Louis Joinet says farewell



One of the masterminds behind the Convention against Enforced Disappearances and a long-time UN expert, Louis Joinet bade farewell to the Human Rights Council on 18 June  2008, after presenting his final report as Special Rapporteur for Haiti.

During the 1970s, Joinet held various positions dealing with data protection and privacy both internationally and domestically. He worked as an expert on the topic for the Council of Europe, the OECD, the UN and was directing the CNIL, the French Data Protection Authority.

The French Attorney also became known as a member of the Human Rights Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities, a mandate that he kept for 17 years. During this time Joinet severely criticised Communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe as well as fascist regimes in Latin America. Many of his studies became the basis for UN texts against impunity, most prominently the International Convention Against Enforced Disappearances. In addition, he participated in the creation of the Working Group Against Arbitrary Detention at the former Human Rights Commission (currently the Human Rights Council) and during six years he visited prisons throughout the world. In spite of the terrible situations he encountered during these visits, he always kept on working without respite.

In 1988 Joinet drafted the first declaration for the UN Convention against Enforced Disappearances in the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Disrimination and the Protection of Minorities. The Commission on Human Rights discussed the text and in December 1992 in Resolution 47/133 the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance was adopted by the General Assembly.  He had worked on the issue since 1981 as rapporteur of the 1981 Paris Colloquim. The draft convention was widely disseminated for comments to various governments, international organizations and NGOs.

Joinet was appointed as independent expert on human rights situation in Haiti by the United Nations Secretary General on 25 March 2002. Over these past six years as a Special Rapporteur, he has been able to create links with different Haitian parties, which were not always open to dialogue nor to the return of the rule of law. He has also successfully maintained contact with various Haitian Government officers.

Louis Joinet thus ends a 30-year career as Special Rapporteur for Haiti, giving his post to a fellow Frenchman Michel Forst, an attorney who pleaded in favour of measures to improve and to protect human rights in Haiti.