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OMCT deplores the departure of Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) deplores the departure of Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

20 March 2001

Yesterday, Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, unexpectedly announced at the first day of the six week session of the 57th Commission on Human Rights that she will not seek a second term in the post. Mary Robinson, the second person to have served as High Commissioner for Human Rights, will step down at the end of her four-year term in September 2001, after the World Conference against Racism, to be held in South Africa from 31 August to 7 September.

“With the announcement of Mary Robinson the name Theo van Boven came immediately to my mind” said Eric Sottas, the director of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). Theo van Boven was Director of the UN Division of Human Rights from 1977 to 1982. He spoke out about human rights abuse without fear or favour in the international community. However, Van Boven's uncompromising approach to human rights violations was the cause of major policy differences within the United Nations which ultimately led to the termination of contract as Director of the UN Division of Human Rights in 1982.

Mary Robinson is also an outspoken person, who at times angered governments with open criticism of their human rights record. She reminds governments in clear words that they have the duty to guarantee the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in their countries in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards. Most probably the decision of Mary Robinson to step down was influenced both by growing difficulties with some governments and the lack of budget resources for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to fulfil an increasingly complex task.

OMCT has always supported the work of Mary Robinson and her direct approach of dealing with human rights violations wherever they occur. OMCT therefore deeply regrets her departure as High Commissioner for Human Rights.

OMCT hopes that the successor of Mary Robinson will follow in her footsteps in protecting individuals and groups of people who suffer from serious human rights violations and by adopting her activist attitude. It is further hoped that her successor will have better support.



For more information, please contact Eric Sottas, director of OMCT
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