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UN rights chief recounts challenges, advances in 2012

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Thursday presented an annual report [official report, PDF] detailing her office's efforts in 2012 and urging further action to confront global human rights challenges. The report identifies and elaborates on advances and challenges within six human rights "thematic priorities" established for the years 2010 to 2013. These include discrimination, impunity relating to democratic society, poverty resulting from global economic downturn, migration, violence and human rights mechanisms within international law. Pillay characterized 2012 as a year of "daunting" human rights crises including armed conflict in Syria, Palestine, Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which have resulted in thousands of deaths, massive displacement and a general "climate of impunity." In addition, the report recounts the office's efforts to further delicate political transition in nations including Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. Pillay also expressed concern regarding significant budget restraints and "ever-growing" workload, and urged the international community to respond with resources proportionate to the "high expectations" placed on the human rights system. The report elaborates on the High Commissioner's general mission:

More than ever, the imperative of putting people and their rights first is paramount. This is the raison d'etre of the United Nations, and must be reflected both in the decisions of its intergovernmental bodies and throughout the work of the Organization. It must be at the very heart of the Organization's peace, security, development and humanitarian agendas. I encourage the Human Rights Council to continue to play its role to ensure that it does.
According to the UN, Pillay is expected to present a fact-finding report [press release] to the UN Human Rights Council [official website] on March 11 detailing atrocities and displacement in Mali.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has addressed a variety of human rights abuses around the world in the past. In February Pillay urged [JURIST report] the international community to continue to prevent human rights abuses and hold perpetrators accountable. Speaking at the opening of the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Pillay specifically mentioned the ongoing situations in Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Palestine, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan and Syria. Also in February, Pillay expressed concern [JURIST report] over reports that three Palestinians being held in Israeli custody are in poor health from hunger strikes protesting Israel's use of administrative detention. In the same timeframe, Pillay unveiled a report [JURIST report] criticizing Sri Lanka for failing to investigate widespread reports of killings and other atrocities during the latter days of the nation's 26-year civil war it fought with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Also in February, Pillay expressed shock and sadness [JURIST report] concerning the brutal rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen in South Africa. Pillay urged South Africa to take a stronger approach to prevent the ongoing sexual violence incidents against tens of thousands of South African women every year.

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