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Thursday, August 7, 2014

An Inopportune Time

From my perspective, this is an inopportune time: UK Parliament is in summer recess; Navi Pillay completes her term as High Commissioner for Human Rights; and, Prince Zeid, who is currently Jordan's U.N. ambassador, begins his four-year term as U.N. human rights chief on September 1.  He will become the first U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from the Muslim and Arab world and may be preoccupied with the Middle East conflict and its aftermath, in addition to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

New "poverty" UN special rapporteurs have been appointed, and I will have to spend time familiarizing them with U.K.'s draconian welfare reforms, especially their harsh and punitive impact on sick and disabled people.

The UN special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities will be appointed by the Human Rights Council, in September.  A 22-page letter, pointing out that cuts to social security benefits introduced by Iain Duncan Smith and enforced by his Department for Work and Pensions on behalf of the Coalition government may constitute a breach of the UK’s international treaty obligations to the poor, will also be discussed at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in New York, in September. It is signed by Raquel Rolnik, the former UN special rapporteur on adequate housing; Magdalena SepĂșlveda Carmona, the former UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty; and Olivier De Schutter, the former UN special rapporteur on the right to food.

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