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Global Justice Center Blog

Ethiopia: The UN Human Rights Council should urgently hold special session to address the ongoing human rights crisis

We, the undersigned human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), strongly urge the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to hold a special session on the ongoing human rights crisis in Ethiopia and to establish a robust investigative mechanism in that context. We urge your delegation to support such action without further delay.

On 3 November the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a joint report that found evidence of widespread violations of international human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law by all parties to the conflict in Tigray, including the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, the Tigray Defense Forces, and Amhara regional special police and affiliated Fano militias. The report also found that many of these violations and abuses may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The report concluded that “the seriousness of these allegations calls for independent investigations and appropriate prosecution of those responsible,” and said that an international, independent mechanism can be established to collect evidence of the atrocities in preparation for future criminal prosecution.

The joint report acknowledges it was not a comprehensive investigation into the crisis in northern Ethiopia and calls for further investigations. OHCHR and the EHRC were unable to visit key sites of massacres, like Axum, which was previously documented and reported on by international NGOs. Moreover, the report was only mandated to investigate abuses that took place from 3 November 2020 to 28 June 2021. The conflict remains ongoing and has spread to neighboring regions, threatening millions more civilians and where serious abuses have now also been documented. Abuses linked to the conflict are also taking place outside of the affected zones, as the High Commissioner reported last week, scores of ethnic Tigrayans have been arbitrarily arrested, including in Addis Ababa, in the last weeks alone.

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UN Recognition of the Myanmar Junta Will Hurt the World Body’s Moral Credibility

Excerpt of PassBlue Op-Ed from GJC partners Women's League of Burma.

Nine months ago, Myanmar witnessed the demise of what was still the beginning of a slow transition to a democracy. In the early morning hours of Feb. 1, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and his fellow generals seized power in a well-orchestrated coup d’état. Soon after, the junta began rolling out a campaign of repression and violence. If history is any indicator of what to expect, the worst is yet to come.

While we prepare for this dangerous, uncertain future, diplomats at the United Nations are weighing a decision with massive implications for international action against the coup. The junta is demanding recognition as Myanmar’s official representative, despite its illegitimacy and crimes against its own people. The United States and China reportedly reached a deal that silenced Myanmar’s current representative, Kyaw Moe Tun, during September’s high-level addresses to the UN General Assembly. Yet the question of military recognition appears far from settled. The UN body tasked with decisions on official representation, the Credentials Committee, is set to meet on Dec. 1. The committee consists of the US, China and Russia as well as six other countries.

Here’s what we know: The people of Myanmar are tired of diplomatic compromises. They are urgently demanding that the UN reject the military junta in all forms. This is a regime that stole the November 2020 general election in which the National League for Democracy won a resounding landslide. Its bloody, illegal rule must not be rewarded by leading human-rights bodies like the UN.

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Mississippi abortion ban tees up Supreme Court to overturn Roe

Excerpt of Courthouse News article mentioning a legal brief by the Global Justice Center.

Proponents of the abortion right say bans like that of Mississippi will not prevent the practice but instead just make it less safe. An amicus brief from Human Rights Watch, the Global Justice Center and Amnesty International says unsafe abortions are one of the leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity. 

“The lesson for this case is clear: If an abortion ban like H.B. 1510 is upheld, more women in Mississippi are likely to die,” the brief states. 

If the court were to overturn Roe, abortion providers say low-income and minority women would be impacted the most. 

“You just shouldn't be able to have access to an abortion only based off on where you live or how much money you make and what access you have, but right now in the United States, that's what's going on,” Brewer said. 

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Ongoing Rohingya Genocide: Myanmar military defies provisional measures ordered by International Court of Justice

The BURMESE ROHINGYA ORGANISATION UK (BROUK) is conducting a webinar discussion on the “Ongoing Rohingya genocide Myanmar military defies provisional measures ordered by International Court of Justice,”on Monday 22 November, from 13:00-14:30, London time. This webinar will provide an opportunity to hear from some leading Rohingya, Burmese and international experts on the scope for justice and accountability for the Rohingya, and all people in Myanmar.

The discussion is extra relevant as it takes place on the same day as the six-month report-back deadline for Myanmar to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Rohingya genocide case, brought by the Gambia. Myanmar is obliged to report every six months to the ICJ on its fulfillment of the provisional measures laid down by the court in January 2020, to prevent further acts of genocide against Rohingya people.

BROUK will also launch its new report on the ongoing Rohingya genocide at the meeting.

The expert panel includes:

  • Akila Radhakrishnan (Moderator), President, Global Justice Center
  • Tun Khin, President of Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
  • Yanghee Lee, Founder Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, former UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar
  • Khin Ohmar, Chairperson, Advisory board Progressive Voice
  • M. Arsalan Suleman, Foley Hoag, legal counsel to The Gambia in its case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice

Watch the Webinar

Civil society assess outcomes of UNGA76 Third Committee session

The 14 undersigned civil society organisations mark the conclusion of the UN General Assembly’s (GA) 76th Third Committee session with the following observations on both thematic and country-specific resolutions. We urge all States to implement the commitments they have made in the resolutions discussed below to their full extent.

We welcome the joint statement on reprisals led by the UK and joined by a cross-regional group of 80 countries (5 more than last year), calling on all States and the UN to prevent, respond to, and ensure accountability for intimidation and reprisals against those who engage or seek to engage with the UN.  We also welcome the resolution adopted at the Human Rights Council in September 2021 on reprisals, inviting the SG to submit the report presented annually to the Council also to the GA from next session.

We welcome the biennial resolution on human rights defenders focussing on the critical role defenders play in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges faced in that regard. We also welcome elements on legal frameworks for their protection and the responsibilities of business. While we are encouraged by enhanced references to surveillance and counter-terrorism measures being used against defenders, we are disappointed that stronger language did not make it into the final text, despite support from civil society and some States. However, we hope that the consensus outcome and 85 co-sponsors, provides a basis for meaningful progress on these issues, and greater protection of defenders.   

We welcome the adoption of the resolution on Policies and Programmes involving Youth by consensus, recognizing the need to fulfill young people’s human rights and as key actors for sustainable development, while acknowledging their important role in decision making processes. The resolution stresses the need to tackle barriers limiting their participation and development, such as unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, HIV/AIDS, SGBV and access to technology. We welcome the strong references to human rights and fundamental freedoms of young people, and the need to note young people’s diverse situations and conditions in national development strategies. Lastly, we welcome calls for a high-level GA plenary meeting to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth with the full and effective participation of young people. 

Read the Full Letter