Human Rights Council discusses report of its Advisory Committee
Thursday, 01 April 2010 10:20

On 16 March, Advisory Committee Chairperson Ms Halima Warzazi presented the report of the Committee to the Human Rights Council (the Council). The statement was almost entirely focused on the working methods of the Advisory Committee, with little to no reference made to the substance of the reports that were presented to the Council. She began her introduction by paying tribute to Professor Miguel Alfonso Martinez, a long-serving Advisory Committee member who recently passed away.


Ms Warzazi then provided an overview of the work of the Advisory Committee during its 3rd and 4th sessions, drawing particular attention to the draft set of principles and guidelines on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, the draft declaration on human rights education and training, draft rules of procedure, and a study on the best practices on the issue of missing persons. She also noted that the Advisory Committee held discussions on the rights of women, the promotion of a democratic and equitable order, fundamental rights of disabled persons, and the issue of international solidarity. Although given considerable prominence in her statement, this group of issues had only been briefly discussed at the 4th session of the Advisory Committee with little to no progress made. She also noted a working paper on the rights on the human rights of older persons, and the right to peace. In this context, she made reference to the Advisory Committee’s mandate, by which it ‘may propose within the scope of the work set out by the Council, for the latter’s consideration and approval, (…) research proposals within the scope of the work set out by the Council.’ This seemed to be a preemptive defense to later claims that the Advisory Committee is over-stepping its mandate.


For the most part, States welcomed the work done by the Advisory Committee, with the exception of the Russian Federation and the European Union. These delegations both referred to the mandate of the Advisory Committee, stating the responsibility of the Advisory Committee to work within the scope of the Council, and not adopt resolutions or decisions. However neither the EU nor the Russian Federation gave a specific reason for their objections.


The draft declaration on human rights education and training was widely welcomed.European Union, Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Sudan on behalf of the Arab Group, Morocco on behalf of the Platform for Human Rights Education and Training, Burkina Faso, USA, Canada.  Morocco, on behalf of the Platform for Human Rights Education and Training, clearly stated that it did not believe the right to human rights education was a new right, but rather derived from the right to education. Although this had been a source of contention during the Advisory Committee’s 4th  session, no other States raised the issue during the interactive dialogue. A significant number of States indicated their willingness to actively take part in negotiations to seek a draft resolution in the near future.


Another issue that received widespread attention was thestudy on discrimination in the context of the right to food. Argentina and Brazil took the opportunity to highlight the impact of agricultural subsidies on farming in developing countries. Cuba noted that there is a need to extend the scope of the study to include the rights of peasant farmers and others in rural areas. Luxembourg underscored that the report showed how much those who suffer from malnutrition are also those who suffer from other types of discrimination, including women, people in rural areas, small farmers, and refugees.


Japan expressed appreciation for the Advisory Committee’s work on thedraft principles in guidelines related to leprosy, a document that had been prepared by the Japanese member of the Advisory Committee Mr Shigeki Sakamoto. Similarly, the Republic of Korea showed its support for theworking paper on the rights of older persons, drafted by the Korean member of the Advisory Committee, Ms Chinsung Chung. It is notable that this working paper did not receive a great deal of attention from the Council, despite the potentially contentious question of it not having been specifically requested in a Council resolution.


At the end of the session, the Council adopted specific resolutions on two of the topics presented by the Advisory Committee. It established an open-ended intergovernmental Working Group to continue drafting a declaration on human rights education, and tasked the Advisory Committee to pursue its work on discrimination in the context of the right to food. For all other proposals, the President of the Council issued Presidential Statement 13/1, in which the Council takes note of the remaining proposals but postpones their detailed considerations.

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 April 2010 10:37
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