Report on the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council
Human Rights, 21/10/2020
From the 14th of September to the 7th of October, the Right Livelihood Foundation participated in the forty-fifth session of the UN Human Rights Council. The session saw the presentation of a number of thematic reports on topics such as the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights implications of Hazardous substances and waste, Arbitrary Detention, among others, as well as an urgent debate on the situation of Human Rights in Belarus.
The Right Livelihood Foundation is actively engaged in conducting activities in this avenue, bringing Laureates to address the Council about their concerns, delivering oral statements on their behalf, and ensuring that their interests are brought in front of relevant decision-makers. This session was not an exception, despite continuing to operate under extraordinary circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today we are pleased to share the RLF session report, which you will find at the bottom of this page. It is not exhaustive in nature but focuses on the meetings relevant to the Right Livelihood Laureates. Here are some key highlights from the session:
Human Rights Violations in Western Sahara
During the General Debate on the High Commissioner’s Oral Update, the Foundation delivered 2 statements, of which one jointly with the NGOs Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara. We urged the High Commissioner to resume the technical mission of her office in the territory without delay and to implement a programme of technical cooperation and capacity building with all relevant stakeholders in Western Sahara. We also called upon the Human Rights Council to consider the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Western Sahara.
The issue of Western Sahara was then also brought up by 2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Ms. Aminatou Haidar, who addressed the Council via video message on the occasion of the Interactive Dialogue with the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on cases of reprisals and intimidation against individuals and groups cooperating with the UN. She denounced that Human Rights Violations in Western Sahara are happening under the eyes of the United Nations, which is failing to protect the fundamental rights of the Sahrawi people.
Earlier this year, the RLF contributed to the Secretary General’s report by highlighting Ms Haidar’s case, and the harassment that she has suffered in January and February 2020 at the hands of the Moroccan authorities, as a reprisal for her advocacy work. This important report also mentions the cases of other Right Livelihood Laureates, namely Helen Mack Chang, Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani, late Abdullah al-Hamid, Raji Sourani’s Palestinian Center for Human Rights and members of the CICIG, which was led by Ivan Velásquez.
Concerns over the situation of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil
On the occasion of the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Foundation delivered a statement in support of 2019 Right Livelihood Laureate Hutukara Yanomami Association, denouncing the disastrous impact of illegal mining activities in the Yanomami territory. Likewise, during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Waste and Substances, whose mandate had visited Brazil last year, we expressed great concern over the current existential threats facing indigenous communities in Brazil, including from Mercury poisoning.
Concerns remain over Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
During the General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of all Human Rights, the Foundation, jointly with three other NGOs, delivered a statement denouncing Saudi Arabia’s appalling Human Rights record. We condemned the arbitrary detention of Right Livelihood Laureates Mohammed al-Qahtani and Waleed Abulkhair and urged Saudi authorities to account for their neglect of Abdullah al-Hamid’s health, which resulted in his death.
Backlash against Human Rights in India
On the occasion of the General Debate on Human Rights’ situations requiring the Council’s attention, we delivered a statement denouncing the recent arrests in relation to the Delhi riots, opposing the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Registry of Citizens. We urged India to promptly mandate an independent investigation on the riots and ensure accountability of the real instigators of the violence.
You will find more details on all of these topics and other discussions relevant to Right Livelihood Laureates in our report on the 45th session. The report highlights the recurring topics from each debate and some Member States’ positions.