Council debate on Follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
Thursday, 07 October 2010 13:47


On 24 September, the Human Rights Council discussed, under its agenda item 8, Follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA). Many States reaffirmed the VDPA's recognition of the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, and that the international community should treat all human rights in a fair and equal manner. In addition, States recalled that the VDPA calls for increased coordination in support of human rights and fundamental freedoms within the United Nation system.


A number of States expressed concern about continuing instances of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which threaten the multicultural fabric of many societies (Belgium on behalf of the EU, Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, Brazil on behalf of MERCOSUR, Syria on behalf of the Arab Group, Slovenia). Pakistan (on behalf of the OIC) and the Russian Federation underscored the importance for the international community to take into account national and cultural particularities, and believed political considerations must be separated from the protection and promotion of human rights.


Another theme of the Declaration raised by some States (such as the US, Belgium on behalf of the EU, and Brazil on behalf of MERCOSUR) was the full and equal enjoyment by women of all human rights. In this regard, the US and the NGO Action Canada for Population and Development urged the Council to create a Special Rapporteur on discrimination against women. Several States (Belgium on behalf of the EU, and Slovenia on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Finland, France, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, Romania, the US and Uruguay) raised concerns that many people around the world continue to face human rights violations because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. They said criminalising people on these grounds violated the principle of non-discrimination. In its statement, Slovenia drew attention to a high-level panel discussion on ending violence and criminal sanctions based on sexual orientation and gender identity. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, delivered statements at the event calling for an end to such violations.


Pakistan (on behalf of the OIC) said the VDPA calls for the realisation of the right to development which remained as urgent today as it had been in 1993. It said the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development in 2011 presented an opportunity to reflect on the progress in the struggle against poverty.


Some States, such as Algeria and Morocco, said the right to self-determination was frequently violated. Algeria in particular stressed the need to respect the right to self-determination of people under foreign occupation.


Finally, the general debate was marked by the interruption of many NGO speakers by a high number of points-of-order raised by some States. All the points-of-order were raised on the grounds that, by mentioning human rights concerns in particular countries, NGOs had gone beyond the focus of the agenda item 8. Other States, including the UK, US and Belgium spoke in favour of letting NGOs speak and underlined the important role played by NGOs in the Council. However, the President generally upheld the right of the NGOs to deliver their statements, while reminding them that comments must be made in reference to the implementation of the VDPA.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 14:49
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