HRC appoints Iran investigator, achieves compromise on defamation of religion issue, SG briefs Council on Libya and more from UN Direct

HRC: led by the U.S. and Sweden, the Human Rights Council voted this morning to create  a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, which U.S. Ambassador Donahoe called a “seminal moment”.  This person will independently investigate and report on abuses in Iran, and make recommendations on how they can be addressed.  This is the first time since its creation in 2006 that the HRC has voted to create a new country procedure.  The resolution passed 22-7 with 14 abstentions.  On Wednesday, the Council appointed an Israeli-British citizen to serve as an expert in the working group to address discrimination against women, representing the first time an Israeli has been named to serve on a HRC body.  Finally, the Council adopted a “groundbreaking” resolution this afternoon that seeks to address issues of violence, discrimination and incitement to religious hatred without reference to “defamation of religions”.  Human Rights First says the resolution is a “huge achievement” as it “focuses on the protection of individuals rather than religions” for the first time in many years.

Libya: this afternoon the SG briefed the Council on the implementation of Resolution 1973 on Libya, underlining the objective of saving innocent lives and emphasizing the importance of the international community speaking with one voice.  He also detailed efforts of his Special Envoy to Libya, who has met with the Libyan Foreign Minister, calling for an end to attacks, adding that those responsible will be held accountable.  The Special Envoy has also met with the opposition, which is concerned with the humanitarian repercussions and have requested that the UN dispatch a humanitarian assessment mission to all parts of the country.  Tomorrow, the Envoy will travel to Addis Ababa for an AU meeting with the aim of reaching a ceasefire and political solution.  The SG also briefed the Council on the humanitarian aspects, highlighting the lack of access the Humanitarian Coordinator has been afforded and the UN’s serious concern for the protection of civilians. To date, over 335,000 have fled Libya and 9,000 are stranded on the Libya/Tunisia border.

Côte d’Ivoire: UNOCI is reporting that the number of deaths due to post-electoral violence (verified by the Mission since mid-December) has reached 461.  A large number of civilians continue to leave Abidjan due to fighting, in addition to a lack of food and medicine.  The Mission has warned that the attacks could constitute crimes against humanity.

World TB Day: In a message for World TB Day, the SG said the recent adoption of diagnostic tool will speed up gains, but progress made could be lost if we’re not “vigilant” and TB care still fails to reach everyone in need, adding that access to healthcare is a basic human right.  WHO is calling on leaders to step up their commitment and contributions to meet the goal of diagnosing and treating 100 million people with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) between 2011-2015.