May 2015

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May 2015 Unsubscribe
UN Reform

Member States discuss "Populated Framework Document" on Security Council reform
14 & 15 May 2015

In March of this year, the Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform requested member states to submit their feedback on the subject of Security Council reform through framework documents to inform the creation of a new negotiation text. The framework document addressed the Security Council's working methods and the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly, as well as questions related to the expansion of the Security Council.

On 5 May, a new text was distributed based on input from approximately 115 countries. The text was updated and reissued on May 13th. The Arab Group, the United for Consensus group, the U.S. and Russia communicated their positions to the Chair without using the framework document, as they raised many procedural objections. Their substantive positions are not reflected in the text.

Member states discussed the populated framework document on the 14th and 15th of May. Although there were not substantial changes to the positions of key groupings, significant questions were raised regarding the membership of these groupings and the details of their positions, and the meetings were seen as a success for the Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations by many member states. The chair intends to issue a new version of the framework document within the next few weeks. See the original announcement on this development from the Centre for UN Reform Education, here, or read a summary of the discussion on the 14th and 15th of May here.

Recent cases illustrate challenges faced by UN whistleblowers

In late April, an internal UN report surfaced detailing alleged child sexual abuse by French soldiers (operating in tandem with UN peacekeepers) in the Central African Republic. Early public reporting on the allegations focused in part on the news that a senior OHCHR staffer, Anders Kompass, had bypassed protocol to "leak" the allegations to the French police, when he felt that the UN was failing to take appropriate action to report and address the abuse. Further reporting from the Associated Press revealed that the UN officials were aware of the abuse for months without taking action, because "they assumed the French authorities were handling it."

Mr. Kompass, a Swedish national, was suspended in April by OHCHR and is currently under investigation by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) for leaking confidential information. His suspension caused an outcry, including from the Swedish government, and renewed attention to criticism of how the UN addresses whistleblowers. In early May, the suspension of Mr. Kompass was declared unlawful by the UN Dispute Tribunal, pending a review of the handling of his case. Mr. Kompass's lawyers stated that his superiors' response to his actions could have implications on future reporting of human rights violations, and could deter other UN staff from speaking out in the future.

Fueling further criticism of the UN handling of whistleblowers, reports surfaced that another UN staffer, Miranda Brown, who leaked the news of official misconduct while in her post at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), was terminated from her current post at OHCHR in late May. (Ms. Brown's most recently worked with Mr. Kompass at OHCHR, and was to be interviewed by OIOS as part of their investigation into his actions regarding the abuse in CAR.) In a letter dated 15 May 2015 addressed to 3 UN Special Rapporteurs with mandates related to free speech, Ms. Brown stated that she believes she was subject to retaliation for her actions as a whistleblower in the form of a forcible transfer from Geneva to Fiji,which she refused. She was later terminated from her post. She is seeking assistance from the UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

For more on Ms. Brown's case, see the New York Times article from 29 May.
For more on Mr. Kompass's case, and the allegations regarding sexual abuse by peacekeepers in Central African Republic, refer to stories from The Guardian from 29 April, 30 April and 6 May.

Event held to re-launch "Practical Guide to the UN Committee on NGOs"
28 May 2015

A panel discussion was held with member states and NGOs to re-launch the International Service for Human Rights' guide for NGOs seeking accreditation under the Economic and Social Council. The event focused on the obstacles encountered by a variety of NGOs seeking consultative status - and thus greater access to and opportunities to engage with the UN - from the UN Committee on NGOs. ISHR is working with others to call for greater transparency, equality and inclusivity in the Committee's procedures and an end to continued delay or denial of applications for political reasons. Panel members at the event called for a more democratic and open process, and reaffirmed the critical role that civil society plays at the UN. The full guide is available on ISHR's website.

 

UPCOMING DATES
Mid-June 2015: General Assembly will appoint president for 70th session (expected to be Mr. Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark).
August 2015 Finnish Retreat on the selection of the Secretary-General
15 September 2015: 70th session of the UN General Assembly
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