GENEVA – Countries accused of violating the human rights of their peoples will be under scrutiny by the UN Human Rights Council over the next three weeks. Dozens of thematic topics and country reports on topics like the COVID-19 pandemic will be covered during the session, which starts Monday.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, will present an oral report on the human rights crisis in Myanmar since the February 1st military coup and what she sees as an impending civil war threat in the country.
The Council will also hear updated information on the human rights situation in other countries, including Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, South Sudan and Syria. Regardless of this, observers regard the events in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia as one of the most serious human rights problems of all.
Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth says reports of impending famine, summary executions, rape and other atrocities in Tigray warrant action by the Human Rights Council. He called for the adoption of a resolution condemning these practices at this session.
“A resolution should clearly identify the governments,” he said. “We know that Ethiopian government forces, along with, as you mentioned, Eritrean forces were the main perpetrators of these crimes. It is important to realize that the Eritrean armed forces did not invade Tigray. You were invited by the Ethiopian government. ”
Violence broke out in Tigray in November when forces from the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front attacked state military bases in the area. The Ethiopian government responded with military force.
High Commissioner Bachelet will also present a report on police violence and systemic racism against people of African descent. The death of African American George Floyd in police custody in the United States last year sparked a special council meeting a year ago.
Roth believes the report should have a strong focus on the United States. However, he adds that systemic racism is a global problem and should be treated as such.
“Our real concern is that the Council will put in place a mechanism to continue this. This is not just a one-off report, but more systematic efforts are being made to address the root causes and press for accountability … I am not saying this to try to minimize the situation in the US. The US should be a critical focus of this effort, ”he said.
The last meeting of the council in February focused on efforts to combat violations related to COVID-19. Bachelet will present a report on how states are responding to the pandemic. COVID-19 will also appear as a subtopic in reports and panel discussions during this session.