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TWN Info Service on Health Issues (March 09/02)
18 March 2009
Third World Network

UN Rights Council Voices Concern on Human Rights Impacts of Crises

The UN Human Rights Council urged the international community to take measures to counter any negative impacts that the financial and economic crises may have on the realization and the effective enjoyment of all human rights, particularly by assisting the most vulnerable.

It is reproduced with permission from South-North Development Monitor (SUNS) #6646, 24 February 2009.

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Evelyne Hong
TWN
                                   

UN Rights Council voices concern on human rights impact of crises
By Kanaga Raja, Geneva, 23 February 2009

The UN Human Rights Council on Monday expressed deep concern that the universal realization and effective enjoyment of human rights were challenged due to multiple and inter-related global economic and financial crises.

In a resolution (A/HRC/S-10/L.1) adopted by a vote of 31 for and 14 abstentions, the Council recognized the severe impacts that the global economic and financial crises were having on the ability of countries, particularly developing countries, to mobilize resources for development and to address the impact of these crises.

In this context, it called upon all states and the international community to alleviate, in an inclusive and development oriented manner, any negative impacts of these crises on the realization and the effective enjoyment of all human rights.

The Council held a Special Session on Friday on the impact of the global economic and financial crises on the universal realization and effective enjoyment of human rights. The Session was convened at the joint request of Egypt, on behalf of the African Group, and Brazil.

Those who voted for the resolution were Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, and Uruguay.

Those who abstained were Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

The EU countries of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as Switzerland and Japan, all of whom abstained in the vote, are currently in the throes of a severe economic downturn as a result of a fallout from the financial crisis, the origins of which have been traced back to the United States. Many of the banking institutions in these countries have had to be bailed out by their government to the tune of billions of dollars.

In its resolution, the Council underlined the urgent need to establish an equitable, transparent and democratic international system to strengthen and broaden the participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making and norm-setting.

The Council also expressed grave concern that these crises threaten to further undermine the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals.

It called upon all states to refrain from reducing international financial resources for development, including official development assistance and from imposing protectionist measures, and to maintain their commitments to mobilize and sustain financial resources for development, in accordance with the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development, and to make concerted and sustained efforts to contribute to an early recovery.

The Council called upon states, notwithstanding any possible impact of the global economic and financial crises, to respect their human rights obligations and to continue their efforts towards the universal realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights, particularly by assisting the most vulnerable.

In this context, it urged the international community to support national efforts to, inter alia, establish and preserve social safety nets for the protection of the most vulnerable segments of their societies.

The Council also called on states to ensure that those at risk of being most affected by the global economic and financial crises are protected in a non-discriminatory way.

It reaffirmed that an open, equitable, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system can substantially stimulate development worldwide, benefiting all countries, particularly developing countries, and thereby contributing to the universal realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights.

The Council recognized the central role of the United Nations in the international system and welcomed the decision by the General Assembly to hold a high-level conference on the world economic and financial crises and its impacts on development due to take place 1-4 June 2009.

In this context, it recommended that an invitation be addressed by the General Assembly to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to participate in this high level event and to present a report with suggested recommendations, building on the deliberations of this special session, so as to mainstream a human rights perspective in the analysis of the global economic and financial crises.

The Council invited relevant thematic Special Procedures, within their respective mandates, building on the deliberations of this special session, to consider any of the impacts of the global economic and financial crises on the realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights particularly economic, social and cultural rights, and to integrate their findings in this regards in their regular reports presented to the Human Rights Council, with special attention to non-discrimination and to ways and means to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of vulnerable and marginalised groups, particularly women, children, migrant workers and their families, indigenous peoples, and people living in poverty, and on the elimination of acts of racism and xenophobia and promoting greater harmony and tolerance in all societies.

The Council also invited the treaty bodies, within their respective mandates, to consider any of the impacts of the global economic and financial crises on the realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights, and to consider presenting recommendations thereon. It also called upon all states to continue their financial contributions to international organizations, particularly to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

 


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