Statement on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) On agenda item 69 (b) and (c)PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS THIRD COMMITTEE
27 October 2010 / 04:08
Sixty Fifth Session of the
United Nations General Assembly
Statement by H.E. Henry Mac Donald
Permanent Representative of the
Republic of Suriname to the United Nations
on behalf of the
agenda item 69 (b) and (c)
PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
26 October 2010
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Permanent Mission of the Republic of Suriname to the United Nations
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fax : 212 980-7029 email: Suriname@un.int
I am honoured to intervene today on behalf of the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that are members of the United Nations on agenda item 69 (b) and (c).
CARICOM appreciates the reports submitted by the Secretary General pertaining to the subject under discussion and we thank the representatives of the Secretariat as well as the Special mandate holders for introducing these reports and the ensuing dialogue with the Committee.
Since the commencement of its work in early October the Committee has addressed the situations of several rights holders. Under the item: Social Development the rights of persons with disabilities, the youth and the elderly were highlighted followed by the rights of women, children, indigenous people, migrants and refugees in subsequent discussions. Overall considerable progress was noted in some areas but many challenges remain in tackling various other human rights such as discrimination, poverty, impunity and violence.
It is undeniable that human rights are part of everyday life and impact on the individual lives of people around the world. The progressive realization of the complete spectrum of human rights for all is therefore indispensable if we are to create a just society in which the dignity and worth of every human being is fully recognized and respected.
In 2008 the international community celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, followed by other noteworthy occasions such as the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the commemoration of 20 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Over the years international human rights law has evolved into a comprehensive set of standard setting norms and human rights feature prominently on the international agenda.
The recently concluded High-level Meeting to assess progress in the achievement of the millennium development goals recognized that the third pillar of the United Nations, namely respect for and promotion and protection of human rights, is an integral part of the effective work towards achieving the millennium development goals.
As we prepare for the 25th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development in 2011, we need to redouble our efforts to strengthen the global partnership for development.
CARICOM countries reiterate their strong support for the human person as the central subject of and the main beneficiary of the development process.
With the implementation of the “right to food” in mind I would like to inform you about the recently held Caribbean Week of Agriculture under the theme: “eat Caribbean/eat what you produce”. The week long activities highlighted the importance of energizing the agriculture sector in the region as a contributor for eradicating hunger, guaranteeing food security and achieving economic development.
At the 20th Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) held from 18 - 20 October last, which focused on “Investing in Human Resources for the Benefit of All”, Ministers accessed the progress achieved in the region on human and social development. I am pleased to note that this progress has been described as a “decade of dedicated delivery”. Several success stories were highlighted to demonstrate the resolve of the countries of the region to achieve sustainable human and social development, thereby contributing to the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Areas in which notable progress was registered are education and the free movement of skills, gender parity, youth development and health services including the fight against HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases.
These successes should not be misconstrued so as to conclude that the region has reached its objectives with regard to the right to development. CARICOM has stated on many occasions that the interconnectedness of national economies in a globalizing world and the susceptibility to external shocks, severely impacts on the lives and livelihoods of people around the globe, especially in small countries like those in our region. Furthermore many would also agree that the current crises cause undue pressure on the enjoyment of several human rights for rights holders.
Aspects such as decreasing levels of revenues, especially in the tourism, mining and financial services sectors, restricted access to credit and the servicing of high levels of external debt and climate change threaten to halt and in some cases reverse economic growth in the countries of the Caribbean region.
However CARICOM remains resolute to continue making strides in socio-economic development and preserving the proud record of the region in the area of human development, respect for the rule of law, democratic norms and human rights.
Mindful of this historic record we are therefore convinced that we can share useful experiences and make a meaningful contribution to the work of the various treaty bodies in particular, and the international system of human rights in general. At present Ms. Barbara Bailey from Jamaica is serving on CEDAW while recently Ms. Margo Waterval from Suriname was elected to the Human Rights Committee.
We expect the candidates from Haiti and Suriname to be elected to serve on the Committee on the Rights of the Child, at the elections to be held during the 13th Meeting of States Parties in December this year. This should enable us to not only increase our representation in treaty bodies but also contribute to putting into practice the principle of equitable geographical distribution.
The report contained in document A/65/317, interestingly notes that the treaty monitoring system is currently able to function, but it is suffering from its own success. It is with great concern therefore that we have taken note of the additional resource requirements for treaty bodies to effectively carry out their mandate and the associated constraints, such as the availability of support staff and adequate funding.
CARICOM welcomes efforts to further streamline and harmonize the work of the different treaty bodies. We continue to advocate for simplified reporting procedures to alleviate the burden not only on States Parties but also on the treaty bodies themselves. The suggestion made at 11th Inter Committee Meeting of the human rights treaty bodies, to identify and consolidate the recommendations for follow-up by different treaty bodies, with a view to providing targeted technical assistance, upon the request of States, is supported.
The initiative to convene the Meeting of the Chairs of Treaty bodies every other year at the regional level is also encouraging. This would undoubtedly increase the awareness of the work of the treaty bodies and that of regional mechanisms. It furthermore provides an opportunity for the treaty bodies to familiarize themselves with regional peculiarities.
Furthermore we have taken note of the six strategic priorities for the 2010-2011 biennium as set out by the High Commissioner and CARICOM would like to reiterate our support for the efforts of the High Commissioner as a staunch advocate to protect those whose rights have been violated or are the most vulnerable to violations.
The Human Rights Council, since its establishment in 2006, is well underway in the fulfillment of its mandate to work constructively with member states on the promotion and protection of all human rights for all. As we draw near the commencement of the mandated review of the Council, we would like to build on the positive experiences and address remaining challenges to the functioning of the Council.
CARICOM countries, the majority of which are not represented in Geneva, welcome the understanding between the President of the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council to ensure close coordination and coherence between the review processes in Geneva and New York.
CARICOM states have genuine difficulties as small countries and are often faced with the very real challenge of matching their commitment to the work of the Organization given their limited human and financial resources. The process in New York therefore provides us an opportunity to contribute to the discussions on the review of the Council.
In the first cycle of the universal periodic review mechanism Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada and Guyana have already undergone this review process. Haiti's review was postponed, due to exceptional circumstances resulting from the January 2010 natural disaster. Generally the dialogue with the Council was perceived as constructive. Noting that capacity building was identified as one of the important pillars in resolution 60/251, which established the Council, we owe gratitude to all partners for their assistance- technical and financial- in the preparation of the national reports, through the organization of inter alia regional briefings and workshops.
We continue to support the work of the Council to address crisis situations through the convening of emergency meetings. The ability of the Council to respond to crisis situations was demonstrated when the devastating earthquake struck Haiti earlier this year. The 13th Special Session of the Council on supporting the recovery efforts in Haiti, convened upon the initiative of Brazil, in January 2010, underscored the importance of addressing existing and additional challenges to promote and protect all human rights in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake.
We have previously reported that many still live in temporary housing without adequate access to water and sanitation, with the situation now compounded by waterborne diseases taking the lives of many Haitians. In this regard, we call on the international community to continue making good on their promises to the Government of Haiti and the Haitian people and support the reconstruction efforts to ensure that all Haitians can enjoy their universally recognized human rights.
A matter of grave concern to the countries of the region pertains to the exceeding of mandates by special mandate holders. While the independence of the mandate holders is acknowledged, we are of the view that these mandate holders should carry out their activities in full respect of the Code of Conduct.
Special mandate holders in defiance of their mandate do not contribute to the necessary environment for a constructive dialogue with States to promote and protect human rights.
Human rights education is an essential contribution to the full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms and to fostering tolerance and respect for the dignity of others.
Human rights standards can only be implemented if they are known- not only to the population at large and the different rights holders but also to those who have responsibilities to uphold them.
We are encouraged to note that the evaluation of the first phase of implementation of the World Programme for Human Rights Education has shown notable progress in making human rights education part of national curricula. An important aspect is that human rights education should respect the diversity of country contexts and take into account the evolving capacities of students receiving this education.
Some CARICOM countries have integrated human rights education in the school curricula and skills training, while others have implemented pilot-programs to introduce this subject at secondary schools. Training courses were also conducted for law enforcement officers to get them acquainted with international human rights standards and the commitments of the State.
In closing I would once again bring to mind the initiative of the region, launched together with the African Group, to erect at a place of prominence at United Nations Headquarters, a Permanent Memorial in honour of the victims of slavery and the trans-atlantic slave trade.
The process has surely advanced since the first resolution was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007. We appreciate the support received thus far from different partners and United Nations agencies as we seek to implement the decision to erect the permanent memorial.
We anticipate receiving the necessary resources – both technical and financial- to hold a fitting and solemn tribute in March 2011 for the annual commemoration of the International Day in remembrance of slavery and the trans-atlantic slave trade, one that is worthy of the cause of ending injustice and discrimination throughout the world.
CARICOM member states will continue their national and regional efforts to ensuring that the sobering realities of human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected and upheld.
I thank u.