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un geneva february report

SUBMITTED BY RACHEL BABECOFF, ICJW REPRESENTATIVE UN GENEVA

January is always a month with not many things going on at the UN in Geneva (at least for us, NGOs), except for meetings with the NGO Committees or Working Groups.
As a matter of fact, we meet in order to decide if and what NGO Committees or Working Groups will present during the biggest Human Rights event of the year: the first session of the Human Rights Council (HRC).

As mentioned previously, the March session is the longest (four weeks instead of three weeks in June and in September) and the first of the year with a new bureau.
Ambassador Choi Kyong-lim, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea, was elected to serve as President of the HRC for a term of one year, beginning on 1 January 2016. The four Vice -Presidents are from Panama, Latvia, Ethiopia and Belgium.

ICJW has already been quite active in the preparation of this 31st HRC forthcoming session:
1). As in previous years, the CoNGO Committee on Human Rights (vice-chaired by Leonie de Picciotto) worked with the OHCHR1 Civil Society Unit to coordinate the selection process of four speakers representing civil society. These four speakers will address (from the podium) the full UN Human Rights Council in the High Level segment - an honor shared with Ministers of State and Heads of institutions, the first speaker opening the segment being, of course, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

Each speaker will address a major current human rights concern (decided by the HRC and the civil society):
• shrinking of civil society space
• Sustainable Development Goals & finance for development
• migration
• climate change and human rights 1 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Having worked for more than 18 years in a Migration Center for Women teaching French to women refugees, I proposed, in the name of ICJW, a candidate on the issue of migration. 

And I am pleased to add that the ICJW candidate was elected! Patrick Taran is brilliant
and as you can see from his CV has lots of experience in the field. It is a great achievement for ICJW to have been able to propose him! 

2). As I already explained briefly in a small report, the CoNGO Working Group of displaced women and children (or NGO Migration Working Group) that I am co-chairing, is organizing a side-event on human rights defenders in exile, more specifically on three women journalists from Burundi, who were compelled to leave Burundi and who are still engaged in the defense of freedom of expression and press.

3). ICJW is also co-sponsoring two statements:
- One oral statement (with Save the Children) which will be delivered during the annual high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming : « The 2030 Agenda and children’s rights: leave no child behind".
- One written statement (with the CoNGO Working Group on Human Rights Education and Learning) which will be submitted to the HRC, under item 3. It is entitled: "Human Rights Education in the context of the 2030 Agenda: A new opportunity".
On another level and not in connection with the Human Rights Council, I am pleased to tell you that in November 2015, the UN General Assembly Third Committee has adopted the resolution “Measures to enhance the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights and Dignity of Older Persons”.

ICJW, which is a member of the NGO Ageing Committee Geneva, had earlier addressed (with a coalition of NGOS) a letter to the Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing and the three key points in our letter were reflected in the final text of the resolution2, which is fantastic!

1 - It recognises the work of the OEWG and encourages Member States to continue to support it,
- It encourages Member States to continue to explore alternative measures to improve the protection of older people’s rights including by presenting possible content for a multi-lateral legal instrument at the OEWG,
- And it recommends that the next session of the OEWG takes place in 2016.