22 February 2016
Chairperson, Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I have the opportunity to address you for the first time in my capacity as President of the Human Rights Council at the opening of the sixteenth session of the Advisory Committee.
I would like to warmly welcome you back here to this room. I would also like to congratulate the new member of your Committee, Mr. Ibrahim Abdul Aziz Alsheddi, on his election, as well as Mr. Mario Luis Coriolano, Ms. Katharina Pabel, and Mr. Imeru Tamrat Yigezu on their re-elections.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Human Rights Council. While the Council has grown into a premier intergovernmental body for human rights over the course of the past ten years, the Advisory Committee has also proven its value as an intellectual powerhouse for this body. In particular, the Advisory Committee has generated intellectual contributions in the field of human rights and has provided the Council with sound basis for further reflection and actions.
On a personal note, I come from the member state of the Human Rights Council which has benefitted greatly from the work of the Advisory Committee. The resolution entitled “Local government and human rights” which was tabled by a cross-regional group of countries, including mine, the Republic of Korea, is grounded on the proposals presented by the Advisory Committee to the Council. Based on the Committee’s invaluable proposal on the role of local government in promoting and protecting human rights, the resolution highlights the responsibility of the different tiers of government in terms of making real impact on the ground.
As is customary, I would like to provide you with an overview of the issues that the Council has considered and which are of relevance to your work since you last met in August and, in particular, at the 30th session.
As you know, in the framework of its September session, the Council held an interactive dialogue with the Advisory Committee during which Mr. Okafor, the outgoing Chair, presented the final reports of your Committee on the possibilities of using sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights as well as the role of local government in the promotion and protection of human rights, for which delegations commended the Committee.
Mr. Okafor reminded the Council of the Committee’s efforts to identify new research proposals. Delegations recognized the potential of your Committee to play a very constructive role in supporting the Council in fulfilling its mandate of promoting and protecting human rights.
The Council also held interactive dialogues with its Special Procedures on a number of thematic issues, some of which in areas related to your current and past work.
In many of your reports, the Committee has underscored the importance of ensuring accountability. In this regard, you might wish to note that in his report to the Council, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence offered a clarification of the concept of guarantees of non-recurrence, and a framework for an actionable non-recurrence policy.
Since your Committee is required to pay due attention in your studies of the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, and given your current study on vulture funds, you might be interested to know that in its fourth report to the Council, the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order addressed the challenge posed by activities of certain investors and transnational corporations that constitute an attack on State sovereignty.
You would recall that in 2009, your Committee prepared a working paper highlighting the necessity of a human rights approach and an effective mechanism for the protection of the human rights of older persons. I would therefore like to inform you that the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons presented her second thematic report to the Council, containing an analysis of and recommendations for existing international and regional instruments that address the autonomy and care of older persons.
Given the work your Committee has accomplished in the past on the promotion of the right to peace, I would like to also inform you that the Human Rights Council adopted another resolution on this topic at its last session, wherein it decides that the intergovernmental working group shall hold its fourth session with the objective of finalizing the declaration, and requests the working group to submit its report to the Council’s thirty-third session in September this year.
The 31st session of the Council will commence next week, running until the 24th of March. We have an interesting road ahead of us but, at the same time, it is a heavily packed session with 11 panel discussions, 9 clustered dialogues and 16 individual dialogues. This March session will be challenging for the delegations, and will require united efforts.
This March session is the first one in a year of celebrations. In 2016 we are not only celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Council but also the golden jubilee of the adoption of two core pillars of the United Nations human rights treaties, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. High-level events are planned both in New York and Geneva in this regard. These will provide an opportunity for a renewed recognition of the historical significance of the Covenants as cornerstones of human rights.
For the Council, its 10th anniversary is an opportunity to take stock of its achievements, reflect on challenges and discuss the way forward. Along these lines, as I stated on the occasion of my election as President last December, we can be proud of what the Council has achieved in its young history. However, there is still room for improvement. That is why I believe that for the years to come the Council should be more implementation-focused, and that goes hand in hand with also being more efficient. During my Presidency, I will also intend to do my utmost to continue promoting the mainstreaming of human rights within the UN system. In this regard, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides an excellent platform for the Council in this endeavour.
The Council recognizes that your expertise on a range of human rights issues is valuable and your contribution is essential to achieve our common mission. Let me assure you that during my Presidency I will be committed to increasing and enhancing constructive dialogues in the Council and its mechanisms and encourage the active participation of all relevant stakeholders. To this end, I encourage you to continue improving your interaction with States, national human rights institutions, NGOs and other civil society entities; as such interaction is instrumental in the preparation of your studies.
I look forward to continuing to engage with you and am counting on your views and inputs, including learning more regarding the topics you are currently studying, namely the activities of vulture funds and human rights; unaccompanied migrant children; and the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy.
Reiterating the Human Rights Council’s firm support for your work, I wish you a very successful sixteenth session. Thank you for your attention.
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