GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – “International Geneva”, as the city likes to profile itself when talking about the UN and other international organizations, has had a more than usually busy week.
Wednesday 15 June: The UN Human Rights Commission looked at allegations of human rights abuses in Cote d’Ivoire and the current situation there, with a large number of countries speaking. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that in the six months since the UN set up a hotline for human rights abuses in December more than 12,000 calls have been received. UNHRC unofficial report with speakers’ summaries. The UNHRC also passed a statement calling on Syria to give the UN high commissioner access to the country.
Thursday 16 June: The International Labour Organization at its centenary annual Conference, adopted a set of international standards to improve “the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide”. The standards have been two years in the making and, for the first time, take ILO standards into the informal economy. Text of the new Convention
The two week conference has seen a stream of dignitaries and has included presentations by Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The UNHRC adopted a new set of guiding principles on business and human rights drawn up by Professor John Ruggie of Harvard. It covers state but also corporate responsibilities and gives guidelines for meeting them in several areas including the rights of indigenous peoples, women, national or ethnic groups, religious and linguistic minorities, children, persons with disabilities, and migrant workers and their families as well as business adherence to international law in situations of armed conflict.
Friday 17 June: the UN staff magazine, UN Special, carries a new feature on the nine-storey multi-coloured glass front building on the Rue de France that will be completed in November.
At the end of last week the World Trade Organization noted that it had submitted to the G20 an inter-agency report by 10 UN agencies on managing food prices, to the G20, at its request, “Options for G20 consideration on how to better mitigate and manage the risks associated with the price volatility of food and other agriculture commodities, without distorting market behaviour, ultimately to protect the most vulnerable”.