The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its general debate under agenda item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building.
Speakers reiterated that technical assistance was vital for the promotion and protection of human rights. Welcoming the positive and constructive cooperation of Afghanistan with the Council, speakers noted in particular the progress achieved on the rights of women and girls. The COVID-19 pandemic paid attention to no one, making all pay attention to everyone, with the intention of leaving no one behind. Yet the pandemic had created a new reality in which existing inequalities were deepened – only strengthened cooperation between States and fair and equal access to medicines and vaccines would be able to overcome it.
Speaking were Angola on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, Iran, Lithuania, Egypt, Thailand, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, Latvia, Syria, Sierra Leone, Botswana, Ethiopia, Georgia, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Vanuatu, South Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco, United Nations Development Coordination Office, United States and Republic of Moldova,
The following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Make Mothers Matter, Elizka Relief Foundation, Synergie Feminine Pour La Paix Et Le Developpement Durable, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, Next Century Foundation, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Franciscans International, Zero Poor in Africa, International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, The International Organisation for LDCs, Iran Autism Association, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence Cooperative, Geo Expertise association, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, Centre for Africa Development and Progress, Iranian Thalassemia Society, ABC Tamil Oli, Le Pont, American Association of Jurists, Association Culturelle des Tamouls en France, Action of Human Movement, and International Council of Russian Compatriots.
Russian Federation, Cambodia, Ukraine, Philippines and Georgia spoke in right of reply.
The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-sixth regular session can be found here.
The Council will next meet at 11:15 a.m. to start taking action on draft resolutions and decisions.
General Debate on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
The general debate on technical assistance and capacity building started in a previous meeting and a summary can be found here.
Speakers reiterated that technical assistance was vital for the promotion and protection of human rights. Welcoming the positive and constructive cooperation of Afghanistan with the Council, speakers noted in particular the progress achieved on the rights of women and girls. The COVID-19 pandemic paid attention to no one, affecting all and making all pay attention to everyone, with the intention of leaving no one behind. Yet the pandemic had created a new reality in which existing inequalities were deepened – only strengthened cooperation between States and fair and equal access to medicines and vaccines would be able to overcome it. Technical cooperation and capacity building must be demand driven, multiple speakers noted. The primary role of the State as the duty bearer must be respected. The Voluntary Trust Fund was essential for least developed countries and small island developing States, providing them with the resources that ensured their officials could participate in the work of the Council.
The efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner to enhance technical cooperation with States on a variety of issues were appreciated by speakers. However, double standards and interference must be avoided. Speakers highlighted that Afghanistan needed the support of the international community to help mitigate the effects of the conflict. How could the Council strike a balance between the number of resolutions that seemed to increase every year, and the dwindling resources available to the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights? Continued targeted killings in Afghanistan were the second leading cause of civilian casualties in 2020, creating a climate of fear in the civic space, and this could impact the peace process – the global human rights community must do more. The Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islam threatened the tangible gains made by Afghan women in recent years. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex youth were particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, while many trans and gender-diverse persons had experienced exclusion and human rights violations during their gender affirmation journeys even before the pandemic.
In these difficult times, the assistance in strengthening national human rights institutions must be a priority, especially in countries that had less resources. Unilateral coercive measures violated the right to life and the right to health by hindering access to medical goods; the Council should provide assistance to affected countries accordingly. Speakers urged the Council to issue and support new protective guidelines for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ regional offices. It was regrettable that, since 2002, the Office had not established a specific programme for non-self-governing territories in relation to the resolution on “Application of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the Specialized Agencies and International Institutions Related to the United Nations”.