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Statement by Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division to the 9th session of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee

6 August 2012

President of the Human Rights Council,
Chairperson,
Distinguished members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to address you today at the opening of the ninth session of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee. Let me seize this opportunity to welcome and congratulate the most recent member of the Committee, Ms. Cecilia Quisumbing. I would like to assure her of the Office’s fullest support in her activities as expert member.

As customary, this address is a timely opportunity to share perspectives from the Office of the High Commissioner on thematic human rights issues which are dealt with in a complementary fashion by the Committee and the Office.

At this session, you will discuss the revised paper on international solidarity to provide input to contribute to the elaboration by the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity of a draft declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity. As requested in Council resolution 18/5, the Office organised a workshop on 7 and 8 June 2012 in which two Committee experts (Mr. Chen and Mr. Seetulsingh) participated with 27 other eminent experts in this field. The workshop was very rich in discussing, amongst others, the contours of international solidarity, its added value, the differences between international solidarity and international cooperation and the relationship between international solidarity and achieving the MDGs. The formal summary of the workshop will be presented by the Independent Expert at the forthcoming session of the Council in September, together with her update on the draft declaration. The input of the Advisory Committee, the past work of the previous mandate holder, the discussions in the expert workshop, the results of informal consultations with States and civil society, and the best practices of States as observed first-hand in country study missions undertaken by the Independent Expert, will be the rich sources from which the Independent Expert will draw to shape the draft declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity, which she will present to the Council in 2014.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This leads me to the study on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights which was already submitted by the Committee to the Council’s March session. By way of follow-up, the Council in its resolution 19/33, took note of the study of the Advisory Committee, and requested the Office to organize a seminar before March 2013, with the participation of a member of the Committee to build upon this study and its recommendations. The resolution also highlights the enhancement of State cooperation with human rights mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review, through the provision of technical assistance for the implementation of recommendations accepted by States that require financial support.
With regard to the right to food and the global food crisis in particular, the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food at the March session of the Council emphasized that one in seven people globally are undernourished, but many more suffer from the 'hidden hunger' of micronutrient deficiency. In his report on the agriculture-food-health nexus, he highlighted that we must tackle the systemic problems that generate poor nutrition in all its forms. The intersection between malnutrition, childhood diseases and human rights was also the subject of the study of the Advisory Committee submitted to the Council at its March session, taking children affected by noma as an example.

Distinguished members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee,

At this session, the Committee is expected to discuss two studies on the issue of discrimination in the context of the right to food, a preliminary study on rural women and their enjoyment of the right to food, and a final study on urban poor: strategies and best practices, both prepared by the drafting group on the right to food.

I am pleased to share with you that the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, were adopted by the Committee on Food Security (CFS) of FAO on 11 May 2012. The Office provided technical advice during the negotiation and continues to underline the importance of interpreting and applying the Voluntary Guidelines in consistency with international human rights standards.

At the occasion of the Rio + 20 Conference, the Secretary-General launched his Zero Hunger Challenge, calling for States, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders to make comprehensive efforts to ensure that every man, woman and child enjoy their right to adequate food; that women are empowered; that priority is given to family farming, and that food systems everywhere are sustainable and resilient. OHCHR will support this initiative through its participation in the High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Most recently, the Committee has been mandated to prepare a study on human rights and terrorist hostage-taking. At the June session of the Council the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism addressed the situation of victims of terrorism and called for the adoption of a single UN legal framework setting out the rights of victims of terrorism, and the corresponding obligations on States, and encouraged States to consider his proposals in the upcoming review at the General Assembly of the UN Counter-Terrorism Stategy.

Excellencies,

The Committee will also be discussing the study on how a better understanding and appreciation of traditional values could contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights. As the High Commissioner underlined in the workshop on this issue, the discussion should be framed on how traditional values underpinning international human rights contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights in general. In this connection, I would like to highlight two contributions relevant to this debate during the most recent Council session. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women reported on the alarming increase of gender-related killings of women, many of which were culturally and socially embedded and continued to be accepted, tolerated or justified, with impunity as the norm. During the Panel on the promotion and protection of human rights in a multicultural context, including through combating xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance, in which one of your members - Ms. Zulficar - participated as panelist, a joint statement was made by the special procedures of the Council, recalling that cultural diversity cannot be used to support segregation and harmful practices which run counter to the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights.
Pursuant to Council resolutions 6/30 and 7/9, the Advisory Committee is encouraged to integrate in its work the human rights of women and a gender perspective, as well as the rights of persons with disabilities.

In June, OHCHR presented a report on violence against women with disabilities at the 20th session of the Human Rights Council and organized a side-event during the session to raise awareness about the thematic analytical study on the issue. The study proposes a dual-track approach - programmes to prevent and address violence against women and specific programmes and strategies targeting girls and women with disabilities.

The annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective in the work of the Council to be held in September will focus on women's economic, social and cultural rights and the empowerment of women, in particular in the achievement of the MDGs. It will be the first event not explicitly focusing on the issue of disability rights which will be made fully accessible to persons with disabilities, providing sign language interpretation and captioning. Experts with disabilities will be invited to take part in the discussions.

As you consider any new thematic issues to propose for further research, within the scope of the work set out by the Council, I urge you to take into consideration the work carried out by the special procedures of the Council who focus on a wide range of thematic issues.

Last but by no means least, I would like to acknowledge the dedicated service of Ms Warzazi, Mr. Chen, and Mr Ziegler, and to wish them success in their future endeavours.

In concluding, let me reiterate the Secretariat’s full support to your activities and wish you very fruitful deliberations at the present session.