Yearbook of the United Nations, 2009. Part 2, Human Rights. Chapter 3, Human rights country situations
In 2009, human rights situations of concern in Member States, particularly regarding alleged violations and how best to assist and guide Governments and national institutions in combating them, were addressed by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, and by special rapporteurs, special representatives of the Secretary-General and independent experts appointed to examine those situations. Political developments in some African countries led to new opportunities for improving the human rights situation, while in others the conditions deteriorated. In Somalia, the election of a new President, the formation of a new Government of national unity, the expansion of Parliament, and the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops created momentum for further implementation of the 2009 Djibouti Agreement. Despite that progress, the human rights situation remained precarious. The need for strengthening security remained urgent, as the parties to the conflict continued to violate international humanitarian and human rights laws within a culture of impunity. In Sierra Leone, elections for local representatives were held with credible results. The Government launched justice sector reform, and projects were aimed at building capacity within that sector. In both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan, the human rights situation remained grave and, according to reports by experts, deteriorated during the year. In the Sudan, despite some positive legislative developments, the situation remained critical, in particular with regard to the rights to life and security of the person, and the country appeared to lack the political will to ensure justice and accountability. The human rights situation deteriorated markedly in Iran following the presidential election on 12 June. Following the announcement of results, tens of thousands took to the streets over several days in protest, and there were reports of at least seven protesters killed, many arrests and the excessive use of force by security forces. In general, there had been impediments to the fundamental rights enshrined in the 1979 Constitution; in particular, civil and political rights had seen negative developments. In Myanmar, the human rights situation remained serious, despite the approval by referendum in 2009 of a new Constitution and the Government's affirmation that it would proceed towards national parliamentary elections in 2010 and would review existing laws for conformity to international standards. The Secretary-General visited the country on 3 and 4 July for discussions that focused on the release of all political prisoners, conditions for a political transition to a civilian and democratic government, improvement of socio-economic conditions, and regularization of the good offices process between Myanmar and the United Nations. According to the Special Rapporteur, the Government's seven-step road to democracy suffered a setback when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of the National League for Democracy, was sentenced on 11 August 2009 to an additional 18-month house arrest, barring her from participating in the 2010 elections. On 3 January, following rocket and mortar attacks on Southern Israel by Palestinian groups in Gaza, Israel launched a ground attack against the Gaza Strip. That led to the Human Rights Council convening a special session to consider the resulting violations of human rights. The Israeli military operation ended after 22 days. Estimates of the number of Palestinians killed ranged from 1,200 to 1,400 civilians, and 4 Israeli civilians were killed. Civilians were reported to be the target of Israeli attacks, as were Palestinian administrative buildings. The Council established a fact-finding mission on the operation which reported in September on its findings, particularly violations of humanitarian and human rights laws. The Human Rights Council held three special sessions in 2009 on particular situations—its ninth special session (9 and 12 January) on human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly those emanating from the Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip; its eleventh special session (26–27 May) on assistance to Sri Lanka for promoting and protecting human rights; and its twelfth special session (15–16 October) on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
Yearbook of the United Nations, 2009. v. 63; Vol. 63
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