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MORNING - Human Rights Council Continues General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development

Meeting Summaries

The Human Rights Council this morning continued the general debate on agenda item three on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. 

The general debate started in the previous meeting and a summary can be found here.

Among many issues raised, some speakers said that globally efforts to reduce maternal mortality had stalled, and the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated that trend, disproportionately affecting Afro-descendants, indigenous persons, and other vulnerable women and girls.  This was evidence that this was a human rights issue.  Governments must apply a human rights-based transformative approach to maternal mortality and morbidity, with an increase in budgets, a speaker said.  All women and girls, including adolescents, must be guaranteed universal access to sexual and reproductive health services that were available, accessible, acceptable, and of good quality, said another speaker.

Regarding the human rights of migrants, some speakers said there was a need for migration governance to be based on human rights, better cooperation and international solidarity.  The international community would continue to face challenges on human mobility, and States must step up their efforts to protect, with a cross-cutting approach that ensured the well-being, security, and human rights of all persons on the move.  All States must protect the rights of migrants, ensuring fair and dignified treatment of migrants, rising to the complex challenges that were linked to migration at the global level.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights did not establish any separation or hierarchy between economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights; it was essential to focus on this nucleus.  All human rights were universal, interdependent and inter-connected, a speaker said.  The respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination was a fundamental rule of international human rights law, and putting an end to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance was a priority task for the international community, which must fight hate speech.  However, incidents still occurred. 

One speaker said discussions and interactive dialogues had shown how diverse the world was: every country had its vision and ideology, reflecting the diversity that enhanced human rights, and the various traditions and customs of States must be taken into account.  All obstacles that hampered the full enjoyment of human rights must be removed. 

The right to a safe, clean and healthy environment could only be achieved through work at multilateral levels, a speaker said.  Natural disasters were a challenge that called for an international discourse and an international response, in cooperation between all parties, in a context of neutrality and mutual respect, so as to avoid the politicisation of human rights.  All needed to do their part in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities to address the climate crises confronting the world today, another speaker said, urging all States to actively participate in the International Court of Justice advisory proceedings on the obligations of States in respect of climate change.

The impact of climate change on human rights had been clearly pronounced, and it affected, among others, the rights to health, education and development, a speaker said.  A convention on the right to development would benefit future generations, as well as improve the situation in a more immediate manner, and it would contribute towards making the right a reality for everyone.  The gestation period of this fundamental right had indeed been a long one.

Several speakers supported the submission of the draft legally binding instrument on the right to development to the General Assembly for further consideration, and called for objective and constructive dialogue that would lead to its early adoption.  International cooperation and technology transfer to developing countries must be encouraged to ensure the implementation of the right to development, and the international financial system should be reformed.  All stakeholders must cooperate to ensure that stolen funds were returned to developing countries.

The consequences of terrorist attacks were all too clear on victims and on societies as a whole, a speaker said.  Positive work was being done, but shortcomings must be pinpointed and efforts made to improve the situation: supporting victims of terrorism was a way to combat radicalisation and ensure the gathering-in of those who fell by the wayside, and the international community was encouraged to pay more attention to this matter. 

Achieving Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals must be given a higher priority, as these commitments had been damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, a speaker noted.  Increased national efforts had to be made to meet the demands and needs of all. 

The international community must fortify its processes for ensuring access to justice and redress, a speaker said.  Civil and political rights, fundamental freedoms and other rights were under threat in many areas of the globe, with particular attacks on the right to expression and the freedom of the press.  The Council must step up all efforts towards accountability and access to justice for those who could not gain it within their home borders.

One speaker said that mandate holders must abide by credible sources.  Human rights mechanisms must promote and protect human rights globally, in a fair manner, with the same emphasis.  Genuine dialogue and constructive communication were the best way to improve the situation of human rights for all, one speaker said.  The special mechanisms and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were not impartial, and misleading information was published in reports, as were mendacious accusations against States, with other States using them as a justification to impose unilateral coercive measures. 

The impact of unilateral coercive measures was an important issue: the Human Rights Council and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should attach further attention to this issue in the context of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  This issue should not remain on the fringes of the attention of the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, as they undermined the rights to development and health, dealing a blow to global food security.  Countries continued to be subject to stigmatisation, distorting the situation on the ground.  Some unilateral coercive measures were tantamount to crimes against humanity, a speaker said.

The Human Rights Council had done a lot of work to improve the situation of human rights globally, but it must focus more on social and civil rights, in particular in economically challenged areas of the goal.  If everyone was to enjoy all rights, then all rights needed to be respected, a speaker said.  The negative impacts of colonialism also required further attention.

Women with disabilities faced issues such as discrimination and poverty, and economic development should be guaranteed to them, under the principles of equality and non-discrimination.  There should be policies to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, including job creation.  The inclusion of persons with disabilities should be ensured in economic, social and cultural affairs, so that they could participate in the public life of their country. 

Speaking in the general debate were the United Nations Population Fund, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Bahrain, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Sovereign Order of Malta, Armenia, Russian Federation, Colombia on behalf of a group of countries, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Peru, Namibia, Tunisia, Philippines, Afghanistan, Mauritius, Belarus, Uganda, Zambia, State of Palestine, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Türkiye, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Nigeria. 

Also speaking were Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, as well as the following non-governmental organizations: Soka Gakkai International, Law Council of Australia, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, Instituto de Desenvolvimento e Direitos Humanos, Iran Autism Association, United Nations Association of China, International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture, Federation for Women and Family Planning, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Il Cenacolo, Open Society Institute, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Conectas Direitos HumanosMouvement National des Jeunes Patriotes du Mali, International Humanitarian Society for Development Without Borders, Centre Europe - tiers monde, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, World Evangelical Alliance, Iranian Thalassemia Society, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Action Canada for Population and Development, British Humanist Association, Human Rights and Democratic Participation Centre SHAMS, and Humanists International.

Also speaking were Make Mothers Matter, Iranian Elite Research Centre, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Jubilee Campaign, Sikh Human Rights Group, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples, Conscience and Peace Tax International, International Service for Human Rights, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales Asociación Civil, International Harm Reduction Association, Institute for Protection of Women's Rights, International Federation on Ageing, Amnesty International, International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, VIVAT International, International Commission of Jurists, Beijing NGO Association for International Exchanges, Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, INHR, and Friends World Committee for Consultation.

Also speaking were United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetian Culture, European Centre for Law and Justice, Comité International pour le Respect et l'Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l'Homme et des PeuplesAsociacion, Regional Centre for the Welfare of Ageing Persons in Cameroon, Medical Support Association for Underprivileged Iranian Patients, Association pour la défense des droits de l'homme et des revendications démocratiques/culturelles du peuple Azerbaidjanais-IranJameh Ehyagaran Teb Sonnati Va Salamat Iranian, Rahbord Peimayesh Research and Educational Services Cooperative, Edmund Rice International Limited, Union of Northwest Human Rights Organisation, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme, Institute of Sustainable Development, Institut International pour les Droits et le DéveloppementRajasthan Samgrah Kalyan Sansthan, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Women's Human Rights International Association, Alliance Defending Freedom, Maryam Ghasemi Educational Charity Institute, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Africa Culture InternationaleLe conseil universel des droits de l'homme, International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education, and Platform for Youth Integration and Volunteerism.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here.  All meeting summaries can be found here.  Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s fifty-third regular session can be found here.

The next meeting of the Council will be at 3 p.m. on 21 September, when it will conclude the general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, after which it will hold an interactive dialogue on the report of the Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, to be followed by an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation.


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