ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DEBATE ON ALL HUMAN RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DEBATE ON ALL HUMAN RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
Hears from Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and Minister of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights of Lesotho
13 September 2013

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held a general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.  It also heard statements by the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and the Minister of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights of Lesotho.

Wunna Maung Lwin, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, said stability in Myanmar was being steadily achieved.  Legislation had been passed since 2011 for the establishment of political parties, associations and other organizations.  Legislative bodies were now functioning effectively and a new culture of dialogue was taking root.  It was important that the violence in Rakhine state should not be portrayed as a religious or racial conflict.  There was a zero-tolerance approach to perpetrators of violence regardless of faith or race.  Myanmar had expressed goodwill to the Human Rights Council and its genuine intention to work with the international community on the issue of Rakhine state, which it wished would be reciprocated.

Haae Phoofolo, Minister of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights of Lesotho, said in many countries, children were forced into armed conflict either as victims or combatants.  One of the gravest effects of war was the way it disrupted and destroyed children’s education, yet education was the best weapon against poverty and conflict.  Lesotho retained the death penalty for the most serious crimes.  States had to adopt long-term policies and measures that addressed the special care and protection of children with a parent on death row.  Although the death penalty remained on the statute books for offences such as murder or treason, it was last executed in 1995.

The Committee heard the presentation of reports of the Working Group on the right to development and of the United Nations Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights today in the morning meeting and a summary of the presentations and the start of the general debate can be seen here.  These reports dealt with the right to development, the human rights of older persons, the implementation of the World Programme for Human Rights Education, the right to development, unilateral coercive measures, best practices in the application of traditional values, the death penalty, the rights of indigenous peoples, the administration of justice, the safety of journalists, the work of the Special Procedures mandates holders, reprisals against people who cooperated with the United Nations, attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism, and the mortality of children under the age of five years.
                                                       
In the general debate, many delegations said that enshrining a meaningful right to development could only be achieved through a legally binding instrument, while others noted that debt, economic exclusion and crises were the biggest barrier to overcome if a right to development was to be realised.  The latest report on the death penalty around the world divided delegates among those that regretted that moratoria had in some cases been lifted and evidence suggesting it was being disproportionately applied against vulnerable minorities.  The rights of the elderly prompted many speakers to warn that this was a growing concern around the world as legislative frameworks lagged democratic changes.  Speakers condemned reports of attacks on people with albinism.  Some delegations noted that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, journalists and human rights defenders were subject to growing threat or acts of violence in certain States.  Many speakers reaffirmed their commitment to the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review.

Speaking in the general debate were Uruguay, Bahrain, Qatar, Montenegro, Ireland, United States, Sierra Leone, Malaysia, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Thailand, Switzerland, Spain, Benin, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Estonia, Poland, Chile, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Singapore, Russian Federation, Morocco, Iraq, United Kingdom, Iran, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Cuba, Palestine, Holy See, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, South Africa, China, Sudan, Myanmar, Djibouti, Council of Europe, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, United Nations Children's Fund, International Francophone Organisation and the African Union. 

Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: Human Rights House Foundation; Action Canada for Population and Development and the Federation for Women and Family Planning; Centre for Environmental and Management Studies; and CIVICUS.

Mauritania spoke in a right of reply.

The Council will next meet on Monday, 16 September at 10 a.m. to conclude the general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights.  It will then hear presentations  of the reports of Chaloka Beyani, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, and Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson on the Commission of Inquiry on the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, and hold an interactive dialogue with them.

Statement by the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar

WUNNA MAUNG LWIN, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, said that it was the early days of the new administration of Myanmar.  In 2011, the Council was informed of the developments in Myanmar and this statement represented an update.  The desires of the people of Myanmar were no different from all people around the world: peace, the rule of law and socio-economic development.  Stability in Myanmar was being steadily achieved.  Legislation had been passed since 2011 for the establishment of political parties, associations and other organizations.  Legislative bodies were now functioning effectively and a new culture of dialogue was taking root.  Since democracy was sustainable only with economic development, the centralized economy of Myanmar was being replaced with a market economy.  

As reform gathered momentum, new challenges were being encountered.  The communal violence that broke out in Rakhine state in 2012 had now subsided and there was a gradual return to normalcy after the Government gave priority to the rule of law.  It was important that such violence should not be portrayed as a religious or racial conflict.  There was a zero-tolerance approach to perpetrators of violence regardless of faith or race.  There had never been an intention at segregation; temporary community resettlement had taken place to provide food, shelter and security.  Earlier this year, a number of bodies had been set up to carry out rehabilitation in Rakhine state.  Resolving the legal status of its people was being taken seriously.  The people of Myanmar did not accept the term Rohingya, which had never existed in the country’s history.  Myanmar had expressed goodwill to the Human Rights Council and its genuine intention to work with the international community on the issue of Rakhine state.  It would wish this to be reciprocated by constructive contributions from all quarters.  Negotiations about establishing an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Myanmar were ongoing, and it was committed to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism as it prepared for its second cycle. 

Statement by the Minister of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights of Lesotho

HAAE EDWARD PHOOFOLO, Minister of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights of Lesotho, said that Lesotho was last peer reviewed in May 2010 at the eighth session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review.  To comply with its Universal Periodic Review obligations, a coordinating committee had been established with the task of leading the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations.  A draft implementation plan was in place and Lesotho would submit its interim report during the current year.  Lesotho commended the High Commissioner for her continual efforts in promoting and protecting human rights across the globe.  Her Office could not survive without a critical mass of States that took human rights seriously at the domestic level.  In many countries, children were forced into armed conflict either as victims or combatants.  One of the gravest effects of war was the way it disrupted and destroyed children’s education, yet education was the best weapon against poverty and conflict.  There was a need to create a protective environment for them. 

Lesotho retained the death penalty for the most serious crimes.  States had to adopt long-term policies and measures that addressed the special care and protection of children with a parent on death row.  Although the death penalty remained on the statute books for offences such as murder or treason, it was last executed in 1995.  Lesotho would keep this issue open for national consultation.  The Government was dedicated to achieving the principles of gender equality and non-discrimination.  Considerable legislative, administrative and institutional measures had been employed to address gender integration.  A Ministry of Gender had been established and it played an instrumental role in the development of gender policies and mainstreaming gender into all policies.  Lesotho had been providing safe water to remote and rural areas.  Lesotho was currently embarking on a project to provide safe water to urban areas and was also contributing to providing safe drinking water within the southern region.  The Constitution provided that the Government should engage with citizens when making decisions that affected their lives.  Citizens were involved in designing, implementing and evaluating Government programmes, policies, laws and functions of other State organs. 

General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development

The Committee heard the presentation of reports of the Working Group on the right to development and of the United Nations Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 13 September in the morning and a summary of the presentations and the start of the general debate can be seen here.

Uruguay, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said they were deeply concerned that nearly seven million children under the age of five died each year, mostly from preventable and treatable causes.  Where mortality remained highest among children belonging to the poorest and most marginalized communities, it was often not only driven by poverty, but also discrimination and social exclusions.  It was therefore clear that efforts to eliminate under-five mortality required a comprehensive and holistic approach, explicitly recognizing and integrating relevant human rights standards.

Bahrain, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, regretted that the report on the death penalty contained erroneous and inaccurate information that had to be rejected.  In countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the death penalty was used only in the case of very serious offenses, on a very limited scale and was only applied after the legal appeal procedure in the various courts had been exhausted.  The death penalty was not applied to those under 18, in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Qatar said that it believed the elderly and their rights were extremely important and its constitution of 2004 guaranteed the rights of these people.  The family and its rights were protected, with particular attention being given to women and elderly people.  In Qatar, services were provided in terms of giving care to elderly people in need, and the Government was trying to build awareness in society about the needs of elderly people.  Qatar believed that integrating human rights in such a way as to ensure that elderly people were autonomous and living in dignity was very important. 

Montenegro expressed its appreciation that the safety of journalists was a topic addressed by the Council.  An independent media played an important role in democratic societies and Montenegro was undertaking multiple efforts to reform freedom of expression legislation, including that connected with European Union accession.  As a country in transition, Montenegro faced challenges in this respect but was training judges and journalists to improve the climate.

Ireland said that safety of online as well as “offline” journalists was an important matter.  Ireland supported the attention paid to the abuse of people with albinism.  While recognising the importance of traditional values, these should not be used to undermine human rights, particularly that of freedom of belief and those of groups such as women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  Ireland welcomed the report prepared with the World Health Organization on the mortality of the under-5’s as a good example of human rights mainstreaming.

United States said freedom of assembly and association was a universal human right and it was introducing a resolution before the Council to reaffirm this through the mechanism of the Special Rapporteur, with the support of the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Mexico and Nigeria.  A vibrant civil society could inspire economic prosperity, societal innovations, and ethnic and religious harmony.  Freedom of peaceful assembly and association was linked to other fundamental freedoms such as freedom of religion.

Sierra Leone said development was a broad and comprehensive concept and Sierra Leone acknowledged the definition given in the Working Group’s report.  It was a complex, multidimensional, integrated and dynamic process, which, through multiple interactions in the economic, social, cultural and political spheres, generated continuous progress in terms of social justice, equality, well-being and respect for the fundamental dignity of all.  Only by continuing to pursue development agendas could the human rights of all persons be realized.

Malaysia hoped that the Working Group on the right to development could finalise the draft criteria and corresponding operational sub-criteria that would guide the way to the full realisation of the right to development.  Malaysia attached great importance to this right in order to attain and fully realise the Millennium Development Goals – post-2015 and beyond – in its efforts to further improve the lives of its people.  Concerning the death penalty, Malaysia said that it was only applied to the most serious crimes and only when all rights of appeals had been exhausted.  The Government continued to consult the public on this issue.

Pakistan said that the right to self-determination was a cornerstone of the United Nations system and a prerequisite for the maintenance of international peace and security.  The people of Jammu and Kashmir had been denied their right to self-determination for more than six decades and were victims of severe human rights violations by occupying forces.  Pakistan would continue to extend political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people and urged that the dispute be resolved in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Ethiopia said that there was a need to integrate the right to development in the post-2015 development agenda in order to ensure national ownership, popular participation and inclusive development.  It was imperative that developing countries had access to resources and participated in global decision making for the realization of the right to development.  Ethiopia echoed calls for a binding international agreement on the right to development to guarantee effective development policies at the national level, international cooperation, and an equitable global economic system.

Thailand said that although the right to development was the primary responsibility of the State, it believed that the effective implementation of the right to development required the reinforcement of efforts and responsibilities from both States and individuals to create a driving force and a conducive rights-based environment.  Democratic participation of people in the design and implementation of national development plans of action was essential in guaranteeing the improvement of their well-being, social and cultural needs, and equal distribution of resulting benefits. 

Switzerland said the report of the Special Rapporteur on the death penalty offered a mixed yet positive picture of the issue.  However, it was worried by States reintroducing and expanding the application of the death penalty after long years of a moratorium.  With respect to methods of execution, at worst these constituted torture and at best cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.  It deplored the discriminatory application of the death penalty based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion and sexual orientation, among others.  Switzerland was actively involved in the process of revising all standard minimum rules for the treatment of detainees. 

Spain said the Secretary-General’s report on the death penalty had shown that the trend toward its abolition was continuing in a positive direction.  Spain agreed with the Secretary-General observation in another report that reprisals against civil society were inhibiting their work with the United Nations.  Spain concurred with the High Commissioner’s Office on the importance of traditional values, and appreciated the focus on discrimination against people with albinism.  Spain had a longstanding tradition of fighting for the rights of persons with disabilities.

Benin highlighted the importance of the right to development, with reference to the Working Group, in particular its rights-based approach.  Identifying the dimensions of this right and the means of the enjoyment of this right was important because many other rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, flowed from the right to development.

Argentina said the aging population meant that coordination action needed to be taken if the negative consequences of this development were to be tackled.  Argentina, together with regional partners, had been focused on the rights of older people.  A public consultation was held in April and it became clear that current protections for older people were inadequate.  This group had to be stopped from being marginalized and subjected to abuse on a daily basis.

Ecuador welcomed the progress made on the effective protection and promotion of human rights.  Equal access to health, education and safe water had to be guaranteed by all States.  A National Plan for well-being aimed to create appropriate conditions for all citizens in Ecuador to enjoy their human rights.  The policy for development was based on economic sustainability and was gender sensitive.  The number of people living in poverty in Ecuador had fallen from 37 per cent in 2006 to 27 per cent in 2012.

Venezuela reiterated its support to the Working Group on the right to development.  The Working Group should continue its work towards the completion of its mandate, in accordance with the principles and values on which the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development was based.  Venezuela regretted that some developed nations had made it impossible to make further progress in this area.  The increasing poverty, inequality and unemployment caused by the global financial and economic crisis had had detrimental effects on development and on the well-being of the world’s population. 

Estonia noted with appreciation that the advancement of the rights of indigenous peoples was amongst the priority issues for the Office of the High Commissioner.  Estonia encouraged the Office to continue its key role in furthering cooperation between United Nations partners and ensuring close partnership with indigenous peoples and States.  Estonia welcomed the report on the safety of journalists and fully agreed with the Office that a firm unequivocal political commitment was a prerequisite for the State to fulfil its obligation to guarantee freedom of expression and to ensure accountability for attacks against journalists. 

Poland recognized the importance of enhanced awareness, knowledge and common understanding of the right to development at all levels with a view to strengthening the global partnership of development until and beyond 2015.  It was Poland’s strong belief that the development agenda should reflect a human rights-based approach and be grounded in international human rights standards and principles.  Poland regretted that no agreement had been reached on the issue of indicators of the right to development.

Chile said that corporate social responsibility in ensuring respect for human rights was a very important issue for this Council.  It was essential to continue to make progress towards providing adequate protection and access to appropriate reparation mechanisms for human rights victims of business activities.  The adoption of the Guiding Principles and the creation of a Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations seemed to be a step in the right direction.  There was still work to be done, particularly with respect to implementation. 

Egypt said that from its perspective, the right to development, like all other human rights, was an essential fundamental right.  Its realization was further complicated by the uncertainties that arose from the economic, financial and even climatic challenges that seriously undermined development programmes and significantly exacerbated insecurity and poverty.  Member States were called upon to participate in an open, inclusive and transparent dialogue for a new international economic and financial system and architecture. 

Sri Lanka was of the view that the global dialogue on the post-2015 development goals was an important opportunity for meaningful popular participation in global governance.  It was however a matter of concern that despite continued efforts by developing countries, sustainable development remained a distant goal and implementation gaps persisted.

Algeria said the right to development was a major issue for the international community because of course it was divided between developed nations on the one hand and less developed nations on the other, the latter often mired in poverty.  Many years after agreement was reached on the existence of the right to development, its implementation was now urgent and the Working Group needed to speed up its development of a legally binding instrument.

Singapore believed in a results-oriented approach to the protection and promotion of human rights.  Singapore had ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 19 July 2013.  Its Enabling Masterplan of 2007 was implementing legislative and infrastructural reforms in order to continue to build an inclusive society which embraced persons with disabilities in line with Singapore’s obligations under the Convention.

Russian Federation said that this year marked the twentieth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration.  Legal awareness was growing but did the authors of the Declaration think that human rights would be used to serve narrow interests?  In order to preserve their genuine universal nature, human rights must continue to develop.  The main enemy of the universality of human rights was absolutism.  Attempts to impose narrow interpretations of human rights that would only be applicable to certain categories of people were unacceptable. 

Morocco said that the world’s current situation highlighted the importance of the right to development.  In this context, Morocco underlined the importance of the achievements of the Working Group on the right to development and the centrality of international solidarity.  States had the responsibility to create the appropriate conditions to realize the right to development.  The international community had to support States in this regard.  International cooperation had to be strengthened and focus on human development.

Iraq said that it had abolished the death penalty for certain kinds of crimes and in certain circumstances.  The right to a fair trial was guaranteed by the Constitution and the death penalty was only applied after all appeals had been exhausted.  People with low incomes or specific needs received appropriate support from the authorities.  Iraq had issued a standing invitation to all Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.

United Kingdom said that on 4 September it had launched its national Action Plan on business and human rights.  The Action Plan explained how the Government would meet its obligations to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises.  Some States sought a new international treaty process.  However, this was thought to be an unhelpful initiative that detracted from the process of implementing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Iran was of the view that unilateral coercive measures and economic and financial sanctions, which led to the erosion and violation of the United Nations Charter, international law and human rights, should not be used as tools for political intimidation and that under no circumstances should people be deprived of their own means of subsistence and development. 

Netherlands said that child, early and forced marriage was a truly global problem that cut across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities and it could be found in every region of the world.  This was a gross human rights violation, which the Council had to deal with.  Women and girls had to be empowered, not only because they were entitled to it but also because their empowerment contributed so much to the well-being, wealth and security of wider society.  Empowering women and granting them equal rights and equal opportunities were critical steps to a better and safer world. 

Denmark said that it attached great importance to the rights of indigenous people.  Additionally, ending child, early and forced marriages was a pertinent human rights issue highly relevant to the Council’s agenda.  Denmark was disappointed with the outcome of the twenty-third session of the Council with regard to a resolution about sexual orientation and gender identity.  The Council had to keep this important issue on its agenda.  

Belgium said that although the trend toward abolition of the death penalty was positive, the number of States that retained or had even suspended moratoria on the death penalty was a cause for regret.  Belgium was particularly appalled by the small number of States that retained the death penalty for those found guilty of consensual, adult, same-sex relationships that did not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes”.

Cuba said that yesterday was the anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of five Cubans in the United States.  The spouse of one of them, who addressed this Council many times, remained unable to visit her husband due to obstruction by the United States.  This was now an “iconic” case of human rights abuse, and protests by thousands were being organized to demand the release of the five Cubans. 

Palestine said that the implementation of the right to development was a necessary condition for the realization of all human rights.  In the occupied State of Palestine, an obstructive and destructive force had been hampering the Palestinian people’s right to development for decades.  The Israeli occupation, which was an unlawful act of collective punishment, also violated the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination. 

Holy See thanked the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General for their initiative to conduct broad consultations on the human rights situation and needs of older persons in today’s society.  The major challenges summarized by the High Commissioner, including the high prevalence of poverty, food insecurity and homelessness caused grave concern.  The Catholic Church sponsored 17,223 homes for the elderly located in every region of the world.

Kyrgyzstan said that there were 92 sites that contained toxic and radioactive mining waste, which were heritage of the Soviet military industry.  In recent years, a dramatic increase in hazardous natural disasters, like landslides and floods, had been observed.  The Government was working on the rehabilitation of former uranium production sites and conducted emergency and recovery measures.  Any assistance in the prevention of possible emergency situations would be welcome.

Saudi Arabia said the report of the Working Group on the right to development included a number of important elements which required concerted efforts on the part of the international community.  Saudi Arabia was making efforts on development at the national, regional and international levels.  It had covered ground in development in the economic, environment and humanitarian fields.  Development should be balanced and comprehensive.   

Lebanon said that it attached great importance to the right to development.  The report welcomed the work done by the Office of the High Commissioner in order to promote the right to development.  Lebanon welcomed the conclusions and recommendations included in the report, which reaffirmed the importance of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action for this right.  Lebanon said the recommendations in the report were important and showed there was a need to step up efforts in order to ensure the enjoyment of the right to development. 

Afghanistan drew attention to the matter that despite the fact that its criminal justice system foresaw the death penalty, traditionally it had not been applied except in some very rare and serious cases.  As referred to in the report, 8 out of 250 prisoners sentenced to death were executed in 2012.  This was the first time in 12 years that repeat offenders who committed the most severe crimes were executed.  This included the terrorist who murdered 40 civilians in an attack on Kabul Bank.

South Africa said the time was now to ensure the Millennium Development Goals were achieved by 2015 and to realise the right to development.  South Africa believed the right to development could only be realised through a legally binding instrument.  The process of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, as well as realising the right to development, was characterised by posturing of political positions rather than focusing on practical dialogue on the implementation of this important right.

China hoped the Human Rights Council and its bodies would continue to promote the right to development as a top priority, as well as a universal and indivisible right.  The international community should attach greater importance to the right to life as it related to the right to development.  The Chinese Government did this itself, particularly with regard to its rural poor for whom improvements in their economic position had been recorded in 2012 in line with the country’s economic plan.

Sudan said that its positive women’s rights record was shown by the high number of women in public life in its country, such as the approximately 70 per cent of diplomats who were women.  In 2009 a national plan to guarantee the autonomy of women was drawn up to help Sudanese women face up to the challenges that conflict and the recent establishment of South Sudan had posed to their position in society.

Myanmar responded to some comments made by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict with regard to Myanmar’s policies and practices.  According to the law, an individual could only be enlisted in the armed forces in Myanmar when he or she had reached the age of 18.  The Government and the United Nations signed a joint Plan of Action to prevent underage military recruitment and arrangements had been made to discharge all underage soldiers within 18 months.

Djibouti said that in order for the right to development to be efficient and sustainable, all actors had to subscribe to the principles mentioned in the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development, including international cooperation and non-discrimination.  Djibouti encouraged the Office of the High Commissioner to continue its reflection on a better promotion and protection of all human rights, including the right to development.

Council of Europe said that it had made the abolition of capital punishment one of its main priorities.  In 1982, the Council of Europe had adopted Protocol no. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which became the first legally-binding instrument abolishing the death penalty in peacetime.  It had been ratified by 46 of the Council’s 47 Member States.  No execution had taken place in the Council’s Member States since 1997 and the Council was proud to have played a leading role in the battle for abolition.  The death penalty had no place in democratic societies.

Sovereign Military Order of Malta said that the report dealing with consultation on the promotion and protection of the human rights of elderly people underlined that importance should be attached to the difficulties that such persons faced.  It was particularly concerned as assistance to elderly persons constituted a significant part of its activities.  Elderly persons should not just be considered as a burden on society but as an essential part of society.

United Nations Children’s Fund said that attacks against persons with albinism with a view to using their body parts for ritual purposes was often related to a trade of organs and that children were particularly vulnerable to attacks.  The majority of attacks went unreported.  It welcomed recommendations made, in particular in relation to addressing the root causes of attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism by combating superstition and stigma.  It was hoped that Member States would reflect on these and that the Council would remain seized of the issue.

International Organization of the Francophonie said that it was grateful for what the Secretary-General and High Commissioner had done to promote the right to development.  The right to development was an inalienable human right and the individual was the central subject of the development process.  Given its diversity and mutually shared values, the French speaking community had committed to the consolidation of the State based on the rule of law and the strengthening of technical cooperation, particularly at the regional level. 

African Union said that this debate was taking place at a time when the international community was involved in the process of negotiation on the post-2015 development agenda.  The Working Group on the right to development continued to face great difficulties to produce a consensus based document that could promote and operationalize the right to development.  The realization of this right continued to suffer from weak political commitment.  In Africa there was conviction that its realization had to continue to be the most important goal and most appropriate way to address challenges faced in many areas. 

Human Rights House Foundation called upon the authorities of the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan to step up their investigation of threats and acts of violence against journalists in those countries.  Meanwhile, journalists, sexual minorities and human rights defenders had been threatened in Armenia.

Action Canada for Population and Development and the Federation for Women and Family Planning, spoke on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative and noted that bodily autonomy was a human rights issue; the criminalization of abortion was therefore a discriminatory practice.

Centre for Environmental and Management Studies decried the plight of injured and traumatised children in Afghanistan.  It was regrettable that the environment in Pakistan had allowed this to happen at the hands of the Taleban who used children as suicide bombers and cannon fodder. 

A representative of CIVICUS, who had suffered from reprisals for having cooperated with the United Nations, thanked the High Commissioner for her focus on reprisals on journalists and human rights defenders in Bahrain.  It was worrying that acts of torture were committed against women in a Muslim country.  She called on the Council to urge Bahrain to respect its international obligations and commitments.

Right of Reply

Mauritania, speaking in a right of reply, said that a non-governmental organization had made serious allegations regarding slavery in Mauritania.  This organization recognized that the law criminalized slavery, but the figures mentioned by its representative were inaccurate and harmed Mauritania’s reputation.  In a parallel meeting organized by this non-governmental organization, Mauritania’s Permanent Representative had reiterated that the Government wanted to eliminate this problem, including through social inclusion and rehabilitation programmes.  The Constitution clearly stated that slavery was a crime against humanity.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/104E