14 September 2012
The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its general debate on the right to development and on the thematic reports of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, in which speakers highlighted the importance of the right to development and voiced concern about the application of the death penalty in several countries, including on children.
In the general debate, speakers said that the right to development was not about material wealth only and noted that it became meaningful when it helped in the creation of complete and well-rounded individuals. Speakers called for efforts to work towards a moratorium and universal abolition of the death penalty. Delegations also expressed concern about and cited examples of intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders. Because violence against women, including sexual violence, continued to be one of the most entrenched forms of discrimination worldwide, States should take measures to increase the representation of women in the administration, and particularly in the justice administration, as an effective means to combat violence against women. A number of other issues were raised during the general debate, including the protection and respect of the rights of indigenous peoples, minorities and migrants. Speakers drew the attention of the Council to human rights violations in several countries across the world.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia spoke in the general debate, as did the following non-governmental organizations: Soka Gakkai, Centre Europe-Tiers Monde, Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme, Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, General Arab Women Federation, Foodfirst Information and Action Network, World Federation of Democratic Youth, Franciscans International, Friends World Committee for Consultation, Save the Children International, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Federation of Cuban Women, Liberal International, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Centre for Inquiry, World Environment and Resources, Council European Union of Public Relations, Canners International Permanent Committee, Non-Violent Radical Party Transnational and Transparency, International Educational Development Inc., African Technology Development Link, International Institute for Peace, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Cultural Survival, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, United Nations Watch, Amnesty International, North-South XXI, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Comite International pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples, Action Internationale pour la paix et le development dans la region des Grands Lacs, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Human Rights Watch, Verein Sudwind, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Liberation, World Muslim Congress, Agir Ensembles pour les Droits de l’Homme in a joint statement, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, International Association of Peace Messenger Cities in a joint statement, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, International Buddhist Relief Organization, World Barua Organization, Tchad agir pour l’environnement, France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, World Circle of the Consensus: Self-sustaining People, Organizations and Communities, Association of World Citizens, United Schools International, Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe, Penal Reform International, Agence Internationale pour le Developpement, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Society for Threatened Peoples, Africa Culture Internationale, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, African Technical Association, International Association for Democracy in Africa, and the Centre for Environmental and Management Studies.
Viet Nam and China spoke in a right of reply.
The Human Rights Council will resume its work at 9 a.m. on Monday, 17 September, to hear the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the report of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in Syria, and a presentation of the situation of human rights in the north of the Republic of Mali.
General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, in a video message said that it recognised the need for measures to regulate content both online and offline. However, such regulation had to be carefully formulated so as not to impinge on the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Soka Gakkai, in a joint statement encouraged all Governments both at the national and local levels to devote themselves to the effective implementation of human rights education and training. Establishing and making the best use of national focal points, strategies and plans were key elements to fulfill that accountability. It also emphasised the need for a monitoring and evaluation process in order to maximize the long-term impact of human rights education.
Centre Europe-Tiers Monde said it was very surprised by the content of the report of the Secretary-General on businesses and human rights. No reference was made to fundamental legal instruments for human rights such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the United Nations Charter, or the two international covenants on human rights. Hence, through the report the Secretary-General effectively replaced binding rules on international law on fundamental rights by guiding principles that were only voluntary.
Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme, in a joint statement, said that specific measures had to be undertaken to ensure the implementation of the fundamental right to development, inclusive of underrepresented communities, including women, indigenous people, elder people and people with disabilities. The organizations noted that the bad economic situation in many countries had led to more poverty and more human rights violations.
Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, in a joint statement, said that the international community should stop being reluctant to consider deaf people as a vulnerable community rather than just as disabled people, and address its specific needs, for example in relation to the development of deaf language programmes.
General Arab Women Federation, in a joint statement, talked about the situation in Syria and about the difficult situation faced by women there, as well as in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, where forced marriage as well as sexual violence were widespread. The General Arab Women Federation called on the Council’s Member States to take action on this issue.
Foodfirst Information and Action Network, in a joint statement, said that while peasants constituted half of the world population and the backbone of the food system today, they were also disproportionately affected by poverty, discrimination and other human rights violations. The Network urged the Council to address the normative gap in international human rights law and to protect the rights of peasants.
World Federation of Democratic Youth, in a joint statement, drew the Council’s attention to the serious and persisting human rights violations committed by Morocco in the Western Sahara, a territory still on the United Nations list of decolonisation since 1965; and reiterated their call to the Council to seriously and urgently investigate the situation given the lack of human rights monitoring and reporting mechanisms there.
Franciscans International expressed concern about the Indonesian Bill on Society Organization and that despite the commitment of the Government to implement its international human rights obligations this bill would threaten the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of assembly and of association. Franciscans International called on Indonesia to withdraw the bill, to repeal law 8/1985 on mass organization, and to continue consultations with civil society organizations and other stakeholders.
Friends World Committee for Consultation commended the report of the Secretary-General on the death penalty and the condemning of the execution of minors. On this occasion it underlined the impact on children where the parent was incarcerated, and called on all States enforcing the death penalty to pay greater attention to the impact on and needs of those children.
Save the Children International emphasised the indivisible link between maternal and child health and the need to address them jointly through a continuum of care. Combating hunger and malnutrition was more than a moral duty or a policy choice. In many countries it was a legally binding human rights obligation. Save the Children International therefore called on States to show bold leadership and renewed commitment in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation noted with great concern old and new legal restrictions in many countries to mount barriers against civil society actions and to cut “foreign” funding to silence independent human rights defenders and associations. There was a need to invest in and strengthen protection strategies for human rights defenders and civil society activists that came under attack.
Federation of Cuban Women said that the fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights was impeded in Cuba by the embargo imposed by the United States. The Federation also condemned the fact that various United States Governments had continued to arbitrarily detain five Cuban citizens on false grounds of terrorism.
Liberal International called on countries to repeal all laws on mandatory death penalties or juvenile death penalties, and called for the establishment of a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty. It also called on all countries to stop the trade of materials used for State executions.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence called for the adoption of an international binding instrument on the right to development and the establishment of a United Nations Council for the provision of global economic security. It also called on the Human Rights Council to deem the imposing of international economic sanctions against countries as the violation of economic, social and cultural rights of the people and disregard of the right to development.
Centre for Inquiry highlighted the problem of violent and extremist interpretations of Islam, illustrated by the destruction of Sufi shrines and the imposition of Sharia in Mali, and the killing of hundreds of Shia Muslims in Pakistan. For over 30 years Wahabi and Salafi Islam had been promoted and funded by Saudi Arabia. Extremism and violence in the name of Islam were causes of hatred against Islam.
World Environment and Resources Council said that Islamophobia in the West was on the increase and deliberate misrepresentations of the scriptures and their propagation to foment hatred had grown. Muslims everywhere must oppose the exclusivist-literalist interpretation of the Holy Quran that claimed that all its verses were of universal application regardless of context.
European Union of Public Relations said that the right to development was not only about material wealth and only became meaningful when it helped in the creation of complete and well-rounded individuals. In Baluchistan, despite rich mineral resources, people had unsuccessfully managed to secure their rights and continued to suffer from violence and human rights violations.
Canners International Permanent Committee said that development was essential both for improving productivity and ensuring security. Canners International Permanent Committee appealed to the international community to persuade the rulers of Pakistan to concentrate on providing a happy, free and progressive society for their people rather than seeking only to make their country a power broker in the region.
Non-Violent Radical Party Transnational and Transparency said that the right to knowledge and truth on institutional public events was relevant in the context of the 2003 Iraq war. It was necessary to emphasise and support the important work of related enquiries such as the Iraq war enquiry in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately such enquiries showed that there was withholding of information.
International Educational Development Inc. said that gross violations of human rights in Sri Lanka had yet to be addressed, and hoped that the Special Rapporteur on truth and reconciliation would request a visit there, as the Government refused to acknowledge the crimes committed against the Tamil community at the end of the civil war.
African Technology Development Link said that democracy meant upholding the rule of law. African Technology Development Link accused Pakistan of violating human rights and the principles of democracy in the region of Balochistan.
International Institute for Peace said that human rights defenders and journalists were very often the victims of intimidation and reprisals by State agencies, and presented cases of journalists in Pakistan who were suffering from human rights violations as a result of their peaceful activities. The International Institute for Peace called for a United Nations team to visit Pakistan and investigate those allegations.
Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said that in the last four decades Afghanistan had gone through many political and cultural changes and different regimes. Despite substantial achievements, many development and humanitarian challenges remained, and security was undermined by endemic drug trade, because opium cultivation was still more profitable than legitimate crops.
Cultural Survival joined the Marshall Islands and others who had requested yesterday that the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes be realized. Thirty-one years after the explosion of the Bravo bomb, the population still suffered from the nuclear fallout as seen in the many congenital birth effects or cancer cases.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said that the attack on the United States Embassy in Benghazi was illustrative of the dire state of the rule of law in Libya and highlighted the impunity with which perpetrators of gross human rights violations of national and international law were currently operating in this transitional period. The Libyan Government must look beyond the regime change and aim to protect the human rights of the Libyan people.
United Nations Watch recalled the Secretary-General’s words at the Council on Monday, “policing the Council’s standards holds members -and aspiring members- to their obligations. This is crucial to the Council’s legitimacy.” United Nations Watch drew attention to the human rights records of aspiring Council members Pakistan, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates. How could a country join the Council when it silenced free speech and violated women’s human rights?
Amnesty International said that a minority of countries continued to execute but it was still an intolerable too many. Amnesty International urged members and observers of the Human Rights Council to, among others, call on all countries that maintained the death penalty to immediately impose a moratorium on executions, and to ensure that the Council complemented action by the General Assembly towards universal abolition.
North-South XXI said that poverty was one of the main scourges confronting the world, and asked the independent expert to ensure that extreme poverty was considered in the broadest definition. North-South XXI urged the Independent Experts on solidarity and a democratic and equitable international order to identify existing concrete legal obligations.
International Humanist and Ethical Union said that more needed to be done to satisfy the unmet needs of contraception, as access to contraception was an essential and effective primary preventive strategy to reduce maternal mortality. International Humanist and Ethical Union urged the Human Rights Council to call, in its resolution on maternal health, on States to ensure that all couples were provided with information on contraception.
Comite International pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples, commended the recent reforms undertaken by Morocco to improve the protection of human rights, including the right to development, of its population, in the fields of education, transitional justice, criminal law, labour law, and the protection of vulnerable people. The International Committee also said that the plan of action proposed by Morocco was the only credible way to address the crisis in the Western Sahara.
Action Internationale pour la paix et le development dans la region des Grands Lacs said that the Sahrawi population suffered systematic and widespread human rights violations in camps. It condemned the biased manipulation by some organizations in the United Nations, and called for the Human Rights Council to address the issue of Sahrawis adequately.
International Human Rights Association of American Minorities said that all people had the right to self-determination and freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. The people of Jammu and Kashmir were totally deprived of this right by the Indian occupation forces through unrelenting and excessive use of force.
Human Rights Watch said that capital punishment for drug offences constituted a violation of international human rights law and that 32 States retained the death penalty for drug offences, but State practice had moved away from this punishment. Still, millions of dollars in aid for drug enforcement were spent in States that retained the death penalty for drugs. The international community had a shared responsibility to fight the drug trade, but it also shared responsibility for the human rights consequences of that fight, which were severe.
Verein Sudwind said that in 2011 the death penalty was still implemented in 18 countries in the world. At present, at least 29 political prisoners in Iran had received the death penalty and homosexual relations were also punishable by death. Ceasing of the birth control programme in Iran was another issue of concern, which might put at risk mother and child health and increase the rate of maternal mortality and morbidity.
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights said that China had prevented four people from attending human rights training in Geneva this year, while others were questioned by security officers upon their return. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights fully agreed with the High Commissioner’s statement that reprisals against groups and individuals were not only unacceptable but were also ineffective in the long term and freedom would always prevail.
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said that the international community was shocked by the behaviour of South Sudan that was proceeding with ongoing aggressions. Military movements had expanded and in turn led to killings, displaced persons and a general situation of instability. Maarij Foundation called on the international community to provide the necessary assistance to promote and protect human rights and help peace last between Sudan and South Sudan.
Liberation drew attention to the deteriorating human rights abuses of the indigenous communities residing in North East India. It urged the Human Rights Council as the prime body to continue addressing these issues pertaining to different human rights abuses and to play an effective role, and requested the Government of India to respect its international obligations under international law and accord fundamental rights to the indigenous peoples in the region.
World Muslim Congress said that the Indian delegation during the thirteenth session of the Universal Periodic Review had painted a rosy picture of the human rights situation in India, where freedom of expression and freedom of assembly were muffled, human rights defenders faced reprisals, and where the saga of extrajudicial killings took place. The Council had a duty towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir. World Muslim Congress urged the Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur for Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Agir Ensembles pour les Droits de l’Homme, in a joint statement, expressed its concerns about the increase of harassment and violence against human rights defenders in Viet Nam, which was developing a climate of fear among civil society. Agir Ensembles requested that the Human Rights Council urge Viet Nam to stop the repression of human rights defenders and release all of them immediately.
Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims insisted that violence against women, including sexual violence, continued to be one of the most entrenched forms of discrimination worldwide, and called on States to take measures to increase the representation of women in the administration, and particularly in the justice administration, as an effective means to combat violence against women.
International Association of Peace Messenger Cities, in a joint statement, emphasized the importance of the right to international solidarity as part of the broader right to peace, and called upon the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity to work on the right to peace within his mandate, and to contribute to discussions on this issue.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development was particularly concerned that many Asian States took a view that reconciliation needed to be context-specific and needed to take into account the particularity of each State, as a way to avoid addressing impunity. Asian Forum reiterated its call for an independent, impartial and credible investigation into systematic and gross violations of human rights in Myanmar, particularly those that had occurred in ethnic states.
International Buddhist Relief Organization said that India had systematically failed to uphold its international legal obligations to ensure the fundamental human rights of Dalits, despite the laws and policies in place against caste discrimination. Caste-motivated killings, rape and other abuses were a matter of routine and remained unnoticed. Dalits in India endured segregation in housing, schools and access to public services.
World Barua Organization said it was committed to raise the issue of human rights violations against individuals and communities and to advocating for the redress of grievances. Last month, the Buddhist community was outraged and deeply concerned to see a California-based shoe company promoting a range of shoes with the Lord Buddha’s image on them.
Tchad agir pour l’environnement said that in its missions in the field to Africa it had noted deterioration in the economic conditions as well as extreme poverty. Difficulties faced by women in particular, which Tchad agir pour l’environnement believed solutions should rapidly be provided for, included lack of drinking water, lack of outlets for products, and lack of cooperatives. It was indispensable to drill for water in these areas, give literacy lessons to women, and create a culture of emancipation so they could express their rights.
France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, said that transnational mining corporations had over the past decade undermined biodiversity on a global scale, which had negatively affected the livelihood and violated the human rights of the local communities. It referred to indigenous communities that had been affected by land-grabbing in favour of mining companies in Chile.
World Circle of the Consensus: Self-sustaining People, Organizations and Communities, said that the major problems in this world were the lack of justice and the fact that a minority of over-wealthy people and nations controlled the major assets of the world. The World Circle of the Consensus said that it was time to put an end to competition within humanity in a joint effort by the international community.
The Association of World Citizens called on the international community to make efforts in order to ensure the dignity of its entire people.
United Schools International said that issues of intimidation and reprisal were significant to the citizens of Bangladesh. Millions of Bengalis had been killed by the Pakistani military during the partition. The failure of the regime to provide assistance during the floods in Bangladesh had led to increasing demands for regional autonomy for East Pakistan and the end of military rule.
Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe said that economic hardship and the increasing number of undocumented migrants in Greece had deepened xenophobia and intolerance against migrants and asylum seekers in central Athens, and nationalist and far-right parties such as the Golden Dawn had presented a strong discourse against migrants and asylum seekers.
Penal Reform International called on States maintaining the death penalty not to impose it on people under the age of 18 or those suffering from mental disabilities, and to uphold the minimum rule and to avoid the exacerbation of suffering. Legal aid was necessary to comply with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Penal Reform International called on countries to implement systems which were accessible and without discrimination.
Agence Internationale pour le Developpement strongly believed that equality and respect for the protection of human rights, including the right to development, was a foundation of peaceful, just and stable societies and could not be implemented in a selective way. Agence Internationale pour le Developpement drew the attention of the Council to the situation of thousands of detained Sahrawis who had been living for 37 years in inhuman conditions under the dictatorship of the Polisario.
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom said that the 2007 interim Constitution of Nepal focused on the promotion of cultural diversity and enhancing the knowledge, skills and rights of indigenous people; however, the indigenous people had been excluded during the Constitution making process. Their individual and collective rights were not respected by the Government and non-governmental organizations working in Nepal.
Society for Threatened Peoples welcomed the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantee of non-recurrence and said that the justice system of indigenous peoples and minorities was often damaged due to the gross human rights violations they suffered. It was essential that States showed meaningful progress towards implementing the rule of law and due process.
Africa Culture Internationale said that it worked in Sub-Saharan Africa to modernise educational systems and make education available to all adults. Africa Culture Internationale highlighted the increasing problem of street-children, including those with disabilities and suffering from disease.
United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation said that Baluchistan was the world capital of enforced disappearances and regretted that the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had refused to meet with the United Nations mission under the excuse that the case was being heard by the Supreme Court.
African Technical Association said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan were denied their rights to conduct their own destiny, and that this territory was unlawfully administrated by Pakistan for its natural resources.
International Association for Democracy in Africa revealed that contemporary forms of slavery were widespread in Pakistan, and required action from the State, including the collection of data to estimate the magnitude of the problem.
Centre for Environmental and Management Studies said that Pakistan had failed to address the violations of human rights resulting from forced labour, in particular for children.
Right of Reply
Viet Nam, speaking in a right of reply, noted the significant participation in the debate today and regretted the slander and distorted information provided by some non-governmental organizations. Viet Nam had been building its legal system to guarantee and protect the rights and freedoms of its people. Breaking the rule of law to incite to hatred was punished by the law, as stipulated in a number of international conventions.
China, speaking in a right of reply, said that the statements by non-governmental organizations in this Council should follow the United Nations Charter and principles and be based on facts. China disagreed with allegations about the incident by Uyghurs that had occurred on 5 July; it had not been a peaceful demonstration, but a separatist event instigated by those outside of the borders of China. No Government in the world would tolerate such a bloody demonstration. China respected the right of the Uyghurs but would not tolerate separatist or terrorist activities.
For use of the information media; not an official record