In Third Committee, states describe national efforts made to meet human rights obligations; stress rights are equal, indivisible, mutually reinforcing
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
35th Meeting (AM)
Hears from 20 More Speakers as Debate on Promotion of Human Rights Concludes
As the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights today, Member States described national efforts to meet obligations to rights that they described as “equal, indivisible and mutually reinforcing”.
Committee members, many of them developing countries, outlined how they had signed core treaties and cooperated with the review mechanism of the Human Rights Council, while stressing that economic and social rights – such as the rights to life, food and health – should be given equal weight to civil and political rights, without any hierarchy being created in the global human rights conversation.
Swaziland’s delegate said human development and human rights should reinforce each other conceptually and in practice, helping to secure the well-being and dignity of all people. “Sadly, poverty remains a widespread and daunting challenge and, as a result, inadequate economic opportunities and lack of access to basic essential services are further exacerbated,” he said.
Highlighting measures to ensure equality before the law and in the area of justice, Burkina Faso’s delegate said her country had, among other things, increased the number of judicial personnel, signed a moratorium against the death penalty, and set up a national human rights commission with the authority to visit penal institutions.
Zimbabwe’s representative affirmed his country’s commitment to the broad range of human rights, which he maintained were all equal, indivisible and mutually reinforcing. “Our national position is that there is no hierarchy among these fundamental rights,” he said, expressing great concern that civil and political rights had dominated discourse while economic, social and cultural rights were deliberately sidelined, causing “a permanent and grave injury to the human rights edifice”.
Nepal’s delegate said his country had made consistent efforts to improve its human rights situation following its 2006 peace accord and the election of the Constituent Assembly in 2008. That Assembly was now writing a new constitution, which would further consolidate human rights provisions. But, as a least developed country, Nepal confronted significant constraints in mobilizing domestic resources, he said, calling upon the international community to continue to assist its efforts.
Switzerland’s delegate stressed that peaceful protests taking place around the world should be an occasion for an open national dialogue. Such protests should encourage Governments to address the root causes that originally initiated them: inequalities, discrimination, corruption, restrictions to effective participation in public life and other major social challenges. Preventing human rights violations, particularly those committed in the context of peaceful protests, was a priority for her Government.
A number of representatives called for greater cooperation to promote human rights mechanisms. The delegate of the Philippines said, for example, that strengthened cooperation among Governments was vital to protecting the rights of migrants, combating human trafficking and eliminating that violence and exploitation – a particular concern of her country. In the global financial and economic crises, migrants were among the first to lose jobs and means of livelihood, she said, encouraging States to implement the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and consider ratification and enforcement of relevant human rights instruments.
Also participating in today’s debate were the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iraq, Iran, Cameroon, Viet Nam, Benin, Cuba, Kuwait, Albania, Bolivia, Ethiopia and Ecuador.
Representatives of the International Organization for Migration and the Inter-Parliamentary Union also commented.
Speaking in exercise of their right of reply were the representatives of Cyprus, Japan, Serbia, Libya, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Albania.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 28 October to begin its joint consideration of elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and the right of peoples to self-determination.