Geneva is the central workplace for the main UN Human rights institutions and many non-governmental organizations, active within such field.
Human Rights Council (HRC)
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe, for addressing situations of human rights violations and making of recommendations on them. 8 Member States of the European Union hold seats in the Council, namely, Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Italy, Germany, Romania and the United Kingdom. Lithuania is not a member of HRC; however, it participates in the activities of the Council with the Observer status. The status of Observer in the Human Rights Council allows less space for action, but as a member of the EU, Lithuania takes part on behalf of one of the most active groups within the Council.
Since 2014 the Council was renewed by the inclusion of states, namely Algeria, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, China, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Russian Federation, Macedonia, Cuba, Mexico, France, Romania and the United Kingdom.
From 2012 till 2013 the presidency post of the HRC was being held by Mr. Remigiusz Henczel, the Permanent representative of Poland, after his term of office the post was taken by the Permanent representative of Gabon to the United Nations office Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella.
Regular HRC sessions are being held 3 times per year: March (4-week session with one week devoted to high level segment); June-July and September. HRC 27th session took take place 8-24th September 2014.
Besides regular HRC sessions, special sessions are being organised. During 2014 there were three special organizations – one on the human rights situation in Central African Republic, one on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and one on Iraq.
In 2014 Lithuanian permanent representative Ambassador R. Paulauskas became the Vice-Chairperson of the HRC Consultative Group, where he represents Eastern European regional group.
HRC mandates and mechanisms
Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
UPR is a mechanism, which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council. Since its implementation in 2008 (under the mandate of the UN General Assembly 2006 April 3 resolution no. 60/251 para 5e) it is considered to be one of the most successful processes created by Human Rights Council, assuring equal treatment of all Member States. The UPR mechanism aims to evaluate human rights situation of each country within the broader UN context. With the review being done by other Member States and Observer States every 4-5 years, the process assures the quality and impartiality being the outcomes of the UPR.
Human Rights situation within the States is being evaluated by three main sources: 1) information provided by the states, which can be given in a form of national reports; 2) UNHCR office summary, which is done through the process of evaluation and summary of information received from national reports, considered and discussed within the UN expert committees responsible for specific UN Conventions under the special procedures of other UN divisions and documents; 3) information provided by other nongovernmental organizations and national human rights institutions.
Human Rights situation in Lithuania was first considered under the mandate of UPR in 2011 October. Lithuanian position was presented by delegation of Minister of Justice Remigijus Šimašius (under the government of the Republic of Lithuania 2001 decision no. 1540 the mandate for the preparation of the UPR report and its presentation is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice). The report of the Working Group has been confirmed in the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, which took place in March 2012. The upcoming UPR report for Lithuania is scheduled for 2016.
During the Universal Periodic Review Lithuania was congratulated for a successful progress achieved so far in the field of the human rights protection. However, there are still issues remaining, namely the protection of the national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities, elimination of gender based violence, protection of LGBT rights, combating racism and racial discrimination and fighting against social and gender based stereotypes.
Special procedures – established under the HRC mandates are a) thematic mandates or b) country mandates. These are special reporters, representatives, independent experts and working groups. Since 2001 Lithuania has invited all special procedures to evaluate the human rights situation in Lithuania. First time the invitation was used by UN special reporter on modern racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, Doudou Diene, who visited Lithuania in 2007.
On 27th June 2014 United Nations Human Rights Council elected Dainius Pūras, the Lithuanian psychiatrist from the Faculty of Medicine as the new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment to fit the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the main UN officer within the area of human rights. Since the 1st of September 2008 the position is being held by Navanethem Pillay. In 2012 her mandate has been extended to 2014. After her term of office from 1st September 2014 the post was taken by prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan.
The Committees of the Conventions – institutions created under the agreements of international human rights, which monitor the implementation of these agreements. Currently the discussions are being held about the Treaty body strengthening process, since its current breadth of areas covered requires expansion of resources.
- the Committee against Torture (CAT),
- the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),
- the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD),
- the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR),
- the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW), the Human Rights Committee (HRC)
- the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and
- the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED).
Lithuania’s input in the work of Treaty bodies
Today 2 human rights experts from Lithuania are working at the Treaty bodies and Special Procedures, whose campaigns for positions were further advocated by the Permanent mission.
On 26th June 2012 prof. Dalia Leinartė was elected to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
On 10th July 2014 Jonas Ruškus, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor at Department of Social Work at Vytautas Magnus University, has been elected to The Committee on the Rights of Person with Disabilities of United Nations for the cadence 2015-2018.
Lithuanian reports in the Treaty bodies
11th March 2011 UN committee on Elimination of racial Discrimination considered the fourth and fifth reports prepared by the Lithuanian Government regarding Implementation of the International Convention of elimination of racial discrimination (CERD) in Lithuania and evaluated Lithuania’s input as positive.
July 10-11 2012 UN committee evaluated the third Lithuanian report under the International civil and political rights pact.
23rd September 2013 UN committee on the Rights of Child considered the third and fourth reports provided by the Lithuanian Government regarding implementation of the International Convention of the rights of child.
On 6th of May 2014, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the second periodic report of Lithuania on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
On 9th July 2014 the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considered the fifth periodic report of Lithuania on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.