By Dr.Khine Khine Win
Special rapporteur on the situations of human rights in Myanmar, Ms. Yanghee Lee arrived in Myanmar for her fifth trip during last week. In this regard, many Myanmar people revealed their feeling on facebook and some people showed their feeling very seriously. After seeing their emotional talking about her on facebook, I would like to share the basic knowledge about what is special rapporteur, what are special procedures, why she is coming, what is her mandate.
What is special rapporteur? The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. They are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on thematic human rights issues in all parts of the world or a specific country.
In order to maintain their impartiality, these experts are not UN staff and they work in accordance with their personal capabilities and are not paid a salary, furthermore they do not represent their country of citizenship.
What are special procedures? Special Procedures are established by resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council (previously the Commission on Human Rights). The system of Special Procedures is a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery and covers all human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political, and social.There are two types of mandate in special procedures, thematic mandates and country mandates. As of 30 September 2016 there are 43 thematic and 14 country mandates.
What is thematic mandate? Thematic mandate is to monitor a thematic human rights issue in all parts of the world for a term of 3 years (renewable once, max 6 years). What is country mandate? Country mandate is to monitor the human rights situation in a specific country, appointed on a one year basis reviewed annually by HRC. Currently there are 14 country mandates, they are Belarus, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, DPR Korea, Haiti, Iran, Mali, Myanmar, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Syria.
Sadly, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar was first established in 1992 under the Commission on Human Rights Resolution 58 and extended annually. Because of Human Rights Resolution on Myanmar, the special rapporteur came to Myanmar.
Ms. Yanghee Lee was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the Special rapporteur on situation of human rights in Myanmar. She is the fifth special rapporteur for Myanmar. Before, Mr.Tomas OJEA Quintana, (Argentina, 2008-2014), Mr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro((Brazil), December 2000- April 2008 ) Mr. Rajsoomer LALLAH,(Mauritius, 1996-2000) (resigned on 02/11/2000) and Mr.Yozo YOKOTA (Japan, 1992- 1996) were special rapporteur of Myanmar.
What are the main activities for thematic mandate and country mandate? The main activities are country visits, thematic work/ reporting and communications. The Special rapporteur can undertake official country visit (upon invitation from the Goverment) with the aims to investigate and assess the human rights situations related to the mandate by meetings with representatives. End of the mission, a debriefing with government and a press conference will be held. Finally, special rapporteur will present report to the Human Rights Council. Observations of violations and specific recommendations made to Government, and also often to international community as well as specific UN Agencies.
Most experts ( country mandte, thematic madate) are mandated to receive complaints about human rights violations related to their mandates. These complaints can concern human rights violations against individuals or groups of individuals. They can also relate to domestic legislation (draft or not), policies, programs or other measures affecting individuals or groups. Complaints can be submitted by victims, their representatives (families, lawyers), NGOs or other.The concerned Special procedures mandates review the information, then decide if they will send a communication to the Government concerned.
Here it should be noted that the communications of special procedures do not constitute a quasi-judicial procedure.
They can be brought against all States regardless of its status of ratification of international human rights treaties and no requirement to exhaust domestic remedies prior to submitting the complaint.
These are the some basic knowledge about special procedure and special rapporteur. Myanmar is one of the countries which still have country mandate out of 14 countries. Because of UNRS, Ms. Yanghee Lee came to Myanmar and she will monitor the situation of human rights and assess progress in implementation of her previous recommendations in line with her mandate from the UN Human Rights Council.
Being Myanmar citizen, we all have responsibility to work together to improve the human rights situation in Myanmar instead of blaming special rapporteur, Government need to fulfill its international human rights obligations and commitment. Let me believe, Yes we can.
By Dr.Khine Khine Win