Council holds panel debate on maternal mortality
Monday, 21 June 2010 13:35


The Human Rights Council held a panel discussion on maternal mortality and morbidity on 14 June. The panellists included Ms Rocio Barahona Riera (expert member of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), and representatives from UNDP, UNFPA, and the WHO. A statement was also delivered on behalf of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Mr Anand Grover.


The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, opened the debate and presented OHCHR’s report on maternal mortality which stresses the need to adopt a human rights-based approach to maternal mortality and morbidity as a means of ensuring more effective, equitable, sustainable, and participatory programmes and policies. This was a view that most States who spoke agreed with. However, Pakistan (on behalf of the OIC) said the Council should treat the matter primarily as a health and development issue. It criticised the report, saying it should have addressed ways to combat the problem, rather than justifying its significance by reference to international legal frameworks.


The discussion was notable for the presentation of a joint cross-regional statement under the leadership of Burkina Faso, Colombia, and New Zealand, with the total support of 108 States. This is a record for the number of supporters for a statement in the Council. The previous record, of 85, was also set for a statement on maternal mortality, at the March 2009 session. The statement noted that MDG5, on maternal mortality, is the furthest from being realised and called on the High Commissioner to present her report to the General Assembly meeting on the MDGs that will be held in September and report back to the Council on the outcome. Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group), Sudan (on behalf of the Arab Group), Senegal, Cuba, Malaysia, Colombia and China all highlighted the challenge of low resources, and called on the international community to provide assistance to developing countries. However, Mexico noted that in its case an increase in funding to address the problem had not been sufficient to produce the results it had hoped for.


During the debate many States highlighted the policies they had developed to combat the problem of maternal mortality and morbidity. Mr Ariel Frisancho (one of the panellists, from Care International, Peru) advised the international community to promote, support and learn from the experiences and practices of others. The importance of sharing good practice was also mentioned by Mexico, Spain (on behalf of the EU), the Netherlands, Egypt and Colombia.


Twelve countries and a number of NGOs did not get to speak on the issue because of time constraints, though their statements are available on the OHCHR extranet.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 August 2010 07:41
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