Crises threaten attainment of rights by world’s poorest – Assembly President

4 March 2009

The twin economic and financial crises threatens poorer nations’ ability to attain basic human rights, such as the right to food and access to water and sanitation, the head of the General Assembly declared today.

“Developing countries suffer the most” from the economic turmoil, Miguel D’Escoto told the United Nations Human Rights Council today in Geneva.

“It would be profoundly unjust to expect them to postpone the realization of basic rights,” he added.

The 63rd session of the Assembly has endeavoured to ensure that the poorest nations do not bear the largest brunt of a crisis for which they are not responsible, the body’s President said.

He welcomed the 47-member Council’s recent special meeting to discuss the impact the financial tumult is having on human rights.

During that gathering, it adopted a resolution which stressed the need to set up an equitable, transparent and democratic international system to broaden developing nations’ participation in decisions regarding the economy.

“I see a profound relationship between access to safe drinking water and sanitation and the enjoyment of the right to life or health,” Mr. D’Escoto said. “Indeed, access to water is indispensable for a life in dignity and a prerequisite for the enjoyment of other human rights.”

Further, the right to food, which has been severely jeopardized by the crises, must be considered fundamental to the established rights to an adequate standard of living and to health, he said.

The official also called for greater cooperation between the Council and the Assembly in the area of gender, adding that he believes the time will soon be ripe for the creation of a new UN entity for women.

The Council is currently meeting in its 10th session, which will run from 2-27 March. In 2006, the body replaced the Commission on Human Rights, which had been dogged by accusations of bias and politicization, as part of ongoing UN reform.


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