Global Justice Center Blog
The undersigned civil society organisations mark the conclusion of the UN General Assembly’s (GA) 77th Third Committee session with the following observations on some thematic and country-specific resolutions considered at this session. 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 the human rights situation in Xinjiang, China delivered by Canada on behalf of a cross-regional group of 50 countries. This statement echoes the UN Human Rights Office’s independent, objective analysis and its findings which the UN’s human rights office determined may amount to crimes against humanity, and urges China to implement that report’s recommendations, in particular on enforced disappearance. There was an increase in State support compared to last year, signaling hope for future initiatives to debate the situation and support victims to secure accountability. Nonetheless, there is more work to ensure support from member states, in the EU and globally, as well as from Muslim-majority countries.
We welcome the joint statement on reprisals led by Ireland and joined by a cross-regional group of countries, calling on all States and the UN to prevent, respond to, and ensure accountability for cases of intimidation and reprisals against those who engage or seek to engage with the UN. We welcome that 80 States continued to sign on to the statement but urge more States to sign on to future such statements.
NEW YORK — A United Nations committee today passed a resolution that advanced the International Law Commission’s draft treaty on crimes against humanity. If eventually adopted by states, it would be the first stand-alone treaty that specifically addresses a broad range of obligations, including duties to prevent and punish crimes against humanity.
Introduced by the Gambia, the final resolution passed by the UNGA Sixth Committee was co-sponsored by a cross-regional group of over 85 countries and creates an “interactive format” for debate on the substance of the draft treaty over the next two years. The resolution represents significant progress after the topic has stalled in recent years following resistance from Russia, China, and its allies.
In 2021, prominent international law experts and practitioners from around the world — including former International Criminal court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda — signed a statement arguing the treaty would “close a crucial gap in the current international framework on mass atrocities.”
Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:
“Today’s resolution represents the most significant progress on the treaty since work on it began in 2013. For too long, victims of atrocious crimes around the world have languished without a comprehensive international framework that specifically targets these crimes and requires the international community to prevent and punish them. As an organization dedicated to combating gender-based crimes around the world, we’re heartened to finally see action on this critical treaty after so many years.
“Year after year, progress on the treaty was stymied by a small cadre of authoritarian countries determined to halt human rights measures at every turn. In these cases, procedural objections were used as a cover for opposition to the treaty itself.
“We can’t allow this gap in the international legal system to exist any longer. Perpetrators of sexual and reproductive violence, enslavement, deportation, and other crimes against humanity are growing more emboldened thanks to an increasingly-weakening international order. We need this treaty now more than ever.”
Among the 12 commitments from the Declaration on the Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, is the UN Secretary General’s call for a “New Agenda for Peace” (New Agenda). Billed as an opportunity to revisit the United Nations Charter’s founding pledge to prevent the scourge of war, the New Agenda could be an opportunity to recalibrate multilateral approaches to conflict prevention and resolution, as well as to promote human rights and gender equality. Given the “systemic failures” and “structural shortcomings” in the UN’s handling of the situation in Myanmar (see 2019 Rosenthal inquiry), it is apt to consider what lessons Myanmar could hold for this New Agenda. In addition to shedding light on the UN’s conflict prevention shortcomings, a contextual look at the crisis - and opportunities - in Myanmar can be instructive on other pertinent peacebuilding dynamics. From the need to address gender in conflict to the limits of regional prevention mechanisms, the complexities of the situation in Myanmar challenge advocates, policymakers, and States to consider inclusive and reflexive paths to peace
This event asks: if Myanmar is centered as a case study for this new vision, what priorities emerge for UN peacebuilding?