Opening remarks by Eric Tistounet, Chief of the Human Rights Council Branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to the opening of the seventeenth session of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee


8 ذو القعدة, 1437

8 August 2016

M. Le Vice-président du Conseil des droits de l’homme,
M. Le Président du Comité consultatif,
Distingués membres du Comité,
Mesdames, Messieurs,

J’ai l’honneur et le plaisir de vous accueillir ici aujourd'hui à l’ouverture de cette dix-septième session du Comité consultatif du Conseil des droits de l’homme.

Le Vice-président du Conseil vient de vous donner un aperçu des activités du Conseil des droits de l’homme. Je vais de mon côté, conformément à notre pratique établie, vous faire part de certains développements récents dans le travail du Haut-Commissariat aux droits de l’homme (HCDH), et aussi généralement au sein des Nations Unies; développements ayant une pertinence particulière pour les activités et priorités de votre Comité.


Si vous me le permettez, je voudrais aussi commencer par souligner la célébration du dixième anniversaire du Conseil des droits de l’homme. Le Haut-Commissariat aux droits de l’homme a soutenu l’organisation d’activités à Genève, New York et dans le reste du monde pour commémorer cet anniversaire et promouvoir le travail mené ici à Genève et sur le terrain. L’évènement central de cet anniversaire a été la réunion-débat de haut niveau qui s’est tenue le premier jour de la trente-deuxième session du Conseil en juin, que vient juste d’évoquer M. le Vice-président, et à laquelle ont participé les anciens présidents du Conseil. Cette réunion-débat ainsi que de nombreux autres événements ont permis de faire le bilan des réalisations et défis du Conseil. Cette discussion de fond et les idées qui y ont été échangées peuvent appuyer les efforts futurs de votre Comité pour soutenir et renfoncer le Conseil.

Distinguished Members of the Advisory Committee,

Since the beginning of this year, we have commemorated a few other anniversaries. In addition to the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, we celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the right to development.

This year we also commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Declaration on human rights education and training. This is a particular cause for celebration for the Advisory Committee, as the author of the initial draft of the declaration. OHCHR, for its part, is committed to supporting States in the implementation of the declaration, as well as fulfilling its role as the coordinator of United Nations education and public information programmes in the field of human rights. Furthermore, you may wish to note that to mark this fifth anniversary, at its upcoming session, the Council will be holding a high-level panel discussion on the implementation of the declaration.

[Past mandates]

Distinguished Members,

Allow me now to continue with some of the other topics your Committee has worked on previously, starting with enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights. In this regard, I am pleased to inform you that in March, the High Commissioner presented a report to the Human Rights Council on ways and means, as well as obstacles and challenges and proposals to overcome them, for the enhancement of international cooperation in the United Nations human rights machinery, including the Human Rights Council.  
Furthermore, in relation to your recent work on the topic of corruption, you may wish to note that the High Commissioner also presented a report to the Council in June on best practices of efforts to counter the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of all human rights. This report presents a compilation of best practices developed by States, national human rights institutions, national anti-corruption authorities, civil society and academia.

[Current mandates]

Turning now to the mandates on which your Committee has been working in the past year, I am pleased to note that the progress report on the activities of vulture funds, which has been submitted to the Council for consideration at its upcoming September session, sheds a light on the phenomenon of vulture funds and how they negatively impact the full realization of human rights, with particularly adverse consequences in heavily indebted poor countries. This study provides helpful recommendations and positive examples for national laws aimed at limiting harmful practices and I am confident that States would take these into account when legislating on issues relating to this topic.
Another topic on which the Advisory Committee is currently working, and which continues to be central in the agenda of OHCHR, is that of migrants. The migration issue presents a complex challenge, on which the Advisory Committee is also rightly engaged. The specific topic on which your Committee is seized is of particular concern. That is, the plight of the most vulnerable – unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents. OHCHR staff, recently dispatched to key locations along the Central Mediterranean and Balkan, observed a worrying increase in detention of migrants in Europe, including even unaccompanied children, who are frequently placed in prison cells or centres ringed with barbed-wire. In this regard, the recommendations already outlined in your progress report, also submitted for consideration by the Council at its upcoming session, can offer good practices and alternatives to the detention of children.

In the context of migration, it is also crucial to combat the resurgence of racism, intolerance and xenophobia, which are often targeted against migrants. Our task is to stand guard for the rights holders and call on States to curb intolerance and xenophobia, using measures such as those recommended by the Rabat Plan of Action. In this regard, I wish to draw your attention to the seventy-first session of the General Assembly, which will commence its discussions on 19 September with a high-level meeting to address the large movements of refugees and migrants. It is likely that the topic of unaccompanied children and adolescent migrants will also be addressed during that meeting, particularly in the context of a roundtable on addressing vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants on their journeys from their countries of origin to their countries of arrival. I invite you to follow these discussions and their outcome.

Distinguished Members,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me now refer to the new mandate of the Advisory Committee relating to the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin on the enjoyment of human rights, which your Committee will begin discussing this week. You may wish to take into account in this regard, the recent study on illicit financial flows, human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development conducted by the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt, which he presented to the Council in March. The Independent Expert highlighted that States have now pledged to significantly reduce illicit financial flows by 2030 and strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets under target 16.4 in the 2030 Agenda. While applauding the inclusion of the reduction of illicit financial flows in one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Independent Expert expressed the need for specific measures to operationalize this target, as the target remains broad and vague. I would also highlight for your information, the recommendation of the Independent Expert that international human rights mechanisms pay greater attention to the impacts of illicit financial flows, tax evasion and tax abuses on the enjoyment of human rights.

Moreover, a second new mandate on regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights was entrusted to you by the Council at its June session. As the Council noted in its earlier resolution 30/3 on this topic, the Office of the High Commissioner plays a critical role in advancing cooperation between international and regional human rights activities. The Office regularly conducts activities in cooperation with various mechanisms to this end. It is envisaged that your report can identify ways to increase the role that regional arrangements play in promoting and protecting human rights. In this regard, I am pleased to note that you will have the opportunity to interact with colleagues from different divisions of the Office working on this topic later this week when you start considering this new mandate.

Distinguished Members,

This brings me to the end of my remarks today. But before closing, I would like to take this opportunity and join the Vice-President in expressing gratitude to Ms. Elsadda, Mr. Karokora and Mr. Zhang for their invaluable contributions and dedicated service to this Committee. I hope that we will have other opportunities to continue our cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights and would like to wish you all the best for your future endeavours.
Let me conclude here by assuring you the full support of the Secretariat for your activities. I wish you very fruitful deliberations at the present session.

Thank you.