I returned from Geneva last week and made a few notes on this peaceful place that was so full of politics….
The peaceful white mountaintops remained unscathed by the heat of debate that took place within United Nations corridors. The mountains, I thought, are indeed a fitting background. Full of frozen splendor and high enough not to be touched by the realities on the ground. Such was another week of deliberation at the UN Human Rights Council that this time debated on Iran and Egypt . You will find some more in the post below
Another Week in Geneva
By Nir Boms, 3rd March 2010
Last week, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva concluded a week of deliberations with Iran and Egypt topping the agenda. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process which involves the review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States. This recent UN tradition started in 2006 following growing criticism regarding the lack of attention given to human rights at the UN. The process, which allows for input given by NGO’s as well as other states, was meant to change that. To say the pace of change has been slow is an understatement. More like a Swiss glacier.
“Human rights violations in Egypt are widespread and routine, including arbitrary detention, torture, and unfair trials before state security and military courts” wrote Human Rights Watch in one of the submissions on Egypt. The government habitually invokes the ‘state of emergency’ laws, in place since 1981, to suppress peaceful political activities and critics. Security officials routinely arrest bloggers and journalists for their writings, and Egypt’s laws allow for an extremely broad definition of an “illegal organization” that are subject to special trials conducted by military and state security courts. Torture is also allowed under article 126 of Egypt’s penal code.