(April 2000) Letter to Foreign Secretary asking for his support in getting more doctors elected onto UN treaty committees
Robin Cook MP
Secretary of State
London SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr. Cook,

You will have read by now of the resignation of Bent Sorensen from the UN Committee against Torture at the age of 75. Professor Sorensen who is a distinguished surgeon with an international reputation in torture rehabilitation, has served the Committee from its inception.

He introduced a number of Committee procedures and contributed significantly to its success. As Committee Chair Peter Burns remarked on November 18, 1999, Sorensen succeeded in making a body that was composed largely of lawyers aware of the medical aspects of torture, and that was a considerable achievement.

With Mr. Sorensen's departure there remains only one doctor among the 97 members of the six core UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies. PHR-UK believes that it would be valuable if there were a health professional on each of the six committees. Whether the subject is the right to health, which is covered by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, or torture, which appears in so much jurisprudence of the prestigious Human Rights Committee.

I wonder therefore whether I can count on your commitment, when considering nominations to the monitoring committees of the six core UN human rights treaties to which this country is a state party, to consider the nomination, or supporting others' nominations where suitable, of members of the health profession.

I would be happy to discuss the contributions of health professionals to the treaty monitoring process or even suggest the names of suitable candidates, if you would find that of value.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Peter Hall
Chair PHR-UK


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