Security must be guided by respect for civil liberties, UN human rights chief says
"The security of States and the region flows from the security of the human being," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello said today in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he opened the Eleventh Workshop on Regional Cooperation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region.
"This security, in turn, is guaranteed by the rule of law and respect for human rights, both of which form a unifying force, a force that can serve to chart a path across difficult terrains," Mr. Vieira de Mello said. "The rule of law is a constant, it applies at all times to all States and to all persons."
Among the ways in which the rule of law and respect for human rights can help make people - and in turn, nations - more secure, Mr. Vieira de Mello highlighted combating terrorism without violating human rights, integrating human rights into post-conflict peace-building, tackling racism and religious intolerance, and reinvigorating democratic governance. He also drew special attention to promoting and protecting the rights of women, recalling that human rights experts had stressed the responsibility of States for violence that takes place in the private sphere, including domestic violence and honour killings, "two issues that have darkened theses of this region for too long."
"The Asia-Pacific Framework for Cooperation was inspired by a desire to build common human rights foundations in this region and to find ways to work together across borders and sub-regions," said the High Commissioner. He encouraged the participants to use international human rights treaties and standards to provide a common road map to tackle the challenges that lie ahead, and to ensure the independence of national human rights institutions, which are the bridge between governments and civil society.