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U.N. Human Rights Council Condemns Violence in Ivory Coast

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Joe DeCapua

The U.N. Human Rights Council passed a resolution Thursday on the political crisis in Ivory Coast.  The resolution condemns the violence taking place there, such as killings, abductions, arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial executions and sexual violence.

The council called for an immediate end to all human rights violations in Ivory Coast.  It also said the military should refrain from violence and respect the human rights of Ivorian citizens.  The resolution also condemned the use of media to promote hate speech and violence.

Praise and criticism

Peter Splinter, head of Amnesty International’s U.N. Geneva office, says, “Amnesty international welcomes that this special session took place.  It took place without much delay.  It was quickly convened.  It looked into the very serious human rights situation.”

He says by council standards it’s a “decent resolution.”  But Splinter adds, “Much of the language of the resolution is general.  It doesn’t speak to the particular actors that are committing the violations, that are committing the executions, the abductions and the other violations.”

The Amnesty International official says the resolution does not address any prevention measure “that tries to dissuade the perpetrators of the human rights violations…and that’s a serious failing.”

Council members have asked the U.N. high commissioner for human rights to prepare a report on Ivory Coast and keep the council informed of the situation there.

“That’s all very good,” says Splinter, “but it doesn’t create any opportunity for her to do that prior to the next regular session of the council in March 2011.  So there’s a lot of time in which the situation could further deteriorate and the council’s not going to be hearing about that unless another special session is called.”

How much weight does it hold?

“The fact that it’s a resolution is going to hold some weight, but is this a good resolution that really does what the council could have done to influence people on the ground in Ivory Coast?  I don’t think so,” he says.

Splinter says the Human Rights Council wasted an opportunity after initially acting quickly.  He says it could have spoken “much more forcefully.”

He blames that on politics.  “This is such a political and politicized body….  If one looks at it as half full, the fact that the African group could agree to do that and do it so quickly is a welcome fact.  But the African grouping is such a big group, maybe it was asking a bit too much for it to come to agreement on a strong resolution in such a short time.”

Splinter says there were also unconfirmed reports that the African members could not agree on a united front on Ivory Coast.

In the meantime, Amnesty International is reiterating its call for an end to human rights violations and that perpetrators be brought to justice.

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