Commission on Human Rights
Sixty-First Session
- Item 20 Rationalization of the work of the Commission -

by H.E. Ambassador Doru Costea
Permanent representative of Romania

Geneva, 18 April 2005

Mr. Chairman,

The special procedures are the most genuine and dynamic product of the Commission. They are called to play a pivotal role in the United Nations human rights system. Their special nature derives from many sources, and in particular from:

  • the authority entrusted to them by the Commission;
  • their level of expertise;
  • the assurance of impartiality and independence;
  • their ability to gather first-hand information;
  • their versatility in establishing direct contact with both governmental authorities and representatives of the civil society;
  • their impact on the team-work of various UN agencies, funds and programmes that are present in the field;
  • the level of support by the United Nations Member States, illustrated by the increasing number of standing invitations and field visits.

Seen in relation to other elements of the United Nations human rights system, the special procedures hold some comparative advantages:

  • their assessments on the situation on human rights in the world and their recommendations are dynamic and adaptable;
  • the information they gathered for the Commission on Human Rights is usually better updated than the information contained in other sources;
  • the direct dialogue with governmental agencies is more prone to create an immediate impact on policies;
  • their contacts with various actors in the countries concerned contribute to a better and wider awareness of the human rights.

Although it can be said that the interactive dialogue has improved over the recent few years, its contribution to the work of the Commission of Human Rights is hampered by reasons stemming from the current organization of work.

A shortcoming of the interactive dialogue is fragmentation: the presentations by the special procedures are scattered and the audience is deprived of a general and comprehensive perspective. The fragmentation takes a variety of forms:

  • Thematic fragmentation: the audience perception is influenced by the auspices under which the dialogue takes place, whether it is item 9, 10, 11 or other items;
  • Strategic fragmentation: although many presentations reflect situations in countries from all regions of the world, with different levels of human rights protection, more attention is paid to the rapporteurs on country situations;
  • Fragmentation of the focus: although the special procedures assess and assert major concerns and recommendations, the disparate submissions diminish the clarity of the message on the essential priorities in human rights policies;
  • Fragmentation of expertise resources: the mandate holders themselves are not benefiting from the presentations of other mandate holders.

Moreover, the time allocated to the dialogue is reduced to insufficient slots that are actually disproportionate with the substance of the special procedures presentations and to the amount of energy and resources invested in them.

All these are good reasons for my delegation to propose the organization of a compact and exclusive Special Segment for the Special Procedures (SSSP), for a period of four days, during which all mandate holders will present their reports and engage in dialogue with Member States and among themselves. We estimate that such a special segment may:

  • provide higher visibility and attract proper and purposeful attention from all member States, media and NGOs.
  • provide a higher sense of responsibility of the mandate holders, a better organization of their presentations and a superior sense of satisfaction for their own work and its impact.
  • ensure better coherence, unity, focus, mutual benefits, intellectual synergies among member States and mandate holders, and consequently produce a more powerful impact.

The message conveyed to the public opinion will be clearer and the image of the Commission on Human Rights may improve. The interactive dialogue may gain in quality and substance, since the delegations and mandate holders will benefit from the predictability in terms of timing, resources and audience.

Participants in the proceedings will be in a better position to make proper assessments as to the professionalism, impartiality, integrity and independence of the mandate holders.

An improved perception about the ambit of the work of the Commission of Human Rights may also result, given the obvious diversity of countries and topics that will be discussed. The Special Segment may turn into an useful reform tool as it will allow Member States to appraise better the specific aspects that are susceptible to be improved in terms of streamlining, merging or better defining mandates of various procedures, thus indicating new directions for the reform of the CHR working methods.

My delegation is aware that the distinguished Members and Observers of the Commission of Human Rights may need more time to reflect upon such an initiative. The opinion of the Special rapporteurs, independent experts and other mandate holders needs also time to take shape and ripe. We submit this proposal for reflection, in all transparency, as food for thought for the months to come, till the next session of the Commission. We are ready to entertain dialogue on this subject, separately or in the overall context of other very important initiatives, such as the one presented on behalf of the Asian Group.

Thank you

Back to statements