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Human rights chief meets civil society in the Gulf

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is currently on a ten-day six-country mission to the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to engage more actively and effectively with the governments and civil society in the region.

High Commissioner Navi Pillay met with members of civil society in Kuwait. © UN photo

As the visit nears its end, the High Commissioner expressed satisfaction with her meetings with diverse sectors of civil society in the four countries she has visited so far. Such exchanges complement the fruitful dialogue with the heads of state and governments, and are generally a feature of such mission.

Pillay met with human rights defenders, including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), associations and individuals working to promote women’s rights, lawyers, academics and students, as well as groups working on the rights of migrant workers, stateless people, and persons with disabilities.

“Cooperation with civil society is a strategic priority because it bolsters our shared objectives, helps to address our mutual concerns,” said Pillay, pointing out that it also supports the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)’s mission and initiatives.

“A dynamic and autonomous civil society, able to operate freely, knowledgeable and skilled with regard to human rights, is a key element in securing sustainable human rights protection in all world regions,” she said

During these meetings, civil society representatives have shared their frank reflections on human rights in the region and put forward recommendations to address local and global human rights issues.

The High Commissioner has introduced the work and priorities of her Office and responded to questions from participants, noting that in every part of the world, civil society contributes to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights.

“In this joint endeavour to make the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of ‘dignity’ ‘justice’ and ‘equality’ a universal reality, it is a common interest that civil society frames its work through international human rights standards, and engages constructively with the United Nations human rights system – which my Office supports and encourages,” said Pillay, noting that her knowledge and understanding of human rights in the region has been greatly enriched by this mission, not least through the contribution of civil society representatives whom she and other members of her delegation had met during the visit.

Her current tour, which has so far included Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, will conclude in Oman on 26 April.  

23 April 2010