chicago, the Graduate Institute of the University of Geneva, and the University of Trier (Germany) and he has been board member of several organizations. Mr. de Zayas took up his new mandate in May 2012.

Languages for interviews: English, Spanish, French, German and Russian

The Independent Expert’s mandate: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IntOrder/Pages/IEInternationalorderIndex.aspx

Contact: Federica Donati (+41 22 917 9496 / fdonati@ohchr.org) or write to ie-internationalorder@ohchr.org

New experts:

Mashood Baderin (Nigeria) is the new Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan. Mr. Baderin holds a First Class LLB (Hons) combined degree in Common Law and Islamic Law from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria; BL from the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, Nigeria; LLM in Public International Law from the University of Nottingham, UK; and PhD in International Human Rights and Islamic Law from the University of Nottingham, UK. He is currently Professor of Law and Head of the School of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK. Mr. Baderin is founding co-editor of the Muslim World Journal of Human Rights and has published widely on the interaction between international law, human rights law and Islamic law in modern Muslim States. He took up his mandate in March 2012.

Language for interviews: Arabic, English, Hausa and Yoruba

OHCHR Country Page – Sudan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SDIndex.aspx

Contact: Joseph Bonsu (+41 22 928 9417 / jbonsu@ohchr.org) and Vanessa Gosselin (+41 22 928 9717 / vgosselin@ohchr.org) or write to iesudan@ohchr.org

Côte d'Ivoire
Doudou Diène (Senegal) took up his functions as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d'Ivoire on November 2011. Mr. Diène was previously the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in 2002-2008. He holds a law degree from the University of Caen, a doctorate in public law from the University of Paris and a diploma in political science from the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris. Mr. Diène worked in a number of high-level positions at UNESCO since 1977. As Director of the Division of Intercultural Projects in 1993, he was in charge of various projects on intercultural dialogue, including the Slave Route, Routes of Faith, Routes of al-Andalus, and Iron Roads in Africa. In 1998 he was placed in charge of activities pertaining to inter-religious dialogue.

OHCHR Country Page – Côte d'Ivoire: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CIIndex.aspx

Language for interviews: French and English

Contact: Martin Seutcheu (+41 22 928 9618 / mseutcheu@ohchr.org) or write to eicotedivoire@ohchr.org

Toxic waste
Marc Pallemaerts (Belgium) is the new UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes since November 2012. Mr. Pallemaerts studied law and political science at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Harvard University. He is currently Professor of European environmental law at the University of Amsterdam and of European and international environmental law at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He is also Senior Fellow and head of the Global Issues and External Action Programme at the Institute for European Environmental Policy. He has published widely on his main areas of expertise, which include: regulation of chemicals, climate change, environmental rights, and EU environmental policy and governance.

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/SRToxicWastesIndex.aspx

Language for interviews: French and English

Contact: Rebaone Ferguson (+41 22 917 9333 / rferguson@ohchr.org) or write to srtoxicwaste@ohchr.org

The new Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is Mutuma Ruteere (Kenya). Mr. Ruteere serves as Director at the Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies, an independent research centre based in Nairobi Kenya. He holds a PhD in political science with a specialization in human rights, and has taught at universities in Kenya and other countries. He has widely published on human rights, on the issues of criminal violence and policing, terrorism and counter- terrorism, civil wars and transitions, poverty and access to rights. He has advised state agencies, NGOs and private sector organizations on human rights. Mr. Ruteere took up his functions as Special Rapporteur in November 2011.

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/rapporteur/index.htm

Language for interviews: English

Contact: Kellie-Shandra Ognimba (+41 22 917 92 68 / kognimba@ohchr.org) or Orsolya Toth (+41 22 917 93 71/ ototh@ohchr.org), or write to racism@ohchr.org

Gabor Rona (United States) joined the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination in October 2011. A graduate of Vermont Law School and Columbia Law School, he is the International Legal Director of Human Rights First. Mr. Rona was a Legal Advisor in the Legal Division of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva. He has also taught international humanitarian law and international criminal law at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France and the University Centre for International Humanitarian Law in Geneva, Switzerland. He presently teaches IHL at Columbia Law School in New York City.

The Working Group’s mandate: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/mercenaries/index.htm

Language for interviews: English

Contact: Natacha Foucard (+41 22 917 9458 / nfoucard@ohchr.org) or Junko Tadaki (+41 22 917 9298 / jtadaki@ohchr.org) or write to wgmercenaries@ohchr.org

Discrimination against women
Patricia Olamendi Torres (Mexico) is the new member of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice. Ms. Olamendi is a lawyer and independent human rights and gender consultant providing legal advice to Government, non-governmental organisations and international agencies on the right to justice, women’s rights and discrimination based on gender. She is also a university lecturer at the Universidad Iberoamericana and the National University of Mexico. She was the Legal Coordinator of the Citizen Commission against Discrimination in Mexico, participating in the elaboration of the Federal Act to prevent and punish discrimination.

The Working Group’s mandate: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WGWomen/Pages/WGWomenIndex.aspx

Language for interviews: Spanish and English

For inquiries and media requests, please contact: Nathalie Stadelmann (+41 917 9104 / nstadelmann@ohchr.org) or write to wgdiscriminationwomen@ohchr.org


“Special procedures” is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides these mechanisms with support for the fulfilment of their mandates.

Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

Thematic mandates: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Themes.aspx

Country mandates: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Countries.aspx

Check the Media Guide to the new UN independent experts 2011: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11343&LangID=E

Check the Media Guide to the new UN independent experts 2010: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10249&LangID=E

For media inquiries related to all UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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