November 13, 2006 The Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) of The United Nations (UN), on the occasion of the 61st General Assembly held in New York, adopted by consensus the draft resolution on the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), in no small measure, feels victorious! The United Nations Inter-Sessional Open-Ended Working Group to Elaborate A Draft Legally-Binding Normative Instrument for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances finally approved the text of the United Nations Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. Initiated by the Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees (FEDEFAM) and much later actively joined by AFAD and supported by a number of international organizations from other continents, the struggle for an international treaty bore initial, yet significant fruit with the unanimous approval of the text on September 22, 2005 in Geneva, Switzerland.
For AFAD, 2004 was very painful. Aasia Jeelani of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons was killed by a landmine blast in an election monitoring duty in the north of Kashmir on April 20, 2004. Four months later, on September 7, 2004, Munir, the Federation’s Chairperson, was poisoned by a lethal dosage of arsenic in a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam and died two hours before arrival. The loss of these two committed human rights defenders caused us pain beyond words can describe.
More than five years have transpired since AFAD, in its struggle against impunity, started carrying out its international lobbying. This important component of the work is expressed through the use of international mechanisms of the United Nations. Activities run the whole gamut from regular communication with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to regular participation in sessions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Parallel activities center on Item 11 on Civil and Political Rights and more recently in the sessions of the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group for a Legally-Binding Normative Instrument for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
The Voice is a bi-annual publication of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD). It is providing you with the latest on human rights with focus on involuntary disappearance issue within the Asian region. AFAD welcomes contributions but reserves editorial rights.
Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso
Sara La Rocca and Ivanka Custodio