Scales for Justice

Working towards peace and reconciliation



Attending the 29 th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) 

Scales for Justice (S4J) is working towards peace and reconciliation through active engagement with the United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms. Regular participation in relevant meetings of the UN therefore is crucial for our work. Among those meetings are the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), treaty bodies, and working groups .

Opening

The 29th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) opened its doors on 15 June 2015. For three weeks the Council discussed the human rights situation all around the world including the human rights situations in countries such as Syria, Belarus and South Sudan. A thematic issue  was the question of how to ensure the protection of the human rights of migrants and the the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict.

S4J was especially impressed by the opening statement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who said "I am often told in this chamber, in our debates, that I should not be "naming and shaming" member states.  Somehow the naming is, or has become, the very shame itself.  This is a disfigurement of the truth, which we must now reset. The shame comes not from the naming: it comes from the actions themselves, the conduct or violations, alleged with supporting evidence or proven.  The greatest factory of shame is the blanket denial of human rights.  ... Let the message go out that we will defend the victim and the voiceless, the minority and the migrant, the blogger and the human rights defender.  Let the world know that we will do so without fear or favour, and regardless of the name of the victim or the profile of the perpetrator. "

S4J activities

S4J attended the meetings and actively participated in several panels organized at the UN. During these meetings S4J adressed the issue of occupation in the context of the right to self-determination at the example of Palestine as well as the general pattern of colonialism. S4J was further glad to welcome and accompagny Lore Purray Sanchez during her internship with Servas International at the UN. 

Among the side events to which S4J was invited were a side event under the title "Self-Determination a human right" during which S4J highlighted the human impact of the denial to self-determination at the example of Palestine. During its presentation S4J gave a historical overview over the ongoing loss of self-determination for the Palestinian people following UN resolution 181, the 1967 six-day war and the 1994 Oslo accords and explained the devastating impact of the illegal expansion of settlements on all aspects of Palestinian human rights, including their right to education, right to adequate housing, freedom of movement, the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest along with the right to non-discrimination.

Another side event S4J was invited to join took place on 25 June 2015 under the title "Human Rights in Western Sahara". In this event S4J explained common features of occupation and colonialsim and compared the shocking parallels between the cases of Western Sahara and Palestine. S4J was especially touched by the testimony of Takbar Haddi, also present on the panel, who spoke aout her ordeal after her 21 year old son was stabbed by Maroccean settlers and died several days later without his body ever being relased by the authorities. Such travesties must end, the panel concluded and decided to stand together in the fight of injustice.

Participating in side events is essential for the work of S4J. Not only do these panels give NGOs the possibility to share concerns about particular human rights situations, they also help to build a network with other NGOs working on similar issues. S4J is therefore glad for its fruitful collaboration with other NGOs such as the International Youth and Student movement to the UN (ISMUN).  At the same time S4J always puts a special effort into delivering oral statements in the Human Rights Council as well as bringing human rights defenders to Geneva in order to meet with officials of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and deliver oral statements in the Council in order to provide a better protection. (Read our report "Defending Defenders")

Closure

The Human Rights Council closed its twenty-ninth regular session on 3 July 2015 afterpassing a total of 25 resolutions including: The Protection of the human rights of migrants, Human rights and international solidarity , Elimination of discrimination against women, The right to education, Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, The negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, The incompatibility between democracy and racism, Protection of the family as well as Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

Especially the latter was subject to controversity. Israel as a concerned country rejected the resolution, which it considered a “manifesto against Israel” that failed to address the reality on the ground and violations by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.  Negotiations during a so called "technical break" took place until the last second before the vote on the resolution, which finally passed with a vast majority of 41 in favour, 5 abstentions and 1 nay (United States). Important to note was that all European Countries including Germany supported the resolution, which represents an encouraging step towards ending impunity and the ongoing human rights violations in the region.  

 

Below some pictures from the session










 

If you are interested in supporting S4J and/ or attending one of the sessions of the Human Rights Council send an email to info@s4j.ch.