MORNING AND MIDDAY
12 September 2012
Concludes Interactive Dialogue on Mercenaries and on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-recurrence
The Human Rights Council today held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Maria Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, and with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque. The Council also concluded its interactive dialogue with the Working Group on the use of mercenaries and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence.
Ms. Sepulveda Carmona introduced the final draft of the Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights and said that this text was an opportunity for the Human Rights Council to convert the words from political commitments into concrete actions and to leave an important legacy for the future: an international text which emphasized the human rights of the most underprivileged and provided a guide as to how these rights could be respected, protected, and fulfilled.
Ms. de Albuquerque introduced her thematic report which focused on stigma and access to water and sanitation, saying that stigma and discrimination were closely interrelated, reinforcing and legitimising each other. States would not be able to meet their human rights obligations without addressing stigma. Those who were most affected by the lack of water and sanitation were those individuals and communities who were the most marginalised, most vulnerable, or most stigmatised.
Speaking as concerned countries were Senegal, Uruguay and Namibia.
In the clustered interactive dialogue on extreme poverty, speakers said that they supported the draft Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights included in the report of the Special Rapporteur. They considered the Guiding Principles as an important tool that would help States in elaborating poverty eradication policies from a human rights perspective, and stressed the importance of international cooperation to eradicate extreme poverty.
Concerning the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, States said that ensuring safe drinking water and sanitation was one of their priorities, and supported the conclusions by the Special Rapporteur that stigma and discrimination undermining this right and should be addressed. Speakers asked the Special Rapporteur how she saw the Human Rights Council addressing the issue of stigmatization and what the biggest challenges were to the implementation of this right.
Speaking in the clustered interactive dialogue were France, Senegal on behalf of the African Group, China in a joint statement, the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Arab Group, Algeria, Germany, the European Union, Spain, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, Kuwait, Angola, Chile, Philippines, Colombia, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Slovenia, Ireland, Switzerland, Thailand, Italy, United States, Egypt, Bangladesh, Cuba, Portugal, Bahrain, Argentina, Honduras, United Kingdom, Syria, South Africa, Brazil on behalf of the Group of Latin America and Caribbean States, Morocco, Malaysia, Maldives, Belgium, Peru, Estonia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Vietnam, Finland, Costa Rica, Norway, Bolivia and Indonesia.
Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: International Movement ATD Fourth World, World Wide Organization for Women, Friends World Committee for Consultation, Centre Europe-Tiers Monde- Europe-Third World Centre, BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, African Technology Development Link, International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights and Amnesty International
At the beginning of the morning meeting, the Council concluded its interactive dialogue with Faiza Patel, Chairperson of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, and with Pablo De Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.
Speaking in this interactive dialogue were the following delegations: Algeria, Colombia, Peru, Sri Lanka, Finland, Egypt, Ireland, Australia, Czech Republic, Armenia, Sweden, South Africa, Costa Rica, Paraguay and China. Also taking the floor were non-governmental organizations: Centre Europe – Tiers Monde, Federation of Cuban Women, Asian Legal Resource Centre, International Institute for Peace, International Commission of Jurists, Centre de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociacion Civil, Redress Trust and Commission to Study Organization of Peace.
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Patel said that regulating private military and security companies required a multi-layered approach. One of the key questions was defining what kind of military action could and could not be outsourced to private military and security companies.
Mr. De Greiff said in his concluding observations that further work needed to be done in exploring how transitional justice could be connected with security and development programmes and hoped that he would be able to address the concerns expressed by the delegations in his future work.
The Council today is holding a full day of meetings from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. At 3 p.m., it will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity and the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.
General Debate with the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries and the Special Rapporteur on Truth and Reparation
Algeria said that over past years, traditional mercenaries had been replaced by private military and security companies, which put in question the responsibility of States for public security and the protection of human rights. Self-regulatory measures were valuable, but could not replace an internationally binding treaty. On truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Algeria underlined the importance of truth and reconciliation commissions and of national solutions that took into account particular conditions of a State.
Colombia fully appreciated truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence as key to the rights of victims of human rights violations and welcomed the victim-based approach that recognized victims as rights holders. Following a long domestic conflict, which was still ongoing, Columbia had undertaken the most ambitious project of seeking truth, justice and reparation for the 4 million persons affected by that conflict, and hoped to make firm progress in peace and justice for all.
Peru said that in the context of violence and flagrant human rights violations, building a peaceful and prosperous society required seeking truth, which made possible the identification of the causes of violence, identification of perpetrators, bringing them to justice and providing reparations to victims and their families. It was vital that victims were recognized as right-holders and the participation of victims and their organizations was crucial in identifying truth and promoting justice and reparation.
Sri Lanka said that reconciliation should be context specific and welcomed the view that it was crucial to identify and assess preconditions in any given country. Sri Lanka had set up a commission of lessons learned and reconciliation tasked to advise on measures to ensure healing, cohesion and unity, including the rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers and the integration of the Sri Lankan diaspora in the reconciliation process. Enough attention should be paid to social and economic aspects of post-conflict reconstruction.
Finland supported the comprehensive approach to the four elements in the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, appreciated the special focus on how these four elements interacted in practice, and welcomed integration of a gender perspective in this work. These measures could only be effective with the meaningful participation of victims. There should be no impunity for perpetrators of international crimes. How would the International Criminal Court judgement on the Lubanga case affect the work of the Special Rapporteur?
Egypt reiterated concern about the alarming resurgence in the use of mercenaries. There was a clear deficiency in international norms concerning the work of private military and security companies. The tendency to deal with them through self-regulation and best practices was alarming, and Egypt welcomed the proposal to conclude an international convention. What were the views of the Working Group concerning the implementation of the four components in relation to extraterritorial jurisdiction for war crimes in violation of international humanitarian law?
Ireland commended the Special Rapporteur for the exploration of the conceptual foundations of transitional justice and said that it was important to establish best practices in this regard. The linkages between security, development and transitional justice were profound and should be further explored. Ireland looked forward to the possibility of the Special Rapporteur elaborating upon these linkages as part of his work in the future.
Australia agreed with the Special Rapporteur that achieving the larger objective of protection of human rights, recognition of victims and building trust were essential. Australia welcomed the recognition of victims of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and the integration of gender equality in the report of the Special Rapporteur. Ensuring accountability and ending impunity for the most serious crimes rebuilt the trust in the society, both in its institutions and its people.
Czech Republic welcomed the connection between the success of transitional justice and full and meaningful participation of victims in all its stages. What was the role of civil society organizations in this regard? The Czech Republic noted with particular interest the attention to the context of transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict areas and areas without clear transition and the different challenges it brought and asked the Special Rapporteur what were some conceptual solutions reflecting those challenges.
Armenia said that reconciliation should not be viewed as an alternative to justice and welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s victim-based approach. The role of the international community in the realisation of the rights of victims could not be underestimated. Armenia asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on his vision of possible cooperation with the Special Advisor on the prevention of genocide, Francis Deng, and on the legal impact of the recognition by the international community of those responsible for gross human rights violations.
Sweden said that a comprehensive approach to transitional justice was essential to providing recognition to the victims, promoting reconciliation, and re-establishing the rule of law, and hoped that these efforts would receive the necessary support from the international community. Sweden asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on concrete ideas concerning possible cooperation with other mandate holders.
South Africa said that the work of these private security and military companies now extended beyond mercenary activities. South Africa was concerned about the recruitment of nationals from countries which had prohibited in law the provision of foreign military assistance and requested the views of the Working Group on the extent to which such recruitment may amount to aiding and abetting illegal acts, and recommended the publication of a list of individuals convicted of mercenary activities.
Costa Rica acknowledged the research and analysis conducted by the Working Group into the national legislation of private military and security companies and welcomed the comments that the Working Group had made on the Draft Charter to the International Code. The mandate on truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence was particularly important to Costa Roca, which welcomed the particular attention paid to the victim-based approach adopted by the Special Rapporteur.
Paraguay welcomed the comprehensive approach to truth and justice of the Special Rapporteur and said that in Paraguay, the number of victims exercising their right to indemnities had been on the rise. The establishment in 2003 of the Truth and Justice Commission had been very helpful in this regard. Paraguay had implemented other forms of reparations recommended by the Special Rapporteur and had integrated chapters about the country’s history in school curricula.
China said that private military and security companies should abide by international law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Their personnel should not have combatant status and should be held accountable for human rights violations. It was important that self-regulatory efforts were complemented by strong national regulatory frameworks. Turning to the report by Mr. De Greiff, China said that each situation must be clearly evaluated and assessed and attention should be given to different needs of women, men and children.
Centre Europe–Tiers Monde, said that States no longer held a monopoly on the legitimate use of force and did not control the activities of private and military security companies. Companies benefited from gaps in national legislation in Switzerland. The legislation in the United States was problematic and did not allow for control or accountability for human rights violations. Given the transnational nature of the issue, an international instrument was necessary.
Federation of Cuban Women welcomed the efforts of the Working Group towards the development of international legally binding regulations. The lack of appropriate national norms and monitoring created a legal vacuum which promoted the activities of companies in zones of armed conflict. The Federation of Cuban Women said that for generations the Cuban counter-revolution had been a source of numerous mercenaries, including so-called dissidents and human rights defenders in Cuba.
Asian Legal Resource Centre said that reconciliation could not be an alternative to justice and welcomed the focus on strengthening the rule of law and building national institutions. It was urgent for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur to engage with the Government of Nepal and to take up the issue of the proposed ordinance granting broad amnesty for serious human rights violations. The Asian Legal Resource Centre called on States to refuse to fund mechanisms which fell short of this benchmark.
International Institute for Peace said that the situation in Afghanistan today was an example of the kind of devastation that mercenary activity could cause and, in the context of Afghanistan, it was the Taliban that were to be treated as mercenaries. The sustained use of religiously indoctrinated fighters by any country against any other country had to fall within the ambit of discussion about the impact that mercenary activity had on the lives and security of innocent lives.
International Commission of Jurists said that under no circumstance should a situation of crisis or transition be invoked to deny the right to a fair trial or the right to effective access to justice, including effective remedies and reparations. Also important was the need for transitional mechanisms to pay due regard to past abuses of human rights by business enterprises. The Council should act in a non-selective way.
Centre de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociacion Civil said that in Argentina, as laws of impunity were unconstitutional, this had given rise to substantive outcomes. However challenges still remained, such as the significant delays in the processing of repeals against sentences handed down orally. In Chile, efforts in truth and justice had lacked focus on gender. Another challenge was respect for the amnesty decree and imposition of light sentences on perpetrators, and low prosecution of torture and sexual violence against women.
Redress Trust urged the Special Rapporteur to explicitly adopt a victims’ rights orientation in his work, firmly grounded in international standards. This would ensure that the centrality of victims’ claims as rights holders to the often difficult issues under consideration would not be diluted. Redress Trust hoped that the Special Rapporteur would also address the gross human rights violations in other contexts in addition to societies in transition.
Commission to Study Organization of Peace believed that the traditional definition of mercenaries needed to be modified to take into account the modern scenarios. All non-State armed groups functioning from sanctuaries within one State against another State should be called mercenaries. The Commission to Study Organization of Peace described developments in Pakistan and the re-emergence of terrorist and militant groups under different names.
Concluding Remarks by the Chairperson of the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries and the Special Rapporteur on Truth and Reparations
FAIZA PATEL, Chairperson of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, in her closing remarks, said that regulating private military and security companies required a multi-layered approach. That was why the Working Group was engaged in the development of international standards, understanding national regulations and working with the industry to provide feedback on self-regulatory efforts. She outlined four main elements that should be included in a treaty on private military and security companies. First, defining and deciding what kind of functions could and could not be outsourced to private military and security companies. Second, ensuring that these companies were registered and licensed, and third, ensuring accountability for human rights violations. The fourth and final element was the need for modest international supervision. Those were the building blocks of the proposed international legislation. On the national level, the Working Group had initiated research into national systems and was now focusing on two regions, Africa, without the Middle East and North Africa, and five Eastern European countries. The Working Group was focusing on these countries to start because of resource constraints. Concerning industry-level approaches to improving compliance of private military and security companies with human rights standards, Ms. Patel recalled that in its comments on the Draft Charter to implement the International Code of Conduct, the Working Group identified several areas of concern, including the need to mainstream human rights. With respect to the reference the delegation of the United States to ANSI Standard, Ms. Patel requested that the United States provide this standard – which was only available commercially – as part of its answer to the Working Group’s national legislation request.
PABLO DE GREIFF, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, in his concluding observations, said that a great diversity of experiences from different areas of the world was apparent in the interactive dialogue with delegations. Further work needed to be done in exploring how transitional justice could be connected with security and development programmes and he underlined that this should not be interpreted as an effort to weaken the component of transitional justice in programmes, but rather how to incorporate security and development in effective transitional justice work. With regard to cooperation with other parts of the United Nations system, the Special Rapporteur said that he had already started discussions with the United Nations Development Programme and United Nations Women, and had engaged with the General Assembly on the issues of the rule of law and with the International Criminal Court. Efforts were being made to also incorporate the work of non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations and Mr. De Greiff had already consulted with them in the preparation of the report. Progress achieved so far in the participation of victims in the design and administration of transitional justice systems and in incorporating gender perspectives did not mean that the work was done, said the Special Rapporteur. He recommended that the Human Rights Council adopt the draft resolutions that were being prepared. In closing, the Special Rapporteur said he shared the concerns expressed by the delegations and hoped that he would be able to address them in his future work.
The Council has before it the final draft of the guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights, submitted by the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (A/HRC/21/39)
The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation - Stigma and the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation (A/HRC/21/42) and its Addendum 1 - Mission to Senegal (A/HRC/21/42/Add.1), its Addendum 2 – Mission to Uruguay (A/HRC/21/43/Add.2), and its Addendum 3 – Mission to Namibia (A/HRC/21/42/Add.3)
Presentation by Special Rapporteurs on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation
09 MAGDALENA SEPULVEDA CARMONA, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, introducing the final draft of the Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights, said that the Council’s efforts on this subject explicitly recognised that the existence of extreme poverty was an unacceptable situation and a moral scandal and its eradication required cooperative and coordinated action at the national and international level. The Guiding Principles were an opportunity for the Human Rights Council to convert the words from political commitments into concrete actions and to leave an important legacy for the future: an international text which emphasized the human rights of the most underprivileged and provided a guide as to how these rights could be respected, protected, and fulfilled. The Special Rapporteur outlined the long history of the work on drafting those Guiding Principles, which had started in 2001, and said that the final text was the result of many formal consultations with States and other stakeholders, including United Nations agencies and national human rights institutions.
It was important to note that the document did not create new human rights obligations but rather guided States in the implementation of obligations already assumed through a number of international instruments in the context of the fight against poverty. The text was relevant for all countries at all stages of development; it guided States in how to overcome the specific obstacles that persons living in poverty confronted; and also emphasised the importance of international cooperation and assistance. After more than 10 years, the Council had finally concluded the elaboration of those Guiding Principles and with their adoption now had an opportunity to contribute to the protection of rights of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in our societies, in a critical moment in global history, when their conditions of life were under renewed threat. Finally, Ms. Sepulveda Carmona expressed hope that the Council would take advantage of this opportunity and the adoption of the Guiding Principles would be a concrete demonstration of the recognition that extreme poverty constituted an urgent human rights concern.
CATARINA DE ALBUQUERQUE, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, said that the main thematic report focused on the links between stigma and the human rights framework as it related to the rights to water and sanitation. Ms. Albuquerque said that evolutions in perception were evidence that combating stigma was something possible and within reach. Stigma and discrimination were closely interrelated, reinforcing and legitimising each other. Addressing discrimination without explicitly also recognizing and addressing stigma left part of the underlying issues unsolved. Stigma in relation to the exercise of the human rights to water and sanitation was present everywhere in the world and manifested itself in different ways. It was contrary to the very essence of human dignity, thereby laying the ground for human rights violations which led to further exclusion and marginalization. States had to refrain from any activities that perpetuated and institutionalised stigma, and had to protect individuals from human rights abuses committed by third parties. Also, States should undertake a comprehensive study on stigma, based on a multi-stakeholder participatory process, to identify drivers in relation to the human rights to water and sanitation. States could not meet their human rights obligations without addressing stigma.
The Special Rapporteur said she had undertaken visits to Namibia, Senegal and Uruguay. Despite difficulties and challenges, Governments in each of these countries recognised the human rights to water and sanitation and had a vision, a plan and strategies in place for the water and/or sanitation sectors. However, those who were most affected by the lack of water and sanitation were those individuals and communities who were the most marginalised, most vulnerable, or most stigmatised. In Namibia, the impact of the lack of access to water and sanitation was still an area of concern and the situation was compounded by the fact that 24 percent of health facilities did not have regular water supply. The biggest challenge was low sanitation coverage. In Senegal, the majority of the population did not yet have access to sanitation. Water and sanitation were too expensive for some, including the poorest and most marginalised members of population. In Uruguay, issues of accessibility and affordability of water and sanitation for personal and domestic use required more attention. There was also the negative impact of some livestock industries and major investment projects on resources and the quality of water.
Statements by Concerned Countries
Senegal, speaking as a concerned country, said that the visit of the Special Rapporteur allowed her to observe the progress achieved by Senegal in the field of access to water and sanitation. Reforms were planned, Senegal said, to improve the legal framework on this issue and to make water more accessible and affordable for the population. Senegal said that fulfilling the enjoyment of the right to water and sanitation was a long term effort and required international cooperation.
Uruguay, speaking as a concerned country, said that Uruguay was a firm supporter of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. Uruguay had already undertaken some reforms recommended by the Special Rapporteur, and it considered some of her recommendations to be already implemented. Uruguay had begun to train professionals in the field of safe drinking water and sanitation. Finally, Uruguay said that it was adopting a National Plan on this issue, with the inclusion of civil society organizations.
Namibia, speaking as a concerned country, said that it had made progress in providing safe drinking water and sanitation to its population, although challenges remained. Namibia had organized a conference seeking private investments in this regards, which was to take place the next day. The Government had implemented projects to create employment in this area, and considered the access of safe drinking water a priority. The Government had discovered water resources in the north of the country, and would make efforts to guarantee that it benefitted the population.
Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and on the Rights to Water and Sanitation
France said that the objective of the Guiding Principles was to establish a framework of reference for States to help them combat this scourge. A consensus had emerged in the Council on the need to complete the drafting process for the Guiding Principles and France together with other nine countries would present a resolution to adopt the Guiding Principles. In closing, France welcomed the publication of best practices on the realization of the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation and the report on the difficult issue of stigma and its consequences on the realization of these rights.
Senegal, speaking said on behalf of the African Group, noted the absence in the Guiding Principles to a specific reference to the right to development, an alienable right that would ensure that persons living in poverty were assisted. The African Group said it could not endorse the highly controversial notions linked to discrimination described by the Special Rapporteur on safe drinking water and sanitation, but it encouraged the efforts at prevention, information and awareness-raising in order to find durable solutions to the problems described in the report.
China, in a joint statement, welcomed the efforts to develop the Guiding Principles and agreed that poverty was indeed a multi-dimensional phenomenon and an urgent human rights concern. China agreed that States needed to undertake concrete national actions to eradicate poverty and those actions needed to be supported by an enabling international environment. This environment could be created with greater efforts to realize the right to development. The Special Rapporteur should look into some approaches in order to assist the implementation of those Guiding Principles.
United Arab Emirates, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that water was vital for life and societies. It was a key precondition for any political society that was to be a success and was vital for social cohesion. The Arab Group agreed it was necessary to have proper planning and strategies in place for short term and long term solutions and that human rights solutions should be at the heart of all of these. The rights to safe drinking water and sanitation should indeed be defined in conformity with principles and standards of human rights.
Algeria said that international cooperation had to be coupled with other adequate measures in the area of development in order to make that cooperation effective. Algeria believed that the fight against extreme poverty was intimately linked to the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. It would therefore have liked to have seen explicit reference to the right to development in the document.
Germany said that a non-discriminatory society was not only more worth living in, but also more efficient. The reduction of prejudice and the change of attitudes and views was a time-consuming process that required more than just action. Could the Special Rapporteur elaborate on the need to distinguish between discrimination and stigmatisation? What were the operational differences regarding the adoption of specific policy approaches that resulted from that particular differentiation?
European Union said that the key objective of the Guiding Principles created by the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights was to bring under one instrument all recognized human rights from an extreme poverty perspective. The European Union said that these guidelines were a very useful tool, and asked Ms. Sepulveda Carmona what stakeholders should do to guarantee their effective implementation? On the issue of safe drinking of water and sanitation, the European Union said that the full realization of this right necessitated that Governments address the issue of stigma and discrimination, and refrain from any activities that perpetuate and institutionalize stigma. The European Union asked the Special Rapporteur to share good practices to combat stigma.
Spain said that it would present at this session a new resolution on the human right to water and sanitation. Spain agreed that stigma and discrimination had a negative impact on the right to access to water of different groups, including persons with disabilities. A cooperation fund for water and sanitation had been established, and Spain asked the Special Rapporteur how she saw the Human Rights Council addressing the issue of stigmatization?
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that all people without discrimination should enjoy the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and that legislative measures to tackle the phenomenon of stigma needed to be established by States. Regarding the prohibited grounds for discrimination referred to in the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation objected to the notion of sexual orientation and gender identity, as it had no agreed upon definition in international law. On the right to development, international organizations needed to be more proactive in assessing how their work tackled international poverty. The draft Guiding Principles were not enough, and strong political will was needed to make poverty history.
Saudi Arabia said that the two Special Rapporteurs exposed many important issues, which outlined the duties that the Human Rights Council needed to fulfil. Saudi Arabia had given US $ 500 million to the United Nations World Food Programme to serve the needy throughout the world, had cancelled foreign debt and had provided international assistance to other countries that far exceeded the rate set by the United Nations. Safe water must be provided to all categories without discrimination, said Saudi Arabia, and provided national examples in ensuring access to clean water.
Uruguay, speaking said on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, expressed its concern about the persistence of extreme poverty in the world, which was worsened by the economic and financial crises shaking the world. Urgent national, regional and international measures must be taken to fight extreme poverty. These measures must apply a human rights-based approach, in which people living in poverty were seen as participants and not mere recipients of assistance. At the same time, underlying and structural causes of poverty must be tackled, notably exclusion and discrimination.
Kuwait said it firmly believed in regional and international cooperation to relieve the plight of poverty and preserve human dignity and said that this cause presented the most crucial challenge facing the world. This was particularly important in the light of climate change, which required consolidation of international efforts to address it. Kuwait had committed more that 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product to official development assistance and was thus one of the most prominent donor countries in combating poverty.
Angola said that the extreme poverty index had fallen by 10 per cent in Africa, although it still was the continent the most affected by poverty. Angola supported the Guiding Principles created by the Special Rapporteur, and said that its Government had made combating poverty its priority. The indicators for poverty had seen a reduction in Angola, and the Government had adopted measures and policies to address the special needs of the most vulnerable people in the field of housing, health and education.
Chile said that the Guiding Principles were the outcome of intense consultations and should be supported, and that they made the existing human rights standards systematic and allowed for a better implementation of the already existing instruments. The Guiding Principles contributed to empower the people living in poverty, who should be included in the activities of the society. The Guiding Principles did not create any new obligations for Member States, and needed to be applied depending on the level of development of each country.
Philippines said that the draft Guiding Principles on extreme poverty offered a set of tools that would help in attaining the Millennium Development Goals if properly implemented. Extreme poverty prevented people from enjoying other rights in the field of housing, education or health. The Philippines would now take the Guiding Principles into strong consideration with a view of endorsing them at the United Nations General Assembly.
Colombia said that the work of the Special Rapporteur included a broad and constructive approach to combat poverty. Poverty eradication was an important priority for Colombia and was seen as a condition for equity and social justice. A strategy to reduce poverty and increase social participation in economic development was needed as part of the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals. The development of programmes to combat poverty should go hand in hand with programmes to improve education and access to employment.
Paraguay said that the report illustrated the role of stigmatization in human rights violations and showed that people who suffered from marginalization often internalised their situation and accepted it as normal. Paraguay was currently developing public policies to ensure universal access to drinking water and sanitation, including developing framework legislation. Paraguay welcomed the draft Guiding Principles and said it was important to stress the fundamental human rights principles and the responsibilities of different State and non-State actors.
Sri Lanka said that the effort to develop the Guidelines had led to an important milestone in addressing the inter-linkages between extreme poverty and human rights. Extreme poverty was not inevitable but was created, enabled and perpetuated by acts and omissions of States and other economic actors. Sri Lanka’s development framework counted with a strategy to stimulate economic growth and ensure its even distribution and sought to integrate both urban and rural economies towards the empowerment of its people, including vulnerable groups.
Slovenia said that as a member of the Blue Group Slovenia fully recognized the human rights to safe water and sanitation and was happy to host the visit of the Special Rapporteur to this country in May 2010. Slovenia was now actively implementing her recommendations which included the provision of clean drinking water and sanitation to the Roma settlements which were mostly illegal. Slovenia would continue with a systematic approach to improving the living conditions in Roma settlements.
Ireland said that tackling extreme poverty required the collective action of national governments, civil society, the United Nations, and increasingly non-State actors, including business enterprises. Ireland paraphrased Nelson Mandela who had said that overcoming poverty was not a task of charity, but an act of justice, and could be overcome and eradicated by the action of human beings. Ireland asked the Special Rapporteur how the Guidelines should be used by international development actors to support their individual programmes.
Switzerland thanked the Special Rapporteur on safe drinking water and sanitation and said that, when reading her report, the only feeling one could have was shame because today human beings were still treated in such a degrading and humiliating way. Switzerland asked the Special Rapporteur whether the situation of stigmatised people in terms of access to clean water and sanitation had improved and also asked how synergies between different actors responsible for evaluating the Millennium Development Goals were organized.
Thailand said that Thailand had participated actively in the preparatory process of the Guiding Principles on extreme poverty, and that it was determined to address this issue domestically. Thailand shared the view of Ms. Sepulveda Carmona of the importance of international assistance and cooperation to combat extreme poverty. On the issue of water and sanitation, Thailand said that addressing the issue of stigma and discrimination was indeed challenging, and that stigma was a cause of discrimination in the access to safe drinking water.
Italy said that the number of people living in extreme poverty had fallen in the past years, but that the dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty were still there in all countries. Extreme poverty should be combated from a human rights perspective. Italy asked the Special Rapporteur what her views were on the post Millennium Development Goals framework. Italy also thanked the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for her report.
United States said that people living in extreme poverty should enjoy rights regardless of their situation. The United States disagreed with the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty that States were bound by instruments they had not ratified, and that they had a duty to undertake international cooperation. The United States said that it looked forward to continue its work with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Egypt welcomed the focus on the principles of non-discrimination, participation and accountability. Egypt lamented that the right to development had not been reflected in the text of the Guiding Principles, despite being among the most interlinked with the application of a human rights-based approach to strategies, policies and programmes for poverty eradication. Concerning the report of the Special Rapporteur on safe drinking water and sanitation, Egypt voiced caution in coining new terminology when addressing existing agreed human rights norms and principles.
Bangladesh said that even though the promotion and protection of human rights was primarily the responsibility of the State, in the present context of globalization, it required more than comprehensive national strategies to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion. The lack of policy coherence at the national and international levels often undermined national commitments. Concerning the right to safe drinking water, more pressing and broader issues beyond stigmatization should be taken into account.
Cuba said that the Guiding Principles constituted a useful tool for future work on poverty eradication. International cooperation had been scaled back and developed countries were not meeting their development commitments. The right to development should become a reality in practice. Cuba asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on the next steps for the implementation of the Guiding Principles. Access to water constituted a fundamental human right and international cooperation and support for developing countries was important.
Portugal agreed that stigma contributed to the violation of the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and said that it was essential for States to put an end to discriminatory practices, in collaboration with the education sector and the media. Portugal asked Ms Albuquerque how she envisaged assisting States and other stakeholders in implementing the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and what the biggest challenges were to the implementation of this right.
Bahrain said that extreme poverty harmed the enjoyment of human rights, and that poverty reduction had to be a priority for all countries and had to be addressed from human rights and development perspectives. Bahrain supported the need to increase international cooperation in favour of countries struggling to implement the Millennium Development Goals.
Argentina said that the Guiding Principles on extreme poverty were very important as an instrument to design and implement poverty reduction policies. Argentina had made improvements in the field of poverty reduction since 2003 by promoting basic services, creating opportunities for the universal access to education, health and housing, and by systematically working at the local and national levels on the inclusion of the most vulnerable communities.
Honduras said the Guiding Principles were the result of a long process of consultations over the years. People exposed to poverty saw their enjoyment of equality and dignity undermined. States must ensure the effective participation of people suffering from poverty in contributing to the implementation of international assistance. Honduras had two fundamental documents, a national plan of action with the objective of consolidating a social welfare system and also a report concerning the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.
United Kingdom said the United Kingdom had undertaken a full and careful consideration of its position on the right to sanitation within existing international human rights law. The United Kingdom had announced in June that it recognised that the right to sanitation was an element of the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living and not as a freestanding right under international law. The United Kingdom asked Ms. Alburquerque what other actions she suggested to the international community to ensure the fulfilment of related Millennium Development Goals.
Syria said Syria was doing its best in the current crisis to guarantee the basic rights of its people and noted the plight of Syrians under Israeli occupation in the Syrian Golan who did not enjoy their right to water. Furthermore, Syria noted the unjust sanctions illegitimately taken against the Syrian people, which sought to impoverish Syria and placed political ends above human rights. Syria called on States to condemn these practices. The Government was committed to fulfil its obligations.
South Africa underscored the centrality of close collaboration between human rights, development, and financing experts in designing programmes aimed at poverty eradiation, taking into consideration the ability of States to mitigate conditions of extreme poverty. South Africa had reservations and was concerned by the lack of reflection of the developmental approach and the right to development in the draft Guiding Principles, which had not been consulted upon in the African region, in an intergovernmental forum.
Brazil, speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, said that the comprehensive national poverty alleviation plan ‘Brasil sem Miseria’ launched last year was a top priority, and also took into account the gender perspective of poverty as most families in the poorer segments of the country were headed by women. Beyond the adoption of the draft Guiding Principles, the challenge ahead resided in the area of implementation which would depend on resources, international cooperation and replication of best practices.
Morocco welcomed the exhaustive identification by the Special Rapporteur of the factors that were at the origin of or that aggravated extreme poverty. Morocco emphasized certain rights that impacted on the fight of that scourge, such as the right to education, work, property, and an adequate standard of living. Morocco had set up a series of projects and programmes at the domestic level, such as on a medical assistance regime for economically disadvantaged people, and a city without slums programme.
Malaysia said that it viewed the Guiding Principles presented in the report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty as providing a constructive guide on how States could apply human rights standards while combating poverty, and as a tool in the design and implementation of poverty reduction programmes. Malaysia had managed to reduce the incident of poverty through various policy reduction programmes and through building capacities of poor people on the long term. On water and sanitation, Malaysia said that it aimed to achieve universal coverage of clean water by 2014.
Maldives said that, given its unique geography, access to safe drinking water and sanitation was a key national priority for Maldives. Maldives was in the process of adopting the Water and Sanitation Act to face the lack of a strong human rights-based regulatory framework to govern the provision of safe drinking water. Maldives asked for the Special Rapporteur’s views on strategies that small States such as Maldives could adopt to tackle the issue of stigmatization.
Belgium said that it had followed the process of the preparation of the Guiding Principles on extreme poverty with great interest. Belgium would continue its efforts, together with its European partners, to combat extreme poverty. Belgium called for the adoption of the Guidelines, and asked the Special Rapporteur what advice she could give to States on how they could implement those Guiding Principles in their domestic legislations.
Peru said that while millions of people lived in poverty and extreme poverty and States and relevant stakeholders implemented policies to fight poverty, these policies often reduced the poor to mere recipients of aid. The draft Guiding Principles promoted a human rights-based approach and, rather than creating new human rights, they offered practical guidance on how to implement existing standards in the design and implementation of policies, while also stressing the importance of national policy reduction strategies and international cooperation and assistance.
Estonia said that poverty prevented persons from accessing and realising their basic rights. The draft Guiding Principles were a useful tool for States to use in implementing their various policies to guarantee persons a dignified existence, which remained at the heart of the human rights approach. Special attention should be paid to the protection of vulnerable groups, which tended to be more exposed to the risk of poverty; in this regard, Estonia was committed to reduce inequality between women and men and employed a universal approach to the protection of children.
Ecuador said that its Constitution established that the State was responsible to plan for national development and poverty reduction. Ecudador’s national well-being plan sought to improve living conditions. Concrete measures focused on marginalised groups, and the number of people living in poverty and extreme poverty in urban areas had decreased. The right to water was closely connected to dignity, life and health and several measures had been implemented by the Ministry of Water, including a fair management and distribution.
Venezuela agreed that within the human rights framework, States had to make the neediest sectors a priority. Venezuela was committed to the eradication of poverty through the implementation of public policies under the principles of universality, equality, inclusion and social justice, among others. Through social missions, Venezuela had achieved the first Millennium Goal, having halved the number of people living in extreme poverty, decreased the number of unemployed, as well as increased employment for those traditionally excluded.
Viet Nam said it was clear that the fight against poverty had to be a central priority in the promotion and protection of human rights. What were the measures envisaged for the effective implementation of the Guiding Principles, particularly in light of currents challenges such as the global economic crisis and the risk of food shortages? Viet Nam said that the eradication of stigmatization undoubtedly required a broad and varied approach, as it manifested itself in various ways.
Finland said that it considered the Millennium Development Goals to be key elements in the eradication of extreme poverty, and it was interested in hearing the Special Rapporteur’s views on which ways the Guiding Principles could be included in the post 2015 Millennium Development Goal implementation. On water and sanitation, Finland was reviewing how the rights of persons with disabilities were realised in its programmes, and was mapping best practices. How could the report be linked to the post-2015 work?
Costa Rica said that the Human Rights Council, through the adoption of the Guiding Principles on human rights and poverty, had an opportunity to turn its words into actions. Costa Rica believed that extreme poverty was an obstacle to the full enjoyment of human rights, and that States had the obligation to combat it. These Principles were not new obligations for States, but a guide on how to address extreme poverty.
Norway said that the fulfilment of human rights was an intrinsic part of poverty eradication, and that women’s active participation in the economy was crucial to fight poverty. States should undertake positive measures to ensure the eradication of poverty for vulnerable communities. The Guiding Principles were a very important tool. States could not ensure the right to safe water and sanitation without addressing stigma. Norway asked for clarification on the definition of the right to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Bolivia said that Bolivia fully agreed with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation that stigma had to be combated, starting with information, participation and empowerment of the most vulnerable people. Bolivia said that it would achieve the relevant Millennium Development Goals by 2015, before the deadline set by the United Nations, as more than 75 per cent of the population would have access to clean water.
Indonesia said that poverty was not only about inadequate income but about the deprivation of human dignity. Indonesia applied a similar approach in addressing extreme poverty by reducing the cost of basic needs, education and health services through several programmes. Indonesia recognised the right to water as part of social welfare. Indonesia asked the Special Rapporteur on poverty to provide further clarification on the similarity of scope of rights linked to extreme poverty as those of economic, social and cultural rights; and to the Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation whether stigmatization was seen as an actual barrier or whether the barrier was a side effect of stigmatisation.
International Movement ATD Fourth World, in a joint statement, said that the draft Guiding Principles would also provide important input into the formulation of a new and more effective post-2015 development agenda for it also spelled out the obligation of international assistance and cooperation that, if met, would help to build a more stable and prosperous world. It was time that this work was finalised by the Council.
World Wide Organization for Women said that countries that had improved the social status of women had lower poverty rates; however, women and girls remained a significant part of the world’s poor. Despite gender mainstreaming to improve the situation of women, most Millennium Development Goals had failed to improve the situation of women because women had not been included in the decision-making process.
Friends World Committee for Consultation said that it was pleased by the attention given to water and sanitation interventions as an entry point for wider social change. States tended not to go to war over water. Cases of cooperation showed the fallacy of assuming that scarcity would automatically lead to conflict. Had the devotion of a report on the role that access to water and sanitation could play in promoting peace and avoiding violent conflict been considered?
Centre Europe-Tiers Monde, Europe-Third World Centre said that the distinction between poverty and extreme poverty did nothing to resolve or tackle the source of the phenomenon. It was difficult to measure poverty using methods and indicators drawn up by the World Bank, thus it was of the view that the Guidelines should apply to poverty overall. Though implicit in guidelines, combating inequality should be more emphasized given the evident link between inequality and poverty.
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights said Israel had neglected its responsibilities under international humanitarian law, international human rights law and multiple United Nations resolutions on the respect and protection of the right to water and sanitation for Palestinians. Distribution was discriminatory and unequal with average daily water consumption roughly at 60 litres per person daily for a Palestinian and 487 litres per person in Israeli settlements. Israel had also conducted a wave of demolitions targeting water infrastructure in the West Bank, thus forcibly displacing Palestinians from their homes.
African Technology Development Link said that recent global estimates suggested that around 1.2 billion people lived in poverty. In Pakistan, poverty was a growing concern and the system did not permit the equal treatment of all citizens. As of 2008, over 17 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line, the lowest in recorded history of the country. Due to the lack of institutions, tackling social problems was very difficult.
International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism said that Dalits of South Asia were often restricted from access to safe drinking water and population. Dalit women were among those most exposed to discrimination and even violence when fetching water. Dalits were denied access to water and sanitation also in the course of humanitarian disasters.
Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights said that the eradication of extreme poverty was a precondition to the existence of human rights in real life. In the midst of the economic and financial crisis, the middle class was sliding into poverty and the poor into extreme poverty. Norms without sanctions had no teeth and therefore teeth should be added to the Guiding Principles.
Amnesty International shared the assessment of the Special Rapporteur that slums and informal settlements were often not taken into account in urban planning and this was a political problem which was not due to lack of resources. Amnesty International had documented the stigma faced by Roma leading to forced evictions, absence of social housing and denial of the right to water and sanitation.
Concluding Remarks by the Special Rapporteurs on the Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and on the Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation
MAGDALENA SEPULVEDA CARMONA, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, speaking in concluding remarks, expressed gratitude for the support voiced for the draft Guiding Principles. Ms. Sepulveda Carmona agreed with the African Group concerning the importance of the right to development, despite the fact that the report and the Guiding Principles did not include references to this right. There was simply not enough space to include quotes or reference to all relevant international instruments. While this response might not fully satisfy the African Group, Ms. Sepulveda Carmona suggested to follow on resolution 2006/9, on the implementation of existing human rights norms and standards in the fight against poverty, and a similar text could be adopted during this Council session welcoming the Guiding Principles and making a explicit reference to the contribution of the Guiding Principles to the right to development and the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. Concerning the comments made by China on behalf of a group of countries, and by Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ms. Sepulveda Carmona agreed that formulating the Guiding Principles and their adoption in the Council were not enough but constituted only the first steps in order to move from rhetoric to practice. Many delegations had emphasised the importance of participation and Ms. Sepulveda Carmona intended to focus her next report to the issue of human rights and participation and urged States to contribute with their individual experiences.
CATARINA DE ALBUQUERQUE, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, in concluding remarks, welcomed the declarations by some of the countries she had visited, as well as the statements by the United Kingdom and the European Union, which had stated for the first time as a whole recognition and support for the human rights to water and sanitation. An example of good practices regarding stigma was one present in her recent book ‘On the Right Track’, in relation to a situation in India, addressing discriminatory practices due to caste. That example showed it was possible to address stigma and put an end to it. The Special Rapporteur agreed with many statements that said that stigma was related to all human rights and went beyond water and sanitation. Responding to the question by Pakistan in that regard, all human rights instruments that dealt with discrimination and called on States to address root causes, dealt to some extent with stigma. Ms. Albuquerque also agreed that the links between stigma and human rights could and should be further explored. Broader discussion on stigma and human rights was welcomed. Why not hold a panel discussion at the Council on stigma and human rights in general, or raise the matter during the Universal Periodic Review? In March, it was said that the water target of the Millennium Development Goals had been met in 2010, but the sad reality was that progress was not necessarily seen among the most targeted, marginalised, and stigmatised groups, putting into question the use of the term progress. Discrimination, marginalization, and inequalities were a crucial and tragic blind spot of the Millennium Development Goal, and the Special Rapporteur called on all delegations to have the issue present in all discussions and debates regarding the post 2015 development agenda.
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