9 August 2012
The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee this morning discussed follow-up to reports of the Committee submitted to the Human Rights Council on the promotion of the right of peoples to peace and on the enhancement of international cooperation. It then discussed its agenda and annual programme of work, including new priorities.
In the discussion on follow-up to reports of the Committee to the Human Rights Council, Experts said that the draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace prepared by the Advisory Committee would be an important basis for discussions in the Intergovernmental Working Group on the right of peoples to peace established by the Human Rights Council. On enhancement of international cooperation, it was noted that international cooperation in the field of human rights was a non-controversial issue.
Wolfgang Stefan Heinz, Mona Zulficar and Dheerujlall Seetulsingh spoke in this discussion.
Concerning new priorities, Latif Hüseynov, Chairperson of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, said that five proposals were tabled during this session and that the expanded Bureau of the Advisory Committee had reacted positively to the submission of new research ideas for the consideration of the Human Rights Council.
Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Committee Expert, introduced the research proposal on access to justice and corruption; Chinsung Chung, Committee Expert, proposed the role of local Governments in the implementation of human rights; Anantonia Reyes Prado, Committee Expert, suggested globalization, youth and human rights; Coco Quisumbing, Committee Expert, presented the proposal on human rights and humanitarian action; and Mona Zulficar proposed drafting a United Nations Model Law on Equal Opportunities.
Speaking in the discussion on new priorities were the following Committee Experts: Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Dheerujlall Seetulsingh, Vladimir Kartashkin, Coco Quisumbing, Ahmer Bilal Soofi, Shiqiu Chen, Anantonia Reyes Prado, Latif Hüseynov, Chinsung Chung, Mona Zulficar, José Antonio Bengoa Cabello, Shigeki Sakamoto and Obiora Chinedu Okafor.
The next public meeting of the Advisory Committee will be held on Friday, 10 August at 10 a.m., when it will adopt its report and its recommendations to the Human Rights Council before closing its ninth session.
Follow-up to Reports Submitted to the Human Rights Council
Promotion of the Right of Peoples to Peace
WOLFGANG STEFAN HEINZ, Committee Expert, said that the draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace prepared by the Advisory Committee would be an important basis for further discussion in the Intergovernmental Working Group established by the Human Rights Council. A large number of countries which had been against the original mandate given to the Advisory Committee on the right of people to peace had changed their position and moved from being against to abstention and this was an optimistic sign indicating the willingness of countries to engage in the negotiations.
MONA ZULFICAR, Committee Expert, said that the participation of the Advisory Committee in the drafting of the declaration on the right of peoples to peace was a good example of the role that the Committee could play in contentious issues. The Committee had a good understanding of various positions and concerns and could play a key role in pushing the human rights agenda forward.
Enhancement of International Cooperation
DHEERUJLALL SEETULSINGH, Committee Expert, noted that international cooperation in the field of human rights was a non-controversial issue.
Agenda and Annual Programme of Work, including New Priorities
LATIF HÜSEYNOV, Chairperson of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, said that four research proposals were tabled on globalization, youth and human rights; access to justice and corruption; the role of local governments in the implementation of human rights; and human rights and humanitarian action. The expanded Bureau of the Advisory Committee had reacted positively to the submission of the new research proposals for the consideration of the Human Rights Council in order to receive new and adequate mandates to carry out its work.
LAURENCE BOISSON DE CHAZOURNES, Committee Expert, introduced the research proposal on access to justice and combating corruption and said that this issue had numerous human rights aspects and considerations. A number of United Nations bodies and agencies had conducted several studies into the topic but lacking was the research into the human rights dimensions of the issue and what recourse a person had for acts committed. The question was what means were there to address human rights violations resulting from corruption.
DHEERUJLALL SEETULSINGH, Committee Expert, said that many countries had specific institutions and mechanisms to deal with corruption which provided access to justice through complaint mechanisms and went under different names, for example the National Commission against Corruption.
VLADIMIR KARTASHKIN, Committee Expert, said that a number of States had ratified the Convention against Corruption, but its implementation was lacking. The study could contain a chapter on reservations to this United Nations Convention.
COCO QUISUMBING, Committee Expert, said that corruption had a big impact on human rights and could lead to human rights violations, but the tendency for anti-corruption efforts was to focus on the national impact, rather than on the individual. The study could examine the mechanisms that were supposed to provide justice.
AHMER BILAL SOOFI, Committee Expert, welcomed the proposal and asked a number of questions concerning the scope of the study, including on Article 35 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption on remedies.
SHIQIU CHEN, Committee Expert, wondered about the scope of the study and whether it would be limited to individuals because many victims of corruption were also institutions and organizations. Individuals could access justice in many countries through a number of mechanisms, and a question could be asked about their effectiveness.
ANANTONIA REYES PRADO, Committee Expert, noted the impact of corruption on the general exercise of human rights and said that one of the greatest problems in developing countries was the widespread of corruption in societies. The fight against this phenomenon was becoming harder because of the complicity of many.
VLADIMIR KARTASHKIN, Committee Expert, asked whether the idea was to study the human rights of people victims of corruption activities by States and businesses. Many people suffered indirectly, for example if a bank went bankrupt real people would lose their money and savings.
LATIF HÜSEYNOV, Committee Expert, also supported the proposal and hoped that the Advisory Committee would receive a mandate from the Human Rights Council to carry out this study. The study should not and could not cover all issues dealing with the corruption; it should be focused and implementation-oriented.
LAURENCE BOISSON DE CHAZOURNES, Committee Expert, in concluding remarks said that there were a number of questions to deal with, for example the rights of individuals, transnational cooperation, different national practices and models, and many others.
CHINSUNG CHUNG, Committee Expert, introduced the proposal on the role of local Governments in the implementation of human rights and said that cities were important stakeholders in implementing human rights and development agendas on the ground. While States had the primary responsibility in the implementation of international human rights norms, this responsibility was often shared with national Governments as they were closer to the people and could do more to improve their quality of life. The challenges were in understanding the specific role of local Governments in the implementation of human rights norms and standards and their relationship with other stakeholders.
LATIF HÜSEYNOV, Committee Expert, noted that the idea was not to shift the responsibility of States to local Governments, but to examine how to shape the new concept of ‘Human Rights Cities’.
VLADIMIR KARTASHKIN, Committee Expert, said that in many countries authority for implementation of rights, particularly economic and social rights, was being handed over to local Governments. Mr. Kartashkin proposed that the study be titled Local Governments and Human Rights.
MONA ZULFICAR, Committee Expert, said that local Governments would have executive powers and therefore their responsibility was to promote, protect and fulfil human rights. She supported the proposal to call the study Local Governments and Human Rights.
JOSÉ ANTONIO BENGOA CABELLO,, Committee Expert, said that the topic was of major interest and said that one of the challenges was establishing the issue of responsibility at the local level.
DHEERUJLALL SEETULSINGH, Committee Expert, asked whether the study would focus only on well structured local Governments or on all types of local authorities, including on those often based on tribal and customary traditions.
COCO QUISUMBING, Committee Expert, thought the proposal would contribute to further developing local governance and leadership and suggested that the study looked into the participation of women and minorities in local Governments.
SHIQIU CHEN, Committee Expert, said there were many layers of the local Governments, starting from villages to cities and municipalities and provinces or counties.
CHINSUNG CHUNG, Committee Expert, in closing remarks agreed with the proposal that the study be called Local Governments and Human Rights and expressed hope that it would also cover local democracy issues and the right to participation. The focus should be on the role of local Governments, with all its layers. Ms. Chung hoped that the issue would be approved by the Human Rights Council.
ANANTONIA REYES PRADO, Committee Expert, introduced the topic of globalization, youth and human rights and said that the study would address education, work and inclusion in democratic systems. It was more difficult to obtain employment and lack of opportunities and skills meant that many young people had to take low paid jobs in the informal economy. Going to school and getting an education was no longer a guarantee of good employment. The United Nations had dealt with issues related to young people, but often in disaggregated fashion and that was why exploring globalization and youth would provide a more comprehensive picture.
SHIGEKI SAKAMOTO, Committee Expert, noted the increasingly difficult access to employment for young people, many of whom were in temporary, part-time or irregular employment. In Japan, many young men postponed marriage because of insecure and low paid employment. Educational exclusion was one of the problems affecting professional and technical development of youth, preventing them from obtaining skills necessary for employment.
COCO QUISUMBING, Committee Expert, said that the topic affected a huge part of the world population and through them, the future of the world and suggested that the study looked into another aspect of globalization, which was families of migrants, on whom not too much research was conducted.
OBIORA CHINEDU OKAFOR, Committee Expert, agreed with the pertinence and urgency of the proposed topic and proposed that the sufficient time be accorded to the preparation of the study.
MONA ZULFICAR, Committee Expert, said that older generations in power structures hesitated to hand over to the young and even in old democracies young people found it a challenge to climb the ladder and share in power and participate in crafting the law and policies.
JOSÉ ANTONIO BENGOA CABELLO, Committee Expert, noted that the concept of youth and young people was new and that it did not exist in traditional societies. It would be interesting to analyse how social categories of young people could be built up in the modern world. There were no studies on young people, while there were growing areas in human life consisting of young people, different from children and adults.
ANANTONIA REYES PRADO, Committee Expert, thanked the colleagues for the valuable comments and hoped that the timetable would be extended to address the issues in depth.
COCO QUISUMBING, Committee Expert, introduced the topic of human rights and humanitarian action which was not new but had not been explored in sufficient detail by the Human Rights Council. The study could explore the impact of the humanitarian situation on discrimination, racism, the rights of non-citizens, and human rights related to survival. The study would focus on vulnerable groups and individuals and explore the integration of cultural and religious consideration in humanitarian responses.
MONA ZULFICAR, Committee Expert, concurred that the research into human rights and humanitarian action was insufficient and was particularly important in the context of the contemporary world affected by humanitarian crises.
ANANTONIA REYES PRADO, Committee Expert, welcomed the proposal and the intention to explore the cultural relevance of humanitarian response.
LAURENCE BOISSON DE CHAZOURNES, Committee Expert, suggested the inclusion of post-conflict reconstruction in the study.
DHEERUJLALL SEETULSINGH, Committee Expert, suggested a different structure and order of presentation of points in the study.
VLADIMIR KARTASHKIN, Committee Expert, noted the complexity of the issue and asked why the many measures taken by States and the United Nations were not successful. The study should propose practical measures to be undertaken by the international community.
COCO QUISUMBING, Committee Expert, in her closing remarks thanked the Experts for their support and comments and said that the study would focus on all kinds of crises, explore good practices, particularly by States, and discuss the issue of responsibilities and obligations, including of non-State actors.
MONA ZULFICAR, Committee Expert, introduced the research proposal on the right to equal opportunities which was a core basic right that was important to many other rights. It enabled the right to education, political participation, employment, the fight against corruption, and many others. The proposal was to draft a United Nations Model Law on Equal Opportunities which would provide a good basis and facilitate the way for adoption of laws based on this model.
VLADIMIR KARTASHKIN, Committee Expert, supported the idea and requested that it be put in the concept note for further study by the Advisory Committee.
DHEERUJLALL SEETULSINGH, Committee Expert, noted that this exercise would support domestication of all international instruments, many of which contained provisions on anti-discrimination.
LATIF HÜSEYNOV, Committee Expert, welcomed the new way of presenting the ideas in the form of a Model Law.
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