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

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

Concludes the Interactive Debate on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-recurrence and on Contemporary Forms of Slavery
13 September 2013

The Human Rights Council this morning heard the presentation of reports by the Working Group on the right to development, the United Nations Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office, and started a general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.  The Council also concluded the clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery. 

Presenting the report of the fourteenth session of the Working Group on the right to development, Tamara Kunanayakam, the Working Group’s Chairperson, said that at its fourteenth session, the Working Group progressed beyond the target it had set for itself at the inter-sessional meeting and completed its first reading of the 39 draft operational sub-criteria reflected in the report of the high-level task force under attribute 1, entitled “comprehensive, human-centred development policy”.  The Working Group also considered new operational sub-criteria for the draft criteria proposed at its previous session. 

Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented reports by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner, which dealt with issues concerning 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 cooperate 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, delegations underlined the importance of global partnership in order to implement the right to development.  The collective responsibility of all human beings for the achievement of development goals could not be over-emphasized.  Sustainable development needed the availability of sustained financial resources as well as transfer of technology to developing countries.  It was noted that the recent events of mass data collection were serious violations of the right to privacy.  Any restriction to the right to privacy had to be based on law, respect the principle of proportionality and had to be susceptible to review by an independent authority.  A delegation noted with concern that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people was used to justify serious human rights violations around the world. 

Speaking in the general debate were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Gabon on behalf of the African Group, Palestine on behalf of the Arab Group, Lithuania on behalf of the European Union and other countries, Ecuador on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, Albania on behalf of a group of countries, Austria on behalf of a group of countries, Germany on behalf of a group of countries, and Cuba on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, and Gulnara Shahinian, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences, presented their reports on Thursday, 12 September and a summary of their presentations as well as the beginning of the interactive dialogue with them can be found here

In the continuation of the clustered interactive dialogue on truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence, speakers said that truth could not be a substitute for justice and reconciliation processes must complement, not replace, criminal justice processes.  The right to truth required positive measures by the State to uncover the truth and re-establish the rule of law, which was the basis for true democracy.  The effectiveness of Truth Commissions depended on the professionalism and experience of the commissioners.  Regional consultations could help States in learning and exchanging best practices.

Concerning the contemporary forms of slavery, States said that strong legal frameworks were needed to combat modern forms of slavery.  Ms. Shahinian’s report highlighted the challenges that the international community faced in eradicating modern forms of slavery.  Social and economic exclusion were at the heart of this phenomenon.  Abolition of slavery could only be achieved through the education of people about their rights, a ban on corruption and arbitrary justice. 

In concluding remarks, Mr. de Greiff said that in the report presented this year, attention was paid to the particular challenges faced by Truth Commissions in post-conflict settings.  Truth Commissions had to be part of a broader policy that encompassed the three other elements of the mandate.  Truth Commissions could make a very important contribution to transitional processes.  Despite the importance of those contributions, truth should not be seen as a substitute for justice.  The Special Rapporteur reiterated his recommendation with regard to the establishment of international guidelines for the selection of commissioners, as well as guidelines on the management of the archives of Truth Commissions.

Ms. Shahinian, in concluding remarks, said that regarding the situation of domestic workers, the International Labour Organization’s Convention had received sufficient ratification and was now enforced, and would provide assistance to many domestic workers around the world.  The impact of the economic crisis and of austerity measures was an important issue.  On cooperation of businesses, non-governmental organizations and Governments, excellent practices from all over the world could be given. 

Speaking in the clustered interactive dialogue were Ireland, Malaysia, Australia, Algeria, Albania, Spain, Qatar, Romania, Maldives, Rwanda, International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations Children's Fund and Sierra Leone.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Foodfirst Information and Action, Amnesty International, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, International Organization for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, Colombian Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Now and Centro de Estudios legales and sociales also spoke.

The Council will reconvene at 3 p.m. to continue with the general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.

Statement by the President of the Council

REMIGIUSCZ A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, reminded the Council that the deadline for proposals for the theme of the high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming to be held in March 2014 was 17 September.  The topic for the 2014 panel would be informally agreed upon ideally by the end of this session.  Last Monday, the President had made a proposal with the agreement of the Bureau in relation to the selection of candidates for vacancies of 16 mandate holders to be appointed by the Council at its twenty-fifth session in March 2014.  The proposal was to allocate the consideration of candidates for 8 out of the 16 vacancies to the current Consultative Group.  The 2014 Consultative Group would be responsible for the consideration of candidates for the rest of the vacancies.  The allocation of 8 vacancies to the 2013 Consultative Group would be decided by the drawing of lots by the Bureau members.  The reasons for this proposal related to the practical difficulties which the Consultative Group of the next cycle would face in shortlisting, interviewing and recommending suitable candidates for at least 16 mandates within required deadlines before the March session. The matter was currently being discussed at the Bureau level and the President would revert back to the Council next week.

Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on Truth, Justice and Reparation and on Contemporary Forms of Slavery

Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, and Gulnara Shahinian, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences, presented their reports on Thursday, 12 September and a summary of their presentations as well as the beginning of the interactive dialogue with them can be found here.

Ireland said Truth Commissions should not have the power to pardon perpetrators of gross human rights violations but should ensure that their findings were followed up by other institutions that were better equipped to service justice.   What further steps could States take to provide and protect the space for civil society to engage in processes that led to truth, justice and reconciliation?  Did the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery plan to explore the gender dimension of the issue in more depth?

Malaysia said it unequivocally refuted the allegations contained in the report that migrant plantation workers in Malaysia, inter alia, were systematically enslaved.  Malaysia recognized the important role that workers played in the development of the country and the Government had always taken great effort to ensure the protection and welfare of workers.  Malaysia emphasized that labour issues, including those related to foreign labour in the palm oil plantation, would be continuously monitored to ensure the proper implementation of the relevant laws, regulations and policies.

Australia agreed that strong legal frameworks were needed to combat modern forms of slavery and in 2013 Australia further strengthened its robust legislative response to these crimes.  It remained committed to playing a leading international role in this matter.  What were Ms. Shahinian’s views on the ways that businesses, non-governmental organizations and Governments could work together to fight slavery?  In addition, Australia agreed with Mr. de Greiff that truth could not be a substitute for justice and reconciliation processes must complement, not replace, criminal justice processes.

Algeria said that Ms. Shahinian’s report highlighted the challenges that the international community faced in eradicating modern forms of slavery and believed that social and economic exclusion lay at the heart of this phenomenon.  The international community had to ensure that resources were allocated to the problem.  Meanwhile, Algeria believed that fighting impunity through truth and reconciliation processes must be put in place on a sovereign and national basis.

Albania said it had ratified numerous conventions in the war against slavery, including the reform of its criminal code to include gender-motivation as an aggravating circumstance and sanctions against trafficking and domestic violence.  These measures were part of a common institutional goal against human trafficking, raising public awareness, and the fulfilment of a social and moral duty to support the reintegration of victims of trafficking.

Spain fully shared the comprehensive approach of the report on the challenges faced by Truth Commissions.  The right to truth required positive measures by the State to uncover the truth and re-establish the rule of law, which was the basis for true democracy.  Fair and peaceful transitions were needed in post-conflict contexts.  The effectiveness of Truth Commissions depended on the professionalism and experience of the commissioners.  Guidelines were needed with regard to the selection of commissioners.
Qatar said that a wide range of challenges remained with regard to contemporary forms of slavery.  The Special Rapporteur’s report dealt with legal and political challenges faced by governments to avoid contemporary forms of slavery and highlighted that specific tools were needed in this regard.  Qatar had adopted a law on the prevention of human trafficking that provided reintegration measures to victims of contemporary forms of slavery.  Several institutions were created, whose main purpose was to combat this scourge and raise awareness about it.

Romania said that societies where crimes against humanity or gross and massive violations occurred must undertake a permanent process of acknowledgement and assessment of these facts.  This process did not have only legal but also important social and political aspects essential for the healing of societies.  Romania, which had known six decades of various dictatorships, had created various administrative institutions that had the task of studying those periods.  Regional consultations could help States in learning and exchanging best practices.

Maldives said that while to some varying degrees Truth Commissions had been quite active in the past in contributing to the national reconciliation and healing process, such a mechanism’s strength and effectiveness was ultimately tied to the manner in which it operated, its mandate and more importantly, its composition.  The Maldives could not emphasize more the nature of the appointment of commissioners to such a mechanism; their moral authority and credibility would directly influence the perception of such mechanisms.

Rwanda said that though the people of Rwanda opted for a home-grown (Gacaca) approach or solution to addressing the legacy of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi as opposed to establishing a Truth Commission, Rwanda recognized some of the challenges and achievements contained in the report.  The Gacaca system in Rwanda had and continued to foster unity and reconciliation and had most certainly given a voice to victims.  Rwanda welcomed the convening of the Africa regional consultations in Kampala in November and looked forward to actively participating in them.

International Committee of the Red Cross said that the close and interconnected nature of the right to truth and the right to know was best illustrated by families’ quest for information on missing persons.  One of the most pressing needs often expressed by the loved ones of people missing in connection with a conflict or situation of violence was for an individualized response.  Reports drafted by Truth and Reconciliation Commissions should seek to disclose the facts and to draw up both recommendations and measures likely to prevent violence from recurring.

United Nations Children's Fund said it was grateful for Ms. Shahinian’s focus on the plight of millions of children in slavery and slavery-like practices (such as sexual exploitation and forced military service).  The report also highlighted the tens of millions of children engaged in domestic servitude, and the violation of human rights represented by the marriage of children, mostly girls.  The United Nations Children's Fund welcomed the proposal that zero-tolerance of child marriage be included as a goal in the post-2015 development agenda.

Sierra Leone thanked both Special Rapporteurs and said it had experience of transitional justice with the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Special Court in the wake of the war in 2002, and therefore concurred with the findings of Mr. de Greiff in his report.  Meanwhile, Sierra Leone agreed with Ms. Shahinian’s assertion that modern forms of slavery, including the practice of servile and child marriage, was a huge problem; Sierra Leone supported the continued prosecution of those responsible for abuses.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said that in the wake of the Arab Spring, the pillars of Mr. de Greiff’s mandate had become of critical importance in the region.  While Tunisia had taken steps toward transitional justice, as noted, Bahrain, Yemen and Egypt had been found wanting.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should be allowed into Egypt to begin truth-seeking inquiries.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik spoke about atrocities committed by Iran from 1979 to 1988 to political prisoners in detention, who were tortured, raped, forced to commit murders and faced mock executions.  They were all victims of a system who did not accept any belief other than its own.  A Commission of Inquiry should be established to investigate what really happened in this period of history.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said that truth seeking was a core component of transitional justice, which could promote justice, social and psychological healing, foster reconciliation and deter future violations.  The Federation encouraged the Special Rapporteur to advocate for Truth Commission frameworks to include comprehensive implementation mechanisms that would involve all stakeholders.

Foodfirst Information and Action Network said that an appropriate transitional justice framework was absent in Paraguay, where 20 per cent of the territory was illegally awarded to private companies between 1954 and 1988.  The Network called for a comprehensive agrarian reform in Paraguay and underlined the important role of civil society in the implementation of the right to truth.

Amnesty International drew attention to the need for the Japanese Government to provide truth, justice and full reparation for the survivors of Japan’s military sexual slavery system that was in operation from 1932 through the duration of World War II.  It called upon the Government of Japan to accept full responsibility, including legal, to apologize unequivocally for the crimes committed, and to provide adequate and effective reparation.

International Humanist and Ethical Union said that to sign the United Nations Charter and the International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour without ensuring their practical implementation did not solve societal or cultural problems.  Abolition of slavery could only be achieved through the education of people about their rights, and a ban on corruption and arbitrary justice. 

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada said truth was the first casualty of war, and a precursor to peace: however truth was not the primary object of many Truth Commissions which were often underfunded and unsafe for witnesses.  After the visit of the High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, it was worth noting that the ongoing Truth Commission there was deeply flawed.  It required direct intervention.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said that the people of Iraq were still waiting for justice and accountability, as outlined in broad terms in Mr. de Greiff’s report.  Reparations had to be paid by the United States to Iraq.  A Special Rapporteur for Iraq should be appointed.

Colombian Commission of Jurists, addressing Mr. de Greiff, said that victims of human rights abuses in Colombia were asking to be heard in a process of transitional justice.  The need of victims for truth, justice, reparations and non-recurrence had to be met; all of these were necessary for a lasting peace in Colombia.  

Human Rights Now said that the Japanese military had established and institutionalized sexual slavery during World War II.  The Government of Japan had to publicly acknowledge legal responsibility for the crime, offer an official apology, provide victims with full and effective redress and reparation, and to prosecute and punish perpetrators with appropriate penalties. 

Centro de Estudios legales and sociales said that the transitional justice processes in Latin America today included judicial procedures, which reflected progress, but many challenges were faced by those mechanisms.  Latin America showed that there was a lot of work that remained to be done by the United Nations mechanisms in this field.

Concluding Remarks

PABLO DE GREIFF, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, thanked all speakers that supported his mandate.  From his perspective, it was very important to focus on three thematic areas: the links between the different elements of the mandate, the relation between development and security, and how to improve the effectiveness of transitional justice, particularly in post-conflict contexts.  In the report presented this year, attention was paid to the particular challenges faced by Truth Commissions in post-conflict settings.  Truth Commissions had to be part of a broader policy that encompassed the three other elements of the mandate.  The Special Rapporteur would present a report to the General Assembly in October seeking to make a contribution to the post-2015 development goals.  Regional consultations had taken place and two additional ones would take place in 2013.  The discussions emphasized that the implementation of the four elements of the mandate was a critical tool for redressing human rights violations.  Truth Commissions could make a very important contribution to transitional processes.  Despite the importance of those contributions, truth should not be seen as a substitute for justice.  The Special Rapporteur reiterated his recommendation with regard to the establishment of international guidelines for the selection of commissioners, as well as guidelines on the management of the archives of Truth Commissions.

GULNARA SHAHINIAN, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, said that building the new mandate had been very important work and she had dedicated reports to different types of slavery, which were of tremendous importance.  The importance of the mandate was reiterated, and countries that supported the mandate were thanked.  On concerns about the situation in Madagascar, the Special Rapporteur’s concern was that the promising laws and programmes stayed in the centre of the country and did not protect the rights of those that were in rural and tribal areas outside of the capital.  Regarding the situation of domestic workers, the International Labour Organization’s Convention had received sufficient ratification and was now enforced, and would provide assistance to many domestic workers around the world.  The impact of the economic crisis and of austerity measures was an important issue.  On cooperation of businesses, non-governmental organizations and Governments, excellent practices from all over the world could be given.  On the involvement of non-governmental organizations and interesting practices developed, the Special Rapporteur drew attention to a non-governmental organization in Mauritania, funded by the United Nations Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, to assist women that had escaped slavery.  They were trained in livelihoods and to raise awareness for women that needed to be freed from slavery. 

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Working Group on the Right to Development on its fourteenth session (Geneva, 13–17 May 2013) (A/HRC/24/37).

The Council has before it the report of the Secretary-General on the question of the death penalty (A/HRC/24/18).

The Council has before it the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the role of the public service as an essential component of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights (A/HRC/24/19).

The Council has before it the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Proceedings of the workshop on the various aspects relating to the impact of the application of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights by the affected populations in the States targeted (A/HRC/24/20).

The Council has before it the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on summary of information from States Members of the United Nations and other relevant stakeholders on best practices in the application of traditional values while promoting and protecting human rights and upholding human dignity (A/HRC/24/22); and corrigenda to the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
(A/HRC/24/22/Corr.1) (A/HRC/24/22/Corr.2).

The Council has before it the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the safety of journalists (A/HRC/24/23).

The Council has before it the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on views of States, national human rights institutions and other relevant stakeholders on the target sectors, focus areas or thematic human rights issues for the third phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education (A/HRC/24/24).
The Council has before it the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on summary report of the consultation on the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons (A/HRC/24/25).

The Council has before it the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the rights of indigenous peoples (A/HRC/24/26).

The Council has before it the consolidated report of the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the right to development (A/HRC/24/27).

The Council has before it the report of the Secretary-General on human rights in the administration of justice: analysis of the international legal and institutional framework for the protection of all persons deprived of their liberty (A/HRC/24/28).

The Council has before it the report of the Secretary-General on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights (A/HRC/24/29); and a corrigendum to the report of the Secretary-General (A/HRC/24/29/Corr.1).

The Council has before it the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the outcome of the panel discussion on common challenges facing States in their efforts to secure democracy and the rule of law (A/HRC/24/54).

The Council has before it the a note by High Commissioner for Human Rights on the report of the twentieth annual meeting of special rapporteurs/representatives, independent experts and chairpersons of working groups of the special procedures of the Human Rights Council (Vienna, 24-28 June 2013)(A/HRC/24/55); and a corrigendum (A/HRC/24/55/Corr.1).

The Council has before it the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on operations of the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review (A/HRC/24/56); and a corrigendum to the report (A/HRC/24/56/Corr.1).

The Council has before it the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism (A/HRC/24/57).

The Council has before it a note by the Secretary-General on the study by the World Health Organization on mortality among children under five years of age as a human rights concern (A/HRC/24/60).

Introduction of Reports by the Working Group on Development and by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights

TAMARA KUNANAYAKAM, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental  Open-Ended Working Group on the Right to Development, said that in November 2012, she had presented an oral update to the General Assembly and held informal consultations.  The General Assembly in its latest resolution 67/171 had, for the first time, invited the Chairperson-Rapporteur to present an oral report, instead of an update, and to engage in an interactive dialogue with the Assembly at its sixty-eighth session.  Ms. Kunanayakam outlined the procedures and methodology concerning the Working Group that had been elaborated since that time, including the intersessional meeting in April 2013 and the fourteenth session.  At its fourteenth session, the Working Group progressed beyond the target it had set for itself at the inter-sessional meeting and she expressed thanks for the dedication and commitment of delegations.  At that session, the Working Group completed its first reading of the 39 draft operational sub-criteria reflected in the report of the high-level task force under attribute 1, entitled “comprehensive, human-centred development policy”.  The Working Group also considered new operational sub-criteria for the draft criteria proposed at its previous session.  The Working Group had recommended to the Council that at its fifteenth session, the Group continue its work on the consideration of the draft operational sub-criteria with the first reading of the remaining operational sub-criteria.
Ms. Kunanayakam said that in anticipation of the considerable work that remained to be completed by the Working Group in order to fulfil its mandate, she drew attention to unresolved issues that were reflected in the report of the Working Group that was before the Council, which would require clarification if progress was to be made toward the early and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development.  The question of whether or not, in order to achieve the objectives set by the Human Rights Council, the Working Group should address indicators was an important one.  The fifteenth session of the Working Group was scheduled to take place from 12 to 16 May 2014 and Ms. Kunanayakam encouraged all delegations and relevant stakeholders to redouble their efforts and to constructively engage in the review process.

FLAVIA PANSIERI, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting the reports prepared by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner, said that the report on the public consultation on the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons focused on the main challenges to the enjoyment of the human rights of older persons and good practices in the protection and promotion of their human rights.  Issues under discussion included examples of specific protection against age discrimination and ageism, as well as the protection of older persons against violence, neglect and abuse.

The report on the implementation of the World Programme for Human Rights Education summarized views by all stakeholders on the possible target sectors, focusing areas on thematic human rights issues for the third phase of the World Programme.  The feedback received showed a diversity of approaches and priorities among the respondents, often reflecting national and regional contexts.  Some global patterns and general conclusions were presented at the end of the report.

The consolidated report on the right to development contained a brief overview of the activities relating to the promotion and realization of the right to development and provided detailed information on advocacy, outreach and communications work by the Office.  The report recalled that the year 2013 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration reaffirming the right to development as a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental human rights.  The report concluded that the post-2015 development process was an important opportunity in making the right to development a reality for everyone.

Concerning the report on the proceedings of the workshop on the various aspects relating to the impact of the application of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights by the affected populations in the States targeted, the Chairperson concluded that unilateral coercive measures were regarded by a group of States that resorted to them as an instrument of their foreign policy.  Others maintained that such measures could undercut the enjoyment of such human rights as the rights to food, to health and to education.

Ms. Pansieri then turned to the summary of information on best practices in the application of traditional values while promoting and protecting human rights and upholding human dignity, that summarized divided viewpoints received from all stakeholders.  Some found that traditional values were closely related to human dignity and human rights and supported their promotion and protection.  Others were of the view that traditional values could undermine the rights of the most marginalized and disadvantaged groups.

The report on the question of the death penalty concluded that the international community as a whole was moving towards the abolition of the death penalty in law or in practice.  More than 150 of the 193 Member States of the United Nations had abolished the death penalty or introduced a moratorium, either in law or in practice.  A small number of States continued to use it and, in many instances, international standards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty were not fully respected.  The lack of data on the number of executions or individuals on death row was a serious impediment to international and national debates that could lead to the abolition of capital punishment.  The report noted that there was an urgent need to examine the effects of the capital punishment system in its entirety, including the social, economic and psychological impact on the children of those executed or under death sentence.

The report on the rights of indigenous peoples provided some examples of the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner and initiatives at country, regional and headquarters levels that contributed to the full application of the rights of indigenous peoples.  The report concluded that the Office had increased its efforts to give practical guidance on the content of the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to various key stakeholders. 

The report on human rights in the administration of justice provided an analysis of the applicable international legal and institutional framework for the protection of all persons deprived of their liberty.  It concluded that, while a comprehensive framework existed, the main challenge was the implementation of relevant norms and standards at the domestic level.

The report on the safety of journalists illustrated that the critical role played by journalists was being seriously undermined by the violence that many experienced, in contravention of applicable law.  The report noted that it was incumbent on States to ensure the safety of journalists through the implementation and enforcement of the existing norms.  The prevailing impunity for violence against journalists must be actively addressed.

Ms. Pansieri brought to the attention of the Council the report of the twentieth meeting of Special Procedures mandate holders, which was held in Vienna from 24 to 28 June 2013.  The report gave an overview of the issues touched upon during the meting, including working methods and thematic issues and of the consultations held with various stakeholders.  The report on reprisals against those who have cooperated with the United Nations highlighted relevant developments relating to the issue of reprisals and intimidation.  It illustrated the growing attention given to this topic.  The issue of reprisals remained of concern.  The two reports would be considered during the general debate on item 5 on 18 September.

The report on the attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism highlighted that in some communities, erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition put the security and life of persons with albinism at risk.  The report concluded that States should adopt specific measures to protect and preserve the rights to life and to security of persons with albinism, as well as their right not to be subjected to torture, and to ensure their access to adequate health care, employment, education and justice.

Finally, Ms. Pansieri referred to the Note by the Secretary-General transmitting to the Council the study of the World Health Organization on mortality of children under five years of age as a human rights concern, which introduced the definition of under-five mortality and provided an overview of its scale, its causes and underlying determinants, as well as the key interventions needed to avert child mortality and morbidity.

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

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, believed that strong political will would help to finalize the process of considering, revising and endorsing the draft criteria and operational sub-criteria to elaborate a comprehensive and coherent set of standards for the implementation of the right to development.  The importance of global partnership and collective responsibility of all human beings for the achievement of development goals could not be over-emphasized.  Sustainable development needed the availability of sustained financial resources as well as transfer of technology to developing countries.

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated that unilateral coercive measures and legislation were contrary to the United Nations Charter, international law, international humanitarian law, and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States, and expressed concern at the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights, development, international relations, trade, investment and cooperation.  The United Nations human rights machinery was urged to ensure the operationalization of the right to development as a high priority.

Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that it saw the right to development as an inalienable right, on equal footing with other human rights, whose implementation and exercise was hampered by economic, financial and even climate crises.  The international community must show resolve in moving forward in this issue, and adopt a more dynamic development programme, and strengthen partnerships for development, as well as good governance.  It was believed that the Working Group should also take up the question of more tangible international cooperation beyond good intentions. 

Palestine, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed the report of the Working Group on the right to development.  The Arab Group took the view that economic crises would retard development and the right to it.  Human beings were the engines of development and had sovereignty over their own resources, but debt and other forms of economic dependence were barriers to development.  In the Middle East, the occupation by Israel of Palestinian land since 1967 was the main barrier to development in the region.

Lithuania, speaking on behalf of the European Union, Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Iceland, Serbia, Albania, Ukraine, Republic of Moldova and Georgia, said that recent global developments of political transitions provided an opportunity to reassert fundamental principles of human rights, including freedom of religion, about which the European Union had just adopted a new guideline.  The European Union noted with concern that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people was used to justify serious human rights violations around the world.  Economic, social and cultural rights had to be advanced in parallel to civil and political rights, and rights-defenders had to be protected.

Ecuador, speaking for the African Group, Arab Group, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru, said that the group of countries welcomed the steps taken by the Human Rights Council to regulate the work of transnational corporations insofar as these entities could pose a threat to human rights.  Increasing violations called for an international legally binding instrument, concluded within the United Nations system, that would clarify the obligations of transnational corporations.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that the recent events of mass data collection had been far greater than the global community had known and was a serious violation of the right to privacy as well as domestic and international law.  Much of the world’s electronic communications passed through only one country because the bulk of the world’s Internet infrastructure was based there.  This provided an opportunity for intercepting the private communications of foreign nationals as their electronic data passed into that country.  This intrusion of privacy on a mega-scale was of concern and had complicated legal and human rights implications.  The international community needed to take urgent action to protect individuals from such violation of their fundamental freedom.

Albania, speaking on behalf of Germany, Spain, Bolivia and Thailand, said that States’ commitment to the rights of the child was not only illustrated by the near universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but also through the Council’s active discussions on topics related to children’s rights.  Yet, for rights to have meaning, they must be supported by effective remedies when violations occurred.  The countries recalled that only six States had ratified the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure and urged States to demonstrate their strong political will and take decisive action to uphold the rights of the child by accelerating the process of ratification within their own countries.

Austria, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that more than 100 killings of journalists had been recorded in 2012.  The adoption by consensus of the first resolution on the safety of journalists by the Council last September had sent a strong political signal and could be regarded as an important milestone.  Freedom of expression was a universal human right and States had to provide the conditions for a safe environment that enabled journalists to perform their work independently and without any interference.  Ensuring accountability was a key element in preventing future attacks.

Germany, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that the right to privacy was a fundamental right.  In light of the digital revolution, the challenges facing the right to privacy had considerably evolved.  Technological changes had enhanced the capacity of State and non-state actors for surveillance, decryption and mass data collection, which may severely intrude on people’s right to privacy.  Any restriction to the right to privacy had to be based on law, respect the principle of proportionality and had to be susceptible to review by an independent authority. 

Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that they was fully committed to the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons and were actively working sub-regionally, regionally and internationally to push forward the human rights of older persons, which was believed to be a group that required particular attention.  Support was expressed for the mandate and work of the Working Group on the right to development.  All were encouraged to actively participate in the process of developing criteria and sub-criteria for the right to development.   


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/103E