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Council holds interactive dialogue with Experts on the rights of migrants, the right to education and cultural rights

Human Rights Council
MIDDAY

31 May 2011

Hears address from Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain

This morning the Human Rights Council held a clustered interactive dialogue with Joy Ngozi Ezeilo on behalf of Jorge Bustamante, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Kishore Singh, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, and Farida Shaheed, the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights.  

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, who spoke on behalf of Jorge Bustamante, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said that the criminalization of irregular migration was dangerous not only for migrants, but also for the countries of transit and destination and it made migrants vulnerable to racist or xenophobic acts.  Children were part of the migration process and constituted a particularly vulnerable group that required a high level of protection, as they were at risk from organized crime and trafficking and exploitation networks.  Mr. Bustamante’s report emphasized the importance of protecting migrants’ rights to health and adequate housing and highlighted the likely impact of climate change on population movements; while the links between the environment and migration had largely been ignored they should be further investigated.  The Special Rapporteur emphasized the crucial importance of the involvement of citizens in democratic decision-making. 

Kishore Singh, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, noted that ensuring equality of opportunity in education was a continuing challenge that States faced and it was limited by marginalization and exclusion; progress in this area was fragile and uneven across regions and among population groups.  Mr. Singh pointed out that there were about 67 million children of primary school age who were out of school, while another 71 million adolescents, many of them girls, remained deprived of basic post-primary education.  Non-discrimination and equality of opportunity in education were clearly anchored in most of the core human rights treaties.  National legal frameworks must be strengthened and his report highlighted how equality of opportunity and equal access to education were guaranteed in the constitutions of several countries in various regions.   

Farida Shaheed, the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights, noted that in the context of human rights, cultural heritage entailed taking into consideration the multiple heritages through which individuals and communities expressed their humanity, gave meaning to their existence, and built their world views.  The report included several questions regarding who defined cultural heritage and its significance; which cultural heritage deserved protection; the extent to which individuals and communities participated in the interpretation, preservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage and had access to enjoy it; how to resolve conflicts and competing interests over cultural heritage; and what the possible limitations to a right to cultural heritage were.  The Independent Expert noted that international and regional instruments concerning the preservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage did not necessarily have a human rights approach. 

Japan, South Africa, Senegal, and Brazil spoke as concerned countries. 

In the interactive discussion, the following countries also spoke: Cuba, Mexico, Morocco, China, the European Union, Djibouti, Switzerland, Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Bolivia, Uganda, Austria, Australia, Ecuador, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Honduras, the United States, Palestine on behalf of the Arab Group, Uruguay, Brazil, France, Thailand, Paraguay, Algeria, Nepal, Portugal, the African Union, the Republic of Korea, Chile, Egypt, Iran and Iraq.            
 
During the interactive dialogue regarding the rights of migrants speakers welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s focus on the impact of climate change on migration as well as the protection of children in the context of migration as two important topics that deserved more attention.  The rights of migrants were routinely violated and many of them fell victim to international human trafficking rings and were often the victims of other crimes as well.  States needed to carry out awareness-raising campaigns around the issue of migration to develop societies that were respectful of the rule of law and the dignity of all human beings.  It was the responsibility of the State to take measures to prevent violations of the rights of migrants and the power of the State to control its borders had to be exercised with full respect for human rights and international obligations.  Policies that aimed to address solely security and border control issues had a seriously detrimental impact on the enjoyment of human rights. 

With regards to the right to education speakers recognised that education was an essential human right and a basis for the exercise of many other human rights.  Without education there would be no development and international cooperation was important in this regard.  Speakers also highlighted the need to remove or eliminate practices that hindered equal access to education for both girls and boys.  Fighting poverty was key to achieving easier access to education and States were interested in reading the Special Rapporteur’s findings on innovative forms of financing for education and the assessment of how a human rights normative framework could guide action.  Speakers supported the Special Rapporteur’s emphasis on inclusive education, particularly for the most vulnerable, and underlined that new and innovative financing was necessary for fulfilling the human right to education.  The promotion of equal opportunities in education was essential, particularly for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and was crucial in combating all forms of exclusion and discrimination.  
     
Concerning the field of cultural rights, speakers noted with appreciation the Independent Expert’s approach which took into consideration cultural heritage as a human right, closely connected to human dignity and identity.  The right to access and enjoy cultural heritage also contained the right of communities to preserve and develop it.  The question of cultural rights was not only an issue of access to cultural heritage, but also control over cultural heritage, and its protection against destruction.  The question was particularly important for people living under foreign occupation and speakers invited the Independent Expert to continue the exploration of the issue of cultural heritage in the context of her mandate. However, one delegation did say that it did not agree with the statement in the report that the consent of concerned communities was necessary before acting to safeguard cultural heritage.  While this seemed sensible as general principles or policies, there could be exceptions and were not necessarily obligations of human rights law.

In an address to the Council, Abdulla Abdullatif Abdulla, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, reaffirmed his country’s cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Mr. Abdulla said that over the past two months Bahrain had witnessed regrettable events termed peaceful demonstrations, in which a hospital had been hijacked and the safety of people endangered.  The Government was working to restore peace and security for all, and all the while having its human rights obligations in mind.  The use of minimum force by the police was unavoidable, but at the same time each and every person enjoyed their full constitutional rights.  The Government took all allegations of any human rights violations very seriously and had urged everyone to report them so that allegations could be properly examined. 

The next meeting of the Council will be at 3 p.m. this afternoon when it will continue its interactive dialogue on the human rights of migrants, the right to education and cultural rights.  The Council will then hold an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights and the Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty. 

Documentation

The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of Migrants, Jorge Bustamante, (A/HRC/17/33), is the final report submitted to the Human Rights Council by the outgoing Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Jorge Bustamante.  In the first, substantive part of the report he recapitulates some of the main thematic issues he has focused on since his nomination, namely irregular migration and criminalization of migrants, protection of children in the migration process and the right to housing and health of migrants.  In the second part, he proposes a few themes where he considers further research by the mandate could add value to the protection of the human rights of migrants.  The two themes he considers important for further research and discussion are migration in the context of climate change, and the political participation and civil rights of migrants.
 
Communications to and from Governments, (A/HRC/17/33/Add.1), contains, on a country-by-country basis, summaries of general and individual letters of allegations and urgent appeals transmitted to Governments between 1 April 2010 and 15 March 2011, as well as replies received between 11 May 2010 and 10 May 2011.  Observations made by the Special Rapporteur have also been included where applicable.

Mission to Senegal 17 to 24 August 2009, (A/HRC/17/33/Add.2), examines the protection accorded to migrants by the Government of Senegal in the light of international human rights standards.  Based on the information gathered prior to and during this visit, the Special Rapporteur presents major trends in the migration phenomenon in the country and key challenges in the protection of the human rights of migrants.  Where relevant, he also highlights a number of practices of cooperation among stakeholders for the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of the migration phenomenon in the country.  Finally, the Special Rapporteur offers a number of recommendations with a view to contributing to strengthening ongoing efforts to implement the human rights of migrants in Senegal and of Senegalese migrants abroad.
 
Mission to Japan 23 to 31 March 2010, (A/HRC/17/33/Add.3), notes that the integration of migrants in the society is not part of the country’s central Government policy, which essentially focuses on border control.  In this context, the Special Rapporteur makes a number of recommendations to the Government, including the need to address the persistence of racial discrimination and xenophobia and the lack of legislation that manifestly prohibits these conducts, the exploitation of migrants in the labour sector, the lack of interventions by the judiciary and police to protect migrants’ rights, the strict policy of detention and deportation of irregular migrants, the difficulties for migrant children to access education either in Japanese or foreign schools, and the overall lack of a comprehensive immigration policy that respects the human rights of migrants and ensures their integration into the Japanese society.
 
Mission to South Africa 21 January to 1 February 2011, (A/HRC/17/33/Add.4), notes that the integration of migrants into society is hampered by the absence of a comprehensive immigration policy and the lack of regional and multilateral agreements.  In this context, the Special Rapporteur makes a number of recommendations for the Government, including the need to develop thorough data and statistics based on the demand for the labour force, the arrest and detention of foreign nationals, access of migrants to social services, in particular health care, and the situation of unaccompanied foreign children, all in the context of the absence of a comprehensive immigration policy that respects the human rights of migrants and ensures their integration into South African society.

The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, (A/HRC/17/29), focuses on the promotion of equality of opportunity in education.  The report also provides an overview of additional concerns that the Special Rapporteur intends to study in the course of his mandate.  The report first details core human rights standards provisions which establish the obligation to promote equal opportunities in education. It subsequently describes different sources of inequalities and different types of initiatives to address them.  It concludes by formulating recommendations based on human rights standards.
Corrigendum, (A/HRC/17/29/Corr.1), 1. Paragraph 22 For International Convention read International Covenant 2. Paragraph 34 For articles 2.2 and 3 of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights read articles 2.2 and 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Communications to and from Governments, (A/HRC/17/29/Add.1), contains, on a country-by-country basis, summaries of joint and individual letters of allegations and urgent appeals transmitted to States between 1st March 2010 and 29 April 2011, including communication sent by the previous mandate holder until 31 July 2010, as well as replies received between 15 April 2010 and 29 April 2011.  Observations made by the Special Rapporteur have also been included where applicable.
             
Mission to Senegal 8 to 14 January 2010, (A/HRC/17/29/Add.2), is currently unavailable in English.

The Report of the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, (A/HRC/17/38), investigates the extent to which the right of access to and enjoyment of cultural heritage forms part of international human rights law. Stressing the need for a human rights-based approach to cultural heritage matters, the independent expert explores the concept of cultural heritage from the perspective of human rights and presents a non-exhaustive list of human rights issues related to cultural heritage.  The report further contains an analysis of the right of access to and enjoyment of cultural heritage, in particular regarding its normative content, related State obligations and possible limitations.  The report’s final section contains conclusions and recommendations.

Corrigendum, (A/HRC/17/38/Corr.1), is currently unavailable in English. 
 
Mission to Brazil 8 to 19 November 2010, (A/HRC/17/38/Add.1), examines aspects of the promotion and the protection of cultural rights in Brazil, with particular attention to the right to take part in cultural life, the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, and the right to use one’s own language.  It also refers to the cultural rights of indigenous peoples and Afro-Brazilians.
   
Preliminary note on mission to Austria, 5 to 15 April 2011, (A/HRC/17/38/Add.2), presents the preliminary observations and recommendations of the independent expert in the field of cultural rights on the official mission that she undertook to Austria from 5 to 15 April 2011 at the invitation of the Government.  The main purpose of the visit was to assess measures taken to ensure the right to participate in cultural life and access to cultural heritage of all persons, including people with disabilities, as well as measures to create an open cultural climate and to foster intercultural understanding in the country.  The preliminary observations will be developed and explored in more detail in the full report on the mission, which will be submitted for the consideration of the Human Rights Council at its twentieth session.

Statements by Panellists

JOY NGOZI EZEILO, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, speaking on behalf of JORGE BUSTAMANTE, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, highlighted a number of trends found in the exercise of the mandate, including the increasing violations of the human rights of irregular migrants and the criminalization of irregular migrants.  The Special Rapporteur underlined that it was the sovereign right of all States to safeguard their borders and regulate migration policies, but they should ensure the respect of human rights of migrants in enacting and implementing national immigration laws and that migrants, regardless of mode of entry or migratory status, were treated with dignity and respect.  The Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the extensive use of detention to manage migration flow, as detention without judicial oversight was a serious violation of basic human rights. 

The Special Rapporteur stated that the criminalization of irregular migration was dangerous not only for migrants, but also for the countries of transit and destination and it made migrants vulnerable to racist or xenophobic acts.  Children were part of the migration process, and constituted a particularly vulnerable group that required a high level of protection, as they were at risk from organized crime and trafficking and exploitation networks.  Mr. Bustamante’s report emphasized the importance of protecting migrants’ right to health and adequate housing and highlighted the likely impact of climate change on population movements; while the links between environment and migration had largely been ignored they should be further investigated.  The Special Rapporteur emphasized the crucial importance of the involvement of citizens in democratic decision-making. 

The Special Rapporteur discussed investigations into the human rights of migrants in Senegal and stated that the report on Senegal discussed key challenges pertaining to human rights in the socio-economic and legislative fields.  In the Special Rapporteur’s report on his mission to Japan, the impact of the recent economic crisis on migrants and their integration into Japanese society was discussed and recommendations were issued.  The report on South Africa stressed that while the Government of South Africa had taken positive measures to protect migrants, challenges such as the absence of a clear and comprehensive immigration policy still existed.  The Special Rapporteur thus made a number of recommendations for the development of a comprehensive immigration policy.    

KISHORE SINGH, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, said that equality of opportunity and non-discrimination were core principles in any analysis of the enjoyment of the right to education.  However, ensuring equality of opportunity in education was a continuing challenge that States faced and it was limited by marginalization and exclusion; progress in this area was fragile and uneven across regions and among population groups.  Mr. Singh pointed out that there were about 67 million children of primary school age who were out of school, while another 71 million adolescents remained deprived of basic post-primary education, many of them girls.  Non-discrimination and equality of opportunity in education were clearly anchored in most of the core human rights treaties.  These treaties conferred upon States parties international obligations of a permanent nature for promoting and protecting the right to education, without discrimination or exclusion, in a way that fully respects equality of opportunity in education.  National legal frameworks must be strengthened and the report highlighted how equality of opportunity and equal access to education were guaranteed in the constitutions of several countries in various regions.  The enforcement of equality of opportunity in education by judicial and quasi-judicial mechanisms was crucial in safeguarding entitlement to education.  Mr. Singh emphasized that the report included a review of key factors affecting equality of opportunity in education, including physical, financial, cultural and linguistic.  He underlined the following key recommendations needed to achieve equality in education: that States ensure adequate legal protection to the right to education; the adoption of comprehensive policies that recognized and addressed multiple forms of inequality and discrimination; ensuring adequate allocation of resources for the support of mechanisms promoting the enforcement of the right to education; and promoting well integrated follow-up concluding observations by the United Nations human rights treaty bodies and recommendations resulting from the Universal Periodic Review of the Council.

Concerning his mission to Senegal in January 2011, Mr. Singh said that interacting with governmental and non-governmental organizations and a broad range of stake-holders within the United Nations system was essential in the fulfillment of his mandate.  Senegal had played a leading role in the promotion of international commitments to ensure the right to education.  Senegal had achieved important advances in expanding access to primary education and ensuring gender parity, but challenges remained as an important number of children remained out of secondary school and the elimination of illiteracy remained a challenge.  The quality of education was seriously compromised by poor infrastructure and educational facilities, learning materials and qualified teachers.  Given the expansion of private schooling, it was crucial to establish effective regulatory mechanisms to ensure compliance with international and domestic norms, standards and accountability.  Concerning the importance of technical and professional education, Mr. Singh underlined that this was currently underfunded and better investment in the sector was required in order to broaden employment opportunities.  Mr. Singh commended the efforts of the Senegalese government to modernize and regulate religious schools, or daaras, within a national framework protecting children from abuse.  In conclusion, Mr. Singh emphasized that the right to education was important as a human right in itself, but it was also essential for the existence of other rights and he reiterated his intention to address the role played by education in the promotion of development and the eradication of poverty in his annual report.

FARIDA SHAHEED, Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights, noted that in the context of human rights, cultural heritage entailed taking into consideration the multiple heritages through which individuals and communities expressed their humanity, gave meaning to their existence, and built their world views.  It was noted that human rights issues related to cultural heritage were numerous.  The Independent Expert said that the report included several questions regarding who defined cultural heritage and its significance; which cultural heritage deserved protection; the extent to which individuals and communities participated in the interpretation, preservation/safeguarding of cultural heritage and had access to enjoy it; how to resolve conflicts and competing interests over cultural heritage; and what the possible limitations to a right to cultural heritage were.  The Independent Expert noted that international and regional instruments concerning the preservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage did not necessarily have a human rights approach.  Ms. Shaheed said however that the more recent the instrument, the stronger the link was with the rights of individuals and communities.  

The Independent Expert noted with regard to her mission to Brazil that a number of challenges remained and recommended that Brazil continue to adopt all necessary steps to ensure the wider availability of cultural resources and assets, especially in smaller cities and regions, strengthen existing initiatives promoting the access and contribution of persons with disabilities, and bolster special provisions through subsidies and other forms of assistance for those lacking means to participate in cultural activities of their choice.  The Independent Expert noted that it appeared necessary for the Government to take a stronger stand and to redouble its measures to protect believers, sites and expressions of Afro-Descendent religions from imminent attacks, including by addressing the persistence of racism in Brazilian society and the negative image of African religions that was sometimes diffused by followers of other religions and/or the media.

Statements of Concerned Countries

MASATAKA NAGOSHI (Japan) speaking as a concerned country, said it appreciated the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants and the report on his visit to Japan.  With respect to the report submitted to this session (A/HRC/17/33), the Special Rapporteur discussed the protection of children in the context of migration and the right to health and to adequate housing for migrants.  Japan stated that domestic legislation and policies had no citizenship requirements in principle.  All relevant government agencies continued to promote and protect the rights of all people in Japan, regardless of whether they were Japanese or non-Japanese. 

LUVUYO NDIMENI (South Africa) speaking as a concerned country, expressed South Africa’s appreciation for the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and his mission to South Africa.  South Africa underlined the importance given to human dignity and equality in its constitution and indicated that it was already making progress on many of the issues highlighted by the report.  Among them, South Africa had prioritized the comprehensive review of its migration policy including a proposal on immigration legislation and the Refugee Act.  Similarly, South Africa had compiled an integration strategy to guide the development of an interdepartmental operational implementation plan.  South Africa indicated that many immigrants did not seek asylum status until they were arrested and that the report should better reflect the issue of extradition, which was different from asylum, and was regulated by different laws.  South Africa said it was advancing national discussions on the intended ratification of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as well as giving focused attention to the process of ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families.

MOUHAMADOU LAMINE THIAW (Senegal) speaking as a concerned country, said that as a country of origin, transit and destination, migration policies had been at the heart of their policies in Senegal.  The internal and external factors mentioned in the report were the heart of the problems encountered in this area, notably the economic and financial crisis, poverty, unemployment, economic problems and a lack of statistics on migrant workers.  Senegal added that it was concerned about the situation of unaccompanied minors who were the subject of a convention signed between Senegal and Spain in 2008.  Senegal reiterated its attachment to the protection of human rights; particularly the rights of migrants, which made it possible for it to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers.  Senegal noted that it had placed education high on the list of its priorities as this was decisive for the whole country.  Senegal noted its ten year program of action for education and training which aimed at education for all.  Senegal noted that an increase in the national budget for education had enabled it to achieve improvements overall, particularly regarding gender parity between boys and girls.  Senegal noted it had embarked on an awareness-raising campaign to provide for the modernization of religious teaching.

JOAO ERNESTO CHRISTOFOLO, (Brazil) speaking as a concerned country, said it agreed with the Independent Expert that culture was to be understood as a product, as a process and as a way of life.  Culture played an important role in the field of material exchanges.  During the visit the Independent Expert showed an unabated disposition for dialogue and a clear disposition to comprehend the wide range of programs, institutions, and actors that shape the Brazilian cultural landscape.  The constitution of Brazil protected the cultural patrimony of Brazil and recognized the rights of indigenous people.  The laws, ministries and offices in Brazil that served to protect freedom of religion and belief, cultural rights and right to education, served an important role for better understanding and valuing of the diverse cultural heritage of Brazil and encouraged the State to apply necessary measures for achieving these objectives.  Brazil continued to be open to dialogue with the Independent Expert and other conventional and extra-conventional mechanisms related to the mandate and welcomed the Independent Expert’s willingness to point out best practices and encourage the Brazilian government to continue its implementation.

Interactive Dialogue

JANET ROMAN ARREDONDO (Cuba) reiterated the importance of addressing human rights issues and recognized the contribution of the report of the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights in identifying human rights issues and international standards related to the enjoyment of their cultural heritage by individuals and communities.  This was an important issue because of its human dimension and role in the development process.  Cuba urged the Independent Expert to be proactive in the fulfilment of her mandate and reiterated the support of its delegation.  Concerning the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Cuba underlined the importance of equal opportunities and that of education for the development of the human being.  Education was seen as essential for the fulfilment of many other rights and Cuba had put in place the material conditions and human resources to ensure free education, including at university level, for all its citizens.  Finally, Cuba asked the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants to express his opinion concerning the particular situation in the United States and Western Europe. 

SALVADOR TINAJERO ESQUIVEL (Mexico) welcomed the Special Rapporteurs and thanked the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants for his focus on the violation of migrants’ rights by States.  In Mexico, the criminal code had been amended while institutions had been strengthened in order to tackle the new challenges faced by migrants while transiting through the country.  Mexico believed a shared solution was needed and focused on approval of three laws strengthening protection of migrants.  Each of the laws provided for better coordination between authorities in charge of different aspects of migration in order to improve the protection and full rights of migrants and their access to basic services.  

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) noted that it shared the view of the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights regarding talks with the World Intellectual Property Organization to develop an international instrument to protect traditional knowledge.  Morocco felt that this was important, given the importance of traditional knowledge for sustainable development.  Morocco attached special importance to cultural rights within the global framework and this included respecting Moroccan individuals and their cultural symbols and languages.  Morocco asked for an in-depth study on the rights of migrants with regard to the many international situations over the last few years and in particular the recent events that had taken place in the Mediterranean area.  Morocco noted that the first report by Mr. Kishore Singh was well focused and highlighted the need to promote equality of opportunity and the delegation pointed out that the government of Morocco aimed to provide equal opportunity at the level of mandatory education.

YANG ZHILUN (China) commended the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants for pointing out that migrants had made important contributions to the world society and economy.  China stated that, nonetheless, some States had adopted restrictive measures that negatively affected the human rights of migrants.  Members should reduce xenophobia, inequality and discrimination in order to ensure the health, social security, education and culture of migrants.  All countries should take into consideration social, economic and cultural elements in establishing immigration policies and enhancing migrants’ integration into society.  China took note of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education’s recommendation that countries should improve laws and enhance international cooperation to ensure access to education and other rights for migrants.  China stated that the form of its education system as well as its laws worked to integrate migrants in society and ensure minority rights were respected.  The Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights spoke of cultural heritage as an important human right and China said it attached much significance to cultural heritage and had passed laws and implemented projects to beef up protection in this regard. 

JOELLE HIVONNET (European Union) said that the European Union welcomed the attention to climate change and migration and the protection of children in the context of migration, and it wanted to hear more about an institutional framework for the protection of children.  Turning to the report by the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, the European Union asked what forms of cooperation were envisaged in the future between different institutions and the delegation also wanted to hear more about overcoming challenges in education in emergencies.  On the issue of financial barriers to education, the European Union asked if the Special Rapporteur intended to work on innovative financing for education, using the model for innovative financing for development.  Concerning the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights, the European Union asked a number of questions of the Expert, including about the protection of the cultural heritage of people and nations which in many countries were threatened.

ELAYE YACIN ABDILLAHI (Djibouti) noted that the implementation of parity in education at all levels was of importance to the government.  This was especially important for a country where a large part of the population was under twenty years old.  Djibouti noted that rapid population growth and the world economic crisis were factors which could contribute to migration.  Djibouti asked for a more equitable distribution of global resources between north and south so that all such migration issues could be better managed.

EMMANUEL BICHET (Switzerland) shared the observation of the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights that culture was tied to the dignity and identity of people and that it was necessary to adopt an approach based on human rights.  In regard to the consultation and participation of communities and individuals concerned, Switzerland supported the recommendations of the Independent Expert, in particular those which related to capacity building.  Switzerland asked the Special Rapporteur whether the relationship between human rights and culture could be further reinforced on an international level.  Switzerland also inquired whether the Special Rapporteur could clarify the different roles of State and non-State actors on the international level and whether the Special Rapporteur could suggest best practices in this regard.

OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), on behalf of the African Group, said the African Group appreciated the work of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and was delighted to note that his report centred on the protection of migrants and children, and a discussion on migration in the context of climate change.  The African Group shared the views concerning criminalisation of migrants and considered this an issue that needed to be taken up by the Human Rights Council.  The African Group called for the urgent and effective abolition of policies of countries that criminalised migrants.  Regarding the report by the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, the African Group took note of the specific recommendations and recognised that education was an essential human right and a basis for the exercise of many other human rights.  Without education there would be no development and international cooperation was important in this regard.

MAYSA URENA MENACHO (Bolivia) said that the report of the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights achieved the objective of maintaining access to cultural resources and human rights.  Bolivia noted that cultural diversity was the essential grounding for the foundation of the State.  Bolivia noted the review by its pluri-national legislative assembly of a cultural heritage bill and the report of the Independent Expert would be very useful in discussing this bill.  With regard to the right to education, the delegation said that the government took note that promotion of equal access to education was a priority.  Bolivia said that it believed that education was the primary responsibility of the State.  It was noted that in Bolivia education was compulsory and free and there were grants available for books and food. Bolivia had also included indigenous people’s culture in educational material in order to develop an appreciation for the culture of indigenous people.

ROSSETTE NYIRINKINDI KATUNGYE (Uganda) noted with concern the reports of increasing abuse of the rights of irregular migrants.  More attention should be focused on the need for corrective and collective interventions to fight the abrogation of rights in relation to the criminalization of migrants, especially irregular migrant labourers.  In regard to the first thematic report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Uganda highlighted the need to remove or eliminate practices that hindered equal access to education for both girls and boys.  Uganda believed that fighting poverty was key to achieving easier access to education and looked forward to the Special Rapporteur’s findings on innovative forms of financing for education and the assessment on how a human rights normative framework could guide action.  Uganda also stressed the need for setting minimum standards of quality of education and encouraged the Special Rapporteur to look critically at the issue and make it one of the higher ranking priorities. 

CHRISTIAN STROHAL (Austria) thanked the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education for their reports and commended the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights as the first Special Procedure of the Human Rights Council to take up the invitation to visit the country.  Austria was looking forward to the presentation of the full report from this visit in which the Independent Expert had met with a number of officials and visited institutions and projects, including those in areas with minority populations.  Austria was grateful for all positive observations concerning the participation of minorities and their enjoyment of cultural rights which had been a priority for the government for a long time.  Culture in Austria was not monolithic, but was a celebration of diversity and enrichment by a number of cultures over the course of history.  Austria was looking forward to continued dialogue with the Independent Expert concerning the enjoyment of cultural rights in the country. 

ROSEMARY HUNTER (Australia) noted that it valued equity in schooling, knowing that all children would have the opportunity to reach their full potential.  Australia noted that it strived to provide equal opportunity for education, and the government had developed specific activities directed at indigenous and Torres Strait Islander children in an effort to halve the gap in literacy between indigenous children and other Australians.   Australia also said that it would welcome views on what its government could contribute to international standards in primary school education.

MAURICIO MONTALVO (Ecuador) supported the report of the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights which took into consideration cultural heritage as a human right, closely connected to human dignity and identity.  Ecuador protested the submission of the questionnaire and was not able to provide comments beforehand.  Ecuador confirmed it was very supportive of cultural heritage, but stated that the safeguarding of cultural heritage was a shared responsibility between the State and civil society.  Ecuador stated that economic exploitation of culture through tourism was a violation of human rights and the delegation called for the criminalization of illicit trade in cultural goods.  In relation to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Ecuador stated that regular migrants, as well as irregular migrants, were subject to abuse and more attention should be given to these issues, including  to those migrants who fell victim to cross-border crime.  Ecuador supported the Special Rapporteur’s emphasis on inclusive education, particularly for the most vulnerable, and underlined that new and innovative financing was necessary for fulfilling the human right to education. 

MUHAMMAD SAEED SARWAR (Pakistan), on behalf of Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that the latest report by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants did not present new themes, but rather spoke of themes undertaken during his mandate.  The international community had increasingly witnessed the gap between policies towards migrants and practices on the ground by some States.  The Organization of the Islamic Conference congratulated the Special Rapporteur on the right to education for his first report and recommended he focus on international cooperation in the field of education.  At present no State could claim it was providing equal opportunities in the field of education and there was a fear that the international community would fail in realising the Education for All agenda if the principle of opportunity was not faithfully addressed in policy and practice.  Turning to the report by the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights, Pakistan said it agreed with the Independent Expert that cultural heritage was linked to human dignity and identity and they asked the Independent Expert to explain how cultural repatriation could promote access to and the enjoyment of cultural rights.

ROBERTO FLORES BERMUDEZ (Honduras) said that migration was a priority for the Honduran government as it was both a country of origin and transit.  Honduras noted that that there were more than 1 million Hondurans working outside the country.  Honduras agreed with the Independent Expert on migration about the criminalization of irregular migration and abuses directed against these migrants in different phases of the migration process; these measures had not reduced migration.  Honduras noted that it had doubled its efforts to contribute to an ordered migration system, social assistance, cultural and legal aid for Hondurans abroad, assistance for returning migrants and regulation of the legal movement of persons, including agreements between countries of origin and destination.  The delegation said that it was a good decision to focus on equality in the provision of education.  In rural areas and urban areas the level and quality of education were different and Honduras extended an open invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the right to education regarding this issue.

JOHN C. MARIZ (United States of America) said it promoted and supported the human rights of migrants regardless of their status, including migrants that were stateless.  The United States of America said it maintained special programs and judicial proceedings to prosecute human traffickers and others in violation of human rights.  The United States of America applauded Egypt and Tunisia for hosting Libyan migrants currently crossing into those countries.  The United States welcomed the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education and said it believed the promise of education for all was fundamental to economic opportunity and poverty alleviation and spoke out against all types of discrimination in educational systems.  The country supported educational opportunity around the world as one of the largest donors to international education programs and institutions.  The United States supported the report of the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights and noted that it was committed to preserving cultural and natural heritage. However, the United States of America did not agree with the statement in the report that the consent of concerned communities was necessary before acting to safeguard cultural heritage.  While this seemed sensible as general principles or policies, there could be exceptions and were not necessarily obligations of human rights law.

IMAD ZUHAIRI (Palestine), on behalf of the Arab Group, said that concerning cultural rights the Arab Group valued the attempt by the Independent Expert to connect them with human rights and the Arab Group considered this positive.  The Arab Group hoped that the Independent Expert would accord adequate attention to all experiences in this regard and would include Arabic regional experiences.  On the rights of migrants, the Arab Group said it took note of all elements addressed by the Special Rapporteur and said that those rights that needed more attention, such as migration and climate change and participation of migrants in political life, should be further studied by a number of other initiatives and instruments.  The right to education was one of the priorities for the Arab world and equality in the access to education was extremely important and they supported the choice of themes by the Special Rapporteur.

MARIA LOURDES BONE (Uruguay) emphasized the potential contribution of migrants to their host countries and expressed concern with legislation and policies that criminalized irregular migrants, making them subject to abuse, and the lack of integration policies to combat xenophobia, hatred and abuses against migrants.  Uruguay indicated that, despite a lack of resources, unemployment and basic public services, national legislation had been reformed in 2008 to ensure respect and to facilitate the integration of migrants.  Uruguay expressed its support for the proposal made by the Special Rapporteur to carry out future work on the implications of climate change, given ongoing national initiatives to this end.  Concerning the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Uruguay reiterated the importance of education for the exercise of other rights and the need to achieve universal application of the second Millennium Development Goal to promote equal opportunities.  Uruguay had implemented a program to provide computers to all children in primary education and, five years after the implementation of the plan, results were positive and the program was being expanded to include secondary education.

MELINA ESPESCHIT MAIA (Brazil) lauded the Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants for reminding the Council that it was the responsibility of the State to take measures to prevent violations of the rights of migrants and that the power of the State to control its borders had to be exercised with full respect for human rights and international obligations.  Policies that aimed to address solely security and border control issues had a seriously detrimental impact on the enjoyment of human rights.  The tragic and unacceptable events in the Mediterranean Sea should be investigated and those responsible should be brought to justice.  With regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Brazil said it considered the promotion of the right to education as an integral part of any effort to combat poverty and social exclusion.  The education policy of Brazil was fully connected to development strategies aimed at reducing economic inequalities as well as racial, ethnic and gender discrimination.  Brazil called for enhanced international assistance and cooperation in education and remained open to sharing best practices on the issue.   

RAPHAEL TRAPP (France) said that France believed that education was at the core of human development and that was why France expected to see the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education renewed by consensus at the end of this session of the Human Rights Council.  The promotion of equal opportunities in education was essential, particularly for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and was crucial in combating all forms of exclusion and discrimination.  France asked the Special Rapporteur to specify how civil society could take action to promote equal access to education.  France then thanked the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights saying that France had been playing an important role in the framework for protection of cultural heritage in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  The right to access and enjoy cultural heritage also contained the right of communities to preserve and develop it.  In conclusion, France asked the Independent Expert to elaborate on her referral in the report to international cooperation to highlight and promote access to cultural heritage.

EKSIRI PINTARUCHI (Thailand) said it could not agree more that discrimination, in all of its manifestations, posed a major impediment to the full enjoyment of the right to education.  It noted that its efforts must be directed toward addressing all these discriminatory barriers.  Thailand noted that making education free for all at the primary and secondary level lay at the heart of its economic development strategy. Thailand said that it believed that the issue of resource constraint was a common challenge faced by many countries.  The delegation asked for comments from the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education on this issue, particularly on how States could attain equal access to education for all without compromising the objective of enhancing quality of education.  Thailand said that migration would become one of the main challenges of their time.  It shared the Special Rapporteur’s concern about the growing trend of criminalization and stigmatization of irregular migration.  Thailand reiterated the need for a comprehensive approach based on shared responsibility and cooperation at all levels.  Thailand also recognized the imperative for a human rights based approach.

RAUL MARTINEZ (Paraguay) noted with concern that the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants identified increasing criminalization of migrants, including serious criminal charges for offenses related to migration and transnational cooperation among police and other authorities.  These measures implied taking steps back in international human rights law.  Paraguay backed the proposal of the Special Rapporteur to organize a debate in order to identify some of the violations committed against irregular migrants and the responsibilities of States in preventing them.  Paraguay asked the Special Rapporteur about the preferred format and the potential collaboration of the Office of the High Commissioner in this debate.  Concerning the political participation and civil rights of migrants, Paraguay urged the Council to bear in mind that migrants could make a valuable contribution to their host countries without undermining their sovereignty and internal legislation.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) welcomed the plan of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education to put special emphasis on the situation in Africa and hoped that this would help African countries progress toward attaining the related Millennium Development Goals.  Algeria shared the view that discrimination and inequality in the right to education should be addressed through comprehensive policies and international cooperation.  The respect of human rights of migrants did not contradict the sovereign right of States to safeguard borders and regulate migration policies.  Algeria shared the concern of the Special Rapporteur regarding the increasing amount of intolerance, racism and xenophobic acts against migrants and suggested that the link between migration and development be closely examined by the Special Rapporteur.  Algeria commended the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights for clarifying the content and scope of cultural rights from a human rights perspective.  Algeria enjoyed rich cultural diversity and had promoted access to the cultural and historical legacy of the country. Algeria encouraged the Independent Expert to pay attention to safeguarding cultural heritage and enhancing international cooperation. 

BHRIGU DHUNGANA (Nepal) said that it shared the concern of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants that migrants were facing increasing intolerance, making them more vulnerable to abuses.  Nepal welcomed the remarks by the Special Rapporteur to consider migration in the context of climate change and a coordinated response needed to be undertaken to face this challenge.  Nepal attached great importance to the work of Special Rapporteurs and strongly believed in their independence.  However, Nepal found some inconsistencies in the work of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants concerning the question of child-bonded labourers in the so called rat mines.  Unfortunately, the communications from the government of Nepal concerning this matter were not included in the report of the Special Rapporteur.

GRACA ANDRESEN GUIMARAES (Portugal) reaffirmed the importance attached to the right of education by Portugal, as one of the main sponsors of the resolution on the right to education.  The full realization of this right was of paramount importance and effective measures must be taken to this end.  Portugal said that it intended to present a draft resolution on this issue and consultations would begin later this week.  Portugal expressed the hope that the resolution would be adopted with cross-regional support.  Portugal asked the Special Rapporteur, given his participation in the ongoing review process of the Millennium Development Goals, his opinion on the current status of the review process concerning education and what recommendations he would make to achieve this goal.

KHADIJA R. MASRI (African Union) said that it would not question the sovereign right of States to protect their borders and dictate their migration policy.  The African Union said that unfortunately when the international scene was observed they could identify two increasingly emerging polices; delegating policy to fight irregular migration to others and increasing criminalization of irregular migration.  The African Union said that it believed in the contribution of migrants to the development of their countries of origin and countries of destination.  The African Union noted a worrying trend highlighted in the Special Rapporteur’s report, that migrants were increasingly seen as commodities rather than persons with rights.  The African Union noted the situation with regard to migration by sea to Europe; this tragic and disquieting aspect to migration had taken on an alarming scope due to political upheaval in North Africa.  The African Union noted that in order to limit these flows, destination countries were intercepting boats and migrants had said that when they were intercepted they did not benefit from appropriate protection measures.  The African Union supported the appeal of the Special Rapporteur to understand the dangers of these policies for the migrants and the citizens of the countries of destination.

YU JEONG-A (Republic of Korea) said that migration was now a global trend but most issues concerning migration were linked to policies created by States.  The Human Rights Council was therefore an adequate body to promote a holistic approach in protecting he rights of migrants.  Given the increasing complexity of migration today, the choice of themes by the Special Rapporteur was well done, particularly the participation of migrants in political life.  The Republic of Korea had implemented various policies to address the human rights of migrants, whereby special considerations were given to women and children migrants.  The Government was continuously working to find better ways to inject a human rights perspective into its policies.

VICENTE ZERAN (Chile) said that the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants indentified with concern the criminalisation of migrants.  Chile indicated that in many countries this process went hand in hand with an underlying rejection of migrants and policies to manage and reduce migration.  Greater economic equality between North and South would ensure that migration took place under better conditions and benefited both migrants and their host communities.  Chile said that its migration policy was based on this approach: discouraging illegal migrants and upholding respect for the human rights of illegal migrants and their families.  Concerning the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Chile endorsed his approach and said it had developed initiatives, including programmes for children and young people from low-income families, and increased resources available for public education.  Chile acknowledged the existence of inequalities and stressed the contribution that international cooperation could make in this regard.

HEBA MOSTAFA RIZK (Egypt) said that the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants came at a time when the world was witnessing a wave of conflict-induced migration flows that required higher emphasis on the duty to protect migrants.  Egypt took positive note of the themes suggested by the Special Rapporteur to be picked up by the upcoming mandate holder and said that the participation of migrants in political life would be met with differing views.  On the right to education, Egypt recognised that the Special Rapporteur touched on the issue of international cooperation and said that more emphasis needed to be placed on the promotion of international cooperation as a complement to State efforts in ensuring access and opportunities to education.  Concerning the report of the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights and the focus on the right to access and enjoyment of cultural heritage, Egypt said that the issue was not only access to but also control of cultural heritage, and its protection against destruction.  The question was particularly important for people living under foreign occupation and Egypt invited the Independent Expert to continue the exploration of the issue of cultural heritage in the context of her mandate.

MOHAMMAD REZA GHAEBI (Iran) said that migrants were particularly vulnerable to a wide range of restrictions which led to the denial of their human rights.  Iran noted that in addition to some of these deprivations which had been mentioned by the Special Rapporteur, the refutation of migrants’ right to freedom of religion in Western countries was of paramount importance.  Iran noted that unfortunately Muslim migrants in some western countries had experienced serious problems in practicing their religion.  Iran noted restrictive laws and policies such as the anti-hijab laws with outlandish support of the media, internet and right wing parties, had deprived people from freely practicing their religious duties and subjected them to multiple discrimination and Islamophobic acts and attitudes.  Iran asked if the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants had ever examined the human rights situation of Muslim migrants in western countries, especially in the context of the right to manifest and practice their religion, and if not, could this subject be considered as a new theme by a successor.  Regarding the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Iran noted that inequality linked to economic status, gender, religion, ethnicity, language, location and disability was holding back progress.  Iran noted that the Independent Expert on cultural rights had addressed the issue of cultural repatriation in the report and the delegation asked how this could be addressed in a human rights framework.

HUSSEIN AL-ZUHAIRRY (Iraq) welcomed the reports presented by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and the Independent Expert on cultural rights.  Iraq had acceded to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including its protocol on migrants, in order to prevent human trafficking.  The government of Iraq was currently working on legislation concerning refugees and the protection of migrant workers and their families.  Iraq noted with concern the repercussion of terrorist attacks and their negative effects on the enjoyment of the cultural heritage and cultural rights of the Iraqi people.  In a number of terrorist attacks significant elements of Iraq’s cultural heritage had been affected.  Iraq endeavoured to protect both the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of its people by providing education in local languages and television broadcasting in the language of minorities in accordance to its constitution.
 
Statement by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain

ABDULLA ABDULLATIF ABDULLA, Undersecretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, said Bahrain reaffirmed its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Over the past two months Bahrain had witnessed regrettable events termed peaceful demonstrations, in which a hospital had been hijacked and the safety of people endangered.  The Government was working to restore peace and security for all, and all the while having its human rights obligations in mind.  The use of minimum force by police was unavoidable, but at the same time each and every person enjoyed their full constitutional rights.  The Government took all allegations of any human rights violations very seriously and had urged everyone to report them so that allegations could be properly examined. 

Bahrain was now recovering from those events and the focus was on reconciliation and healing.  Many initiatives were in place to that effect; the unity of Bahrain was a key issue and Mr. Abdulla emphasized that the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms was a priority.  The field of human rights demanded a high level of cooperation between all parties to ensure their full protection.  The Kingdom of Bahrain remained fully committed to cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as had been made clear by the Government during the recent events.  Bahrain had made necessary notifications to the Secretary-General during the recent events, while the Government had expressed its willingness to welcome the team from the High Commission for Human Rights to visit the country, thus further demonstrating the Government’s commitment to restoring peace and security in the country.  In closing, Mr. Abdulla urged the Office and non-governmental organizations to revise their reporting mechanisms to ensure that no country would be falsely accused of human rights violations.


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For use of information media; not an official record