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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HEARS PRESENTATION OF THEMATIC REPORTS AND BEGINS GENERAL DEBATE ON ALL HUMAN RIGHTS

Hears from the President of the Economic and Social Council, and the Working Group on the Right to Development, and Concludes the Interactive Dialogue on Truth, Justice and Reparation, and the Prevention of Genocide
14 September 2018

The Human Rights Council this morning heard a briefing by the President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and presentations by the Working Group on the right to development, and by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of thematic reports by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner, and then began a general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. 

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, and with the Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide. 

Inga Rhonda King, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, briefed the Council about the outcomes of the 2018 United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.  She said that building the synergy between the Council and the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development was crucial, particularly since the 2019 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development’s core theme would focus on empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality. 

Zamir Akram, Chair/Rapporteur of the Working Group on the right to development, recommended that the High Commissioner for Human Rights take sufficient measures to ensure a balanced and visible allocation of resources, and to pay due attention to the visibility and effective implementation and mainstreaming of the right to development.  He also asked that the High Commissioner include an analysis on the realization and implementation of the right to development in her next annual report. 

Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented a series of thematic reports by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and various expert workshops. 

In the general debate, speakers drew attention to the situation of migrant children in some countries of destination, namely to the separation of children from their parents.  They acknowledged that children with disabilities remained one of the most excluded groups in almost all societies, and that an estimated 93 million children with disabilities were excluded from education.  Others pointed out to the interrelated and mutually reinforcing character of human rights by all women and girls, and the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Speakers emphasized that dialogue and respect among countries would remove all obstacles to the promotion and protection of human rights. 
 
Speaking in the general debate were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, South Africa on behalf of a group of countries, Tunisia on behalf of the Arab Group, China on behalf of a group of countries, Venezuela on behalf the Non-Aligned Movement, Togo on behalf of the African Group, Mexico on behalf of a group of countries, Germany on behalf of a group of countries, Ukraine on behalf of a group of countries, Ireland on behalf of a group of countries, Austria on behalf of the European Union, Czech Republic on behalf of a group of countries, Portugal on behalf of a group of countries, Bulgaria on behalf of a group of countries, El Salvador on behalf of a group of countries, Kuwait on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Countries, Cabo Verde on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Language speaking countries, Egypt on behalf of a group of countries, Pakistan, Togo, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Cuba, and Venezuela.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Fabian Salvioli, and with the Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng.  The summary of the first half of the discussion, which was held on Thursday, 14 September, can be read here.

In the discussion on truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, speakers shared their national experience with truth commissions to promote healing among victims and address impunity.  Reconciliation was an essential process to heal individuals and societies and thus all actors should be involved in it.  Truth and justice had to underpin such processes.  Speakers agreed that identifying and disseminating best practices would help States to develop appropriate legislative frameworks. 

On the prevention of genocide, speakers supported early warning mechanisms and affirmed that the international community needed to exhibit commitment to prevent genocide.  For a genocide to happen a Government had to sponsor it.  Speakers inquired about how the three pillars of the responsibility to protect could be effectively used without a blockade caused by politicization.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Salvioli warned against the weakening of mechanisms that addressed impunity, and he reminded States of their obligation to enable civil society to flourish.  Reprisals against civil society had to be investigated and protection mechanisms installed.

Mr. Dieng stressed the importance of prevention and protection, which were linked because neither could be achieved without focusing on both.  Prevention and protection were the primary responsibility of the State.  When violence occurred, States had to remember that they had to protect their citizens from violence, but also refugees within their boundaries.  

Speaking in the discussion were The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ireland, Côte d’Ivoire, and Rwanda.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Conseil national des droits de l’homme of Morocco; American Association of Jurists; Women's Human Rights International Association; Sikh Human Rights Group; Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation; Center for Global Nonkilling; Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”; Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Asociacion Civil; Right Livelihood Award Foundation; Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI); International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism; European Centre for Law and Justice; Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries; France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand and Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression.


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


Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-recurrence, and with the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide

The Gambia said that after emerging from 22 years of authoritarian regime, The Gambia had embarked on a path to address past human rights abuses.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission had been established to promote healing among victims and address impunity.   Burkina Faso agreed that impunity resulted partially from a State’s inability to offer remedies to victims.  Identifying and disseminating best practices would help States to develop appropriate legislative frameworks.  Ireland noted the appropriateness of the Special Adviser’s report against the backdrop of the seventieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide.  Ireland’s direct experience of transitional justice through the Northern Ireland Peace Process demonstrated the pivotal role that civil society had to play.

Côte d’Ivoire welcomed the idea of early warning and affirmed the need of the commitment of the international community to prevent genocide.  Transitional justice was an effective means of reconstruction after a conflict, allowing access to the truth.  Rwanda said that for genocide to happen, a Government had to sponsor it and the international community had to fail to intervene.  How could the three pillars of the responsibility to protect be effectively activated without a blockade caused by politicization?

National Human Rights Council of Morocco shared the experience of Morocco in combatting impunity and ensuring non-recurrence.  It had created two truth commissions since the 1990s and had launched several initiatives with respect to reparations.  American Association of Jurists called the Special Rapporteur’s attention to the situation in non-self-governing territories, one of which did not have an internationally recognized administering power and was under the illegal military occupation of a third country, which had caused massive and systematic violations of human rights.  Women’s Human Rights International Association reminded of the massacre of 30,000 political activists in Iran and of the fact that no one had been prosecuted for that crime.  For 30 years the Iranian authorities had been covering up the evidence of the crime.  The organization called on the Council to establish a commission of inquiry into the 1989 massacre.

Sikh Human Rights Group called attention to the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in Delhi and surrounding areas in 1984, and urged the Indian Government to officially identify the political party and senior State officials responsible for the massacre.  The Group also urged the Council to monitor that process.  Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation expressed hope that the Special Rapporteur and the Special Adviser would continue to devote attention to the faulty transitional justice process in Sri Lanka and urged them to redouble efforts to remove multiple obstacles that stood in the way of truth and redress for victims.  Centre for Global Nonkilling underlined the importance of the right to life and to an identity, the right to birth registration and to a nationality, and drew attention to the problems of acquiring citizenship and retaining identity in Assam in India, and in Rakhine state in Myanmar. 

Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” stated that the Armenian genocide, which had led to the killing of one million victims, continued to this day against the survivors.  The exile of the surviving Armenians from their land, combined with the illegal occupation of the land by Turkey since 1920, had led to severe repression.  Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Asociacion Civil said that Mexico had continued to carry out a State policy of impunity that had lasted for more than 40 years.  The impunity included the lack of investigation into forced disappearances during the dirty war of 1917.  Right Livelihood Award Foundation spoke about Guatemala’s judicial processes which had become spaces to validate the actions of military personnel accused of grave human rights violations.  High-levels of corruption had further contributed to the country’s socio-political crisis.

Conselho Indigenista Missinario called attention to the rate of suicide among the Guarani people in Brazil that amounted to 88 per 100,000 persons.  Political hate speech had led to a series of attacks on indigenous peoples in the country.  The organization recommended a delimitation of their territories and the creation of a truth commission.  International Fellowship of Reconciliation stated that reconciliation was an essential process to heal individuals and societies and thus all actors should be involved in such processes.  Truth and justice had to underpin such processes.  The organization advocated for restorative rather than punitive reconciliation.  Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism noted that granting asylum to perpetrators of terrorism was a violation of international law, citing a number of such individuals who had received asylum in European countries.  It called on international organizations and the United Nations to define and clarify the boundaries between terrorism and political crimes, and to put more emphasis on the verification mechanisms for the granting of asylum.

European Centre for Law and Justice said that children were most vulnerable to Boko Haram, and reports showed that since 2013 1,000 children had been abducted in northeast Nigeria.  In Nigeria, children went to school fearing they would be kidnapped.  Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that 30 years ago 5,000 prisoners of conscience in prisons in Iran were executed secretly.  Victims included underage boys, workers, teachers, pregnant women and women with new born children.  Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries said that originally, transitional justice mechanisms did not include crimes of corruption or economic crimes.  However, corruption facilitated other human rights violations and could preserve a culture of repression.

France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand said that today was the anniversary of a massacre in Iran based on a fatwa by Khomeini.  For 30 years, this crime against humanity had gone unpunished.  Moreover, the perpetrators were still in power, including the current Justice Minister.  Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression said there were several factors indicating there was a genocide occurring in Syria.  One was admissions by senior officials in power and the other was seizure and blockades imposed on many Syrian cities leading to the fleeing of populations.

Concluding Remarks

FABIAN SALVIOLI, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, thanked civil society for their work which was vital for his mandate.  Referring to the international commission for combatting impunity in Guatemala, he noted that the weakening of such mechanisms was a sign of backtracking and he urged against backtracking in such respect.  It was true that States had an obligation to enable civil society to flourish.  Reprisals against them had to be investigated and protection mechanisms installed.  Mr. Salvioli reminded that his background was in human rights and that he was very sensitive to all that was said.  His mandate had to cohabit with all other mandates and he wanted to support processes, support States, flag what needed to be done, and invite them to usher in transitional justice processes. 

ADAMA DIENG, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide, responding to Rwanda, stressed the importance of prevention and protection, which were linked because neither could be achieved without focusing on both.  Prevention and protection were the primary responsibility of the State, especially prevention of incitement to the crime of genocide.  When violence occurred, States had to remember that they had to protect their citizens from violence, but also refugees within their boundaries.  Unfortunately, there were examples when States had failed in that obligation.  Mr. Dieng noted that his office could not be oblivious to the victims who had not been protected.  Protection challenges arose mainly because prevention capacities were slow or inadequate, but also that the political will came too late to divert the necessary resources to ensure prevention and protection.  Without holding to account those people who had failed to protect their people, the international community would fall into a vicious cycle of violence, as was the case in Burundi.  There was no room to remain silent and inactive when there were signs of impending massive atrocities.  The United Nations provided strong partnership with the African Union in that sense. 

Remarks by the President of the Council

VOJISLAV ŠUC, President of the Human Rights Council, welcomed the President of the Economic and Social Council and said that resolution 37/25 allowed for the opportunity for the Council to be briefed on the outcomes of this year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. 

Briefing by the President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council

INGA RHONDA KING, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, said it was her honour to be the first President of the Economic and Social Council to address the Human Rights Council since its creation in 2006.  She welcomed the opportunity created by resolution 37/25 to brief the Council on the outcomes of this year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.  The discussion at the Council was an important milestone in promoting an integrated approach to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and enhancing linkages between New York and Geneva, including amongst Member States.  It enabled the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to build on the work of the Council and vice-versa.   The Council had already carried out important work for the 2030 Agenda since 2016, contributing to the principle of leaving no one behind.  This principle was the central component of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. 

The 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development had welcomed the participation of a number of Special Procedure mandate holders and it had included over 125 Ministers and Vice-Ministers, while 46 countries had presented their voluntary national reviews.  The Forum had focused on the theme of transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies and had undertaken an in-depth review of progress on a subset of six of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  The key message of the Forum had been that while some progress had been achieved, there was still a long way to go and little time for action.  As echoed by the Secretary General, the progress had not been rapid enough to meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  During the Forum, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing had noted that 3.5 billion people now lived in cities, but an estimated 1.6 billion were inadequately housed and close to 900 million were living in informal settlements.  Forum participants had agreed that adequate housing had to be at the heart of achieving the urban agenda and implementation of Goal 11.  Goal 6 on right to water and sanitation and Goal 15 concerning the need to empower custodian terrestrial ecosystems had also been assessed. 

Ms. King said the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, had noted that the problem was not that some people were left behind, it was that some people were pushed further behind by forces of globalization, austerity policies and environmental degradation.  Burdens were borne by poorest communities.  For example, 47 per cent of countries still had no civil registration and vital statistic systems to provide information on exactly who was left behind.  Least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states were far behind and negatively affected by the impact of climate change.  Only 13 per cent of countries had allocated budgets for gender-disaggregated data and use of data by policymakers was limited, leading to low data demand and use.  Thus, the work of the Council and the Universal Periodic Review was useful in assisting States to identify marginalized communities.  The Sustainable Development Goals under review were closely tied to human rights, particularly Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, Goal 10 on reducing inequalities and Goal 13 on climate change.  Building the synergy between the Council and the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development was crucial, particularly since the 2019 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development’s core theme would focus on empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.  The Economic and Social Council retained a strong interest in human rights, which was part of its Charter mandate.

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Right to Development (A/HRC/39/56).

The Council has before it the Right to development - Report of the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/39/18).

The Council has before it the Question of the death penalty - Report of the Secretary-General (A/HRC/39/19).

The Council has before it the National Institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights -Report of the Secretary-General (A/HRC/39/20).

The Council has before it the Activities of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions in accrediting national institutions in compliance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles) - Report of the Secretary-General (A/HRC/39/21).

The Council has before it the Composition of staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/39/22).

The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on available mechanisms concerned with ensuring the safety of journalists (A/HRC/39/23).

The Council has before it the Summary of the expert workshop on the role and contribution of civil society organizations, academia, national human rights institutions and other relevant stakeholders in the prevention of human rights abuses - Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/39/24).

The Council has before it the Summary of the expert meeting on experiences in applying a human rights-based approach to address mortality and morbidity among newborns and children under 5 years of age - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/39/25).

The Council has before it the Follow-up on the application of the technical guidance on the application of a human rights-based approach to the implementation of policies and programmes to reduce preventable maternal mortality and morbidity - Note by the Secretariat (A/HRC/39/26).

The Council has before it the Draft guidelines for States on the effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs - Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/39/28).

The Council has before it the Report of the of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the promotion and protection of the right to privacy in the digital age, including the responsibility of business enterprises in this regard (A/HRC/39/29).

The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on best practices and specific measures to ensure access to birth registration, particularly for those children most at risks (A/HRC/39/30).

The Council has before it the Summary of the intersessional workshop on the right to peace - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/39/31).

The Council has before it the Intersessional seminar on the protection of the family: role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of the human rights of older persons - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/39/32).

The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on youth and human rights (A/HRC/39/33).

The Council has before it the Intersessional expert meeting to consider gaps in, challenges to and best practices aimed at the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls and the systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/39/34).

The Council has before it the Views of States, national human rights institutions and other relevant stakeholders on the target sectors, focus areas or thematic human rights issues for the fourth phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education - Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/39/35).

The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on mental health and human rights (A/HRC/39/36).

The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the rights of indigenous peoples (A/HRC/39/37).

The Council has before it the High-level intersessional discussion celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela - Summary report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/39/38).

The Council has before it the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the implementation of the joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem with regard to human rights (A/HRC/39/39).

Presentation by the Chair of the Working Group on the Right to Development

ZAMIR AKRAM, Chair Rapporteur Working Group on the Right to Development, began by reviewing the mandate of the Working Group, which was established to monitor and review progress made in the promotion and implementation of the right to development at national and international levels, analyse obstacles to its full enjoyment, and provide recommendations.  The Working Group worked with States, United Nations agencies, other international and non-governmental organizations, and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.  In its first interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development, Ambassador Saad Alfarargi, and experts on the implementation and realization of the right to development in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, they had dealt with issues such as international dimensions of the right to development, illicit financial flows, jurisprudential developments, international investment agreements, and industrialisation.  The dialogues had provided an opportunity for the Working Group to assess the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals from the right to development perspective and contributed to the work of the High-level Political Forum.  The Working Group recommended that the High Commissioner for Human Rights take sufficient measures to ensure a balanced and visible allocation of resources and pay due attention to the visibility and effective implementation and mainstreaming of the right to development.  Mr. Akram also asked that the High Commissioner include an analysis on the realisation and implementation of the right to development in her next annual report.  He said that the consensus represented by the Sustainable Development Goals should help resolve the differing views around the right to development and that they should keep moving forward with a constructive spirit and focus on common ground.

Presentation of Reports by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights

KATE GILMORE, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she would present key thematic reports on behalf of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner.  She first presented a report of the Secretary-General on the death penalty, in which he urged those States that continued to impose death sentences to establish a moratorium on executions, and to impose the death penalty only for the most serious crimes, which meant for crimes only of intentional killing.  States retaining the death penalty should also make public accurate and comprehensive data on death sentences carried out, including on charges laid and disaggregation of those so sentenced by gender, age, nationality, ethnic origin, and other relevant demographics.  Turning to the report summarizing the Follow-up on the application of the technical guidance on the application of a human rights-based approach to the implementation of policies and programmes to reduce preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, Ms. Gilmore said that the report emphasized that ending preventable deaths of women as they gave life required an unwavering commitment to the inherent dignity and autonomy of each and every woman.  Medical know-how and capacity were not enough even in humanitarian settings where rates of preventable maternal mortality were so high.  Preventive action had to entail efforts to both discrimination and violence against women. 

The report summarizing the outcomes of the expert meeting on experiences in applying a human rights-based approach to address mortality and morbidity among newborns and children under five years of age presented the growing evidence that human rights-based approaches delivered better health outcomes, including better rates of newborn and child survival.  Providing a child with what they needed for their sustained dignity through their journey to adulthood started with the immediate registration of their legal personhood, which was why the Report of the High Commissioner on best practices and specific measures to ensure access to birth registration called on States to redouble efforts for birth registration, given that millions of children were deprived of that most basic right.  The Report of the High Commissioner on the implementation of human rights with regard to young people urged States to uphold the rights of young people and to do so in cooperation with youth- led organizations.  The High Commissioner’s Report for the fourth phase of World Programme for Human Rights Education, on possible target sectors focused on areas or thematic human rights issues, highlighted that youth were a top priority and urged greater recognition of the power of human rights education as a key method for building inclusive and peaceful societies, as called for by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The Report of the intersessional seminar on the protection of the family and the human rights of older persons pointed out that new public policy terrain had to be broken if the international community was to meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities of what would be the world’s largest ever population of older people by the middle of the twenty-first century.  Age discrimination and age-based social exclusion undermined stable inclusive development.  The High Commissioner’s Report on the draft guidelines on the effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs stated that people could never be reduced to needs alone because they also had their voices, opinions and the right to participation.  That right had to be robustly defended and strengthened because it was key to the realization of the right to development.  The Consolidated report of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner on the right to development highlighted critical synergies between development and human rights, summarizing the many activities of the Office for the promotion and realization of the right to development from May 2017 to April 2018, and providing an analysis of progress overall in the implementation of the right to development.  The Annual report of the High Commissioner on the human rights of indigenous peoples underlined how many development projects and activities were being imposed on indigenous lands and territories with little or no regard to the principle of free, prior and informed consent and other legal safeguards.  It highlighted the extent to which intimidation, threats and actual reprisals were being targeted against defenders of indigenous rights and against those who cooperated with the United Nations. 

The Report of the High Commissioner on the outcome of the two-day intersessional expert meeting to consider the gaps in, challenges to and best practices aimed at the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls in the systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda captured global experts’ advice on how intersecting forms of discrimination worked together to undermine inclusive sustainable development.  The Report of the High Commissioner on the outcome of the consultation on the fulfilment of a human rights perspective in mental health explained how people with mental health conditions were rendered victims of discrimination, stigma, abuse, coercion and even violence, and it urged greater priority to be placed on human rights-based system-wide strategies and services.  The Report on the implementation of the joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem with regard to human rights recommended that States should intensify efforts to implement the cross-cutting approach of the Outcome Document of United Nations General Assembly Special Session 2016, which constituted a new and stronger linking of the Sustainable Development Goals with the objective of drug control. 

The Report on the expert workshop on the role and contribution of civil society organizations, academia, national human rights institutions and other relevant stakeholders in the prevention of human rights abuses pointed out that resilient inclusive societies were those that in adherence to the standards that international human rights law enshrined enabled civil participation to flourish.  The Report on the expert workshop on principles, standards and best practices regarding the promotion and protection of the right to privacy in the digital age shed light on how those dynamics of protection and prevention played out in the virtual world.  The use of mass databases of biometric data without adequate legal and procedural safeguards carried risks for both individuals and societies.  The Report of the High Commissioner on mechanisms concerned with ensuring the safety of journalists provided an overview of mechanisms that sought to ensure the safety of journalists and address impunity for violations of their rights. 

Finally, the Deputy High Commissioner presented a report on National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, which covered the period between September 2017 to August 2018 and outlined the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in support of national human rights institutions, in compliance with the Paris Principles.  The report on the Activities of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions in accrediting national institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles outlined the activities of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation between November 2016 and May 2018 in reviewing the applications of national institutions for accreditation and reaccreditation.

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, underscored that the right to development was as important as any other right as it ensured the provision of basic human needs, poverty reduction and the right to health, food and quality education.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation expressed its concerns at rising levels of populism and chauvinistic nationalism, behaviour which bred racism, xenophobia and anti-Islamic sentiments.

South Africa, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said they were grateful for the presence of Inga Rhonda King, President of the Economic and Social Council, and her briefing on the 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which emphasized the universal and indivisible nature of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Large gaps in the mobilization of resources remained for many developing countries.   A focused implementation of goals to eliminate all forms of poverty would help eliminate inequalities between countries.

Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that the world was faced with several challenges that impeded economic, social and cultural rights.  The Arab Group underlined the importance of preserving the delicate balance between civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights, while promoting human rights.  They highlighted the desire of the Arab Group regarding the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals for the prosperity of their States.  Every State had the right to full sovereignty over their natural resources and wealth, and their economic activities, to be exercised in freedom and dignity. 

China, speaking on behalf of a cross-regional group of countries, said that global poverty eradication remained a tough and long battle and eliminating poverty was important for promoting and protecting human rights.  States should be free to choose their own paths to poverty eradication and sustainable development in accordance with their national circumstances.  Putting people first would ensure an equal participation in development.  Strengthening international cooperation would be key in achieving the eradication of all forms of poverty.

Venezuela, speaking on behalf the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated that the elaboration of a legal instrument was essential and urgent to ensure the realization of the right to development.  The Non-Aligned Movement was disturbed by the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the rights to life, to health, and to an adequate standard of living, and was alarmed by the human rights effects of indiscriminate sanctions on civilians.

Togo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted that there could be no human rights without the right to development.  The world was facing numerous economic and financial crises as well as climate change and the Declaration on the Right to Development, which set out basic principles, had to be upheld.  All means for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda were essential and the international community had a duty to cooperate to remove obstacles for development.

Mexico, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, noted that in 2015, the Council had adopted the first resolution on the world drug problem, and in 2016 the General Assembly had confirmed human rights as one of the seven pillars to address the world drug problem.  It was welcomed that the High Commissioner had stated that drug issues everywhere had to be tackled through a focus on health, education and opportunities.

Germany, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that the right to privacy was a fundamental human right, as repeatedly affirmed by the Council and the General Assembly.  In the digital age, extending digital footprints, growing analytical power of data-driven technology, and the use and misuse of data for economic and political purposes, rendered privacy an essential topic.  States had a duty to protect the right of privacy of their citizens.

Ukraine, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that preventive measures were gaining importance as an effective tool of averting threats in the human rights sphere.  The efforts of the Secretary-General to safeguard human rights were welcomed.  To make prevention a workable tool on the national level and worldwide, concerted efforts by governments, national human rights institutions and civil society were needed.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, stressed the importance of reducing child mortality.  A cross-regional core group had taken the lead on the initiative on preventable mortality and morbidity of children under five years of age as a human rights concern.  They called upon States to continue to take and intensify action at all levels to address the interlinked root causes of preventable mortality and morbidity of children under five. 

Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the death penalty was a serious violation of human rights and human dignity, which the European Union unequivocally opposed at all times and under all circumstances.  They were also concerned about increasing violence, threats and intimidation against journalists.  Finally, they said youth empowerment was critical to not leaving anyone behind and to ensure lasting peace.

Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said they had been closely following the drafting process that had led to the present outcome of the adoption of resolution 33/22.  They added their appreciation of the transparency of the process.  They concluded by stating that the right to participate in public affairs was a human right that enabled the enjoyment of a number of other rights and it was critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Portugal, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that there was still a major stigma attached to mental health conditions.  Persons with mental health conditions were often victims of avoidable suffering, discrimination, violence, abuse, torture and degrading treatment.  The Group was proud that under their initiative, the Human Rights Council had decided to urge States to implement a human rights perspective with regard to mental health.

Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, acknowledged that children with disabilities remained one of the most excluded groups in almost all societies.  There were an estimated 93 million children that lived with disability and many were excluded from education.  Almost 50 per cent of those children were out of schools and 85 per cent had never received any education.  Social policies that enabled children with disabilities to have access to inclusive education of quality should be enhanced.

El Salvador, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, drew attention to the situation of migrant children in some countries of destination, namely to the separation of children from their parents.  It expressed deepest concern about the psychological and social consequences of such separation.  It rejected any policies that discriminated against migrants, particularly when they were vulnerable groups, and it called for the immediate reunification of children migrants with their parents.  The best interest of the child had to prevail in every situation, regardless of individuals’ migrant status.    

Kuwait, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, emphasized that dialogue and respect among countries would remove all obstacles to the promotion and protection of human rights.  It welcomed the outcome of the panel discussion on the rights of the family and the rights of older persons.  The Council highlighted the importance of giving due attention to all human rights, especially to economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, on an equal footing. 

Cabo Verde, speaking on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, welcomed the application of a gender perspective to the analysis of demographic dividend, gender-based violence, indicators, diversity and interesting forms of discrimination, and accountability.  The expert meeting had provided an opportunity for an in-depth discussion on the interrelated and mutually reinforcing character of human rights by all women and girls, and the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Egypt, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, warned about fraudulent practices that had led to the generation of billions worth of funds of illicit origin which had been transferred from developing countries.  They said these flows had deprived developing countries of resources needed to support their efforts to realize human rights.  The repatriation of these funds required close and transparent coordination between requesting and requested States for prompt recovery.

Pakistan said that the right to self-determination, enshrined in the United Nations Charter, galvanized the drive of decolonization and inspired newly independent States to adopt policies of national choice.  The people of Jammu and Kashmir still had to exercise this right, promised not only by the first Indian Prime Minister but also by the United Nations and a dozen Security Council resolutions on Kashmir.

Togo recognized the essential role that the Office of the High Commissioner could play in realizing the right to development, on the local, national and international levels.  A prerequisite for the right to development was the right to sovereignty over national resources.  As for international financial institutions, the recommendation to carry out assessments on results of economic reforms and structural adjustment programmes was supported. 

Saudi Arabia said it had supported the Millennium Development Goals and now supported the Sustainable Development Goals.  Saudi Arabia was investing efforts to promote human rights, including the right to development.  The 2030 Programme was introduced in Saudi Arabia to assist public authorities to diversify the economy, improve employment, and encourage saving.  In that regard, partnerships with the private sector were encouraged.

Tunisia said that concerning the role of women, it was essential to recall their contributions, which guaranteed a healthy development in society.  Speaking about youth, they needed to have opportunities to exercise their rights without fear of poverty, radicalism or falling prey to terrorist groups.  Efforts also needed to be continued to find peaceful political solutions to current global crises and international cooperation should continue.

Cuba regretted that some developed countries denied or minimised the importance of the right to development, which in turn hampered the fulfilment of the mandate of the Working Group on the right to development and prevented the adoption of a binding document.  They also asked what was happening with the implementation of measures for the Sustainable Development Goals, and without them in place, how many people would be left behind?

Venezuela said that an equitable democratic order could only be respected if States were able to independently act; this right of sovereignty was a principle part of Venezuela’s values.  The imposition of unilateral coercive measures hampered the right to development and the self-determination of peoples.  Venezuela called on the Council to reject those acts against any State and recognize their impact on human rights. 

Concluding Remarks by the President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council

INGA RHONDA KING, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, reiterated her sincere gratitude for being able to address the Council.   Much had been said about breaking the silence in the United Nations system, and today was part of it, in response to resolution 37/25.  Key messages from the discussion would be taken back to New York.  Mainstreaming of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development within the human rights agenda was a key message.  It was evident that everyone agreed on the indivisibility of human rights and that the global community could not choose which human rights could be advanced.


For use of the information media; not an official record 

HRC18/131E