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Human rights protection must gain new momentum at World Humanitarian Summit – UN experts First World Humanitarian Summit – 23-24 May 2016

GENEVA / ISTANBUL (23 May 2016) – Humanitarian action that places human rights at its center is key to ensure protection for all victims, today said a group of rights specialists from the largest body of independent experts* in the United Nations Human Rights system.

In a statement addressed to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, 44 Special Procedures’ experts urged all participants gathering this week in Istanbul (23-24 May) to ensure that human rights are integrated into all aspects of the conference, including national commitments to improve the protection of all those affected by conflict, disaster and displacement – some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Many conflicts could be avoided through greater attention to human rights by national and international actors before violence breaks out, saving countless lives and avoiding the need for costly humanitarian action, they noted referring to recent conflicts in which widespread violations of human rights have been witnessed.

The experts also expressed deep concern about the downgrading of attention to human rights in some emergency settings and conflicts: “It is in crisis and conflict that individuals and communities are most at risk and in need of protection. Yet it is often at these times that we see human rights violations taking place with impunity and attention to human rights weakened or neglected.”

“The objective to ‘leave no-one behind’ requires special attention to those who may be in particular situations of vulnerability they noted, including children, youth, minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants, internally displaced persons, refugees, stateless persons, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTI community, older persons, and women and girls exposed to multiple threats,” the experts said.

“Those whose lives and homes have been shattered must have their immediate needs met, but they are given hope for the future in their own countries through the knowledge that their rights and dignity will be fully respected during and in the aftermath of crisis,” they stressed.  

The Summit offers a unique opportunity to give greater attention to human rights by all actors at every phase - from prevention measures to emergency assistance and recovery, the UN experts noted. They called for “better enforcement of international humanitarian law and international human rights law and standards as a high priority for all States and the international community.”

“Understanding and addressing the adverse impact of both domestic policies and external international action are effective ways to address the root-causes of humanitarian crises,” the human rights experts said.

(*) See the full statement by the Special Procedures’ human rights experts: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=19997&LangID=E

Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx

For information about the World Humanitarian Summit, see www.worldhumanitariansummit.org

This statement is endorsed by the following Special Procedures human rights mandate holders:

Working Group of experts on people of African Descent
Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights of persons with albinism
Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises
Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice
Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities
Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment
Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons
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
Special Rapporteur on minority issues
Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants
Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity
Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights
Independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children
Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation & guarantees of non-recurrence
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia
Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan
Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Central African Republic
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Graham Fox (+41 22 917 9640 / gfox@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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