Wednesday, March 16, 2005

LMG Seeks to undermine CHR!

BREAKING NEWS: The ASA secretariat received an email from Geneva. It's about the dynamic in the upcoming UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) annual meeting. Members in the Like Minded Group (LMG), Malaysia and China already set their tone to hijack the Commission's agenda to defend their interests on the first day of deliberation March 14.

H.E Ambassador Sha Zukang, China, on behalf of the LMG:

"the use of Commission agenda item 9 that deals withQuestion of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world to discuss rigorously human rights violations in specific countries. It was clear in the Chinese statement that naming and shaming is something that is uncomfortable for the LMG to bear, hence the LMG chooses to label such exercises as a “misuse” of Item 9."

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, Dato Syed Hamid Albar, also member of LMG, accused the panel of not addressing issues of culture and pointed to its failure to specify measures to alleviate some of the difficulties faced by developing countries.

He disagreed with the Panel’s recommendation that universal membership of the Commission can help the organization do its work better. Instead he said it was double standards, selectively and hidden political agenda that is to blame – a charge that could be equally levied at Malaysia and the LMG.

It is evident that the statements by China and Malaysia do set the tone on where and how the LMG will try to derail the focus on human rights focus in certain countries. They will support initiatives that keep “power” within the nations and avoid any attempt to independently verify human rights violations in their respective countries.

The LMG attitude of restricting and regulating NGOs with the framework of the UNCHR is alarming given that the whole UN system is scheduled to finalize the recommendations from the two UN Secretary General Kofi Annan HLP reports: one on UN-Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) relationship; another one on Threats, challenges and changes (UN reform)

Hostility by member states as specially those from the LMG towards NGOs during this delicate period could result in drastically eroding space for NGO participation in future CHR deliberations.