24 September 2020
The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.
Speakers called for renewed international commitment devoid of politicisation and double standards for the realization of the important mandates of the Council. Stating that a safe, clean and sustainable environment was integral to the enjoyment of the full range of human rights, some speakers announced that they had initiated consultations towards developing binding international legislation in that sphere. As States were asked to respond to questionnaires prepared by Special Procedure mandate holders, the answers provided should be included in the related reports. The lack of transparency surrounding the death penalty had negative consequences on the right to a fair trial and other human rights ; transparency was fundamental to the administration of justice. Human rights issues must be addressed through a constructive, non-confrontational manner that was based on dialogue and avoided interfering in the internal affairs of countries. Denouncing actors who promoted destabilization and regime change by invoking human rights, speakers said religious freedom should not be used to attack other States. Unilateral coercive measures were making a travesty of human rights and the rule of law ; this matter must be taken up urgently by the Council. Speakers called on the international community to fight Islamophobia and xenophobia. The international community’s failure to establish a unified strategy in the face of a common enemy, COVID-19, illustrated the shortcomings of neoliberal concepts and the need to respect cultural and historical differences. In the field of poverty reduction, developed countries should live up to their commitment by providing aid to nations that needed it. Warning that democratic backsliding risked being compounded by the pandemic, speakers urged efforts to tackle socio-economic inequality and uphold the right to reproductive and sexual health.
Pointing out that millions of children may not ever go back to school because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on their parents’ socioeconomic situation, speakers urged the Council to consider a resolution on debt cancellation and a moratorium on debt repayment to free up resources that could be allocated to key public services. Maternal surrogacy was a degrading and inhuman practice, which amounted to the sale of children ; the Council should adopt a resolution to protect women and children from this new form of slavery. Speakers emphasised the importance of the right to legal representation during a trial that could lead to the death penalty and regretted that this was not respected. The Council’s deliberations on firearms should adopt a gender lens and examine how their use was informed by certain conceptions of masculinity. It was crucial that the Council adopt a human rights-based approach to terrorism. It was evident that it was not in a child’s best interest to impose capital punishment on their parents, and States should therefore refrain from imposing the death penalty on people where it would cause harsh consequences for their families. The pandemic had affected fundamental rights throughout the world, and it was concerning that governments were passing laws by decree and limiting debates. Unilateral sanctions systematically violated the right to development of targeted populations, some speakers said. States should not impose outright bans of slaughtering of animals, nor labelling such practices performed by Jews and Muslims as cruel and inhuman as it may amount to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
Speaking were Nigeria, Costa Rica on behalf of a group of countries, Iraq, UN Women, Belgium, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Cuba, United Kingdom, South Africa, Iran, Botswana, United Nations Population Fund, Uganda, Algeria, Russian Federation, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Syria, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Ireland, Niger, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and South Africa,
Also taking the floor were the following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations : the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria, Soka Gakkai International, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXII, Ensemble contre la Peine de Mort, International Federation of ACAT, United Schools International, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Pan African Union for Science and Technology Stichting, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, Europe-Third World Centre, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, International Association of Crafts and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Fundacion para la Mejora de la Vida, la Cultura y la Sociedad, International Commission of Jurists, Friends World Committee for Consultation, Center for Environmental and Management Studies, World Muslim Congress, International Yazidis Foundation for the Prevention of Genocide, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Edmund Rice International Limited, Asociacion HazteOir.org, Al Baraem Association for Charitable Work, International Institute for Rights and Development Geneva, Federation of Women and Family Planning, Union of Arab Jurists, Chinese Association for International Understanding, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, China NGO Network for International Exchanges, Partners For Transparency, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme, World Environment and Resources Council, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience, Instituto de Desenvolvimento e Direitos Humanos - IDDH, United Villages, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, International Service of Human Rights, Action Canada for Population and Development, Association Ma'onah for Human Rights and Immigration, Franciscans Internatinal, The International Organisation for LDCs, International-Lawyers.Org, Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea, International Gay and Lesbian Association, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale - OCAPROCE Internationale, Guinea Medical Mutual Association, Sikh Human Rights Group, Ingenieurs du Monde, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc, CIVICUS- World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Human Rights Information and Training Center, , Iraqi Development Organization, iuventum e.V., World Jewish Congress, European Centre for Law and Justice, Centre Europeen pour le droit, les justice et les droits de l'homme, Universal Rights Group, World Evangelical Alliance, Beijing NGO Association for International Exchanges, Alsalam Foundation, Réseau International des Droits Humains, International Muslim Women's Union, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Zero Poor in Africa, Synergie Feminine Pour La Paix Et Le Developpement Durable, United Nations Watch, Servas International, Women's Human Rights International Association, Jubilee Campaign, Centre for Gender Justice and Women Empowerment, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Le Pont, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Tamil Uzhagam, Africa Culture Internationale, World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations, International Career Support Association, Guinee Humanitaire, Society for Threatened Peoples, Association Elmostakbell pour le développement, Association Culturelle Des Tamouls En France, Jeunesse Etudiante Tamoule, and Action of Human Movement (AHM).
Venezuela, Cuba and China spoke in point of order.
The general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, started on Tuesday, 22 September, and a summary can be found here.
India, China, Iraq, Brazil, Iran and Pakistan spoke in right of reply.
The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-fifth regular session can be found here.
At 3 p.m., the Council will resume the interactive dialogue with the Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. It will then hold an interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples, followed by an interactive debate with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
For use of the information media; not an official record
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