HRC September 2013: Agenda Item 3
Clustered ID with Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation, and non-recurrence Pablo de Greiff and Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery Gulnara Shahinian
Thursday, September 12, 2013
The United States thanks Special Rapporteur de Greiff for his report on the challenges faced by truth commissions, as well as his suggestions on how to improve and strengthen these important tools to address human rights violations and abuses and to promote justice and reconciliation. We welcome his recommendations and encourage countries to share best practices and learn from the experiences of previous and active truth commissions.
We want to highlight his suggestions on how to improve the selection of commissioners to truth and reconciliation commissions, on the necessity of focused and well-defined mandates, and the importance of allowing sufficient time for preparatory work as commissions are established. We also support the Special Rapporteur’s suggestion on the importance of laying out reasonable expectations and goals for commissions in order to avoid overburdening their missions.
As the international community has come to recognize the unique value and role that truth commissions have played in promoting accountability, reconciliation, and transparency, it is useful for countries to look to the successes and shortfalls of other truth commissions. These bodies work best when they have a well-defined mandate and scope. It is important that commissions be provided necessary resources and backing, and that their work be participatory, inclusive, comprehensive, and accessible. We commend the Special Rapporteur for his analysis of the role of truth and reconciliation commissions in countries where atrocities have taken place, and we hope to maintain a dialogue on atrocity prevention and response with Special Rapporteur de Greiff during his mandate.
We encourage countries to facilitate visits where the Special Rapporteur has sought a country visit, and we further encourage countries to seek his advice and expertise as appropriate.
The United States appreciates the Special Rapporteur’s comment on the important and essential role of civil society in the gathering of evidence and the implementation of the recommendations of truth and reconciliation commissions. We would also like to highlight the Special Rapporteur’s mention of the increasing role truth commissions have granted to addressing women’s rights. Do you have suggestions and good examples of how truth commissions have been successful in ensuring full civil society participation?
We thank Special Rapporteur Shahinian for her report’s comprehensive analysis of the challenges presented by commercial sexual exploitation, compulsory labor, forced and early marriage, and the special hardships migrant workers face. We agree with her recommended actions for governments, international organizations, and the business community. As governments, we should also remind ourselves that it is not the terminology that matters most. Whether we are talking about trafficking in persons, involuntary servitude, slavery, debt bondage, forced labor, domestic servitude, sex trafficking, or related issues, it is the individuals in these situations who should be the focus of our efforts. They should be treated as victims of a crime who must be identified, located, and provided with protections and access to comprehensive services, both immediate and long term. We should not let terminology stand in the way of helping those most in need.
As we have previously stated, the United States would support merging the duties of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery and the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons. A merger would eliminate overlap among the two mandates without diminishing the UN’s ability to address commercial sexual exploitation and labor exploitation; streamline and rationalize the special procedures mechanisms; and reduce costs.
Special Rapporteur Shahinian recommends that businesses adopt codes of conduct and policies to discourage worker exploitation. During her country visits, has she encountered resistance to this suggestion?
The mandate of the SR on Contemporary Forms of Slavery will be renewed in September 2013. The term of current SR Gulnara Shahinian expires in May 2014. The mandate of the SR on trafficking comes up for renewal in June 2014, with the current SR Joy Ngozi Ezeilo’s term set to expire in August 2014.