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19/04/2013 Press Releases (Shaheed)

Human Rights: a Media Guide to the new UN independent experts and mandates (2011)


GENEVA – This year the United Nations Human Rights Council has created new monitoring and reporting mechanisms on the situation of human rights in Iran, the freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and discrimination against women in law and in practice. It has also appointed new independent experts for existing mandates.

What are the new mechanisms? Who are the new independent experts? What is their role? And how can you contact them?

Human rights in Iran
New mandate: Ahmed Shaheed (The Maldives) is the first Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran since the termination of the previous Commission on Human Rights mandate in 2002. Mr Shaheed is a visiting lecturer at The Maldives National University and a member of the Presidential Commission Investigating Corruption. He was Foreign Minister of The Maldives from 2005 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2010, and a foreign policy advisor to the President of The Maldives, and led the country’s efforts to sign and ratify nine international human rights treaties and to implement them in law and practice. Mr Shaheed has worked to improve The Maldives’ compliance with the core human rights conventions and its reporting obligations. He also established a human rights NGO organisation in the country.

Language for interviews: English

OHCHR Country Page – Iran:

Contact: Naveed Ahmed (Tel. +41 22 928 9477 / email: or write to

Peaceful assembly and association
New mandate: The first Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association is Maina Kiai (Kenya). A lawyer trained at Nairobi and Harvard Universities, Mr. Kiai was founder and Executive Director of the unofficial Kenya Human Rights Commission, and then Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission. He headed the International Council on Human Rights Policy, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme, and the International Human Rights Law Group in Africa. Mr. Kiai held research fellowships at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen), the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars (Washington), and the TransAfrica Forum (Washington). He wrote a regular column for Nairobi’s Sunday Nation newspaper. Most recently, Mr. Kiai has collaborated with several organisations on using TV to inform and educate Kenyans about their rights.

Language for interviews: English

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate:

Contact: Guillaume Pfeifflé (Tel: +41 22 917 9384 / email: or write to

Discrimination against women
New mandate: The new Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice is composed of five independent experts:

Emna Aouij (Tunisia) was member of the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women for three consecutive terms between 1990 and 2002. Ms. Aouij also served as independent expert of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Chad from 1996 to 1997. She served as ambassador to the Netherlands and Denmark and was previously a judge.

Languages for interviews: Arabic and French

Mercedes Barquet (Mexico) has researched and taught extensively since 1988 on feminist theory, women’s human rights, gender and public policy, citizenship and democratic governance, institutions and gender equality. Ms. Barquet is a member of several academic committees, and has been adviser to a number of public institutions and civil society organisations in Mexico. She is currently adviser to Mexico City’s Human Rights Commission.

Languages for interviews: Spanish and English

Kamala Chandrakirana (Indonesia) chaired Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence Against Women for six years. She was a member of the investigation team set up by the President of Indonesia on the death of a prominent human rights defender. She is also founder of several NGOs on women’s rights.

Language for interviews: English

Frances Raday (Israel/United Kingdom), a former member of the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, has taught extensively in various academic institutions in Israel and elsewhere. Ms. Raday is the author of numerous academic books and articles on human rights, labour law and feminist legal theory. She has acted as legal counsel on precedent-setting human rights cases in Israel’s Supreme Court, including women’s constitutional rights to equality in religious rituals at public sites and sex discrimination in retirement age. She is currently the Director of the Concord Research Centre for Integration of International Law, Haim Striks Law School, Colman, Israel.

Language for interviews: English

Eleonora Zielinska (Poland) has published extensively on gender issues, abortion, HIV/AIDS, and medical law. She is currently professor, chief of the comparative criminal law section and director of the legal clinic at Warsaw University and a member of the European Network of Legal Experts in the field of gender equality. Ms. Zielinska has been an active supporter of women’s rights in Poland, and has served as an expert with governmental agencies and non-governmental organisations.

Languages for interviews: English and Polish

The Working Group’s mandate:

Contact: Federica Donati (Tel: +41 22 917 9496 / email: or write to

Countering terrorism
Ben Emmerson (United Kingdom) is the new Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. As a practising barrister in London, he has more than 25 years of experience in domestic and international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Mr. Emmerson has litigated extensively in domestic courts, the European Court of Human Rights, the International Court of Justice, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, including on domestic and international terrorism cases. He was Special Adviser to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and Special Adviser to the Appeals Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (the Khmer Rouge Tribunal). Ben Emmerson has published and lectured widely on international law, particularly international human rights and humanitarian law, and is the editor and co-author of a number of practitioners’ manuals on criminal and human rights law.

Language for interviews: English

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate:

Contact: Nikolaus Schultz (Tel: +41 22 917 9402 / email: or write to

Use of mercenaries
Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination has three new independent experts:

Elżbieta Karska (Poland) holds a Master in Law, a Ph.D in International Law, and a Habilitated Doctor of Law in International Law and European Law from the University of Wrocław, Poland. She researches and teaches in subjects including Public International Law, Protection of Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, and International Criminal Law. She is a member of the Polish Branch of the International Law Association and has volunteered with the Polish Red Cross in dissemination of International Humanitarian Law. Currently, she is a Professor of International Law at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Faculty of Law and Administration, Head of the Chair of Human Rights Protection and International Humanitarian Law.

Languages for interviews: Polish and English

Anton Katz (South Africa) studied international law at the Universities of Cape Town and Columbia School of Law. His practice as a senior advocate (barrister) at the Cape Bar involves a range of human rights issues, principally concerning international law and constitutional law. He advises clients at the highest level on mainly public law legal problems. Those that consult him and those whom he represents include international organisations, States, different levels of government, non-governmental organisations and individuals. He has also worked as a consultant to the African Union, advising them on the implementation of its Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism. Mr. Katz also presides as a High Court judge in Cape Town on a temporary basis.

Language for interviews: English

Patricia Arias (Chile) is a criminologist, and she has a Master degree from the Catholique University of Louvain, and studied law at Universidad de Chile School of Law. Currently she is a researcher of the Developpement Studies Center (CED). Her whole career has been linked to the field of human rights, focusing on the areas of delinquency and penitentiary system, child abuse, gender discrimination and domestic violence, public and private security, among others.

Languages for interviews: Spanish and French

The Working Group’s mandate:

Contact: Catherine Phuong (Tel: +41 22 917 9271 / email: and Karin Lucke (Tel: +41 22 917 9134 / email: or write to

François Crépeau (Canada), the new Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants holds the Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law and is scientific director of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at the Faculty of Law of McGill University, in Montreal, Canada. The focus of his current research includes migration control mechanisms, the rights of foreigners, the interface between security and migration, and the interface between the rule of law and globalization. François Crépeau has participated in conferences and published widely, including five books on issues related to migration and human rights protection.

Languages for interviews: French and English

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate:

Contact: Katarina Månsson (Tel: +41 22 917 9127 / email: and Federica Donati (Tel: +41 22 917 9496 / email: or write to

Minority issues
Rita Izsák (Hungary), the new Independent Expert on minority issues, is currently President and CEO of the Tom Lantos Institute based in Budapest, Hungary, a research institute and think-tank with a particular focus on human rights and minority rights. Her human rights experience includes posts with the European Roma Rights Centre, the Roma Education Fund, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the OSCE. She has worked in Somaliland/Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. As Chief of Staff of the Social Inclusion State Secretariat of the Hungarian Ministry of Justice and Public Administration she was responsible for work directed to the establishment of the European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.

Languages for interviews: English and Hungarian

The Independent Expert’s mandate:

Contact: Graham Fox (Tel: +41 22 917 9640 / email: or write to

International solidarity
Anthropologist Virginia Dandan (Philippines) is the new Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity. She is currently an independent researcher on human rights in development, focusing on the application of the normative content of economic, social and cultural rights. She also conducts human rights seminars and training workshops, and is developing educational and learning tools integrating human rights in development. Ms. Dandan was a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1990-2010), which she chaired for eight years. She was also in charge of the Human Rights Community Development Project in Three Philippine Indigenous Peoples’ Communities, a bi-lateral project of the Philippines and the New Zealand human rights commissions (2008-2010).

Language for interviews: English

The Independent Expert’s mandate:

Contact: Shyami Puvimanasinghe (Tel: +41 22 928 9182 / email: or write to