The 34th session of the Human Rights Council starts today in Geneva and QUNO will be following it closely.
At the opening session, the UN Secretary General, the President of the General Assembly and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights addressed States. In his speech, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded States of their commitments to human rights during a turbulent political era:
‘To those political actors who… threaten the multilateral system or intend to withdraw from parts of it, the sirens of historical experience ought to ring clear. We will not sit idly by. For we have much to lose, so much to protect. And our rights, the rights of others, the very future of our planet cannot, must not be thrown aside by these reckless political profiteers’ (full speech here)
This session will be significant for several of QUNO’s programme areas:
Peacebuilding and Human Rights
QUNO welcomes the decision of the Human Rights Council to address the issue of “The contribution of human rights to peacebuilding through enhancing dialogue and international cooperation for the promotion of human rights” at the High-Level Mainstreaming Panel on the 27th February. QUNO has longstanding programmes on both Peace and Disarmament and Human Rights and Refugees with relation to the UN and has been working for several years, in collaboration with our colleagues in New York, specifically to promote and strengthen the link between human rights, peacebuilding, and sustaining peace. We look forward to the making an oral statement at the Mainstreaming Panel, with our core message addressing the importance of better collaboration between human rights and sustaining peace. We will emphasize that economic, social and cultural rights are crucial to addressing the root causes of destructive conflict.
Human rights and Refugees
For the Human Rights and Refugees Programme, at this session we have a particular focus on child’s rights in the context of the death penalty. On 14th March, there will be a High-Level Panel on the death penalty, looking at how it relates to the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. For this, we have prepared a written statement exploring how children of parents sentenced to death or executed might be considered victims of torture under international law. Our other main priority area during the Council is the human rights of refugees and migrants, and we will be closely following an Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on migration to be held on 10th March.
Food and Sustainability
QUNO’s Food and Sustainability Programme is particularly interested in the link of human rights and biodiversity. In a written submission to Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox, we emphasized the importance of agricultural biodiversity for the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, such as the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation. The Special Rapporteur will be presenting his report on biodiversity on March 7, 2017 during an Interactive Dialogue. The F&S Programme is looking forward to attending this session and to delivering an oral statement on the role of small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity.
Human Impacts of Climate Change
QUNO’s Human Impacts of Climate Change programme looks forward to the panel discussion on Climate Change and the Rights of the Child on 2nd March and we will be making a statement. The very heart of our message is that climate change is an intergenerational justice concern that critically needs immediate, sufficient and rights-based climate action to address the root causes.
We will be underlining the importance of recognising the current and future threats that climate change poses on vulnerable communities, children, and future generations by referring to the latest climate science to emphasize the consequences and effects of anthropogenic climate change is currently having on human rights. Recognising that human rights are under threat- including the right to life, health, food, water, adequate housing, and self-determination, articulates what is at stake and that this could also have serious repercussions with regard to peace and the threat of violence.
However, this does not need to happen as we will reiterate the urgent need for a sufficient and rights-based climate action, by calling upon States to act urgently and justly, to protect our children and all our future generations.
See below for links to our written statements. We will also be delivering oral statements during the session.