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Human Rights Council in solidarity with Haiti

The United Nations Human Rights Council stressed, in a resolution adopted without a vote, the importance of a human rights approach to the recovery of Haiti and the need for long-term international support to help the government protect human rights and promote the rule of law and good governance.

The Human Rights Council observes a minute of silence to express solidarity with the victims of the earthquake in Haiti- UN Photo/Jean-Marc FERREThe Council began a special session on 27 January in Geneva with a minute of silence to express solidarity with the victims and survivors of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

“To sustain effective development policies, bolster good governance, and ameliorate the delivery of, and access to, services including health and education, we must anchor our initiatives in human rights,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in an opening statement to the session.

“A human rights approach helps ensure that the root causes of vulnerabilities, in this case poverty and discrimination, are addressed.”

Her Office (OHCHR), in cooperation with the UN Refugee office, already dispatched a five-member team to Haiti to support human rights monitoring and protection work on the ground.

“Utmost vigilance should be exerted to protect the most vulnerable, in particular disabled and elderly people, the poor, women, and children who are likely to face stronger risks of dispossession, arbitrary arrest, violence, including sexual violence, and trafficking,” said the High Commissioner, who urged all concerned parties to spare no effort to reunite children with their own families.

The earthquake on January 12 had killed 150,000, injured 200,000 and left 1.5 million people homeless, Jean-Claude Pierre, Chargé d’affaires of Haiti, told the special session. Calling the earthquake a “final blow” to the already vulnerable economic, social and cultural rights in his country, he urged the international community to work with the Haitian authorities for better guarantee of rights and coping with natural disasters.

The special session took place on the request of Brazil, with the support of 37 Council members, to focus on a human rights approach to supporting the recovery of the quake-stricken country.

The promotion and protection of all human rights – economic, political, social, civil, cultural – should also be mainstreamed in the efforts and reconstruction of Haiti, Minister for External Relations of Brazil Celso Amorim told participants of the session.

“Haiti is certainly today the major challenge to the international community’s ability to help rebuild a devastated country in a way that preserves its sovereignty and, at the same time, sets the conditions for a sustained cycle of social and economic development with greater security, democracy and full enjoyment of human rights,” he said.

Dipu Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, called for "coordinated" efforts in close cooperation with Haitian authorities. She stressed the need to ensure that help reaches "those who desperately need water, food, medical supplies and shelter".

More information is available on the webpage of the 13th special session of the Human Rights Council, which is also webcast live.

28 January 2010