Human Rights Council. Working Group on the Review of mandates.
Intervention by Norway
5 December 2006
My delegation would like to thank the facilitator for his efforts and we welcome the Preliminary conclusions that have been prepared. We would also like to thank the Secretariat for useful background documentation provided as well as the summary of the discussions held in the working group. Norway welcomes the participation of the Special Procedures in the process, as well as that of other stakeholders including NGOs and human rights defenders.
During the previous sessions of the working group, we have provided our views, comments and proposals on the different issues relating to the review of mandates. We will not re-iterate all these positions now as they are available on the Extranet.
We would like today to underline one fundamental position regarding the review of mandates, which also relates to the overall work of institution building that the Human Rights Council is engaged in. Norway considers it as key that the whole process of institution building should include both member states and observers alike and be decided by consensus. The decisions taken on institution building during the first year of the Human Rights Council will affect not only the current members but also the future membership. A strong institution has to be built on consensus on the fundamental architecture. Second, no final decision should be taken on specific aspects of the institution building before we have a final agreement on the whole.
We need to build the review process on a clear and shared understanding of the objective of the Special Procedures as a system. We see the Special Procedures as an integral part of the UN human rights machinery and as an important part of the HRC. They constitute a unique link between governments, national institutions, NGOs and other civil society organisations. The special procedures provide valuable analyses on key human rights issues, they can serve as a mechanism of last resort for victims and they can prevent serious abuses, i.e. through the system of urgent appeals. Furthermore they can serve as early-warning mechanisms to draw attention to human rights crises. The independent status of the mandate-holders is key to allow them to fulfil their mandates and report on human rights violations.
The issue of nomination and appointment is therefore of utmost importance. The appointment
of Special Procedures mandate holders should in our view be the responsibility of the
President of the Human Rights Council, after consultation with the High Commissioner for
Human Rights as well as with regional groups. Candidates should be nominated and selected based on their personal qualities and on their integrity, independence and impartiality. The selection should take into account the need for equitable geographic distribution as well as gender balance. We have noted with interest the proposal that mandate holders be appointed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and will also be open to consider that as an option. With the option proposed by a number of delegations regarding direct election by the Council, we run in our view a risk of politicization of these appointments.