Christian Groups Welcome U.N. Human Rights Council

The World Council of Churches welcomed the newly elected U.N. Human Rights Council with the hope that it will grant a “truly open space” for NGOs to participate on the behalf of victims of human rights abuses.

The WCC – together with the Lutheran World Federation, Franciscans International, Dominicans for Justice and Peace, and Pax Christi International – expressed their optimism in the new body which they hope will also go some way to addressing some of the failings of the Council’s predecessor, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

In their first written submission to the new body, the five Christian bodies said that “on paper” the new Council “may have some additional potential” for ensuring that human rights standards are met, something they accused the former U.N. Commission on Human Rights of achieving “too little and often too late”.

The Christian organizations affirmed “their support for a strong, independent and adequately resourced system of special procedures.”

They also expressed the hope that the Council would “extend for at least one year all of the mandates inherited from the Commission, in order to avoid 'protection gaps' and procedural lapses during the review period" of the system of special procedures.

In their joint statement, the Christian bodies also expressed their expectation that the Council will consider and act upon pending reports of the Commission’s five intergovernmental groups as well as adopt the draft international convention on enforced disappearances and the draft declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“This would bring to a successful conclusion the pending standard-setting initiatives," the written submission stated.

"We expect that the Human Rights Council will ... offer a truly open space for NGOs and for the voices of the victims of human rights violations, the poorest and the most vulnerable," the five organizations affirmed, surpassing the "important precedents" established in this regard by its predecessor.

The Christian groups acknowledged the significant “contributions to the struggle for human rights” made by the former U.N. Commission on Human Rights particularly in developing the foundational human rights instruments that contributed to the development of international law and global governance.