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Human Rights Council continues general debate on the update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Human Rights Council
15 September 2009
Special Representative if the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict presents her Annual Report
The Human Rights Council this afternoon continued its general debate on the update presented earlier in the day by High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on developments in the human rights sphere and the activities of her Office. It also heard a presentation by Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, of her annual report.Among issues raised by speakers in the general debate were that the Human Rights Council needed to do its part by acting on human rights violations wherever and whenever they occurred; at the end of the day, it was the message of human rights, and the realisation of human rights for all people, regardless of position, gender, race and ethnicity that was most prominent. The practical fieldwork done by the Office ensured that important issues like emerging forms of slavery and the exploitation of children received the attention of the international community. There could be no lasting peace without respect for human rights and without accountability for human rights violations. All States were expected to fulfil the obligations they carried in pursuit of the full protection and further promotion of human rights.
Another key message was that the principles of equality and non-discrimination were fundamental to international human rights law. Yet throughout the world women were more exposed to violations of rights than men and the Council needed to play its important role in changing these dismal realities. Special efforts needed to be made to eliminate discrimination against women, minorities, indigenous peoples and all others who suffered from the scourge of discrimination. Around the world, deplorable gaps persisted between human rights norms and standards and the realities on the ground – the effective implementation of existing human rights instruments must therefore remain the common priority. It was the primary responsibility towards the victims of human rights violations that should guide the work of the Council.
Speakers in the general debate also noted that the Universal Periodic Review had been proving to be one of the most effective platforms of the Council for promoting human rights at the national and local level. As for the Special Procedures, their work should be carried out in accordance with national legislations of the States visited and the respect of the code of conduct of Special Rapporteurs. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Procedures and treaty monitoring bodies had a valuable role to play in United Nations peace, security and humanitarian efforts.
JOHN VON KAUFMANN (Canada) said Canada supported the High Commissioner’s emphasis on promoting respect for and implementation of human rights obligations that States had freely undertaken and supported her efforts to strengthen the treaty body system which played an essential role in promoting implementation of human rights. The High Commissioner’s focus on combating discrimination and violence against women was an area in which Canada hoped to strengthen the Council’s efforts. Canada looked forward to the workshop on violence against women to be held in 2010. Canada supported the High Commissioner’s call to end impunity for the violation of human rights of journalists, human rights defenders and peaceful political activists. It would seek to strengthen the Council’s work on combating impunity and ensuring accountability for the perpetrators of human rights violations, as well as efforts to protect journalists and human rights defenders. Canada would continue to work to fulfil the Council’s mandate and responsibility to protect human rights everywhere.
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