American lawyer William O'Neill named "human rights expert in Haiti" by UN

By Roberson Alphonse, Le Nouvelliste, April 12, 2023

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, appointed William O'Neill as a human rights expert in Haiti. This followed a request from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, accordinf to an April 12 press release from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The Council adopted a resolution on April 4 calling for the appointment of an independent human rights expert on Haiti, amid growing concern over the deadly gang violence that is overwhelming the country, threatening access to food, and plunging half of the population into hunger. Mr. O'Neill's appointment is for a renewable one-year term,” the statement said.

Mr. O'Neill, an American, is a lawyer specializing in humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law, with a focus on establishing and maintaining the rule of law post-conflict.

The statement goes on to explain that he was Senior Human Rights Adviser to the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, Head of the United Nations Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda and headed the Legal Department of the UN/OAS mission in Haiti. He helped establish the National Police of Haiti (PNH) in 1995, advising on the recruitment, testing, and training of the new police force. He also participated in the creation of the School of Judges, and worked closely with Haitian human rights organizations to help train their monitors. He has also worked on judicial, police and prison reform in Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, East Timor, Nepal and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Under Resolution A/HRC/52/L.17/Rev.1, the expert will be responsible for monitoring the evolution of the human rights situation in Haiti with the assistance of the High Commissioner, and in collaboration with the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).

According to the press release, Mr. O'Neill will pay particular attention to the situation of children and human trafficking, and will ensure the rights of women are considered. He will also provide advice and technical assistance to the Haitian government, national human rights institutions and civil society organizations, and assist them in their efforts to ensure the respect, promotion and protection of human rights.

The Resolution also requested that the Office of the High Commissioner provide the Haitian government with technical assistance and support for capacity building in the promotion and protection of human rights. Particular for the Haitian justice, security forces, and the prison administration.

The press release goes on to explain that Mr. O'Neill work will contribute to an interim report that the High Commissioner will present to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-fourth session and a full report thereon at its fifty-fifth session.


Translated by CHIP editors


Posted April 26, 2023