KATHMANDU, Jan 16: As Nepal assumed membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for a two-year term, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has decided to depute additional employees to its Geneva-based mission.
Officials at MoFA said they are preparing to depute one joint secretary and one under secretary level officers, keeping in view of the additional work load the mission will have to handle. “We have decided to depute additional joint secretary and under secretary level officers to strengthen our mission in Geneva. They will soon head to Geneva to take up their new responsibilities,” said MoFA Spokesperson Bharat Raj Paudyal.
Currently, the mission has seven staffers including an ambassador, two deputy permanent representatives (MoFA and Ministry of Commerce), three section officers and one non-gazetted first class official. The strength is barely enough to handle day-to-day activities of the mission as Nepal’s permanent representatives to the UN and other international organizations.
As a member of the UNHRC, Nepal has to play additional roles in three different sessions of Universal Periodic Review - February-March, June-July and September-- each year. Also, UNHCR member states need to work as Troika member to assess the human rights situation of a country under investigation and attend various types of meetings of the UN rights body. Above all, the UNHCR member has to attend a number of meetings of UN treaty bodies that take place throughout the year.
Elected to the post for the first time after its creation in 2006, Nepal’s term of office at the Council began on January 1 and will end on December 31, 2020. The UNHRC is responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedom for all; considering human rights violations and making recommendations thereof; and promoting coordination of human rights within the UN system.
The UNHRC works through, among others, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Advisory Committee, Complaints Procedure Mechanism, and Special Procedures to carry out its mandates. It meets in Geneva for at least 10 weeks a year in three regular sessions in March, June and September, respectively.