High Commissioner’s annual report to Human Rights Council

“Producing concrete results should be our paramount goal. If our work is to be worthwhile, it must touch the lives of real people,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on 3 March when presenting her annual report to the Human Rights Council.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addresses the Human Rights Council © UN Photo/ David McCreeryldquo;Human rights are too often discussed in abstract, technical or sometimes highly politicized terms. The events in the Middle East have proved how human rights matter and matter concretely in the lives of people,” she said.

The annual report covers efforts by the United Nations Human Rights office (OHCHR) to safeguard human rights, particularly in the OHCHR 2010-2011 priority areas such as non-discrimination, protecting migrants’ rights, promoting rights-based development and combating impunity. It also provides practical examples of OHCHR’s leadership role in shaping the human rights agenda worldwide.

“Discrimination remains an obstinate obstacle to the realization of human rights and the empowerment of the vulnerable,” Pillay said.

Seeking to combat discrimination, OHCHR has assisted countries to develop national action plans to counter racial discrimination and is currently implementing a comprehensive Framework of Action for the General Assembly proclaimed International Year for People of African Descent in 2011.   

The High Commissioner pointed out that violence and abuse against women and girls were often “the product of multiple forms of discrimination in law and practice that affect women everywhere.”

One of the many examples of OHCHR’s work in protecting women’s rights is a report released today on remedies and reparations available to victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report contains recommendations by a high level panel, chaired by Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang, which conducted a field mission last year to hear directly from the victims.

On protecting human rights in the context of migration, Pillay referred to the landmark joint statement adopted by the OHCHR-led 16-agency Global Migration Group in the second half of 2010. The statement stressed that “being in an irregular situation does not and should not deprive migrants either of their humanity or their human rights.”

She also drew attention to OHCHR’s efforts to help implement the UN Declaration on the Right to Development. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the ground-breaking Declaration, which unequivocally establishes development as a right and puts people at the centre of the development process.

After presenting her annual report, the High Commissioner engaged in an interactive dialogue with government and civil society representatives.

The 16th session of the Human Rights Council takes place from 28 February to 25 March at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. More information is available on the webpage of the session, which is also webcast live.

3 March 2011