Director of the Frank C. Newman International Human Rights Law Clinic Connie de la Vega
Eight students participated in the University of San Francisco’s Frank C. Newman International Human Rights Law Clinic during the Spring 2012 semester, representing Human Rights Advocates at the meetings of two UN human rights bodies. Two Edith Coliver Interns attended the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York and six Frank C. Newman Interns attended the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, Switzerland.
The two Edith Coliver Interns attended the 56th session of the CSW. They were supervised by HRA Board President Julianne Traylor. Board Member Jeremiah Johnson and Patience Tusingwire, a former Edith Coliver Intern, also attended the session on behalf of HRA. While the construction work at the UN in New York continued to create access difficulties, the interns had an opportunity to see the CSW process from beginning to end, though for the first time ever, the CSW did not adopt the Agreed Conclusions, even after holding an additional session the week following the session.
The six Frank C. Newman Interns who attended the 19th session of the HRC were involved in a number of activities supervised by me. Four were able to make oral statements before the full council and many of them were involved in resolution drafting sessions. In addition to discussing their projects with delegates and other NGOs, they were able to meet one member of HRA’s International Advisory Board—Cruz Melchor Eya Nchama. Board Member Nicole Phillips also attended the session and worked on Haiti’s Universal Periodic Review.
The HRC passed 39 resolutions at the 19th session. Twenty-five passed by consensus on issues such as human rights and the environment (Res. 19/10), rights of the child (Res. 19/37), the right to housing in the context of disasters (Res. 19/4), and the right to food (Res. 19/7). The U.S. was the only abstention on the right to development (Res. 19/34) and China and Cuba were the only abstentions on human rights democracy and rule of law (Res. 19/35). Some resolutions on countries also passed by consensus, including those on assistance to Libya (Res. 19/39, Yemen (Res. 19/29), Somalia (Res. 19/28), Myanmar (Res.19/21), the Democratic Republic of Korea (Res. 19/13), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Res. 19/22). Nine country resolutions went to vote including the one on Iran (Res. 19/12) that again garnered only 22 votes in favor, 20 opposed, and 5 abstentions. All of the resolutions involving the Occupied Territories, Palestine, and the Syrian Arab Republic went to a vote. Click here to read the HRC resolutions and decisions.
The all-day panel on the rights of the child included one session on the administration of justice—something HRA has been working on for a number of years. It was an honor for me to participate as one of the panelists on that topic. My presentation on the panel is available here, and information on students’ work at the UN meetings will follow in future blog posts. You may also click here to read the student reports prepared for the UN meetings, which are available on the HRA website.