UN: new protocol needed to deal with poverty challenge to human rights
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Louise Arbour, yesterday told the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural matters, that a sounder legal foundation is needed to ensure a broad range of human rights.
The most promising initiative for this is an additional protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, she said, also highlighting the work of the new Human Rights Council, which already has two tangible achievements in its adoption of the draft Convention on Enforced Disappearances and of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
Ms. Arbour said her Office continues to combat discrimination, noting that racial discrimination might be growing in some regions, fuelled by fear of terrorism, misconceived perceptions of identity or anxiety over competition for employment.
A vital tenet of the OHCHR’s work is country engagement, through providing a forum for dialogue, monitoring developments on the ground, and research and technical cooperation, she added.
Her Office supported or participated in various fact-finding missions and Commissions of Inquiry, including to Darfur, Kyrgyzstan, and Togo in 2005, and to Timor-Leste, Liberia and Lebanon in 2006, while the Rapid Response Unit deploys human rights officers at very short notice, as in the case of Lebanon during the July crisis.
Addressing longer-term objectives, she reported that her Office had opened sub-offices in Nepal, Uganda and Guatemala over the past year and planned to establish a presence in Togo and Bolivia in the current year. The Office is preparing to add five new Regional Offices to the existing six, while continued operations in Cambodia and Colombia reflected the need for sustained investment in human rights, Ms. Arbour added.
In conclusion, she mentioned that her Office also provided policy guidance and expertise in the areas of transitional justice and the rule of law, offering as an example the Office’s role in negotiating the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Special Tribunal in Burundi.