“Much ado about nothing!” Human rights lawyer on recently-approved UNHRC reso asking for compre report on extra-judicial killings!

Sad news for the critics of PRRD!

It appears that your celebration for the recently-approved UNHCR resolution asking for comprehensive report on extra-judicial killings of PRRD’s war on drugs campaign is short-lived!

“Much ado about nothing”.

Well, this is how human rights lawyer and international law expert Harry Roque described the UNHCR reso in his latest Facebook post that had the critics of PRRD jumped for joy in celebration.

Roque explained the UNHRC, just like its predecessor UN Human Rights Commission is a toothless tiger. At most, the UNHRC is merely a shaming machinery designed to prod UN member countries to toe the treaty obligations to protect and promote human rights.

Furthermore, Roque said the the UNHCR cannot pass sentence on anyone, cannot impose sanctions, and, as a political organ, has subjected the enforcement of human rights norms to political horse trading.

Another reason why Roque said the UNHCR is a toothless tiger because its mandate is limited to doing periodic review of individual states’ compliance with their treaty obligations through thematic and country-specific rapporteurs. Sadly Roque lamented, the periodic review has proven to be ineffective because the rapporteurs can only perform their functions if they are invited by UN member countries. For example, in PH case, if PRRD says no, the UNHCR rapporteur can only do so much but twiddle one’s thumb while waiting for the invite that will never come.

If you asks why the UNHRC follows this system when it has proven to be ineffective?

The answer lies according to Roque in the fact the UN’s very existence is premised on the respect for sovereignty of states.

On question if the resolution shamed our country in any way?

Roque answered NO. The 18 states do not represent the majority. Roque urged the netizens to look at the list of the 18 states and you will see that they are mostly countries that have always been critical of the Duterte administration.

And finally, the part that should make the yellow hearts bleed is the fact that the resolution is only asking for a complete report on the killings. It has not found our country guilty of breaching any of its treaty obligations or assigning blame.

You may read Harry Roque’s full FB post below.

Critics of the Duterte administration have been rejoicing over the recently-approved resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) asking for a comprehensive report on the killings and injuries that have taken place in relation to the ongoing war against illegal drugs. While there are certainly earnest minorities who want to discuss the ramifications of the resolution soberly, there have also been loud, unabashed declarations of victory by those who want to depose our country’s most popular President. I am writing this column to clarify the impact of the HRC’s resolution, for everyone’s guidance.

One, the UNHRC, much like its predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission, is a toothless tiger. At most, it amounts to a sort of shaming machinery intended to prod UN member countries into complying with their treaty obligations to protect and promote human rights. It cannot pass sentence on anyone, cannot impose sanctions, and, as a political organ, has subjected the enforcement of human rights norms to political horse trading. It’s that last item on the list that is of particular importance, because being a shaming mechanism requires having the moral authority to call for the enforcement of fundamental human rights. To be clear, I am saying that the UNHRC does not have that moral authority. How else could beheadings, amputations, and discrimination against members of the LGBT community continue in some states that have been members of the HRC?

Second, as a human rights enforcement machinery, the HRC’s mandate is limited to periodic review of individual states’ compliance with their treaty obligations through thematic and country-specific rapporteurs. Unfortunately, the periodic reviews have proven largely ineffective in ensuring treaty compliance, while the rapporteurs can only perform their functions if they are invited by UN member countries. States have the ultimate prerogative as to whether they will invite rapporteurs into their jurisdiction.

Why is this the system that we have with respect to the HRC? Well, the answer lies in the fact that the UN’s very existence is premised on the respect for sovereignty of states. States joined and created it freely, believing that membership to the UN is to their own interest. As such, the UN cannot operate in a manner that would disregard the very sovereignty of states that is the basis for its existence.

Has this resolution shamed our country in any way? Certainly not. The voting should give us a clear picture: 18 in favour, 15 abstentions, and 14 against. Since the UNHRC has 47 member states, it is easy to see that the 18 states do not represent the majority. Look at the list of the 18 states and you will see that they are mostly countries that have always been critical of the Duterte administration.

Finally, if you really read the resolution (and you really should), all it calls for is a complete report on the killings. It has not found our country guilty of breaching any of its treaty obligations or assigning blame.

I tell the President’s most single-minded critics again: you are making much ado about nothing.

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