Geneva, 18 June 2012
Room XXV, Palais des Nations
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to participate in this side event on “Enhancing cooperation between the Human Rights Council, regional and sub-regional human rights mechanisms”, and would like to congratulate the President of the Human Rights Council, Ms. Laura Dupuy Laserre, as well as the Permanent Missions of Armenia, Belgium, Mexico, Senegal, Thailand and Qatar for this excellent initiative.
As you are aware, my Office attaches high importance to cooperation between UN and regional human rights mechanisms. In 2009, I assigned a Section of OHCHR to work on cooperation with regional human rights mechanisms, the National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section. This Section is responsible for coordinating OHCHR interaction and cooperation with regional mechanisms, for example through activities such as organization of meetings and liaison with the focal points established by regional mechanisms.
In May 2010, following Human Rights Council resolution 12/15, OHCHR organized an international workshop on “Enhancing cooperation between regional and international mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights”. Participants included representatives of various regional human rights mechanisms present today in this side event, including from Africa, the Americas, Europe and ASEAN. Independent experts from UN treaty bodies and the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures, as well as member States, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) were also present.
Participants in the workshop agreed on the need to establish mechanisms to reinforce cooperation between UN and regional human rights mechanisms. They identified information sharing, joint activities and follow-up to recommendations of both UN and regional human rights mechanisms, as the main areas of cooperation. They also recommended that follow-up biannual meetings among UN and regional human rights mechanisms, with a thematic focus, be convened by OHCHR. In addition, they recommended that focal points be appointed within each human rights mechanism with a view to developing a work plan on enhancing cooperation between UN and regional human rights mechanisms.
In line with the workshop’s recommendations, resolution 18/14 of the Human Rights Council requested OHCHR to organize a second workshop on cooperation between UN and regional human rights mechanisms “to take stock of developments since the workshop in 2010, including a thematic discussion based on concrete and practical experience of regional mechanisms, in order to share information on best practices, lessons learned and new possible forms of cooperation”.
I have the pleasure to inform you that the second workshop will take place in Geneva from 3 to 5 September 2012. Participants, including member States, representatives of the UN, regional and sub-regional human rights mechanisms, NHRIs and NGOs will receive the invitations very soon. The workshop will focus on 3 main areas of cooperation, namely exchange of information, joint actions and follow up to recommendations. I look forward to seeing regional mechanisms present here today as participants in that workshop in September.
I recently sent a letter to all regional mechanisms requesting the designation of a focal point for cooperation with OHCHR, echoing the recommendation of the 2010 workshop. I would like to thank those who have already positively replied and I would like to encourage those who have not replied, to do so as soon as possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Regional human rights mechanisms are instrumental in promoting respect for human rights in their geographical sphere of action. Cooperation among them and with UN human rights mechanisms is fundamental to advance human rights around the world. For this purpose, it is of utmost importance that UN and regional mechanisms know each other well and develop good working relations.
This side event offers a great opportunity to deepen our knowledge of existing, new and emerging human rights regional mechanisms, as well as to identify ways and means to enhance cooperation between them and the Human Rights Council.
In this regard, I would like to mention that the Special Procedures Mandate-Holders of the Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACPHR) have developed a road map on cooperation, in a meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last January. This road map includes the establishment of a working group of representatives of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to build synergies and develop joint actions, as well as to ensure systematic sharing of information. I am pleased to inform you that the exchange between the UN Special Procedures and representatives of the special procedures of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held last week during the annual meeting of UN Special Procedures went very well. There was enthusiastic support from both UN and African Special Procedures mandate-holders for the steps taken so far to implement the roadmap.
Another initiative aimed at enhancing cooperation between UN and regional human rights mechanisms is the meeting between Chairpersons of the Human Rights treaty bodies and African regional and sub-regional human rights mechanisms to be held in one week, from 27 to 28 June, in Addis Ababa. This meeting follows the Chairpersons’ recommendation, taken at their twenty-first meeting, that their annual meeting be held every other year in different regions, so as to strengthen linkages and synergies between international and regional human rights mechanisms. The aim of the meeting to be held next week is to identify mutual challenges, opportunities, priorities, and support needs of the UN treaty bodies and the African human rights mechanisms, including efficient ways of implementing their respective recommendations.
I hope that these initiatives will be a source of inspiration for similar initiatives of cooperation between UN human rights mechanisms and other regional human rights mechanisms.
This brings me to my next point, which is a thematic focus of this side event, namely the interaction and cooperation between regional mechanisms and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Regional human rights mechanisms can play an important role in the UPR: by providing valuable information, and by contributing to the effective implementation of UPR recommendations through effective follow-up.
I would like to encourage you to discuss ways and means to improve the submissions made by regional mechanisms to the UPR, taking into account both its the nature and regional human rights mechanisms’ capacities, as well as to discuss the implementation of the recommendations made during the 2010 workshop, in particular, the use of UPR as a follow-up tool to both UN and regional human rights mechanisms’ decisions and recommendations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Finally, I would like to reiterate that OHCHR stands ready to provide you with all the necessary support to ensure the success and sustainability of these important collaborative efforts.