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Human Rights Council Advisory Committee discusses International Cooperation, International Solidarity and Right to Peace

Human Rights Council Advisory Committee
AFTERNOON

19 January 2011

The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee this afternoon continued its consideration of requests to the Committee by the Human Rights Council by taking up the issues of the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, international solidarity and by continuing its discussion on the right of peoples to peace which it had started yesterday morning.

Emmanuel Decaux, Advisory Committee Expert and member of the drafting group on international cooperation in the field of human rights, presenting the document, said the mandate of the Council was very broad and needed to be further defined. The drafting group had met yesterday with the authors of the Human Rights Council resolution who explained the context of the resolution. Turning to the next steps to be undertaken, he pointed out that they should seek information from those international institutions with experience in bilateral and multilateral cooperation. They should also further look at the concept of cooperation itself, what it implied and what obligations arose from it. Cooperation was something that occurred in the context of development. Partners in cooperation should act on an equal footing; it should not be one partner lecturing another partner. Partnership should be based on responsibility and respect.

Dheerujlall Seetulsingh, Advisory Committee Expert and member of the drafting group on international cooperation in the field of human rights, adding some comments, said that the question of cooperation had to be seen in a wider frame and not only through international conferences and workshops. A questionnaire would have to be developed to seek information on the subject from Member States and other organizations.

Shiqiu Chen, Advisory Committee Expert and member of the drafting group on international solidarity, updating the Advisory Committee on the status of the work aimed at preparing inputs to contribute towards the elaboration of a declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity and to the further development of guidelines, standards, norms and principles with a view to promoting and protecting this right, said that he had carried out some preparatory work. Up until today he had been the only member of the drafting group. Turning to the issue at hand itself, Mr. Chen said that there was currently an Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity. The relevant Council resolution requested the Advisory Committee to work in close cooperation with the Independent Expert. The drafting group would carry out some work in the inter-sessional period and they would try their best to come up with a paper at the next session.

Speaking this afternoon in the discussion on international cooperation were the Philippines, Algeria, Cuba, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, and the Conseil National Egyptien des Droits de l’Homme.

Speaking in the discussion on international solidarity was Cuba.

Speaking in the discussion on the right to peace were Germany, the Institute for Planetary Synthesis and the International Society for Human Rights.

The next meeting of the Advisory Committee will be on Thursday, 20 January at 10 a.m. when the Committee is scheduled to continue discussing the right to peace and to take up other items on its agenda.

Enhancement of International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights

Documentation

The work prepared by Emmanuel Decaux, Rapporteur of the drafting group, entitled Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights (A/HRC/6/CRP.4) is only available in French.

Presentation

EMMANUEL DECAUX, Advisory Committee Expert and member of the drafting group on international cooperation in the field of human rights, presenting the document, said that the Council had requested the Committee to study ways of strengthening cooperation in the field of human rights and to submit proposals. The mandate of the Council was a very broad and needed to be further defined.

Mr. Decaux indicated that the drafting group had met yesterday with the authors of the Human Rights Council resolution, which had been presented by Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, who explained the context of the resolution. During the adoption there had been a consensus, but the European Union had indicated that they had certain misgivings with the resolution but had not wanted to break the consensus.

Turning to the next steps to be undertaken, Mr. Decaux pointed out that they should seek information from those international institutions with experience in bilateral and multilateral cooperation. They should also further look at the concept of cooperation itself, what it implied and what obligations arose from it. It was now time to conduct consultations; the drafting group would need time in order not to be too hasty. Ideally what would be helpful would be to organize a workshop dedicated to this matter, or to add a two or three day long thematic session on this subject to a regular session of the Advisory Committee.

Mr. Decaux pointed out that cooperation was something that occurred in the context of development. Some instruments referred specifically to cooperation, such as the United Nations Charter. Partners in cooperation should act on an equal footing; it should not be one partner lecturing another partner. Partnership should be based on responsibility and respect. There was no master or servant. The second tenant was to working together, to have a programme and a method. Further, cooperation should be assessed to check it was effective; thus it needed benchmarks.

DHEERUJLALL SEETULSINGH, Advisory Committee Expert and member of the drafting group on international cooperation in the field of human rights, adding some comments, said that the question of cooperation had to be seen in a wider frame and not only through international conferences and workshops. A questionnaire would have to be developed to seek information on the subject from Member States and other organizations.

Discussion

Several Advisory Committee Experts then took the floor to discuss the paper. One Expert wondered if it would be possible to receive a written transcript of Mr. Decaux’s presentation, summarizing the main points of his presentation. Another Expert said that he was not quite sure that he correctly understood the mandate and its purpose; whether they were moving towards guidelines in terms of legal obligations for States or something else.

Observer States then took the floor to commend the work of Mr. Decaux. They agreed with the fact that the topic was very broad and that it would be better to focus the mandate more narrowly. Pertaining to the form of international cooperation, it would be very interesting to know from the Advisory Committee what it thought about the role the Human Rights Council with regard to international cooperation. They also agreed that it was important to take a practical look at the issue, specifically looking at the existing barriers for international cooperation. The issue was of great importance to the theme of human rights. The issue of a dialogue between cultures and civilizations could also be taken onboard.

Non-governmental organizations also took the floor and said that the cooperation of actors across borders was vital to human rights promotion and protection, and it was even more necessary in this globalized world. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly stated that there was a right to a social and international order in which rights could be enjoyed. One very important aspect of cooperation was financial assistance, grants, aid or loans. But money was not the only form of international cooperation. Non-monetary cooperation included transfer of technology and techniques. There was however a possible redundancy between the Committee’s mandate and the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity. The Committee should also look into the question of cooperation in the area of human rights and the legal, penal and criminal aspects of it.

EMMANUEL DECAUX, Advisory Committee Expert and member of the drafting group on international cooperation in the field of human rights, concluding the discussion, said that his document had had the aim of opening up the debate, rather than setting clear priorities at this point. A collective discussion must arise and they should have a concrete thematic approach to the issue. They should now concentrate on the work-plan of the drafting group. They could look at cooperation within the United Nations system but also at non-United Nations bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Within the United Nations, Mr. Decaux saw several topics of work. One of them was the universal application of international instruments and the commitment towards universal ratification. Cooperation could be used to see what obstacles existed against universal ratification and the lifting of reservations. They could also look at the role of the United Nations in the field and whether it respected human rights in its field operations. The strengthening of the participation of non-governmental organizations was a further topic.

International Solidarity

Presentation

SHIQIU CHEN, Advisory Committee Expert and member of the drafting group on international solidarity, updating the Advisory Committee on the status of the work aimed at preparing inputs to contribute towards the elaboration of a declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity and to the further development of guidelines, standards, norms and principles with a view to promoting and protecting this right, said that he had carried out some preparatory work. Until now he had been the only member of the drafting group. He had invited some of his colleagues to participate in the group. While some had expressed interest to participate, everyone had already been busy until now, working in the other drafting groups. The drafting group had now met for the first time this morning for a very short time.

Turning to the issue at hand itself, Mr. Chen said that there was currently an Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity. In an initial plan, the drafting group planned to meet directly with the Independent Expert. The relevant Council resolution also requested the Advisory Committee to work in close cooperation with the Independent Expert. The work of the Advisory Committee was to prepare inputs to contribute to the draft declaration. Their task was thus not to draft the declaration itself. The Committee should submit its views to the Independent Expert, who would then carry on the work. The drafting group would carry out some work in the inter-sessional period and they would try their best to come up with a paper at the next session.

On international solidarity, Mr. Chen said that there was an argument that this issue was rather political in nature. International solidarity did not confine itself to relief or charity but it should include sustainability and the equal sharing of benefits and burdens. What the Committee needed to do was to work on a paper that was as precise as possible and was in line with the requirements.

Discussion

In the ensuing discussion, Advisory Committee Experts said that they would have to clarify the possible connections between the study on international cooperation in human rights and international solidarity, as obviously there were some overlaps between the two mandates. There were also some substantial issues linked to the framework of the mandate. International solidarity could be seen as a part of international law, but it was arguable to say that it was part of human rights. Individual and measurable commitments of States should be developed. International solidarity had a political background.

Observer States then took the floor and said that there were important questions and dilemmas to tackle, in terms of the legal aspect of international solidarity. It was however important to understand that human rights were not static and did evolve. The current study could help to bring forward the codification of international solidarity. They agreed that the topic was complicated.

SHIQIU CHEN, Advisory Committee Expert and member of the drafting group on international solidarity, concluding the discussion, thanked all speakers for their support. He emphasized again that their task was not to prepare a declaration. They would avoid concepts that were not acceptable to everybody. They could do a highly critical work through non-political means. The work on international solidarity would not cause any harm or damage to any party. The concept of human rights, like other sciences, had tremendously evolved over the past years.

Right of Peoples to Peace

Discussion

Resuming the discussion on the right of peoples to peace, Observer States said that this issue was an important step the Advisory Committee was undertaking. The topic had been quite controversial concerning the legal and political ground on which to base a declaration on the right to peace. It was undoubted that there was a political commitment of States to peace. However, the study presented by the drafting group said that there was an unequivocal recognition of the right to peace in numerous United Nations resolutions. If it really was so, what would be the added value of a declaration? European Union countries were reluctant towards the concept of collective rights.

Non-governmental organizations took the floor and said that the Advisory Committee should also take into account the aspects of the Santiago Declaration, especially the human right to peace in its double dimension: individual and collective. The right to peace had individual and collective manifestations and it would be useful to further explore the individual right components in the Committee’s deliberations. It was also noted that none of the Special Tribunals that had been created after Nuremberg had had the jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. No international tribunal had prosecuted any of the many aggressors since 1945 for committing the crime against peace.

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For use of the information media; not an official record