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COUNCIL BEGINS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON HUMAN RIGHTS OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS, AND ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND EXTREME POVERTY

7 June 2017

The Human Rights Council this afternoon began its clustered interactive dialogue with Cecilia Jimenez-Dimary, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, and with Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

Presenting her first report to the Council, Ms. Jimenez-Dimary noted that in recent years, the picture of internal displacement and the plight of internally displaced persons globally offered little positive news.  The numbers of internally displaced persons rose relentlessly to record levels, putting new pressure on an already overstretched international humanitarian system.  And yet internally displaced persons were frequently the last and the least in terms of attention to their plight, nationally and internationally.  Accordingly, one of the key priorities for the mandate would be to promote greater visibility and effective protection for all internally displaced persons.  Ms. Jimenez-Dimary explained that her mandate would strive to ensure the inclusion and participation of internally displaced persons in all decisions affecting them.  It would also focus on access to justice for internally displaced persons and redress and reparations for the human rights violations they suffered.  The Special Rapporteur would engage in dialogue with Governments undergoing transitional justice and peace processes to promote the inclusion of internally displaced persons and to learn about their experiences, challenges and practices in that regard. 

In his presentation, Mr. Alston stated that his mandate was a cross-cutting one, adding that prescriptions for eliminating extreme poverty inevitably had to engage with broader matters of economic and social policy.  A growing sense of economic insecurity afflicted large segments of many societies, with forms of employment becoming ever more precarious.  Nevertheless, the human rights community had barely engaged with the resulting phenomenon of deep economic insecurity, and the Human Rights Council rarely addressed the key human rights of an adequate standard of living, work and social security.  A vibrant debate centred around replacing or supplementing existing social protection systems with a universal basic income.  Payments would be regular and would be paid as a flat rate to all in cash.  His report examined the advantages and disadvantages of such a proposal in terms of its potential impact on poverty and situated the idea in relation to international human rights law. 

Speaking in a right of reply were Maldives, Paraguay, Azerbaijan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Turkey, Ethiopia, Philippines, Pakistan, Brazil, Armenia, Russian Federation, Japan, Republic of Korea and India.  They spoke in response to statements made in the general debate on the High Commissioner’s oral update that was held this morning.

The Council will next meet on Thursday, 8 June, at 9 a.m. to hold a panel discussion on enhancing capacity building in public health.  At noon, it will continue its clustered interactive dialogue on the human rights of internally displaced persons, and on extreme poverty and human rights, followed by a clustered dialogue with the Working Group on transnational corporations and human rights, and with the Special Rapporteur on migrants, to be followed, time permitting, by an interactive dialogue with the Working Group on discrimination against women.  

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (A/HRC/35/27).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons - mission to Nigeria (A/HRC/35/27/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons - mission to Georgia (A/HRC/35/27/Add.2).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons - mission to Afghanistan (A/HRC/35/27/Add.3).

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (A/HRC/35/26).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - mission to Mauritania (A/HRC/35/26/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - mission to China (A/HRC/35/26/Add.2).

The Council has before it a corrigendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (A/HRC/35/26/Add.2/Corr.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - mission to Saudi Arabia (A/HRC/35/26/Add.3)

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - comments by Mauritania (A/HRC/35/26/Add.4).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - comments by Saudi Arabia (A/HRC/35/26/Add.5).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - comments by China (A/HRC/35/26/Add.6).

Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights

Presentation of Reports

CECILIA JIMENEZ-DAMARY, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, presenting her first report to the Human Rights Council, said that in recent years, the picture of internal displacement and the plight of internally displaced persons globally offered little positive news.  The numbers of internally displaced persons had risen relentlessly to record levels, putting new pressure on an already overstretched international humanitarian system, while the protracted nature of some conflicts all too often resulted in protracted humanitarian responses that failed to progress to recovery phase and towards durable solutions for internally displaced persons.  And yet, internally displaced persons were frequently the last and the least in terms of attention to their plight, nationally and internationally, and that was why one of the key priorities for the mandate would be to promote greater visibility and effective protection for all internally displaced persons, including those invisible and neglected, the most vulnerable and those facing the greatest challenges resulting from their displacement. 

Sharing her vision for the mandate for the next three years, the Special Rapporteur highlighted promoting durable solutions which remained elusive for many internally displaced persons still living in protracted displacement.  Durable solutions must remain high on the agenda and to this end, the mandate would continue to work with the joint internally displaced persons profiling service and other partners to develop tools for shared, comprehensive and practical approaches to durable solution analysis in displacement situations.  In addition, Ms. Jimenez-Damary said she would carry forward the work to promote the development and implementation of legal and policy frameworks that were key to addressing internal displacement at all levels and would advocate for the standards to be translated into domestic law and policy. 

In terms of the core thematic priorities, the mandate would strive to ensure that the inclusion and participation of internally displaced persons in all decisions affecting them were at the heart of responses to internal displacement by national, international, humanitarian and development actors.  Secondly, the mandate would focus on access to justice for internally displaced persons and redress and reparations for the human rights violations they had suffered.  The Special Rapporteur would engage in dialogue with Governments undergoing transitional justice and peace processes to promote the inclusion of internally displaced persons and to learn about their experiences, challenges and practices in this regard.  Children made up the majority of those displaced by conflict and frequently bore the brunt of the suffering; yet, their situation and lack of protection remained a considerable concern worldwide.  During her term, Ms. Jimenez-Damary said she would bring further focus to the needs and protection issues facing internally displaced children, with a view to bringing renewed attention to their plight and in order to seek innovative approaches, concrete actions, and new commitments to their protection in displacement-affected countries. 

Turning to country visits conducted by the previous mandate holder, the Special Rapporteur said that the reports on the visits to Nigeria, Georgia and Afghanistan were included as addenda to the annual report, which also contained the summaries of the working visits to Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Ukraine and Serbia and Kosovo.  In conclusion, the Special Rapporteur said that 2018 would mark the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and invited States to reflect on their experiences, national activities and commitments, including the steps to incorporate the Guiding Principles into national law and policy for the protection of the human rights of internally displaced persons.

PHILIP ALSTON, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, presented a thematic report on the subject of “universal basic income” and reports on missions he had undertaken to Mauritania, China and Saudi Arabia.  Noting that his mandate was a cross-cutting one, he said prescriptions for eliminating extreme poverty inevitably must engage with broader matters of economic and social policy.  A growing sense of economic insecurity afflicted large segments of many societies, with forms of employment becoming ever more precarious.  But the human rights community had barely engaged with the resulting phenomenon of deep economic insecurity, and the Council rarely addressed the key human rights of an adequate standard of living, work, and social security.  A vibrant debate centred around replacing or supplementing existing social protection systems with a universal basic income.  Payments would be regular and would be paid as a flat rate to all in cash.  His report examined the pros and cons of such a proposal in terms of its potential impact on poverty and situated the idea in relation to international human rights law.

Turning to his mission to Mauritania, he noted that the country in many respects was a wealthy country, yet almost three quarters of the population was living in or near multidimensional poverty.  The total absence of pre- and postnatal care gave Mauritania one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates.  There was a systematic absence from almost all positions of real power and a continuing exclusion from many aspects of economic and social life of Haratines (Black Moors) and Afro-Mauritanians.  The Government had expressed its strong disagreement with that assessment.  Noting that that was its prerogative, he said he would welcome any statistics or studies that could shed light on the reality of the situation.  The debate could not proceed, however, solely on the basis of denial and the recitation of some isolated data points taken out of context.

Regarding his report on China, he said it was primarily devoted to recognizing the country’s extraordinary achievement in lifting as many as 700 million people out of rural poverty in the course of the past 30 years.  Looking at challenges ahead, he noted that inequality was high and rising, and urban poverty, especially among migrant workers, was not adequately addressed because of the political complexities of the “hukou” system.  Also, the situation of women living in poverty was neglected, and compensation for expropriation of rural land was wholly inadequate.  Turning to other issues which needed to be addressed, he said there was a misunderstanding between the Government and the Special Rapporteur as to the terms on which Special Procedures missions took place.  It was important that the same rules applied to China as to all other countries.  Mr. Alston made a special plea to the Chinese Government to release human rights lawyer Jian Tianyong, with whom he had met in Beijing.

As for his visit to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Alston said the implications for human rights of that country’s development programme Vision 2030 were numerous.  The Government had cooperated fully with his mission, he said, yet identified some concerns.  Those included that there was insufficient recognition of the fact that poverty actually existed in the country.  Women and non-Saudi citizens were all but ignored in discussions of living standards and the need for official assistance.  Public support and participation were not easy to achieve in a country with no political parties or elections, and significant restrictions on free speech.  The most positive development was the rise of social media as a forum for less constrained public debate, with one third of the Saudi population being active social media users.  The Government needed to accept increased political participation by the Saudi public as a matter of human rights as well as good policy. 

Right of Reply

Maldives, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement by the United Kingdom, acknowledged the voiced concerns.  However, the joint statement was unwarranted and did not reflect correctly the situation in the country.  Maldives was a small country with limited resources.  It expressed concern about the rising number of hate crimes, noting that it had begun comprehensive investigation of such crimes.  Human rights violations should be a concern of the Human Rights Council, but the Maldives asked to be measured by the same benchmark as big countries.

Paraguay, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement by Venezuela, said it was not responding to the interests of third parties.  Its position on Venezuela was in line with a genuine concern for the situation of human rights in that country, and the lack of cooperation of Venezuela with international human rights bodies.  Paraguay expressed hope that everyone in Venezuela would enjoy their fundamental rights and that the humanitarian situation would be soon resolved.

Azerbaijan, speaking in a right of reply, responded to the statements made by the United States and Germany, noting that both delegations should focus on the oral update of the High Commissioner rather than politicize and express one-sided allegations.  United States colleagues were well aware from their recent experience that the judiciary could not be influenced.  Azerbaijan called on the United States to cooperate with United Nations human rights mechanisms, and on Germany to counter hate speech. 

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, categorically rejected the provocative remarks made by Japan and the Republic of Korea.  Their stereotyped accusations were absurd and had no relevance to human rights.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not accept any Council outcomes or mandates that were imposed.  It urged those accusing countries to stop using human rights for political ends and to focus on their own country situations.  It urged the Republic of Korea to release prisoners from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Japan to stop abusing the abduction question and to address its past crimes against humanity. 

Turkey, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the references made by the delegation of Armenia to the situation in south-east Turkey, which was yet another attempt to politicize this situation and divide the Council.

Ethiopia, speaking in a right of reply, said that Ethiopia welcomed constructive remarks aimed at improving human rights situations through dialogue.  As a sovereign State, Ethiopia was responsible for its domestic affairs.  The country continued to suffer the mantra of human rights violations, regardless of the significant progress made in the area of the human rights of the population, including the right to development.  Switzerland should stop ignoring the improvements in the country and be objective and impartial in the assessment of the human rights situation.

Philippines, speaking in a right of reply, firmly rejected accusations of its refusal to cooperate with human rights bodies and mechanisms.  Over the past five years, it had received visits of three Special Procedures and just last month it had been reviewed by the Universal Periodic Review.  It was regrettable that the statements put forward by the Philippines to counter sensational media reports had been ignored.  The campaign against illegal drugs was founded on the respect of the right to life and aimed at protecting the vulnerable, particularly women and girls.  The Philippines rejected the allusion that the environment in the country was not free and conducive to the work of civil society.

Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, said that India continued to flout its international human rights obligations by unleashing a reign of terror in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir and by accusing Pakistan of gross human rights violations.  The latest wave of resistance was a response to the decades of oppression by India.  India calling Kashmir its integral part was yet another twisting of the facts, and Pakistan asked if that was the case, why India needed 2.7 million armed soldiers in this region.

Brazil, speaking in a right of reply, said its democracy benefited from a free press, an independent judiciary, and a vibrant civil society.  Brazil recognized that the country had challenges, but the rule of law remained fully in force.  The Brazilian Government valued the rights of freedom of expression and of assembly, and regretted the acts of violence during demonstrations in May 2016 which had necessitated the intervention of security forces.  According to Brazil’s constitution, public safety was the responsibility of the State.

Armenia, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement by Azerbaijan, said that Armenia had excellent cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner and it believed that human rights were universal.  The High Commissioner had repeated his wish that his Office’s mission accede to Nagorno-Karabakh.  It was hoped that Azerbaijan would not obstruct an investigation.  The Government of Azerbaijan had been criticized by numerous organs for the situation of its human rights.  Azerbaijan had been strengthening hate speech against Armenia, and had imposed the closing of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development office in Yerevan.

Russian Federation, speaking in a right of reply, said that the Ukrainian delegation had taken the floor on the subject of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol in another attempt at drawing the attention of the international community away from the human rights situation in Ukraine itself.  The Russian Federation recalled that the Ukrainian language along with the Crimean Tatar language was a language throughout the region in question. 

Japan, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said that their assertions were based on erroneous understandings of facts.  The abduction issue provided cause for serious concern, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was urged to accept the recommendation that all abductees and their descendants should be returned to their countries of origin.  The Democratic People's Republic of Korea should listen sincerely to the calls of the international community, including by accepting visits by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, noted that it was an undeniable fact that workers had escaped from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea out of their own will.  They nowadays lived in freedom they had not known before.  Numerous people sought to escape “North Korea” seeking fundamental freedoms.  The Republic of Korea called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to change its policies and improve its citizens’ human rights.  The new Government of the Republic of Korea would work to improve the rights of the citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea together with the international community.

India, speaking in a right of reply, stressed that Pakistan used terrorism as a State policy, systematically violating the rights of its own citizens.  It continued to provide sanctuary to United Nations designated terrorists.  Jammu and Kashmir were an integral part of India, and India’s robust constitutional framework protected the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.  In contrast, Pakistan’s discriminatory policies completely disregarded human rights. 

Azerbaijan, speaking in a second right of reply, clarified that it was not Azerbaijan which was blaming Armenia for its failure to protect human rights, but the High Commissioner for Human Rights who underlined the lack of access of his Office to Armenia.  Armenia was the last country to preach to Azerbaijan, considering that one million internally displaced persons and refugees were the result of Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, rejected the misleading allegations and evasive attitude of Japan and “South Korea.”  The resolutions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were full of false information.  “South Korea” should settle the issue of abductees immediately and was urged to allow unhindered access to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and to victims of the affected families.  Japan’s crimes against humanity were historical facts and Japan should stop its evasive attitude in that respect. 

Pakistan, speaking in a second right of reply, said that India’s baseless allegations were in line with their policy of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.  India was completely blind to the human rights violations and inhumane realities that innocent Kashmiris had been forced to suffer under the Indian occupation for seven decades.  The recent crisis in the Indian-occupied Kashmir had been sparked by the brutal murder of a youth whose funeral had been attended by 200,000 persons despite the restrictive laws in place.  Pakistan believed in friendship and neighbourly relations but could not accept the atrocities in Kashmir and Indian provocations on the line of separation.

Armenia, speaking in a second right of reply, said that the Council had had enough of hearing the baseless and xenophobic allegations of Azerbaijan and urged this country to direct its energies to a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh.  It would also serve Azerbaijan better if it prepared its population for peace and not war, removed hate speech against Armenians in public discourse and education, and showed greater efforts at cooperation.

Japan, speaking in a second right of reply, said that its position on the issues of the past was well known.  Regrettably, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had not responded with concrete action to the concerns repeatedly raised by Special Rapporteurs, the international community, civil society and this Council. 

India, speaking in a second right of reply, condemned Pakistan’s continued misuse of this Council and said that its continued support for the terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir was the main challenge.  Pakistan must live up to its public commitments to refrain from supporting terrorism directed against India.  Pakistan was channelling billions of dollars from international aid into arming and training terrorist groups.  India was not the only victim of Pakistan’s short-sighted approach to terrorism, and India urged the international community to shut down terrorist factories in Pakistan.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC17/077E