18 June 2018
The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard the presentation of reports by Obiora Chinedu Okafor, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, and by Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education.
Mr. Okafor stated that since its establishment in 2005, the mandate had promoted human rights and international solidarity around the world, contributed to global dialogue around international cooperation and solidarity, conducted country visits, and contributed to preparing, discussing and submitting of the draft declaration on the right to international solidarity. One of the thematic priorities was the intersection of international solidarity with the current migration challenge, including refugee and asylum seeker flows. He spoke about his predecessor’s mission to Cuba.
Introducing her thematic report on governance and the right to education, Ms. Barry noted with concern that more than one billion persons were not enjoying their right to education and urged States to ensure that political commitments made in the contexts of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the Incheon Declaration were clearly translated into national educational laws and policies. The four “A”s – availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability – were a lens through which the state of educational reforms could be measured. She spoke about her visit to Côte d’Ivoire.
Russia spoke in right of reply.
The Council will meet again on Tuesday, 19 June at 9 a.m. to hold a general debate on the oral update by High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, presented this morning. It will then hear from concerned countries and hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education. In the afternoon, it will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
The Council has before it the Report of the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity (A/HRC/38/40).
The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity – mission to Cuba (A/HRC/38/40/Add.1).
The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education (A/HRC/38/32).
The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education – mission to Côte d’Ivoire (A/HRC/38/32/Add.1).
Presentation of Reports by the Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education
OBIORA CHINEDU OKAFOR, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, presented his first thematic report, summarizing the work undertaken by predecessor, setting out objectives, a work plan and activities, and discussing priorities. A report relating to his predecessor’s visit to Cuba was also presented.
Since its establishment in 2005, the mandate had promoted human rights and international solidarity around the world, contributed to the global dialogue around international cooperation and solidarity, and conducted country visits to Brazil, Morocco, Norway and Cuba. The mandate had largely contributed to the preparing, discussing and submitting of the draft declaration on the right to international solidarity. One of the thematic priorities was the intersection of international solidarity with the current human migration challenge. The ongoing discussions and negotiations around the Global Compact on Migration taking place throughout 2018 would be closely followed and presented in the report for the General Assembly meeting later in 2018. The treatment of refugees and asylum seekers was also a thematic priority. Challenges presented by climate change and its consequences for humanity and the environment were an issue requiring collective action, and that would be closely studied.
Cities and local governments could play an important role in the conceptualization and practice of human rights-based international solidarity, as they tended to be closer to their constitutions and were mandated to deliver services essential for the realization of socio-economic rights. Dangers and challenges of populism and their implications for the enjoyment of human rights had to be addressed. Reporting on the role of cities in promoting human rights-based international solidarity in regard to a number of important issues, such as climate change, migration and refugee flows, would be carried out.
During the visit to Cuba that his predecessor, Ms. Virginia Dandan, had undertaken, three elements of international solidarity reflected in the draft declaration had been used – preventive solidarity, reactive solidarity and international cooperation. In Cuba, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was used as a road map guiding national efforts to eradicate poverty. Cuba was involved in the area of reactive solidarity through its responsiveness to health crises resulting from epidemics and disasters worldwide. The Government was encouraged to strengthen its efforts to protect all human rights and freedoms and to implement the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review. Authorities were told to invite other mandate holders to make visits to the country and to establish a Cuban national human rights institution compliant with the Paris Principles.
Presentation of Reports by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education
KOUMBOU BOLY BARRY, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, introduced her thematic report which focused on governance and the right to education, which aimed to show States how the right to education must be at the basis of all the laws, policies, institutions, administrative practices, follow-up mechanisms, and the work of the judiciary in connection with education. Those represented the structures and mechanisms of “governance” which guided the provision of education, and a recourse to the learners to realize their rights. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, more than one billion human beings were not enjoying their right to education, stressed the Special Rapporteur, and urged States to ensure that their important political commitments in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the Incheon Declaration, clearly translated into the development and implementation of laws and national educational policies.
The four “A”s – availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability – were a practical norm which allowed to measure the state of educational reforms and practices, and which represented a lens through which rights-based laws, policies and programmes must be examined. An approach based on law and rights must start by including the voices of rights holders at all levels of governance, said Ms. Barry, and urged the creation of mechanisms to ensure participation, especially of women, youth and vulnerable groups, whose exclusion from governance contributed to their marginalization. In a similar vein, the importance of transparency and communication of information on decision making processes to the general public must not be underestimated. Great efforts to reform laws and policies would have no value whatsoever if they remained hidden in ministries of education or educational authorities. The power of the Internet and mobile phones must be harnessed to provide communities, students and their parents with up-to-date information, including annual financial and budget information, presence of schoolteachers, and school results.
Turning to the report on her visit to Côte d’Ivoire, the Special Rapporteur stressed her proposal to strengthen the teaching profession, improve the image and quality of technical and professional education, and finance preschool and literacy programmes. Despite all the challenges, Côte d’Ivoire had made important progress: it had amended the law in 2016 and introduced compulsory education from the age of six to 16, and it had allocated more than 20 per cent of its budget to the education sector, in an excellent example to the West African region and to Africa as a whole.
Right of Reply
Russia, speaking in a right of reply, said that the Ukrainian delegation had tried to take the Council’s attention away from the topic at hand and was urged to stop such practices. Citizens of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol had made an informed choice as a part of a democratic referendum. Ukraine had to focus on its own problems, including restrictions placed over the right to peaceful assembly. Over the last few years, the functioning of opposition parties had been suppressed, as well as protest movements. The State apparatus and ultra-right terrorist groups were used for such purposes. Most of such incidents were noted by the missions carried out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
For use of the information media; not an official record