GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. human rights chief called on Monday for an “urgent reversal” of military takeovers and return to civilian rule in countries in Africa where coups have driven out elected leaders in recent years as he assailed a multitude of crises across the globe.
Volker Türk’s comments set the early tone for the U.N.’s top human rights body as he opened its fall session against the backdrop of conflicts and crises — including the plights of migrants from Myanmar to Mali and Mexico.
“The unconstitutional changes in government that we have seen in the Sahel are not the solution,” Türk said. “We need instead an urgent reversal to civilian governance and open spaces where people can participate, influence a company and criticize government actions or lack of action.”
He floated the possibility of an “international fact-finding mission” to examine human rights violations linked to the deadly 2020 explosion in Beirut and backed creating the crime of “ecocide” under international law to boost accountability for environmental damage.
Among other things, Türk encouraged countries to enable women to choose to terminate pregnancy safely and cautioned that expedited deportations and expulsions of migrants and people seeking protection along the U.S.-Mexico border raised “serious issues.”
Türk also expressed his concern about a proposed bill in Iran that would impose severe penalties for violations of the country’s strictly enforced law on women’s mandatory headscarf, or hijab.
His remarks came just days before the first anniversary of the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained by Iran’s morality police allegedly over violating the dress code, and the nationwide protests that were sparked by her death.