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Human Rights Council concludes interactive dialogue on the right to development and on unilateral coercive measures

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13 September 2018

MIDDAY

Hears Address by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia

GENEVA (13 September 2018) - The Human Rights Council today concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development, Saad Alfarargi, and with the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Idriss Jazairy.  

The summary of the first half of the discussion, which was held on Wednesday, 13 September, can be read here.  

Addressing the Council, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, spoke about the recent democratic changes in Armenia that had taken place in April 2018 when hundreds of thousands of people had taken to the streets to peacefully protest and claim direct and vocal participation in public affairs, thus demonstrating the strength of civil society in the country.  The new Government had embarked on a path of reform and promotion of human rights and the rule of law.  Armenia cooperated with all international partners, but it was a constant target of systematic hate from Azerbaijan.  Crimes committed during the military aggression of Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh in April 2016 had reinforced a strong right to self-determination, in conformity with the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

In the interactive discussion on the right to development, speakers remarked that the international context was marked with worsening disparities in wealth and development.  The right to development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals were linked.  States were responsible for the creation of the means to achieve the right to development, and international cooperation was crucial in that respect.  The right to development was a shared responsibility and speakers, therefore, called for a renewed commitment and sincere efforts by the global community towards its achievement.

On unilateral coercive measures, speakers pointed out to their devastating effect on employment, sanitation, education and health, particularly when it came to vulnerable populations.  Unilateral coercive measures targeted many nations, almost all of them from the Global South, and in direct contravention of the United Nations Charter.  They had negative consequences for development, hampered both communication networks and economic routes, and opposed the rights to self-determination and the legitimate strive for freedom and independence.

In concluding remarks, Mr. Alfarargi underlined that the commitment of the international community to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development provided a fresh opportunity to a more equal world.  Commitments had to become actions if they were to be achieved.  He stressed tackling inequalities at the international level as well.  Part of that endeavour would be a focus on South-South cooperation.  He said developing countries should receive adequate levels of technical assistance from developed countries.  At the same time, participation could be only genuine if accompanied by relevant accountability mechanisms.  The Special Rapporteur reiterated that the effective discharge of his mandate was only possible with the full participation of States, international organizations and civil society.

Mr. Jazairy, in concluding remarks, called on States that had promised to lift sanctions to implement that promise.  Universal coercive measures were mutating into blockades where the source country refused to interact with the target country.  That was the case in Gaza, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela.  That problem was also linked with the question of extra-territoriality.  The unlawfulness of extra-territorial measures stemmed from their adverse human rights consequences.  Mr. Jazairy thanked countries that had supported the establishment of the register of universal coercive measures at the level of the United Nations.  He suggested that the High Commissioner for Human Rights enhance the interaction between his mandate and countries.  

Speaking were Belarus, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Armenia, Nepal, Maldives, Iceland, Bolivia, Afghanistan, Ecuador, South Africa, Iran, and Kenya.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Iranian Life Quality Improvement Association, Action Canada for Population and Development, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Prevention Association of Social Harms (PASH), Shivi Development Society, Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, Asociacion Cubana de las Naciones Unidas, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Swedish Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (in a joint statement with International Lesbian and Gay Association), Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme, National Union of Jurists of Cuba, World Muslim Congress, Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs and Iraqi Development Organization.  

The Council will next hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, and with the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide.  

Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, informed the Council about the recent democratic changes in Armenia.  In April, hundreds of thousands of people had taken to the streets to peacefully protest.  They had claimed direct and vocal participation in public affairs, demonstrating the strength of civil society.  It had been a matter of domestic nature, carried out for the people, by the people.  Following the peaceful transition, a new Government had been voted in.  The Government had embarked on a path of reform and the promotion of human rights and the rule of law.  In one week, municipal elections would take place in Yerevan and all national institutions were preparing legal changes to consolidate the democratic transformation of Armenia.  The implementation of those reforms was not easy and there were many challenges ahead.  Armenia cooperated with all international partners.  

Creative education and innovation startups, embracing national talents as drivers of development and creative thinking, were strategic drivers of the Government’s work.  The international community at all levels had to continue to address the abuse of information technologies and the media for the dissemination of hatred and intolerance.  The Armenian people had been a constant target of systematic hate from Azerbaijan.  It was a consequence of the poor record of human rights and the absence of a free media in Azerbaijan.  Crimes committed during the military aggression of Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh in April 2016 had reinforced a strong right to self-determination, in conformity with the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The 2030 Agenda, which relied on leaving no one behind, had to recognize the existence of territories and peoples striving for the realization of their rights.  Armenia underlined the critical priorities of status and security for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.  Armenia had established internal mechanisms for reporting and coordinating activities in a follow up to the recommendations stemming from the United Nations human rights mechanisms.  In conclusion, the Minister reiterated that in a relatively short period of time, the new Government of Armenia had managed to considerably advance the democratic reforms in a comprehensive and irreversible manner.  The Government had overwhelming popular support for upholding the ideals of the Armenian Velvet Revolution.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development and with the Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights

Belarus said the right to development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals were linked issues and called on the Special Rapporteur to continue his work and make concrete recommendations in the context of the 2030 Agenda.  Belarus was concerned about the expansion of the use of unilateral coercive measures and the destructive impact they had on human rights.  Sri Lanka had embarked on national development priorities, including “Vision 2025: a Country Enriched”, a comprehensive policy aimed at alleviating poverty.  Guaranteeing public engagement and direct oversight in processes was a priority for the Government.  Azerbaijan said that States were responsible for the creation of the means for the right to development and international cooperation was crucial to achieving that.  In that vein, Azerbaijan had made progress on eradicating poverty, promoting gender equality, and providing universal education.

Zimbabwe looked forward to a time when the right to development would be achieved for all.  On the negative impact of unilateral measures, Zimbabwe said that sanctions against it had a devastating effect on employment, sanitation, education and health, particularly against vulnerable populations.  Nigeria emphasized that the right to development was a shared responsibility and called for a renewed commitment and sincere efforts by the global community towards its achievement.  Nigeria remained concerned about the adverse effect of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.  Organization of Islamic Cooperation said widening disparities in today’s world required the international adoption of non-discriminate policies.  They agreed that unilateral coercive measures were in direct contradiction to the United Nations Charter.

Burkina Faso noted that the international context was marked with worsening disparities in wealth and development.  Burkina Faso had implemented a national plan, 'Plan National de Développement Economique et Social', to define guidelines for achieving human rights for the population, including the creation of decent jobs and the general improvement of well-being.  Jordan stressed the necessity to understand that in the context of mass-scale forcible displacement, international cooperation and solidarity were necessary to the realization of the right to development.  Jordan added that in the Middle East, the right to development had traditionally been difficult, especially for the Palestinian people due to the occupation, which had blocked any form of development and had generated great suffering.  Armenia stated that the 2030 Agenda showed that unilateral coercive measures had a negative impact on development and hampered both communication networks and economic routes.  History, Armenia said, had shown that these measures opposed the rights to self-determination and the legitimate strive for freedom and independence, violating thus the United Nations Charter and international law.

Nepal stressed the centrality of enhanced partnership and collaboration between States regarding development.  Nepal noted that this inalienable right was not yet fulfilled and that equitable representation in international bodies of governance was needed in order for the rule of law to work for all.  Maldives acknowledged its high dependency on the support of the international community for its development efforts, which continued to be hampered by the impeding threats of climate change.  It stated its constitutional commitment to ensuring that all the Maldivians were afforded the highest attainable standards of living.

Iceland said that one of the major advances of the Sustainable Development Goals was that they applied to developing and developed countries alike.  A key aspect of the 2030 Agenda was the explicit acknowledgment that human rights were essential components of sustainable development and vice versa.  Bolivia agreed with the need to implement the 2030 Agenda while taking into account a human rights approach, which was why a legally binding instrument was needed.  Unilateral coercive measures inflicted a negative impact on human rights and alternative measures had to be sought.  Afghanistan noted that the report on the right to development was silent about the fact that conflict, violent extremism and terrorism largely hindered the ability of many States to address the obstacles needed to achieve the right development.  This reality had to be considered in future reports.

Ecuador said that the impact of inequalities between countries had to be assessed.  The right to development could not be limited for any reasons.  In Ecuador, there were numerous programmes enhancing the right to development.  South Africa said that the focus on non-discrimination and equality was an important reminder that all were entitled to enjoy the right to development.  What did the Rapporteur think about a convention on the right to development?  Iran said that unilateral coercive measures affected many nations, almost all from the South, targeting the most vulnerable groups.  The United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and its subsequent re-imposition of unilateral sanctions on Iran was against international law and had a negative effect on the right to development.  Kenya said the right to development was essential to other rights, yet many States had been left behind.  States should remain focused on more effective international partnerships and the elimination of unfair trade practices.  

Iranian Life Quality Improvement Association said that children and families in Iran were facing new challenges with the serious limitation of access to medicine.  The Institute called on the Council to condemn the United States’ unilateral coercive sanctions on Iran.  Action Canada for Population and Development said that the negative impact of economic development efforts fell on the poor, who were evicted without notice or relocated to give way for the development of real estate projects or roads.  It also impacted access to healthcare for people who were marginalised for their sexuality and gender.  Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims stated that the international community had taken minimal steps to mitigate the adverse effects on banking transactions and the import of vital items, including food and medicine in all sanctioned countries, Iran included.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence asked that the Council openly condemn the impact of the United States’ unilateral sanctions on Iranian civilians, especially the most vulnerable groups.  Prevention Association of Social Harms (PASH) drew the Council’s attention to the fact that the United States’ sanctions on Iran were in direct violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which they were a signatory.  Their sanctions had prevented the import of medicine and supplements to Iran.  Shivi Development Society said that human rights included the right to peace and security, which were necessary conditions for development.  The tendencies of ethnocentrism led to intercommunity tensions and made it nearly impossible for local communities and nations to create permissive conditions for the right to development.  

Unions of Writers and Artists of Cuba denounced the coercive measures implemented against Cuba, which forced artists to carry out their creative work in the context of a political and economic blockade.  Cuba continued to support culture as the soul of the nation, and unilateral coercive measures would not stop artists from denouncing the economic yoke that sought to destroy social progress.  Asociación Cubana de las Naciones Unidas criticized the President of the United States for maintaining genocidal policies that affected all people because of the lack of medicines and of cure to many diseases.  It called upon the international community to intervene to alleviate the negative impacts of unilateral coercive measures.  Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights voiced its concern about the systematic relocation of Tibetan nomads and herders, who were systematically denied access to grasslands.  It recommended the collection of data from the Chinese Government about the relocation of Tibetans to promote accountability.

Swedish Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, in a joint statement with International Lesbian and Gay Association, stressed that in all regions, sexual minorities were at risk of being left behind in development policies, programmes and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  It applauded the fact that the report highlighted the need to disaggregate data by sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.  Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme agreed with the Special Rapporteur about the incoherence in the matter of the strategy of reduction of poverty, which threatened the achievement of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda.  It added that unilateral coercive measures remained a major issue faced by many States, and that they should be controlled by international law in order to avoid violations of human rights.  National Union of Jurists of Cuba denounced the financial and economic blockade against the people of Cuba.  It stated that it was not only a legal aberration, but also a genocidal violation of human rights, which broke the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Rome Statute.

World Muslim Congress suggested that the Special Rapporteur include the rights of people living in recognized conflict zones in his report.  Indian-occupied Kashmir was one such place.  Its population also had to have access to the right to development.  Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs said Morocco was committed to developing renewable resources, particularly in the south.  However, it was observed that in those provinces, the population was excluded from development.  Iraqi Development Organization discussed Bahrain’s policy of targeting human rights defenders.  Arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances and impunity for those acts were fostered by the Government and excluded citizens from economic, social and cultural development.

Concluding Remarks

SAAD ALFARARGI, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development, underlined that the commitment of the international community to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development provided a fresh opportunity to a more equal world.  Commitments had to become actions if they were to be achieved.  He stressed tackling inequalities at the international level as well.  Part of that endeavour would be a focus on South-South cooperation.  Mr. Alfarargi said he would contribute to the work of the Working Group on the right to development during his mandate, adding that he looked forward to cooperating with States through bilateral and multilateral channels, identifying the most marginalized sections of the populations.  Developing countries should receive adequate levels of technical assistance from developed countries.  Participation could be only genuine if accompanied by relevant accountability mechanisms, the Special Rapporteur emphasized.  The existing mechanisms should be improved, while national human rights institutions had an important role to play in ensuring the participation of people in the economic, social and cultural sphere.  Hundreds of millions of people were living in poverty all over the world.  The Special Rapporteur reiterated that the effective discharge of his mandate was only possible with the full participation of States, international organizations and civil society.

IDRISS JAZAIRY, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, called on States that had promised to lift sanctions to implement that promise.  Universal coercive measures were mutating into blockades where the source country refused to interact with the target country.  That was the case in Gaza, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela.  That problem was also linked with the question of extra-territoriality.  The unlawfulness of extra-territorial measures stemmed from their adverse human rights consequences.  Mr. Jazairy expressed hope that the European Union would engage with the United Nations and his mandate on the consequences of the secondary round of sanctions.  He thanked countries that had supported the establishment of the register of universal coercive measures at the level of the United Nations.  He suggested that countries review the draft documents that his mandate had prepared as they prepared for the adoption of a resolution on unilateral coercive measures.  Finally, he suggested that the High Commissioner for Human Rights enhance the interaction between his mandate and countries.

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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