Bonjour de Genève! On Monday, June 15, I attended the opening remarks of the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, Switzerland. This year, the sessions and side events of the HRC coincide with the 20th remembrance of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre – a vivid reminder for the continued importance of this international and intergovernmental body.
The current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. General Assembly, Samantha Power, began her career as a journalist covering the Yugoslavian wars. In July, 1995, nearly 8,000 Bosnians lost their lives in the Srebrenica massacre. The murderous human rights violations throughout the Yugoslavian wars were discussed at the HRC. Journalistic access (under dictatorial regimes) is another reoccurring item on the HRC agenda.
On Monday morning, I attended a panel discussion with Dr. Sarah Sewall, Acting Under-Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, at the Geneva Center for Security Policy. The subject was countering violent extremism (CVE). Sewall urged the need to transition from CVE to PVE (preventing violent extremism) if the U.S. and our international allies are to succeed in any effort to prevent the spread of threats to our national security.
I later joined U.S. Representative and Ambassador to the Human Rights Council, Keith Harper (@USAmbHRC), in a discussion on the current status of human rights in Tibet. Acting Under Secretary Sewall (@civsecatstate) served as a panelist during the discussion.
It has been five years since dialogue occurred between Chinese and Tibetan officials. Since the riots of the 2008, relations between the Chinese government and the Tibetan region have been frayed even further. As a result of stringent governmental policy, the international community has remained in the dark about the current status of human rights in the Tibetan region. More journalists have entered North Korea in the past decade than Tibet. Without media coverage, does the world have an accurate view of the current status of human rights in Tibet?
Unfettered journalistic access to certain regions is one tool to promote human rights worldwide. If the international community is unaware of the violations, how can it be expected to act?
My time at the UN HRC is just beginning, and I am headed to Paris for mid-week talks at UNESCO regarding ocean science and conservation. Stay updated @USYouthObserver and be sure to look for my next blog post with more about the HRC and upcoming meetings in Paris! À bientôt!