The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on the right to food, the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, and adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and the Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty.
In concluding remarks, Jean Ziegler, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said 12 billion people could be fed by the food production in the world today – so a child dying from hunger now was a victim of assassination and murder. On Darfur, the Council had carried out remarkable work and an agreement was achieved for a resolution on an expert group working on different ways to ensure the humanitarian situation in Darfur could be improved. Concerning Zimbabwe, he had asked to visit the country and thought that the mission was going to take place. The question of bio fuels and selling food products for bio fuels represented a danger to the right of food.
Okechukwu Ibeanu, the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, thanked all for their interventions which had convinced him that his mandate was a human rights issue and that only a rights-based approach could tackle the problem. In this regard, and in line with the recommendations in his report, this required continued recognition of the responsibilities of both State and non-state actions; careful tracking and monitoring of hot spots outlined in the text; full recognition of the need to provide information to communities that may be at risk; and other steps.
Miloon Kothari, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, said his report on his mission to Australia was based on a very wide range of sources, and he did not think that these credible organizations could be dismissed as being interest groups. He stood by his conclusion that the continuing problem of homelessness in a developed country was deplorable and needed to be credibly addressed. He welcomed the efforts of Spain to tackle corruption and to protect vulnerable groups.
Arjun Sengupta, the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, said his main motivation was that poverty had for long been recognized as a scourge to human dignity. A social consensus had to be to implement policies. Poverty existed in most developing countries and also in some developed ones. The obligation was to adopt minimum policies to fulfil basic rights. There should be mechanisms to tackle the problem. The idea was to accept the best efforts to be made to accept this human right as a binding condition.
Speaking on the four reports were Representatives of India, the Philippines, Germany on behalf of the European Union, Cuba, Canada, Indonesia, Finland, Bangladesh, Mexico, Venezuela, Switzerland, Senegal, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Chile, Nigeria, Argentina, Algeria, the Russian Federation, Morocco, Norway, Tunisia, Nicaragua, Thailand, Republic of Korea, Brazil, Uruguay, China, the African Union, Ecuador and Bolivia. The National Human Rights Commission of India also spoke.
Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations also took the floor:
Food First Information And Action Network International, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples in a joint statement with Europe-Third World Centre and International League for the Rights and Liberation of peoples, International Education Development, International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities, Human Rights Watch, United Nations Watch, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, European Union for Public Relations, Mouvement International ATD Quart Monde, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, National Association of Community Legal Centres, Colombian Commission of Jurists, and Commission to Study the Organization of Peace.
Speaking in right of reply were Japan, Zimbabwe, Angola, Australia, Algeria, Cambodia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and China.
The Council today is meeting non-stop from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Immediately after the Council concluded its morning meeting, it started its midday meeting during which it will debate the situation of human rights in Belarus, Cuba and Cambodia.
Interactive Debate on Right to Food, Toxic and Dangerous Wastes, Adequate Housing and Human Rights and Extreme Poverty
SWASHPAWAN SINGH (India) said the report of the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Arjun Sengupta, provided a useful insight into the link between human rights and extreme poverty. The eradication of extreme poverty should be seen as a human right entitlement in itself, and the conditions of extreme poverty could be considered as a denial or violation of the right to development. A rights-based approach to development would not only seek development for those in need, but also placed corresponding obligations on those responsible for such development. It was clear that eradication of extreme poverty required efforts both at national and international levels.
The right to food was a basic human right. The Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, had raised an extremely important and topical issue in the form of hunger refugees. In the era of globalisation and increasing economic disparity, international migration was a natural phenomenon which needed to be addressed in a comprehensive and multi-dimensional manner. The efforts should be to turn international migration into a win-win situation for all; this could only be achieved by increased cooperation among States. While irregular migration and its negative effects needed to be mitigated, migrants should not be criminalized based solely on their migratory status.
JESUS ENRIQUE GARCIA (Philippines) said that with regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, the Philippines agreed that an alarming rise in malnutrition and hunger around the world required urgent efforts from all international partners in order to ensure it was reduced. The Government of the Philippines welcomed a constructive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur. The Government had embarked on a vigorous information campaign on the necessity of breast-feeding.
With regard to the report on adequate housing, the Philippines thanked Special Rapporteur Miloon Kothari for his comprehensive report. The Philippines especially welcomed the study undertaken by the Special Rapporteur on women and housing, which gave the needed gender perspective to this right. The National Housing Agency of the Philippines had developed and put into action a plan that placed the needs and rights of the beneficiary at its core. The Philippines was glad to note that certain aspects of its recent relocation experience were embodied in the basic principles and guidelines of the report.
The Philippines wanted to thank the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Arjun Sengupta, for his report. Any conceptual determination of extreme poverty would have to be agreed on later in the process.
ANKE KONRAD (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union attached great importance to the issue of adequate housing, and valued the need to look at monitoring indicators and principles and guidelines on forced evictions. The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, was asked how the principles on forced evictions could be disseminated and applied, and what steps could be taken to this end. The European Union also asked for an update on further steps taken in relation to the Zimbabwe Government over the violation of housing rights in Zimbabwe, associated with reconstruction projects there.
The European Union welcomed the work of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, and asked if there had been new developments on the right to food in Darfur, and whether in Zimbabwe, where the poor were faced with increasing shortages, any steps were being taken to make representations to the Government of Zimbabwe facilitate provision of food to all the people of Zimbabwe.
On poverty reduction programmes, the European Union asked the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty whether concrete involvement of civil society would be taken into account in future reports, and how human rights would be mainstreamed into existing poverty reduction programmes.
JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) said the four Special Rapporteurs were to be thanked for their presentations. With regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, this report focussed on two very important thematic thrusts: children and their human right to food; and refugees fleeing from hunger. With a huge amount of human sensitivitiy, he had revealed the true day-to-day tragedy, which was ignored by the mainstream media, which preferred to focus on sensational news. The figures were however staggering - more than six million children died of hunger every year before reaching the age of five, and yet the world was richer than ever before.
Millions of human beings went to bed every night hungry, and millions of children who were malnourished were condemned to a life characterised by stunted growth and limited intellectual development. As though this were not enough, there was an approach to convert food into fuel, due to the economic line of the United States. Food was being transformed into fuel in order to make viable the irrationality of a system which aimed to preserve the advantages of the few and by attacking the environment with this aim. A mass euthanasia of the poor, especially of those in the South, which had the greatest reserve of bio-fuels, would be the result. The Special Rapporteur should pronounce himself on this issue of conversion of food to fuel, which was a sinister idea.
NADIA STUEWER (Canada) thanked all the Special Rapporteurs for their reports and especially welcomed the one on adequate housing by Miloon Kothari. The report pointed out some normative gaps. The Special Rapporteur would be undertaking a country visit to Canada in autumn of this year, which the country was looking forward to. Canada asked with regard to indicators as a practicable tool, whether there were among them were any key indicators the Special Rapporteur wanted specifically to draw attention to.
BENNY SIAHAAN (Indonesia) said figures on those suffering from hunger in the world were appalling, and urgent action was needed to preserve dignity and guarantee the right to food and development of the world's poorest and hungriest persons. Addressing the problem of violations of human rights resulting from neglect of starving populations was a crucial first step. Indonesia urged the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to make hunger relief a focus of all out international efforts, engage destination States in dialogue and renounce the fortress attitude adopted by many developed countries. Indonesia wanted information on measures deployed, including financial institutions like the World Bank and scientific agencies handling water, irrigation and climate.
Indonesia complimented the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, for his work and took note of his remarks on normative gaps, indicators and the questionnaire submitted to States. It endorsed the idea of a seminar on legal recognition of land as a human right, and safeguards for women. Addressing the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Arjun Sengupta, Indonesia noted the recurrent notions of eradication of extreme poverty and increasing human rights entitlements, a strong contention that should be broadened to reflect the methodology for incorporation into international legislation.
KATRI SILFVERBERG (Finland) said with regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, he had mentioned two important examples: the promotion of breastfeeding for infants and free nutritious school meals for school children. The positive effects of these measures were widely recognised and had life-long implications for the child. What were the trends and latest developments in this regard, and did the Special Rapporteur see progress in these fields as a reflection of a rights-based approach or rather as a public health issue.
With regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, apart from the very important work on the indicators and guidelines, which were welcomed, Finland inquired about concrete cases of forced eviction, and whether the Special Rapporteur had received any communications to address urgent or large-scale situations, how these had been solved, and how well the human rights aspect was reflected when addressing these issues. Further, were there any outstanding visits that would be particularly important to undertake from the point of view of forced evictions?
MUSTAFIZUR RAHMAN (Bangladesh) thanked the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, for his report, which provided an agonizing picture of people suffering from the scourge of malnutrition, hunger and starvation. Bangladesh was gravely concerned that the number of people suffering from hunger was rising every year and had now reached 854 million. In a world that was richer than ever before, it was inconceivable that children, women and men continued to suffer from hunger and famine. The eradication of hunger should be the urgent priority for the international community. Hunger would also continue to force people to flee their own countries. Bangladesh fully shared with the Special Rapporteur that a programme should be launched for the 140 million children under 12 who still had no access to school. The extraterritorial obligation of all Member States to respect the right to food of all human beings, regardless of their citizenship, must be fulfilled.
Regarding the question of extreme poverty, the Independent Expert Arjun Sengupta had recalled that the international community had declared the eradication of poverty as a priority, yet it was still present. Extreme poverty was about lack of human resource capacities, among other factors. It was a deprivation of economic, social and cultural life. The Independent Expert had reflected on extreme poverty in Bangladesh. The situation in the country was well reflected in the report. The Independent Expert also commented on the level of participation of the civil society in the country. The Government of Bangladesh had undertaken many steps in this direction. The challenge was one of resources, among others. Increased financial assistance would be needed.
VICTOR GENINA (Mexico) said the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, had made a commendable contribution with his report. The methodology developed in the 2002 report on women and the right to adequate housing was an ideal practice. It focused attention on the rights of women, and developed a questionnaire stating the elements of these rights. This questionnaire focused on the relation between civil and political rights and economic and social rights in the framework of housing, land and women's heritage. This was a very useful tool for gathering data. Women suffering from disabilities were especially likely to benefit from a study of indicators. It was a key tool in surmounting poverty and offsetting gender discrimination. This study could be widely disseminated to make it more accessible. Mexico called for the gender perspective to be included in the day-to-day institution building process of the Council.
GABRIEL SALAZAR (Venezuela) said the right to food was a fundamental right, closely linked to the right to life. There should be accessibility, availability, and proper pricing. In the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, he referred to the issue of access to land. The Government of Venezuela had been implementing a range of programmes aiming at providing access to food to all citizens, in particular the most vulnerable. Food was made available at affordable prices, and there were strategic programmes to provide proper services to farmers. Around 9.5 million people had benefited from these programmes. Funds had also been set up to ensure the distribution of food.
With regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, States should give priority to land reform, with the distribution of land and wealth. Land should not be the privilege of a limited few, but should be the right of all. Large land holdings should be broken up and the lands distributed. There should be a collective and cooperative system set up in this regard.
MURIEL BERZET KOHEN (Switzerland) said Switzerland wished to address the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, and the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari. In the report on the right to food, an alarming problem was raised concerning the migration of African people towards Europe. The Special Rapporteur talked about creating new international instruments. The recognition of such a right triggered the question on how objective criteria could be established to determine when a person was under such a threat to receive asylum to escape hunger.
With regard to the report on adequate housing, the achievement of this right implied many elements. Switzerland had committed itself to the universal implementation of human rights. The right to access of property was an important component of achieving other rights, like the one of adequate housing. Switzerland raised the question on how the right of achieving property could be protected and implemented on an international level.
CHEIKH TIDIANE (Senegal) said Senegal wished to congratulate the Special Rapporteurs and the Independent Expert on their presentations. The report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, had offered an especially important contribution. Voluntary guidelines were adopted in 2002 for the progressive right to food. These were highly relevant and should be disseminated and applied to allow States and all stakeholders to be inspired by them in complementing this basic human right. Hunger and malnutrition were worsening around the world. The Special Rapporteur also tackled illegal migration and behaviour dictated by hunger. Senegal wished to underscore that this could be mitigated when dealing with clandestine migration where this was a direct consequence of fleeing from hunger. Those who took to the sea to seek their fortune paid high sums of money to the smugglers who profited from their naivety. Many abandoned stable jobs to take this risk, attracted by dreams of Eldorado. Co-development should be insisted upon, looked at from a global perspective, through joint partnerships adapted to realities.
NICHOLAS THORNE (United Kingdom) said with regards to the situation in Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom had asked the Special Rapporteurs on torture and on freedom of association to visit Zimbabwe and report back to the Human Rights Council. The Special Rapporteur on the right to food should also visit Zimbabwe, to investigate reports that the Government was denying the right to food to all citizens, and was distributing food based on political allegiance. The seriousness of the overall human rights situation in Zimbabwe clearly warranted the broadest possible coverage.
JEAN FEYDER (Luxembourg) said that with regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on food, Jean Ziegler, Luxembourg associated itself with the German statement on behalf of the European Union. Luxembourg thanked the Special Rapporteur for the report on the right to food, which provided more information compared to the report in 2006. It was unacceptable that every day 25,000 children died of hunger and malnutrition. It was unaccepted that 845 million did not have enough to eat in a world that had never produced such a wealth. Hunger in the world was worsening. The Special Rapporteur was congratulated on the activities he had carried out, especially with civil society. On the issue of hunger and migration, the Special Rapporteur suggested to tackle the root cause of migration. Luxembourg asked, among other issues, whether African countries should not protect their agricultural products against food imports.
On the report on extreme poverty by Independent Expert Arjun Sengupta, three components were indicated. The objectives of the Millennium Development Goals were restricted to a purely monetary and economic definition of poverty. In his report, the Independent Expert mentioned the multidimensional character of poverty. The question was raised whether one should revise the definition of poverty, which was at the centre of the Millennium Development Goals and the international strategy of the fight against poverty.
EDUARDO CHIHUALIAF (Chile), said the Group of the Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights – which was led by José Bengoa - on the principal causes of extreme poverty and human rights had been instrumental in defining poverty as central to human rights. The Human Rights Council had approved a resolution on human rights and extreme poverty in November 2006, calling for a focus among States, non-governmental organizations and international organizations on the guiding principles governing relief of extreme poverty.
Since democracy was restored in Chile, social themes such as education, health and housing had been important priorities alongside the fight against poverty. Recent figures showed that poverty in Chile had fallen between 2003 and 2006. However, there were still many in Chile living in conditions of extreme poverty and the report by the Special Rapporteur showed how important it was to tackle extreme poverty. This should be arrived at in a spirit of freedom and democracy.
OZO NWOBU (Nigeria) said with regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, Okechukwu Ibeanu, it was both critical and important for articulating and exposing the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, with particular focus on the implications for human rights. The nefarious activities of toxic and dangerous waste dumping were particularly heinous, among other reasons due to the severe harm they brought to bear on fragile environments and the eco-system as a whole.
This negative dimension was amplified by the exponential risks that resulted from the stockpiles of toxic products coupled with the dangerous chemicals sometimes used to destroy the products, either before or during the post-conflict era. By stockpiling toxic products and thereafter releasing them, terrestrial and marine habitats were imperilled and sometimes totally destroyed, with severe consequences for the economy and health of the surrounding population. Protracted international conflicts, by destabilising societies affected by wars, could abridge Governments and compel rogue regimes to import and utilise toxic wastes in exchange for weapons or money to buy weapons.
SERGIO CERDA (Argentina) thanked the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, for his report. The Special Rapporteur proposed to look at the deep root causes of migration and armed conflicts. Argentina also saw the roots of conflicts there. Such an investigation was necessary to have a good governance and rule of law. Regarding the report on adequate housing, the integration of women's rights was mentioned by the Special Rapporteur, Miloon Kothari. The question was raised if the Special Rapporteur considered whether this perspective could be transferred also to other Special Procedures. Regarding the report of the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Arjun Sengupta, Argentina agreed that the phenomenon of social exclusion had its own characteristics. It was asked how this problem could be solved?
IDRISS JAZAÏRY (Algeria) said the cycle of export subsidies from the European Union to other parts of the world put African smallholders out of work and they sought to survive by migration, though this was portrayed as though they were invaders. Industrialised countries expected the countries of origin to be responsible for controlling this phenomenon. Hunger was growing and the Food and Agriculture Organization summit of 1996 had mentioned the increase in populations and the difficulty of reducing hunger against this background. It was important to distinguish between material and immaterial poverty. The most extreme form of poverty was found in the paucity of policy among decision makers, unable to help control poverty. Poverty also represented a wealth of human potential that could be realized if it were viewed in that way.
Algeria thanked the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, adding that new approaches were introduced in Algeria to provide housing through financial assistance, a rental sale approach, and others, and the Government continued to make this issue a priority. Help for single women was available through the Family Code, and for persons with disabilities as well.
GALINA KHVAN (Russian Federation) said there was responsibility to all parties of a conflict with regards to the distribution of toxic waste. The right to adequate housing as an individual human right required further consideration. With regards to the right to food and the fleeing of migrants who were searching to escape famine, the responsibility of the Government of that particular country required further examination. With regards to the report on extreme poverty, this made vulnerable groups even more vulnerable and susceptible to violations of human rights.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) thanked all the Special Rapporteurs and the Independent Expert for their presentations and their efforts to fulfil their mandate. With regard to the report on extreme poverty, the King of Morocco had undertaken an initiative to fight extreme poverty with respect to the Millennium Development Goals. This was being done by improving access to infrastructure and helping people who were highly vulnerable. This strategy implied a sum close to $ 1 billion, which was allocated to the 2006–2010 period from the state budget and local government as well. Efforts had been made to secure the economic, social and cultural rights of the citizens through a planning code where the focus was on major reforms of the housing situation.
As an example, amongst the major programmes already implemented, Morocco had a city without slums programme sponsored by the King for the period 2004–2010. The programme would be mobilizing $ 2.5 million. There was a guarantee fund for people with low income to access decent housing. Some 18,000 requests had already been recorded for this programme. All these measures would be increased and were seeking to achieve an important aspect of the development goals which Morocco had on the international agenda.
HELGA FASTRUP ERVIK (Norway) said the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, had touched on the needs of children. It was noted that the Special Rapporteur had established close cooperation with the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Could the Special Rapporteur give updated information on the Food and Agriculture Organization guidelines to support progressive realization of the right to food?
MOHAMED CHAGRAOUI (Tunisia) said the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, was to be congratulated for his recommendations to try to remedy this tragedy of children dying from hunger. Aware of this challenge, Tunisia had developed an approach based on food security and the need for sustainable development. This had shown a qualitative leap forward with the satisfaction of material needs and production surpluses. There was an excess of major consumer foods. This assurance of the human right to food had been due in particular to the training of those in the agricultural sector, in the vocational sector, and programmes for the dissemination of agricultural advice. There was a national observatory on agriculture which aimed to help improve agricultural policies both nationally and internationally.
ALICIA MARTIN GALLEGOS (Nicaragua) congratulated the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, for his report. It was worrying that hunger had become a threat to humanity. Hunger was something that could be avoided because the world had double the amount that would be necessary to feed everyone in the world. Efforts must be intensified to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Nicaragua was happy that Latin America was at the head of the countries that took an initiative to this end. This implied nutritional programmes and feeding programmes in primary school, among other initiatives.
The President of Nicaragua had recommended measures to fight against poverty and hunger. Nicaragua drew upon the experience of other countries, for example like Brazil and the zero-hunger programme. The main responsibility for the eradication of hunger fell on the shoulder of governments. The Council could also contribute to this objective. The Special Rapporteur was called upon to have a more global approach in his next report. The right to food could not be unlinked to global economic policies.
SIHASAK PHUANGKET KEOW (Thailand) welcomed the report of the Independent Expert on extreme poverty and human rights, Arjun Sengupta, and concurred that the issue should be viewed from both a development and a human rights perspective. It was equally important to give consideration to different circumstances in each country and refrain from a universal set of standards. Poverty represented a denial of the most basic human rights and impacted on human security. Looking at the issues of human trafficking, migrant workers, even extremism, it was clear that they had root causes in poverty. There was a shared responsibility to tackle the problem through closer cooperation. Thailand had tried to address poverty by empowering people, improving access to information, communication and capital, achieved through micro-credit and community development schemes. The eradication of poverty should be a regional and global priority, and Thailand had embarked on initiatives with neighbours and partners, especially in the context of South-South cooperation, including technical assistance and financial aid.
DONG-HEE CHANG (Republic of Korea) said with regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, it was now imperative for the international community to address the issue of refugees from hunger by revisiting existing international instruments on refugee protection. It would be instrumental to make comparison research with other refugee types such as de facto refugees, economic refugees or refugees sur place, behind which was the rationale that they were not protected by the country of origin, and were thus entitled to international protection.
With regards to the report on adequate housing, fully guaranteeing the legal recognition of the right to land could be difficult to attain in reality when taking into consideration, for example, the long history of the privatisation of land. The Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing should explain his views on which country set the best example today or had done so in the past in terms of completely recognising the right to land.
CARLOS EDUARDO DA CUNHA OLIVEIRA (Brazil) congratulated the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, for his report. To put into effect the right of adequate housing was noteworthy. Brazil wanted to single out the question on women's rights with relation to adequate housing. The importance given by the Special Rapporteur to the legal framework to promote the right to adequate housing was clear. The priority given by the Brazilian Government to the housing needs of low income and disadvantaged groups was known. The Government had launched a housing programme. The social housing national fund aimed at the urbanisation of slums and would invest $ 500 million in 2007 in most needed areas.
The Brazilian strategy encompassed a range of actions. The objective of a conference taking place in November 2007 on this topic was to enlarge the political discussion and see how to reduce social disparities. The Brazilian Government had continued its fight by establishing benchmarks with regard to human rights obligations. Brazil was looking forward to the cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and would like to welcome him on a second mission to the country.
LOURDES BONE (Uruguay) said Uruguay agreed that poverty was a severe violation of human rights and eradication depended on ensuring access to resources. Development must be sustainable. Uruguay had embarked on numerous programmes to ensure this. Measures had been applied in the redistribution of wealth, overhauling the tax system to provide more tax income for health and education. There was a national emergency plan for those suffering extreme poverty (10 per cent of the population) including food coupons and community schemes.
DONG ZHIHUA (China) said the four reports were appreciated, and they had enriched the work of the Council in the protection and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights, and contained some useful recommendations. With regards to the right to food, the Special Rapporteur, Jean Ziegler, only mentioned a few isolated cases which gave rise to serious concerns; however, it was well known that the phenomenon of hunger was not rare in developing countries. The root cause of hunger was the issue of development. Countries should develop their domestic economy, and developed countries should use various channels to provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries in order to increase their ability to resist natural disasters and develop their economies.
With regards to the impact of armed conflicts on the exposure to dangerous and toxic materials and wastes, it was hoped the Special Rapporteur, Okechukwu Ibeanu, would continue to follow the issue of dumping by developed countries of such materials in developing countries, assessing its impact on human rights and issuing recommendations in this regard.
KHADIJA MASRI (African Union) said that with regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, it dealt with an important topic that touched the very core of the enjoyment of human rights by all. It was paradoxical that while the world was getting richer by the day, poverty and hunger were rising exponentially. The statistics in Mr. Ziegler's report were also less reassuring. It was a regrettable fact that more than 90 per cent of the world's hungry lived in developing and least-developed countries. All attempts by these countries to ensure fair and equitable international trade had failed. Promises and commitments made to Africa for increased assistance and greater access to markets were yet to be realized. Under these circumstances, it was difficult to envisage a successful initiative against hunger in the region.
The situation had been exacerbated by drought and conflicts. Forced migration was also taking its toll on African food productivity as able-bodied men and women left their homes in search for greener pastures elsewhere. Much as efforts at ensuring liberalization of trade and access to markets were important, priority at this time must be given the most pressing problem at hand – combating world hunger. A concerted international action was required both to find lasting solutions to them, and to provide immediate assistance toward their amelioration. An important prerequisite to the comprehensive addressing of this problem was the establishment of conditions of peace in the regions affected by unrest and conflict.
JUAN HOLGUIN (Ecuador) said the Special Rapporteur on Toxic and Dangerous Products and Wastes, Okechukwu Ibeanu, mentioned the use of herbicides in his report. The dusting (imprecise spraying) of herbicides on coca plantations on the Colombian border destroyed the crops of Ecuadorian farmers, damaged human health, and threatened contamination of water. The Special Rapporteur's observations on this accurately reflected the situation that Ecuador faced and the delegation wished to request a halt to this crop dusting.
ANGELICA NAVARRO (Bolivia) apologized for not being able to attend yesterday's meeting to talk as a concerned country with regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, and wished to make its statement now. The Special Rapporteur had visited Bolivia in May, and had carried out a number of meetings with Representatives of the Government. He was able to observe the measures the Government was carrying out with regards to the right to food. Privatisation of water resources had given rise to an increase in the cost of water in Bolivia, causing water wars in which people had perished. On natural resources, 82 per cent of the resources had gone to private companies without having contracts ratified by the Congress. However, the situation was changing in Bolivia, as reflected in the presentation made by the Special Rapporteur.
There had been a nationalisation of resources, which had increased the income of the State, which had made it possible to create more than 600 health centres, and to implement nutritional health programmes, as mentioned by the Special Rapporteur in his report. The Ministry of Water Resources had been set up programmes to help protect the population, in particular the most vulnerable. There was also agrarian reform, making it possible to achieve objectives of development and food safety. Bolivia appealed that multilateral and bilateral commercial negotiations comply with the rights to food and to water. Bolivia extended heart-felt thanks to the Special Rapporteur and commended his report, which clearly reflected the great efforts that the country was making with regards to the right to food.
ANNA SHARMA, of National Human Rights Commission of India, said that the focus of the institution was a paradigm shift of welfare. This paradigm shift should go from welfare to a more rights approach, including a level of zero-tolerance. A large percentage of starvation and malnutrition remained and required a high level of management. A constant dialogue was also needed. Framing guidelines for internally displaced persons were needed. A meeting in September would be focusing on the right to environment. Constant interaction with the respective governments was important to have a regular feed back trough their mechanisms.
THEODOR RATHCEBO, of Food First Information and Action Network International, said the Network supported the work done under the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. It was prudent to address violations of this right. Special Rapporteur Jean Ziegler had highlighted lack of progress against hunger and malnutrition, especially among small and marginalized peasants. The Network urged the Human Rights Council to consider the issue of the rights of peasants as a vulnerable group, and to consider the issue of food safety as related to economic and social rights, and to follow developments in the field of human rights based monitoring including the development of indicators and the Food and Agriculture Organization voluntary guidelines. These should be taken into account as part of the Universal Periodic Review.
GIANFRANCO FATTORINI, of Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples in a joint statement with Europe-Third World Centre and International League for the Rights and Liberation of peoples, said in this period of intense negotiations, the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food deserved particular attention, for many reasons. Once again, he reminded all that whilst the planet could feed twice its current population, millions were going to bed hungry. This was a violation of a fundamental right, but it did not appear to move many. The report deserved particular attention as it fully played its role of prevention, stressing particular situations of concern, and gave the Council a possibility to rapidly establish its moral authority.
KAREN PARKER, of International Education Development, said that since the organization had submitted a written statement to this session about the continuing genocidal crisis in Sri Lanka addressing the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on housing, food, extreme poverty, international solidarity and racism, the situation had further deteriorated. The Special Rapporteur on the right to food should be aware of the withdrawal plans of the World Food Programme from the Tamil areas, and the implications in relation to food security for Tamils. Blocking food and medicine was an element of the crime of extermination under the provisions of the International Criminal Court. Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, should also undertake an on-site visit now on an emergency basis.
DOMIANOS SEREFEDIS, of International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities, said the problem of adequate housing should be addressed from two angles: violations of the right to housing through forced evictions, and the housing of populations who find refuge in neighbouring countries because of direct or indirect forced evictions. The situation of Iraq's Assyrian minority was an example of the combination of the two situations. They had been forced to abandon their homeland and flee because of the fragile situation. Strong geo strategic interests in the area had limited the elaboration of frameworks towards harmonious ethnocultural coexistence. The housing of Assyrian refugees in Jordan and Syria, facing high rents, inadequate and substandard housing, showed that in conflict situations there might be multiple violations of the rights to housing.
SEBASTIAN GILLIOZ, of Human Rights Watch, said there was particular concern with regards to the situation concerning the right to adequate housing in Angola, where there had been 18 mass evictions carried out by the Government between 2002 and 2006 in the capital Luanda, evicting an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people in violation of national and international law. Angola had been elected as a new member of the Council, and as such it should fulfil its obligations under international human rights law regarding the right to adequate housing as well as its commitments as a member of the Council.
TOBY FRANKENSTEIN, of United Nations Watch, commended the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, for his report. The weekend's events were a tragic reminder of it. The incident of Libyan migrants underscored the violation by Libya of the right to migration of people suffering from hunger. Between 2003 and 2005, more than a 140,000 people were forced to return to their home countries. The Special Rapporteur was asked about his plans to talk with the Libyan Government to address the needs of the hunger migrants.
JULIA FEDERICO, of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, said the illicit dumping of toxic material in the context of armed conflict nearly always began in what was regarded as legitimate business. The cycle of military protection created a toxic legacy, impacting on the environment, and the rights to health and food. Nuclear weapons impacted mostly on the human rights of those in proximity to nuclear plants, notably indigenous peoples. Those who lived near weapons facilities had a right to health at all times, and a right to know the risks they were exposed to. Depleted uranium was a toxic weapon, illegal under existing standards, and States should immediately stop developing, trading and using these weapons.
NAZIMA MUNSHI, of European Union for Public Relations, said with regards to the question of involvement of children in armed conflicts, there was one aspect regarding their role that should be highlighted. There were countries where the educational system itself bred child warriors, for example Pakistan, where the madrassa culture flourished, and reports about the conditions in the madrassas suggested that the curriculum in these institutions focused on teaching young children the virtue of armed jihad against so-called non-believers. The shaping of impressionable minds to undertake militant activity had been part of the curriculum of these madrassas. The Council should commission a study to analyse what percentage of those graduating from these madrassas ended up being killed in armed conflicts.
XAVIER VERZAT, of Mouvement International ATD Quart Monde, thanked the Special Rapporteurs and Independent Expert for their reports but wanted to focus on the report of the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty. The proceedings would be important when it came to achieving the goals. The report converged with the report of the Secretary-General in 2006 on the eradication of poverty. The poorest people of a society had to be identified since their voice was hardly heard. The organization thanked the countries that provided interesting comments on the report. It was asked what the key points were concerning the guideline elaborated by the Commission on which consultations were on the way, to see that the eradication of poverty could be part of international law.
CLAUDE CAHN, of Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, said the visit to Australia by the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, and his recommendations on a national housing policy, were welcome. In Greece, a hundred Romany families had been evicted in 2006 without proper legal procedure. In the Philippines, more than 145,000 people had been evicted during the building of a national railway system, and access to services and livelihoods were unsatisfactory. In China, displacement in preparation for the 2008 Olympics had been documented. Victims of displacement and their legal counsels were intimidated and harassed. In the United Kingdom, large-scale displacement was anticipated in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. Further concerns were expressed over Zimbabwe's mass eviction campaigns in 2005. A proposal by the African Group on "codes of conduct" could hinder the mandate holders in pursuing their work, shackling the Special Procedures under a series of formalities.
ABDULHADI AL-KHAWAJA, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said in Bahrain, more than half the people lacked adequate housing, due to corruption and unfair distribution of land. Migrant workers suffered more than others. The housing issue remained a main problem in the country, despite the boom and rise in national income due to oil revenues. Some applicants for housing had been waiting as long as 12 years, and there were thousands of families that could not apply for social housing as they did not have fixed incomes. The shortage of lands was a main obstacle to housing projects, as 90 per cent of Bahraini lands were privately owned. The problem of transparency and engagement of civil society remained as a main concern, resulting in misleading information, even in United Nations reports.
KRISTEN HILTON, of National Association of Community Legal Centres, said that the Association was an Australian legal service that provided freedom of opinion and expression advocacy for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The Australian Government recently announced a budget surplus of $ 10.6 billion. It was unacceptable, that given the country's wealth and its formal commitment to the right to adequate housing, that there were still over 100,000 people that experienced homelessness on any given night. The Australian Government was called upon to establish a national ministry dedicated to housing and homelessness which worked collaboratively with civil society to devise and implement a national affordable housing plan informed by human rights principles, among other initiatives. The visit of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing had been critical in exposing the failure of the Australian Government to meet its human rights obligations.
GUSTAVO GALLON, of Colombian Commission of Jurists, agreed with the premise that adequate housing and rights to land were essential to the human rights of vulnerable populations, and especially women. Colombia faced poor standards of food security, housing and health, and 80 per cent faced indigence. The Government had failed to adopt measures to alleviate the problem of internal displacement. Victims of forced displacement lacked guarantees to enforce return of homes and land sequestered by paramilitary groups. The Colombian Commission of Jurists invited the Special Rapporteur to look at the situation of displaced people and consider a mission to Colombia.
SARA PAPAJEWSKI, of Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, said the majority of the population of Pakistan lived in slums, and Government policies did not address this crucial aspect. Poor people lived in conditions which any civilised society would find abhorrent and repulsive. They not only had no access to shelter, but no access to safe drinking water and medical facilities. The military dictatorship was primarily responsible for the dismal state of affairs, diverting funds meant for the poor towards enriching itself. Even donations given by international aid agencies were being diverted to buy arms and support for the dictatorial regime. The Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing should take steps towards ensuring adequate funds for the development activities, and the Council should ensure that funds meant for the poor actually reached the intended beneficiaries.
JEAN ZIEGLER, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said that he apologized not to answer each question in detail due to time constraints. It was true that the combat against hunger launched in South America in 2005 had become continent-wide. This initiative should be welcomed as well as the fact that it had spread internationally. The campaign of zero-hunger was at the forefront of implementing measures to fight hunger. Twelve billion people could be fed by the food production today – so a child dying from hunger now was the victim of assassination or murder. The Supreme Court in India was exemplary and should be a model for the whole world.
Mr. Ziegler said Germany on behalf of the European Union raised the questions on Darfur and Zimbabwe. On Darfur, the Council had carried out remarkable work. An agreement was achieved for a resolution on an expert group working on different ways to ensure the humanitarian situation in Darfur could be improved. Diplomatic success could be seen here; it gave a glimmer of hope to Darfur. The Special Rapporteur also wanted to thank Bernard Kouschner with regard to the refugee camps in Chad. The international community was divided on the initiatives in Darfur. Concerning the question on Zimbabwe, the Special Rapporteur had asked to visit the country. He thought that the mission was going to take place. The urgent appeal to Zimbabwe was listed among the other urgent appeals in the annexes. The question of bio fuels and selling food products for bio fuels represented a danger to the right to food.
Concerning the question from Switzerland asking about how a person could be determined as being a hunger migrant, indicators existed defining the regions where the population's survival was in danger, Mr. Ziegler said. Concerning the breast-feeding combat, multinational companies like Nestle were not respecting the international recommendations from the World Health Organization. It was urgent to tackle the tragedy that was currently taking place in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Famine refugees must receive the human rights of non-refoulement from the European countries.
OKECHUKWU IBEANU, Special Rapporteur on Toxic and Dangerous Products and Wastes, thanked all for their interventions which had convinced him that his mandate was a human rights issue and that only a rights-based approach could tackle the problem. In this regard, and in line with the recommendations in his report, this required continued recognition of the responsibilities of both State and non-state actions. It also called for careful tracking and monitoring of hot spots outlined in the text. It called for a full recognition of the need to provide information to communities that may be at risk, and the need for continued clean up in situations in which toxic and dangerous materials may have been used in situations of war. It also called for adequate assistance to States which were not in a position to deal with such situations and to help victims. He welcomed a call to develop a framework of guidelines to monitor the impact on human rights of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, particularly in countries that were undergoing rapid socio-economic transformation and political instability.
MILOON KOTHARI, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, said with regards to the intervention by the Ambassador of Australia, the report was based on a very wide range of sources, and he did not think that these credible organizations could be dismissed as being interest groups. A large part of the work done by civil society in Australia was to cover the gap with regards to the homeless. He looked forward to continuing to work with the Government of Australia, but stood by his conclusion that the continuing problem of homelessness in a developed country was deplorable and needed to be credibly addressed.
Mr. Kothari welcomed the efforts of the Government of Spain to tackle corruption and to protect vulnerable groups. His next report would focus on the implementation of the right, and the mission would have adequate time to contribute to the report. A number of interventions had been made with regards to Zimbabwe, where he was following the situation closely. He had made a request to visit the country two years ago, and had repeated the request. He hoped that the Government would agree to this. He was also aware of the situation in Angola.
The reaction of delegations with regards to the guidelines on forced evictions was appreciated. They aimed to minimise impact on the evicted, and were already in use by civil society organizations. It was hoped they would be integrated into national legislation and policies and adopted at a national level. There had been a number of communications on urgent situations of forced evictions. The Special Rapporteur was in the process of compiling a study on women and housing, and considered the issue of land and property rights were very important for women, and the Council could consider institutionalising the issue as it was linked to others such as women's right to health. The right to housing could not be effectively realised without strategies for the legal recognition of land, he concluded.
ARJUN SENGUPTA, Independent Expert on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty, said that he was grateful for the discussion. He wanted to concentrate on a few issues to clarify his approach. The main motivation was that poverty had for long been recognized as a scourge to human dignity. A social consensus had to be to implement policies. Poverty existed in most developing countries and also in some developed ones. The international consensus on multinational poverty was mentioned. It was important to accept the notion that extreme poverty was a denial of human rights.
The obligation was to adopt minimum policies to fulfil basic rights, Mr. Sengupta said. The debate on whether extreme poverty was an issue of society should take the direction of accepting extreme poverty as a norm. It was a matter of social contract. The world should accept the eradication of poverty as a universal obligation. A human rights obligation had to be binding. The non-performance of the duty should be regarded as a violation of human rights. There could be mechanisms to tackle the problem.
This was particularly relevant to the international community, the Independent Expert said. The idea was to accept the best efforts to be made to accept this human right as a binding condition. Bangladesh, Brazil and India had gone a long way in this regard. Concerning the German question, the issues would be more elaborated in the next report. The guidelines should be accepted as binding international obligations.
Right of Reply
ICHIRO FUJISAKI (Japan), speaking in a right of reply, said that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had made yesterday a totally unfounded statement. Japan was determined to combat racial discrimination and hoped the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would stop making false arguments.
ENOS MAFEMBA (Zimbabwe), speaking in a right of reply, said Zimbabwe had a strategy with regards to land and housing, and it had been a great success. Some of the so-called victims had been resettled in farms. If it were not for the sanctions, the success of this strategy would have been great. Zimbabwe would never politicise food - what it had politicised was the declaring of land. Those who pointed fingers at Zimbabwe were known, as were their records. The British would never get it right in Zimbabwe - their foreign policy blundered all the time. Zimbabwe was not for re-colonisation. Britain should look at its record today, in particular with regards to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment in Basra.
JOSE MARIA CAPON DUARTE E SILVA (Angola), speaking in a right of reply, said Angola noted with concern the allegations on the so–called expulsions in Luanda. Angola was emerging from a lengthy war and was still in a state of reconstruction. The Government was making considerable efforts to improve the living conditions of the population and to set up several social housing programmes to meet demand. Angola felt the Special Rapporteur did not base his report on credible sources. In the Government programme, housing for displaced persons was a priority and the country was prepared for constructive cooperation with UN representatives. Regrettably there were some who felt that Africans should not benefit from modern construction.
CAROLINE MILLAR (Australia), speaking in a right of reply, said with regards to the comments made by Zimbabwe on 11 June that Australia should contribute funds to the development of human rights in that country, Australia remained committed to helping the ordinary people through human rights oriented policies that had a direct impact on the people on the ground. It did so through channels which ensured that the funds would arrive at their destination. The Government of Australia expected to commit further funds in the future, including to promote democracy, media freedom, civil society organizations and human rights, as well as to food security.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria), speaking in a right of reply, said Algeria was puzzled to hear a Western based non-governmental organization demonising the code of conduct proposal presented by Algeria on behalf of the African Group, which was not, as incorrectly stated, an Algerian proposal. It was a cliché to say that the measures proposed were aimed at undermining the independence of the mandate holders. It was normal practice to suggest that work within the UN system should abide by UN rules, for efficiency and responsiveness. There should not be any attempt to establish a parallel system.
CHHEANG VUN (Cambodia), speaking in a right of reply, said that Cambodia categorically rejected the lying and politically-motivated account of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and asked for its correction. The Special Rapporteur had the intention of giving false information to the Council. The unhealthy speech of the Special Rapporteur could encourage and incite racial violence between the Cambodian population and the Vietnamese minority of a certain area of the royal capital. The report should be corrected and the Special Rapporteur apologise for his unacceptable mistake.
CHOE MYONG NAM (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), speaking in a right of reply, rejected again the allegations of Japan. It was well known that measures existed to discriminate against Korean nationals in many walks of life in Japan. The arguments referred to by Japan could be construed as nothing more than an excuse to get rid of criticism of human rights violations committed by Japan. Japan should immediately end all violations against Korean nationals in Japan.
LA YIFAN (China), speaking in a right of reply, said the statement of a non-governmental organization with regards to the Beijing Games was totally groundless. The reallocation of the Olympic sites affected nine projects and 6,037 households which had been removed. Inhabitants had received financial compensation and had been resettled, with the improvement of their living conditions. Their right to judicial remedies and aid had been fully respected and protected. The allegation that so-called victims of the relocation and their lawyers had been harassed was totally unfounded.
ENOS MAFEMBA (Zimbabwe), speaking in a second right of reply, thanked the delegate from Australia for information on aid for Zimbabwe, but the money given was being given to effect regime change. Prime Minister Howard himself had said $ 18 million had been committed to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
For use of the information media; not an official record