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EXPERT GROUP ON MERCENARIES DEBATES THE ISSUE OF FOREIGN FIGHTERS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

20 July 2015

NEW YORK / GENEVA (20 July 2015) – The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will address the issue of the increasing activity of foreign fighters and its impact on human rights.

The panel discussion will take place on 23 July 2015 at United Nations Headquarters in New York, as part of a year-long study, which the group of experts will present to the United Nations General Assembly in November 2015.

“The panel will allow us to build on the knowledge we have been gaining about this growing and critical concern over the last months, benefitting from the work of other experts. We also hope to take away concrete recommendations for countering the negative impact of foreign fighters on human rights,” said Elzbieta Karska, who currently heads the expert group.

“We are particularly interested in understanding the motivations of foreign fighters and how these may link to mercenaries, related recruitment practices, as well as the human rights implications of foreign fighters and associated laws and policies,” she said.

The study by the five-strong expert body has involved so far a mission to Tunisia from 1 to 8 July 2015, two expert meetings, and information gathered through a questionnaire sent to all United Nations Member States, relevant peacekeeping operations and field offices of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

The event will feature:  http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Mercenaries/WG/flyerNYevent31July2013.pdf.

The panel discussions will be also broadcast live at the UN web TV: http://webtv.un.org.     

The Working Group will hold a press conference at 13:00 on 23 July 2015 in briefing room S-237, 2nd floor of the secretariat building, at UN Headquarters.  

The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was established in 2005 by the then Commission on Human Rights. It is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Elżbieta Karska (Chair-Rapporteur, Poland), Ms. Patricia Arias (Chile), Mr. Anton Katz (South Africa) and Mr. Gabor Rona (United States/Hungary). Learn more, log on to:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Mercenaries/WGMercenaries/Pages/WGMercenariesIndex.aspx

The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests please contact:
In New York: Nenad Vasić (+1 212 963 5998 / vasic@un.org)
In Geneva: Alisa Clarke (+41 22 917 9633 / aclarke@ohchr.org) or Jolene Tautakitaki (+41 22 917 9363 / jtautakitaki@ohchr.org) or write to mercenaries@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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For use of the information media; not an official record

HR15/211E