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AFTERNOON - Human Rights Council Continues General Debate on the High Commissioner’s Oral Update on Global Human Rights Developments

Meeting Summaries


The Human Rights Council this afternoon continued its general debate on the High Commissioner’s oral update on global human rights developments and the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The presentation of the oral update can be found here and the first part of the general debate can be found here.

Many speakers thanked the outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and welcomed the incoming High Commissioner, Volker Türk, assuring him of their full support and cooperation, in the light of the commitment to impartiality, non-politicisation, and avoiding bias and double standards. There were huge challenges ahead in carrying out his mandate, and it was hoped that he would favour an honest dialogue, respecting the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in States, some speakers said. The Office must be balanced in its reporting, and work against unilateral coercive measures, without squandering its resources on unfounded allegations.

Some speakers pointed out that there was a clear pattern of repression and backsliding against democratic movements across the world, with silencing of protestors and campaigns against dissenters. Concern was expressed about restrictions placed on the right to freedom of religion and belief around the world. All countries maintaining the death penalty should place a moratorium on it for apostasy and blasphemy, and ensure that the freedom of religion was further protected. Democracy and the rule of law should be respected in every country, and the protection of human rights was a vital part of that.

Humanitarian crises were raging around the world: violence and human rights violations were widespread across different countries. The international community needed to make a non-selective, global effort to attach the same human dignity to each person, no matter where or who they were. This was a time for enhanced solidarity.

All should heed the recommendations made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, some speakers said, as it was only thus that they could live up to their commitments to the human rights system and the multilateral system. Its role in protecting and promoting human rights globally could not be ignored. Other speakers said the attempts to instrumentalise human rights against developing States must be ended. The Office must work to promote cooperation, dialogue and international solidarity. There had never been a more crucial time than now to listen to the voices of civil society. The protection and promotion of human rights was non-derogable, and worthy of the greatest attention.

The Council should engage in constructive dialogue and debates that were fit to overcome the challenges faced by humanity, whilst being guided by the principles of non-selectivity, impartiality, non-politicisation, and in a spirit of dialogue, aiming to aid, in particular, those who were in a situation of vulnerability. The Council was at the heart of the multilateral system for the protection and promotion of human rights and of dignity of every human being. The sharing of best practices in the context of capacity building was crucial in this regard. The work of the Human Rights Council and the human rights mechanisms should be complementary, guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity. This had become even more crucial in these challenging times. The Council could only address all issues of concern effectively through a spirit of cooperation.

Importantly, all rights, including the right to development, must be treated equally.

All human rights were interdependent and indivisible, and all States had the obligation to protect and promote all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and should support cooperation and constructive dialogue as the best way to protect human rights.

The COVID-19 pandemic was still having effects around the world, and the international community must work together to remedy these, and it was increasingly clear that protecting the rights to food, water and health would depend on international cooperation. Dialogue and international cooperation would help the world to face future crises, with joint action and collective response. The international community must work together, through mutual commitment and understanding, to make the world better. As the world slowly recovered from the devastating impacts of the pandemic, the international community must learn the lessons drawn from it, and prepare itself for any similar eventuality in the future. In this regard, speakers hoped that the Office of the High Commissioner would continue to pay attention to the concerns of developing and least developed countries, particularly on vaccine equity and universal health care. This should be based on a well-funded and resourced programme to ensure that countries’ specific needs were met, and create an enabling environment.

Some speakers said that international solidarity and cooperation, in such fora as the COP-27, were required to fight challenges to human rights that were posed by such threats as climate change, a real challenge to all of humanity, which required its effects to be addressed urgently, and it was therefore paramount to strengthen cooperation, and to avoid selectivity and politicisation. The international community should continue to adhere to the mechanisms developed with the aim of developing synergies and transitions that aimed to leave no one behind. The profound economic crisis that the world was facing showed the need for a redistribution of rights and a re-structuring of debt in order to support the economies of the developing countries, and to ensure food and vaccine security. Better integration of international human rights mechanisms would help reduce the effects of climate change and help with disaster relief.

Promoting human rights had to integrate all areas, and look at conflicts, climate change, transnational crime, and poverty, some speakers said. The international community should make more efforts to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner and deal with human rights in a peaceful manner. It was time for the international community to do all it could to make sure that the Council could meet the challenges before it without any backsliding. In an international scenario characterised by the undermining of peace and security, human rights were being undermined more than ever, and all needed to work to change the scenario.

Speaking in the debate were Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Mauritania, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Japan, Venezuela, Brazil, Namibia, Armenia, France, Malaysia, United States, Nepal, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Argentina, Bolivia, Ukraine, Malawi, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Senegal, Pakistan, Sovereign Order of Malta, Switzerland, Tunisia, Norway, Ecuador, Slovenia, Colombia, Bahrain, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Belgium, Australia, Russian Federation, Zambia, Panama, Maldives, Afghanistan, Austria, Malta, South Africa, Peru, Syrian Arab Republic, Estonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Canada, Bangladesh, Croatia, Burkina Faso, South Sudan, Belarus, Italy, Yemen, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Niger, Denmark, Republic of Moldova, Slovakia, Oman, Sweden, Cabo Verde, Azerbaijan, El Salvador, Iceland, Uruguay, Iraq, Ireland, Botswana, Portugal, Uganda, Togo, Kenya, Iran, Mali, Egypt, Georgia, Hungary, Turkey, Lesotho, New Zealand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Latvia, Nigeria, Serbia, Holy See, Chad, Nicaragua, Mozambique, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, Ghana, and Algeria.

The Council will next meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 14 September to conclude its general debate on the High Commissioner’s oral update. It will then hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.


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