COUNCIL TAKES UP RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT, CONCLUDES INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN AND ON THE SALE OF CHILDREN
8 March 2012
The Human Rights Council in a midday meeting today heard the presentation of the report of the Working Group on the right to development and began the 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 concluded its interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
Tamara Kunanayakam, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the intergovernmental open-ended Working Group on right to development, presented the report on the twelfth session of the Working Group, and said it had focused its deliberations on the right to development criteria and operational sub-criteria. Twenty-five years on, the Declaration on the Right to Development remained modern and relevant in the context of today’s global challenges.
In the general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, States noted that the right to development was important because it covered so many other social, political and cultural rights. The right to safe drinking water and sanitation was raised, and the importance of women being equal partners in development being key to achieving true gender equality and sustainable development, and mainstreaming the right to development across the United Nations.
Speaking in the general debate were: Senegal on behalf of the African Group, Egypt, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Denmark on behalf of the European Union, Mexico in a joint statement on behalf of 103 countries, Spain on behalf of the Blue Group, Russia, Norway, Qatar, Cuba, Indonesia, Libya, Costa Rica, Djibouti and India.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
In concluding remarks, Najat Maalla M’jid, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, spoke about awareness-raising for children in the education system and the activities of the Working Group on education. A legal and judicial system to punish perpetrators of violence against children in disaster situations was needed, together the exchange of information between States to identify and apprehend suspects. Proper birth registration system and information exchange systems were also needed, while ratification of the Hague Convention on adoption was important.
Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, in concluding remarks said the new Optional Protocol was a fundamental tool, and would also allow awareness raising and inform children about their rights. Data collection on violence against children was very important to break the invisibility of violence against children, while bullying was a key issue that led to many suicides. Legislative reform alone was insufficient to protect children’s rights; information, training, and awareness raising programmes were fundamental and children themselves had to be trained and informed.
During the interactive dialogue, cooperation between the Human Rights Council, non-governmental organizations and United Nations Agencies to best protect children during humanitarian and natural crises was discussed. Speakers asked about the driving forces behind sexual exploitation and the role of organized crime, the recommendation to register every child at birth and the main obstacles to ending impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence against children. Other speakers voiced concerns about corporal punishment, child marriage, harmful traditional practices, vulnerable children in Iraq and Afghanistan and the situation of children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Speaking in the interactive dialogues were: Belgium, Angola, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Sudan, Slovenia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Morocco, Germany, Norway, China, Cuba, New Zealand, Holy See, Thailand and Iran.
Non-governmental organizations that took the floor were: Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Movement ATD Fourth World, Franciscans International, International Institute for Peace, Civicus, Union of Arab Jurists, Defence for Children International and Plan International.
The Council will resume its work this afternoon at 3 p.m. when it will continue its annual full day meeting on the rights of the child with a discussion on the protection and realization of the rights of children deprived of their liberty and children of incarcerated parents.
Interactive Dialogue on Violence against Children and on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Belgium noted its signature of the third Optional Protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and highlighted its good practice to reduce violence against children including multidisciplinary action plans against violence and school drop-out rates, hotline support for students, special guides for school head-teachers and mediation resources.
Angola had established a National Action Plan to prevent and combat violence against children with a broad scope that covered physical and psychological violence, sexual abuse and child labour. Angola was committed to creating a dignified life for the child.
Sri Lanka said that the Government had met the challenge of rehabilitating and reintegrating child soldiers recruited by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelan back to their families and original environments. All 595 child soldiers had been rehabilitated and returned to their families under a United Nations Children’s Fund-assisted programme without a single prosecution. The Surakna foster care programme assisted children affected by conflict in the Northern Province.
Sweden said that information on violence against children remained scarce and fragmented, which undermined child protection, and that education had a key role in preventing violence against children. Sweden underlined its support to regional cooperation and that it was important not to lose the momentum of the last two years.
Sudan said that it had ratified the optional protocol on the sale of children and undertaken measures to implement it, while the Constitution and laws guaranteed children’s rights and prohibited trafficking in children. Judicial services were provided for all children, whether offenders or witnesses, and there was a free hotline for child victims of violence.
Slovenia asked how the Human Rights Council could contribute to cross-regional cooperation ending violence against children, and how the Council could cooperate with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to better protect children during natural disasters.
Uruguay asked whether the Special Rapporteur planned any new regional meetings, and how the Common Southern Market (MERCOSUR) experience in terms of the participation of girls and boys could be replicated? The response to recent natural disasters had seen better coordination between the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Children’s Fund, non-governmental organisations and States.
Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie said the Director-General had called on all francophone States to sign and ratify the international conventions related to human rights, and particularly the new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Diverse initiatives had been taken on in follow-up to the Resolution on the Rights of the Child adopted at the 2008 Quebec Summit.
Paraguay was grateful for the Special Representative’s support in organising a regional meeting on the rights of the child. Recommendations from the meeting had served as a blueprint for countries planning and implementing national strategies. In its own reforms, Paraguay had recently created the Mesa Pais for prevention of violence against children in Paraguay, and formulation of inclusive public policies, programmes and plans.
Syria said that it had adopted a national strategy to combat violence against children and that specialized agencies provided children with psychological and rehabilitative services. The Government said severe restrictions by Israeli authorities had led to human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, especially in the Syrian Golan, where children were put under house arrest, denied education and basic services and disabled or killed by land mines.
Kyrgyzstan referred to its database of children left without parental care which ensured the right of children to family care in adoptive homes. The Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography would visit the country this year. Kyrgyzstan called on all Member States to put tougher penalties into their legal codes against child trafficking, pornography and forcing children into prostitution.
Turkey said that it was essential to increase the protection of children with more effective mechanisms and supported extension of the mandate on the Special Rapporteur on violence against children. Turkey invited all interested parties to the Fourth International Symposium on Children at Risk and in Need of Protection in Ankara from 24-25 April, which would focus on child exploitation through the internet and other media sources.
Morocco shared the concerns of the Special Rapporteur on the increased vulnerability of children during natural disasters, and regretted that stakeholders who provided humanitarian aid often did not have enough experience or resources to address the needs of children. International cooperation was important to improve the response to the situation of children during natural disasters.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) commended the excellent cooperation it had with Special Procedures Mandate holders. It urged States to continue to strengthen their efforts to implement the recommendations of the Study on Violence against Children, to promote south – south cooperation for the prevention of violence against children, and to ratify the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Germany raised violence at school, which was a great danger for children, and asked the Special Representative how cultural acceptance of violence at school could be addressed. Germany stressed the importance of data collection on violence against children, and also urged other States to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol on a communication procedure.
Norway asked about the driving forces behind sexual exploitation and the role of organized crime, and how it could be ensured that sex offenders and end users did not just move on to the next victim after one child had been rescued. Norway supported the recommendation to register every child at birth and asked for more information on harmful traditional practices. Were any other tools useful for preventing forced marriage, apart from legislation, and what were the main obstacles to ending impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence against children, Norway asked.
China welcomed the four focuses of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the direction of follow up work. Due to the mental and physical effects, children were the most vulnerable to exploitation during natural disasters and humanitarian crises. China called on all governments to develop their national economies and strengthen their ability to respond to natural disasters. China had developed laws to protect the interests of children that included protection of minors and provision of mandatory education.
Cuba said millions of children were suffering due to the unfair economic order and the serious economic, financial and environment crisis sweeping across the world. Developed countries, and especially the main economic power, represented the greatest market for child pornography, violence against children, sexual exploitation and other child abuse. Cuba had adopted a holistic, systematic and multi-institutional approach to create beneficial conditions for boys and girls.
New Zealand was concerned by the number of children in the country affected by violence. Last year an extensive public consultation was launched to seek national consensus on how to improve the child protection system. A wide range of mechanisms were used to promote public engagement and over 9,000 submissions were received; the Government would respond at the end of the year.
Holy See said that the Catholic Church continued to develop and adopt decisive measures to carefully monitor the actions of church-related structures, to prevent any future sexual abuse against children. The proscription of civil law for reporting sexual abuse against minors should always be followed. Sexual abuse against minors had infiltrated all elements of society and must be honestly acknowledged to safeguard children.
Thailand said the Government had used legal reforms, preventive policies and the promotion of positive discipline to address all forms of violence against children. A number of children were still subject to corporal punishment in schools and at home, so the Government focused on capacity building and training for care givers and teachers.
Iran said that special procedures should propose adequate elements for a child protection approach aimed at preventing and combating the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Iran was concerned at incidents against children which commonly occurred in the West and said that the Council should attach greater attention to the dire situation of Palestinian children.
International Movement ATD Fourth World suggested that the Special Representative on violence against children shared good practices with countries in putting into place communication mechanisms that were also accessible to vulnerable groups.
Franciscans International, in a joint statement, drew the attention of the Council to child marriages in India and to violence against albino children in Tanzania and neighboring countries, and encouraged the Special Representative to prepare a comprehensive report on violence against albino children.
International Institute for Peace highlighted the issue of exploitation of orphans by armed groups in every conflict zone and said that Afghanistan, which had been a battlefield for decades, had produced innumerable images of disabled, orphaned and psychologically scarred children.
Civicus said that it had documented 631 cases of human rights violation against children in the Philippines from 2008 and 2011 including recruitment by the para-military Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, and depravation of right to education, illegal and arbitrary arrest, or torture of child soldiers.
Union of Arab Jurists raised in a joint statement the situation of children in Iraq subsequent to the invasion and occupation of the country since 2005. Five millions Iraqi orphans lived on the street, as well as hundreds of child prostitutes. The children of prostitutes were often raped by paedophiles. Hundreds of children had been detained since the beginning of the conflict. Educational establishments were regularly attacked, and school attendance had consequently dramatically decreased.
Defence for Children International said the depravation of liberty for children should only be a last resort measure, including for migrants. Detaining children in immigration detention facilities was unacceptable. Conditions of detention for children were often appalling. The implementation of child-friendly justice system based on a human rights approach was a priority.
Plan International, in a joint statement, said that children should take an active role in disclosing school violence and shaping effective responses. Schools must establish child-friendly complaints mechanisms and ensure that those were safe, confidential and accessible to all children without discrimination. Child help lines were a valuable tool to support children affected by violence in schools.
NAJAT MAALLA M’JID, Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, in her concluding remarks referred to awareness-raising for children in the education system and said that the Working Group on education had implemented a number of activities, one of which was an assessment on the knowledge of children about natural disasters situations. A legal and judicial system must be in place in order to punish perpetrators of violence against children in disaster situations, together with oversight, extra-territoriality and the exchange of information between the police forces of countries to identify and apprehend suspects. Proper birth registration system and information exchange systems should also be in place. Turning to irregular adoption, the ratification of the Hague Convention was important and adoptions should not happen hastily but must be well monitored and take place though accredited agencies. A national focal point, exchange of information and clear division of roles and responsibilities were factors that ensured effective coordination during acute and post-crisis times of natural disaster.
MARTA SANTOS PAIS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children said that regional and international cooperation was important for sharing good practices on protection of children. The new Optional Protocol was a fundamental tool, and would also allow awareness raising and inform children about their rights. Data collection on violence against children was very important to break the invisibility of violence against children. Bullying was the primary reason for children calling help lines the world over, and led to many suicides. It was very important to support law reform and to conduct training on legal provisions and how laws could be used. Legislative reform alone was insufficient; information, training, and awareness raising programmes were fundamental and children themselves had to be trained and informed. Special Procedures should meet children during their country visits.
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 has before it the report of the Working Group on the Right to Development on its twelfth session (A/HRC/19/52). The Council also has before it a corrigendum to the report of the Working Group on the Right to Development (A/HRC/19/52/Corr.1)
Presentation of the Report of the Working Group on the Right to Development
TAMARA KUNANAYAKAM, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Open-Ended Working Group on Right to Development, presented the report on the twelfth session of the Working Group which had taken place last year when the world had commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development. At its last session, the Working Group had focused its deliberations on the right to development criteria and operational sub-criteria. The Working Group had acknowledged the need to further consider, revise and refine those criteria and had entrusted its Chairperson-Rapporteur to hold informal consultations with a view to moving the process forward. The Working Group had once again adopted its conclusions and recommendations by consensus, which the Chairperson-Rapporteur saw as a positive sign. Twenty-five years on, the Declaration on the right to development, remained modern and relevant in the context of today’s global challenges. It was important for the Council and its Working Group to build upon the momentum created last year and to advance future work for the effective realization of that right. The thirteenth session of the Working Group on the right to development would be held from 7th to 11th May 2012.
Senegal, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said effective implementation of the right to development was important because it covered so many other social, political and cultural rights. There was a need for greater political commitment among Member States to make the right to development operational. The African Group said that human rights should be mainstreamed into all development policies.
Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Non-Aligned Movement had organized an event in 2009 called Challenges in Implementing the Right to Development. There was a need to mainstream the right to development into all areas of work of the United Nations and with civil society organizations.
Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the worldwide economic and financial crisis had highlighted the inter-linkages between civil, political and cultural rights. The eradication of torture was a priority of the European Union, which called on all States to ratify the Convention against Torture.
Mexico, said in a joint statement on behalf of 103 countries, that progress in the human rights of women and gender equality was visible; however, women and girls continued to endure gender-based violence at home, workplace and in their communities. Gender equality must be a lived reality, and ensuring women’s equal rights to participation in public life and decision making was crucial to full enjoyment of their rights. Women and girls were half the population of the world; equal opportunity was a key to achieving sustainable development and lasting solutions to global challenges.
Spain, speaking on behalf of the Blue Group, said that forty two countries endorsed their statement. The Blue Group considered the right to safe drinking water and sanitation as basic human rights linked to the right to life and dignified life. The time had come to convey that message to other bodies outside from the United Nations and the Water Forum, took take place later in 2012 in Marseille, was an opportunity to do so. Spain invited all countries to endorse and support the statement that would be delivered at the Water Forum. Spain then projected a video message that would be broadcast at the 6th Water Forum.
Russia said statements on protection of human rights must not be a pretext for the use of force against other states; unfortunately there were efforts to interpret rules of international law into narrow political interest. The Council should not go beyond its purview and should not undermine other United Nations bodies. That was particularly the case in the context of the responsibility to protect, which in no circumstances was in the mandate of the Human Rights Council.
Norway welcomed the efforts by the High-level Task Force to bring the right to development from an academic and political discussion to the development of practical criteria for implementation. Norway highlighted the decisive role of women’s rights and gender equality in the development process. Gender equality was smart economics and a key to promoting the right to development.
Qatar said the freedom of religion or belief was one of the rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Qatar. Since 2003, Doha had hosted a number of international conferences for religious dialogue. Qatar stressed the role of media in that regard. It was also important to capitalize on social networks; they were an important vehicle for transporting different views and combating stereotypes.
Cuba deplored the fact that the Working Group was not able to produce a consensus document on criteria related to the right to development. The rights to food, education, water, sanitation, health and housing were being denied to one in every six residents of the planet. Cuba contributed to realization of the right to development in over 60 countries worldwide, despite the illegal embargo enforced by the United States. Cuba stressed that the five anti-terrorist Cubans detained by the United States should be released immediately, for their detention amounted to a gross violation of human rights.
Indonesia said there was a need to elaborate criteria and sub-criteria as standards derived from the Declaration on the Right to Development and to transform those standards into an international instrument of a legally binding nature. Standards should serve not only as legal norms but also as measurement tools for assessing the impact of development at the national and international levels.
Libya said that the Berber and Amazigh peoples in Libya should not be categorized as an ethnic minority in United Nations reports. Although Berber and Amazigh peoples were not Arab, they were Muslim, and in the new Libya they no longer faced discrimination and had the same rights as all Libyan citizens.
Costa Rica said that a progressive approach to the link between human rights and the environment would allow human rights obligations to inform and improve policies to improve the natural environment and better understand how environmental harm undermined and even violated human rights. Costa Rica announced it would propose a draft resolution this session to establish a special procedure on human rights and the environment.
Djibouti noted that the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the right to development took place in an economic and financial crisis, which gave the international community opportunity to examine how to define criteria and sub-criteria. Enjoyment of the right to development could only come about through international solidarity through regional and sub-regional contexts.
India said that the Planning Commission of India was committed to making women equal partners in development. The central vision of its five-year plan was inclusive development process, in several priority areas, including health and education. The right to development was about increasing access of people to basic services, such as education, food and gainful employment.
For use of the information media; not an official record