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Human Rights Council

By smitsdiederik Aug 28, 2013 3728 Words
International Monterrey Model United Nations Simulation American School Foundation of Monterrey Human Rights Council Topic B: Freedom of speech concerning criticism towards the government Director: Katia Gonzalez (MS), Regina Benitez (HS) Moderator: Claudia Scala (MS), Alexa Vasquez (HS) I. Committee Background The Human Rights Council was established on March 15, 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly, with the goal of addressing and resolving international Human Rights issues. The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the United Nations system made up of representatives from 47 States,(10) elected by the General Assembly. The Human Rights Council is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The current president of this committee is Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, a Thailand national. The members of the HRC are elected into three year terms that are staggered from each other (their terms don’t end at the same time).(10) These members include countries such as Mexico, The United States of America, Poland, the Republic of Korea, France and many others. The main purpose of the HRC is to address situations concerning human rights violations and recommend solutions. Countries can be condemned by the HRC if they commit violations during the sessions that it holds, and can be condemned multiple times. There have been 15 sessions, and 13 special sessions of the HRC since its founding. The HRC over-arches the Commission on Human Rights, and the Sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. Human rights complaints are filed using a standard complaint procedure(21), and procedure rules concerning the sessions. The resolutions and recommendations that the HRC makes are not binding. They are only recommendations for what should be done to amend the situation. II. Introduction and Description Freedom of speech means expressing your views without censorship, limitation or fear. This topic deals with the criticism towards the government and the quantity and depth of information the citizens are allowed to emit to the public. The importance of this topic consists of the violation of rights that the government imposes on citizens, and the prohibition to speak the “truth”, according to the citizens. This topic has grave importance due to the power of censorship governments have around the world, maintaining certain information as secret and remaining silent towards certain situations that can’t be published to the public in order to prevent chaos and promote transparency. The Problem The dispute between benefits and detriments of stating your opinion disturbs citizens, frequently causing them to prefer to stay silent. Those who AVE. MOR ON ES PRI ET O K M. 1 .5 • SANT A CAT ARIN A, N .L . MÉXIC O 6 6354 TEL EPHON E: (81) 8389-440 0 • FAX: (81) 8389-4455 WWW .I MMUNS.OR G

International Monterrey Model United Nations Simulation American School Foundation of Monterrey do speak up may be punished for their words on topics like corruption in the government, depending on whether the system of government allows the ability to speak freely. Many conflicts also involve the press, for stating their opinions too freely over issues the government would rather keep quiet. Nowadays, both governments and citizens are even limited in their freedom of speech due to powerful groups like drug cartels and mafia organizations. The Controversy The controversy surrounding this topic is based on the amount of liberty that citizens in each country are granted. There are many gray areas in this issue, but the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC)(24), which was founded in 1960 operates to represent all the writers persecuted or detained for their expression of opinions. Taking into consideration whether or not the writers used any type of hatred in declaring their controversial statements, this committee exists to take action in favor of unfairly judged and imprisoned press. Like this, there are many other committees whose purpose is to be heard and are against any type of punishment implemented for the use of freedom of speech. Having freedom of speech to criticize the government can have both positive and negative repercussions; either creating controversy and fear or giving people the right to express themselves. III. History of the Topic One of the first instances of government action against freedom of speech was in 231 B.C. in China during the Ch’in dynasty. All scholarly texts were burned by Chinese emperor Ch’in ShiHuang, and all scholars were buried alive(14). In 399 B.C. Socrates was sentenced to death for corrupting the Athenian youth with his new and unfamiliar philosophical ideas(13). In 1616 and 1632 Galileo was called to court by the Catholic church, and placed under a house arrest life sentence because of the solar system discovery that the earth revolves around the sun, which was against the church’s views(2). In 1776, the USA Declaration of Independence was written by the Second Continental Congress, with the intent to secede permanently from Great Britain because of its unjust treatment towards its American colonies. It proclaimed that the function of government was to protect the rights of its citizens which were given to them by God and not the government, and other documents were later put into law to support these declarations.(3) Communist China has low tolerance for anti governmental behavior, and often censors information on the Internet within China. On June 4th, 1989, students in Beijing held a peaceful protest for democratic reform within the government. The protest was met by military in tanks, who killed approximately 400-800 students and citizens(1). In North Korea, all media types as well as the lives of the citizens are controlled by the government. Freedom of speech is possible but it is not encouraged, and even punished through harsh means, as well as harsh punishment for those that do not AVE. MOR ON ES PRI ET O K M. 1 .5 • SANT A CAT ARIN A, N .L . MÉXIC O 6 6354 TEL EPHON E: (81) 8389-440 0 • FAX: (81) 8389-4455 WWW .I MMUNS.OR G

International Monterrey Model United Nations Simulation American School Foundation of Monterrey agree with the ruling party(11). Most recently in the news, perhaps one of the most eminent cases of freedom of speech against protecting information, is the recent action of WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is an organization that has published top secret information onto its website for anyone to see. Since it is not illegal to post and inform, the publishers of the documents have not been arrested as a result of these actions. The only illegality goes for the people that leaked the documents because they were all classified to governments. This has created potentially dangerous repercussions as it has published top secret security memos and files including the locations of military, as well as private diplomatic correspondence. The main arguments on either side of the struggle are freedom of speech vs. safety and national security. The outcome of this situation will likely determine the future of freedom of speech on the Internet for many countries. Governments have information that they want to protect, and whether or not they have a right to protect information by any means is under dispute. IV. Points of View General In many countries citizens are free to say what they want against their government without fear of being punished, but there are always exceptions; this is distinguished by the type of government and the freedom they allow their citizens to have. One of the main ideas of free speech is that citizens can enjoy the ability to say what they want without repercussions. There are some exceptions to this which include countries with non-democratic governments or societies where freedom of expression is not encouraged. Generally there are two sides to the argument, chiefly one side pertains to the government and the other to the active citizens of a community. Both sides have admirable ideas and support them; in the case of the government they claim they keep citizens silent for the sake of public safety and on the other side, people claim that the information is theirs to share and they should not be punished for this. Country Specific USA In the United States, the Constitution protects free speech, freedom of the press, and the right to assemble and protest.(3) People may even criticize the government freely. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to these rules that include the prohibition of obscenity, speech that incites law breaking actions or threats, and the regulation of speech in advertisements. France In France the Declaration of the Rights of Man and The Citizen states that free speech is one of the most precious human rights and is to be enjoyed by all French citizens. However, French President Nicolas Sarkozy AVE. MOR ON ES PRI ET O K M. 1 .5 • SANT A CAT ARIN A, N .L . MÉXIC O 6 6354 TEL EPHON E: (81) 8389-440 0 • FAX: (81) 8389-4455 WWW .I MMUNS.OR G

International Monterrey Model United Nations Simulation American School Foundation of Monterrey has recently being criticized for influencing the activities of French media.(9) UK In the UK there are strict laws concerning the prevention of defamation, among the strictest in the western world. Google was even put on trial to see whether or not they were responsible for defamation of individuals in search results. (12) Some literature is even illegal, including that which could be dangerous (i.e. a book on bomb making(20)). Cuba Cuba arguably has the second largest number of journalists in prison after China(24), is ranked as one of the worst places for journalists(23), and censors virtually all forms of media(22). Article 53 of the Cuban constitution states, “Citizens recognize freedom of speech and press conform to the needs of the state”. Therefore, freedom of speech only exists in the state media. At the same time, article 62 states “No recognized freedoms can be exercised against the constitution or the law, nor against the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism”. In accordance to the Dignity Law(25), anyone who collaborates with the enemy media is sentenced from three to ten years in prison. What this means is that state media are not allowed to criticize the government and independent journalists are often harassed or forced into exile. Nevertheless, some journalists are actually able to publish their works out of the country, but never inside Cuba. Eritrea Eritrea is supposedly an even worse place for the media, placing dead last after North Korea(23). Eritrea is the only African country to have no privately owned media, which implies that the government wants its citizens under the ideological control of the state.(7) V. Case Studies Egypt The government has control over most media broadcasting stations and this largely influences the information citizens receive. The Egyptian government owns the three most circulated newspapers and are known for only publishing what is convenient. The situation becomes graver with every instance of their power increasing and the confiscation of many newspapers becoming more common. Not only this, but with reasons like “national security”, information concerning human rights abuses or Presidential critique is all censored. Recently, multiple bloggers have been harassed. Such as the case of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a human rights activist who was charged due to articles he published in The Post. Saad has been in exile from Egypt since 2008 and was also sentenced to two years of imprisonment.

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International Monterrey Model United Nations Simulation American School Foundation of Monterrey Burma As the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi recently said, "If we want to get what we want, we have to do it in the right way... basis of democratic freedom is freedom of speech”. Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for a total of 10 years, yet she still continues to lead the people of Burma through the oppression. In Burma, about 68% of the population consists of deeply overpowered ethnic minorities who have sunk under military rule. The military government prohibits any published articles to be released without having gone through the PSB (Press Scrutiny Board), which keeps the media limited and strongly biased. There have been some peaceful protests happening around Burma, nevertheless, it is said the regime has detained, harassed and even killed some protesters. Mexico The battle between the drug cartels has awakened a hunger for money that is now stronger than ever. Major violent events more often than not go unreported, mainly due to police and government corruption, who are willing to go as far as it takes to obtain money. Statistics reflect the danger brought about by drug trafficking; since 62 journalists have been murdered since 2000, 10 have disappeared and since 2003 there has been a lot of speculation over other cases which are still not official and with ongoing investigations(15). The situation is clearly not getting any better and the manipulated versions of the stories published by the press is largely due to threats over reporting the truth by drug cartels. VI. Possible Solutions When trying to solve problems concerning free speech against the government, one must first identify the main issue. There are different ways of viewing the issue and a lot of grey areas. Finding the main issue is controversial because all countries have greatly differing viewpoints. To eliminate harmful actions by governments towards their citizens and increase personal freedom we need to establish a reason for countries to let their citizens protest and oppose the government. Promoting democracy should be a big priority. The HRC could promote the democratic cause because first, that is how the UN is structured, and second, countries with democratic systems of governance have freer laws concerning freedom of speech against the government. The HRC can help governments realize that they exist to serve their people and not gain power for themselves; and that what the majority of the people think and do is more important than what the government thinks, because in a democratic society the government is a reflection of the people. The leaders are representatives of the common will, who make laws based on what is best for the general public so that the general public can spend their time doing other things. As an international community and members of the Human Rights Council it is necessary to challenge those who want to take away our inherent ability to disagree, AVE. MOR ON ES PRI ET O K M. 1 .5 • SANT A CAT ARIN A, N .L . MÉXIC O 6 6354 TEL EPHON E: (81) 8389-440 0 • FAX: (81) 8389-4455 WWW .I MMUNS.OR G

International Monterrey Model United Nations Simulation American School Foundation of Monterrey especially when it comes to opposing the decisions of the government. International agreements should be set forth to implement embargoes or sanctions on economies that are run by oppressive governments. This would give incentives yield to international opinion. We can do this by putting political pressure to allow freedom on countries so they will feel obligated to begin allowing more free speech. This can be done through UN decrees and other non-obligatory forms of persuasive communication. We can create economic incentives for countries that promote free speech by creating an organization that fosters freedom of speech and press. The countries within this organization would get economical benefits, such as lowered international tax rates, and economic growth promotion. This would invite countries with low speech rights to change their policies in order to fully develop economically. VII. Current Status Freedom of speech varies greatly from country to country. Thus, the percentages concerning freedom of speech are completely different in each nation, since it depends greatly on the government system and point of view. Every day, the need to express opinions has become strongly emphasized all throughout the world, with a few exceptions in countries with non-democratic governments or societies where freedom of expression is not encouraged. New obstacles are constantly arising, like the Internet, which makes it almost impossible for censorship to happen. However, the percentages are getting higher each time and many governments are inclining to extremes to limit their citizens. According to the Reporters Without Borders organization, in the year 2010 there have been 42 journalists killed, 3 media assistants killed, 150 journalists imprisoned, 9 media assistants imprisoned and 114 netizens (cyber-citizen) imprisoned so far. VIII. Conclusions The thin line between silence and saying too much will always be a controversy due to the fact that this issue has multiple viewpoints. As some governments have strongly stated, freedom of speech is restricted due to security reasons. Governments believe they are protecting their citizens by creating these barriers, which are necessary for them to be reserved about their private lives, and avoid spilling unnecessary or dangerous information. However, in many cases, citizens voluntarily decide to stay silent over fear of the consequences of expressing themselves. Nevertheless, opinions are constantly changing and technology is updating so quickly that it’s hard to know what will come next. Many individuals have proven that it is a matter of speaking up to get things to change, no matter the power of the opposing force. IX. Important Questions 1. What punishments does your government implement for exceeding AVE. MOR ON ES PRI ET O K M. 1 .5 • SANT A CAT ARIN A, N .L . MÉXIC O 6 6354 TEL EPHON E: (81) 8389-440 0 • FAX: (81) 8389-4455 WWW .I MMUNS.OR G

International Monterrey Model United Nations Simulation American School Foundation of Monterrey freedom of speech? 2. Are there any developed organizations against the government due to so many freedom restrictions? 3. How involved is the government in broadcasting stations and media in general? 4. Would another type of system of government better satisfy the amount of freedom of speech wanted by civilians? 5. How much freedom of speech is attainable yet doesn’t cross the lines of morality or decency? 6. Should the government have any control over what people say? 7. To what extent should the government be able to control media? Who would decide this? 8. Has your country experienced any severe situations in which the government was criticized and it has had chaotic repercussions? 9. What does your government suggest for a general solution concerning all nations worldwide? 10. Concerning citizen security, what is the best way to deal with government scandals that should be open to the public? X. Bibliography 1) "1989: Massacre in Tiananmen Square." BBC. BBC, 2009. Web. 29 Nov 2010.. 2) "Astrology." Student Research Center. EBSCO Industries, 7/1/2010. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 3) "Bill of Rights." The Charters of Freedom. www.archives.gov, Nov 2010. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 4) Cooray, Doctor Mark. "Importance Of Freedom Of Speech And Expression." Freedom of Speech and Expression. Philip Atkinson, n.d. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 5) "Cuba." Reporters Without Borders. Reporters Without Borders, Nov 2010. Web. 29 Nov 2010. .

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International Monterrey Model United Nations Simulation American School Foundation of Monterrey 6) "Egypt Reporters Without Borders." Refworld. UNHCR, 19 Nov 2010. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 7) "Eritrea Country Profile." BBC News. British Broadcasting Company, 12 Aug 2010. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 8) Freund, Paul A. "The Great Disorder of Speech.." EBSCOhost. EBSCO, 20011011. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 9) "How Nicolas Sarkozy influences French media." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 05 Jul 2010. Web. 10 Jan 2011. . 10) "Membership of the Human Rights Council." UN Human Rights Council. United Nations, 28 November 2010. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 11) "North Korea: Human rights concerns." Amnesty International. Amnesty International Australi, 28 November 2006, 11:14AM. Web. 29 Nov 2010. 12) Patrick, Aaron. "British High Court Sides With Google in Libel Case." The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal, 05 Jul 2010. Web. 10 Jan 2011. . 13) "Plato's Apology." MIT Classics. Massachusetts Institute of Technology , 2009. Web. 7 Dec 2010. . 14) "Political Organization." Ancient Civilizations. Oracle ThinkQuest, 2000. Web. 7 Dec 2010. . 15) "Predators." Reporters Without Borders. Reporters Without Borders USA, 28 November 2010. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 25) Seaton, Edward. "Freedom of expression in Cuba." ASNE Leading America's Newsrooms. American Society of Newspaper Editors, 02 Dec AVE. MOR ON ES PRI ET O K M. 1 .5 • SANT A CAT ARIN A, N .L . MÉXIC O 6 6354 TEL EPHON E: (81) 8389-440 0 • FAX: (81) 8389-4455 WWW .I MMUNS.OR G

International Monterrey Model United Nations Simulation American School Foundation of Monterrey 1998. Web. 14 Jan 2011. . 16) Shenker, Jack. "Egypt: free speech under attack." New Statesman. New Statesman, 17 October 2010 15:42. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 17) "Silence in the Nile: Egyptian Freedom of Speech under Peril." Without Impunity. Human Rights, July 1998 V.II No.2 . Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 18) Smith, David, and Luc Torres. "Timeline: a history of free speech. "The Observer. Guardian News and Media Limited 2010, Sunday 5 February 2006. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 19) "Suu Kyi urges freedom of speech in Myanmar." Khaleej Times. Khaleej Times, 14 November 2010, 9:54 AM. Web. 29 Nov 2010. 20) "Terror manual' teenager guilty." BBC News. British Broadcasting Company, 26 Sept 2007. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 21) "The Human Rights Council." United Nations Human Rights. UN, 28 November 2010. Web. 28 Nov 2010. . 22) "What Cubans Can Not Do Under Raul Castro." Cuba Transition Project. Institute For Cuban and Cuban-American studies University of Miami, 01 Aug 2010. Web. 10 Jan 2011. . 23) "World Press Freedom Index 2008 - The rankings."Reporters Without Borders. Reporters Without Borders, 2008. Web. 29 Nov 2010. . 24) "Writers in Prison Committee." PEN American Center. PEN, 2010. Web. 29 Nov 2010. .

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