The Irish government has been urged to ask the UN Human Rights Council to send an independent team to China to investigate organ harvesting crimes.
According to Ms Dongxue Dai, spokesperson for the Irish Falun Dafa Association, the Irish government has a unique opportunity to serve justice when it takes up the new post on the UN Human Rights Council.
“We are happy to see that Ireland has won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, and we hope that Ireland will play an important role during its three-year term,” said Ms Dai shortly after the news broke of Ireland’s election.
“We urge the Irish delegation to request special sessions once it takes up the position in January 2013 on the UN Human Rights Council, and to press for sending an independent team to China immediately to investigate the organ harvesting crime. This crime must stop,” said Ms Dai.
The previous Irish government signalled that they were going to push for an investigation into this issue. In May 2010, Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time, Mr Micheál Martin, said: “I have instructed my Department to raise the issue at EU level, to liaise with EU Member States in investigating the allegations, and to seek a response from the Chinese authorities.” No indication was given whether this investigation took place.
Ireland was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the first time by the 193-member UN General Assembly this week. Ireland ran alongside Germany, Sweden, Greece and the United States for one of the three vacant seats from the ‘Western Europe and other states’ panel. The remaining two seats went to Germany and the United States.
The Irish government has the opportunity to play a “greater role in tackling some of the major human rights issues in the world today…”
—Colm O’Gorman, Amnesty International
Ireland’s human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), has welcomed the news. ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said, “Ireland’s election in the face of stiff competition from other Western European states is testament both to its outstanding record in promoting human rights abroad and to the adroitness of its diplomatic efforts within the United Nations.” Mr Kelly added that the ICCL is looking forward to “co-operating closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as it strives to put into practice at domestic level the election commitments that it has made to other UN Member States.”
Amnesty International (AI) Ireland was also pleased with the news. Mr Colm O’Gorman, spokesperson for AI Ireland, said the new post will be the government’s opportunity to play a “greater role in tackling some of the major human rights issues in the world today.”
Mr O’Gorman was hopeful that the Irish Government would “abide by the commitments it made during the election campaign.”
He particularly urged the Government to ensure the production of timetables for ratifying the Enforced Disappearances Convention, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (signed in 2007).
“We also urge Ireland to ratify as quickly as possible the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and to ensure that the new Human Rights and Equality Commission has adequate independence, remit, powers and resources,” said Mr O’Gorman.
The Tánaiste, Mr Eamon Gilmore TD, said that “this was an especially hard-fought election and represents a major endorsement of Ireland’s international standing, in particular our advocacy of human rights across the globe.”
Mr Gilmore added that he was “delighted and proud that Ireland has been elected…Membership of the Council is a signal honour and privilege for Ireland.”
Mr Gilmore believes that the election testifies to the “strong reputation” Ireland has built up in the area of international human rights advocacy.
Other Countries Elected
Not all of the United Nations’ newly-elected members have been greeted with the same praise. The UN Human Rights Council has been criticised for electing members such as Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Protestors believe that they do not meet the human rights standards for membership of the council.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the election of countries with dubious records was due to a lack of competition for the seats.
“To call the vote in the General Assembly an ‘election’ gives this process way too much credit,” said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at HRW to The Epoch Times on Monday. “Until there is real competition for seats in the Human Rights Council, its membership standards will remain more rhetoric than reality.”
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