United Nations General Assembly
Statement by H.E. Ewald Limon
Permanent Representative of the
Republic of Suriname to the United Nations
on behalf of the
agenda item 67
Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
18 October 2006
October 18, 2006: Statement to the Third Committee by H.E. Ewald Limon, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Suriname to the United Nations on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on agenda item 67 (a), Promotion and Protection of human rights : implementation of human rights instruments and 67 (b), Promotion and Protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
It gives me great pleasure to address the committee on behalf of the member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that are members of the United Nations namely Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago on agenda item 67 (a) entitled Promotion and Protection of human rights: implementation of human rights instruments and 67 (b) entitled Promotion and Protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
At the outset please allow me to congratulate you Mr. Chairman and the other members of the bureau on your well deserved election. We are convinced that under your wise leadership and with the assistance of the Vice-Chairs the committee is working towards a successful conclusion of its deliberations. Let me assure you of our delegations’ continued cooperation and support.
CARICOM appreciates the comprehensive reports submitted by the Secretary General on the issues pertaining to the subject under discussion.
CARICOM member states recognize that human rights are essential for human survival, physical security, liberty and dignity, all of which are inherent to every human being and hereby acknowledge the responsibility of all national Governments to guarantee that human rights and fundamental freedoms, as laid down in several international instruments, are fully upheld.
Since the inception of the United Nations the promotion and protection of human rights have been at its very core. Over the years the international community has created a wide range of mechanisms to monitor compliance of States Parties with the various human rights instruments they have committed themselves to implement.
In this regard CARICOM welcomes the recent conclusion at the Eight Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group of a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. We look forward to its early adoption by the General Assembly and subsequent entry into force, so that the millions who are living with a disability could enjoy the equal recognition and protection of their rights.
Despite many achievements in the field of human rights it is regrettable to note that today the world is still plagued with incidents of ethnic hatred and genocide. Many are still deprived from food, shelter, access to healthcare, education and work. Some are being discriminated because of religion or gender. The existence of pervasive poverty continues to violate human dignity.
We are of the considered view that neither the cause of development nor that of security can be advanced without the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The adoption of the eight millennium development goals at the landmark Millennium Summit in 2000 is testimony of the resolve of world leaders to address issues of development, peace and security and human rights as a comprehensive package.
In this regard CARICOM welcomes the efforts being exerted within the human rights mechanisms to consider obstacles and challenges in relation to the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, in particular the millennium development goals.
It is therefore of critical importance that concerted action be taken to implement the global partnership for development thus allowing us to effectively realize the promotion and protection of all human rights for all.
CARICOM wishes to reiterate Mr. Chairman its strong conviction that measures in the fight against terrorism, should at all times take place in accordance with international law, in particular international human rights and humanitarian law.
While aware of the threats posed by terrorism and the responsibility of states to protect their citizens, we would like to reiterate our strong objection against torture and other inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment being used as a means in the fight against terrorism.
We note the efforts of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of human rights while countering terrorism, Mr. Martin Scheinin in carrying out his mandate.
We took note of his report and conclusions submitted to the General Assembly which are contained in document A/61/267 and particularly his remarks with regard to interactions with various regional organizations and his intention to have further engagements. We express the hope that the Special Rapporteur will also engage in discussions with the regional mechanisms of the Caribbean region in order to address regional efforts in the fight against terrorism from a human rights perspective.
CARICOM states have actively participated in the debate to initiate reform of the human rights machinery, and more specifically towards the establishment of the new Human Rights Council.
We therefore would like to reiterate our strong conviction that the core function of the newly established Council should be to encourage universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
CARICOM countries would like to underscore that the Council be guided by the principles of universality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive dialogue and cooperation.
CARICOM countries took note of the High Commissioner’s proposal elaborated in the concept-paper of the Secretariat for a unified standing treaty body.
It provides useful information on the challenges and shortcomings of the current system. We are however of the considered view that the proposal for a unified standing treaty body warrants careful and serious consideration from all stakeholders. It is of critical importance to make a clear assessment of the legal implications as well as future membership.
Furthermore the specificities of each treaty should be preserved as well as their focus on specific rights and the rights of particular rights-holders should be taken into consideration when discussing the idea of a coordinated mechanism.
Any further reform of the human rights treaty system should be conducted against the background of the principal objective of these mechanisms to ensure human rights protection at the national level through the implementation of the human rights obligations contained in the different treaties.
CARICOM expects that the consultations of the above proposal will be broad based, inclusive and transparent. We also look forward to the contributions of the treaty bodies as they embark on an examination and discussion of the High Commissioner’s proposal.
We acknowledge that reporting requirements under treaty provisions are at times very challenging to States Parties, especially for CARICOM states with their limited human and financial resources.
In this regard it cannot be overemphasized that increased international cooperation will significantly contribute to supplement national efforts in the implementation of international obligations and to effectively carry out recommendations of human rights treaty bodies.
CARICOM notes the recent adoption by the treaty bodies of the draft harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international legal framework, including guidelines on the common core documents and treaty specific documents for reporting. It is encouraging that some member states have already started applying these guidelines. These efforts of streamlining national implementation under treaty obligations however laudable still require us to remain vigilant that the exercise does not result in creating an additional reporting burden on States.
Please allow me to address an issue of particular importance to not only the Caribbean region but to all in the international community who highly value the effective promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Slavery and the slave trade are among the most serious violations of human rights in the history of humanity, bearing in mind their scale and duration.
2007 marks the bi-centennial abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. It is regrettable to note that it took the international community almost 200 years to acknowledge slavery and the slave trade as a crime against humanity. Today the issue of reparations and compensation for these atrocious crimes remain outstanding.
Against this background CARICOM has taken the initiative to present a resolution with the main purpose to present an opportunity for the international community to honour the memory of those who died as a result of slavery and to correct the knowledge gap by highlighting both the consequences created by the slave trade and slavery as well as on the interactions, past and present, between the peoples of Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean.
CARICOM member states therefore hope that we can count on our friends and partners in the United Nations to help us commemorate an event that is at the core of our history and existence.
We are heartened by the overwhelming support expressed thus far by many friends. We would therefore very much appreciate your co-sponsorship of this resolution.
In closing Mr. Chairman,
CARICOM acknowledges that progress in protecting and promoting human rights depends primarily on actions taken at the national level in accordance with international human rights instruments.
In contemporary international relations, these commitments cannot be allowed to become mere theoretical concepts. In order to be effective, states must truly implement their international human rights commitments.
CARICOM member states therefore, conscious of their obligations under international law, would like to reiterate their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and subsequent human rights instruments as well as the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Program of Action.
I thank you.