Το  Ίδρυμα Μαραγκοπούλου για τα Δικαιώματα του Ανθρώπου (ΙΜΔΑ), στο πλαίσιο του συμβουλευτικού καθεστώτος  που διατηρεί με τον ΟΗΕ, υπέβαλε γραπτή παρέμβαση στην 29η Σύνοδο του  Συμβουλίου Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου με τίτλο: "The new EU’s proposed dubious  military response to increasing migrant shipwreck tragedies: What is the cost  for human rights?". Το κείμενο συνέταξαν οι επιστημονικές συνεργάτιδες του ΙΜΔΑ,  Δ. Βαρθάλη και Θ. Μανέτα. Το κείμενο της γραπτής παρέμβασης είναι διαθέσιμο εδώ.

21Η ΣΥΝΟΔΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟΥ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΙΝΩΝ ΔΙΚΑΙΩΜΑΤΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΟΗΕ

Item 8: Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

I.

            We would like to recall that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) editors defined all human rights as “equal and inalienable”, as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” and as being based on “the inherent dignity of all members of the human family.” It is clear enough that human rights must be of the same content and importance throughout the world. Otherwise, what would be the meaning of declaring their universality? According to the UDHR and the Charter of the United Nations, human rights are fundamental for everyone without distinction of any kind. It is, therefore, worth questioning how can it be that, sometime now, the idea of existence of certain customary practices or traditions allowing declination from the universality of human rights, always against the universally recognized human rights, is being supported with no reference to the United Nations instruments. Human rights are not to be served “à la carte.” National customs or traditions should be respected, unless they contradict human rights.

            What is more, Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action expressly declares that “it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural system, to promote and protect all human rights.” United Nations instruments could not be more specific. Contrary opinions could result in a serious devaluation of the whole human rights system as defined by the United Nations. This kind of arguments undermine the values code of social coexistence established by the United Nations and can result in acts of barbarity that human conscience cannot even imagine.

In addition, we would like to draw the attention to the substantive provisions of the Declaration on the practical implementation of the equality rules, and to the important layout of the article concerning the express principle that the traditional customs and practices contradicting the current admirable Human Rights system - declared by international law universal, indivisible and interdependent – shall yield, which has started to be doubted repeatedly, as in the case of the Council resolution 12/21 2009, calling for revision of this rule or the recent draft Resolution presented by the Russian Federation (A/HRC/21/L.) during this session, which we consider as rather vague. Although the Council Resolution was rejected, the attempt to impose it continued more specific and less clear, beginning with the burqa and other specific issues related to women mainly, but not only to them.

                                                                       II.

            What is more, we would like to call attention to the fact that the United Nations bodies take their decisions according to the principle of consensus, rather than the majority rule. This is a practice that may seem of no importance, even “desirable” for certain people, but is rather a critical one, as it could have an important impact on the substantive protection of human rights. It is not based on any United Nations instrument. The spreading of the practice of the consensus system undermines the democratic principle, applying in democracies from the time of the Athenian democracy to the present. It leads to the prevalence of views of the minority (even a single person) against the majority. Thus, occasionally comprehensive decisions are not delivered, but watered-ones.

                       

                                                                        III.

            The so promising and successful first 50-year operation of the UN has changed direction, creating the fear of walking to the fate of the League of Nations. Fortunately, the risks started to be understood, especially by the civil society.

            We should impede the drafting of more non-binding provisions, like all other declarations, and that is why we would like to express our disagreement on the convocation of one more World Conference on Women (so-called “Beijing+20”) considering it as not necessary, as it will conclude to another non-binding text, probably making the already long texts of conclusions of Beijing and Beijing +10 conferences even longer.

            The real necessity is to implement in practice the sufficient rules on gender equality, set forth in the binding provisions of the international conventions on human rights and on women’s rights, starting with the CEDAW (1979), to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (2000) and to implement the Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (2006). The role of the two UN competent bodies - UN Women and Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) - should also be strengthened.

            Indeed, the fact that the customary traditions and practices contradicting human rights remain effective in certain states will definitely open a great number of breaches to the admirable human rights system which constitutes the noblest achievement of the humanity. This is why we think that the Member-States and all the NGOs having consultative status with the UN must collaborate relentlessly in supporting any rule on human rights acquired after struggles of many centuries.

ORAL STATEMENT

by Gerasimos Arsenis on behalf of

Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights

Item 3: SR on extreme poverty

12 September 2012

            We all agree now that eradicating extreme poverty is not only a moral duty but a legal obligation. Indeed, eradication of extreme poverty is a necessary precondition for human rights to exist, in real life.

            Our Foundation supported from the outset the Millennium Declaration which, inter alia, deals with the issue of poverty (articles 11, 12, 15, 20, 27, 28 and 29) and has supported all efforts to advance the draft of the guiding principle on extreme poverty and human rights and has made several contributions to substantive issues.

            Unfortunately, there has been undue delay in the finalization of the draft of the guiding principles, with the result that we are now finding ourselves in the midst of a global economic crisis, unprepared to effectively deal with the question of poverty. We are defenceless in witnessing the sliding of the middle class to poverty and of the poor to extreme poverty.

            The final draft of the guiding principles, indeed covers a wide field of specific issues relating to extreme poverty. But to declare principles is not enough. Norms without sanctions have no teeth. We should add teeth to our principles. I realise, of course, that we are far away from the stage where violations of human rights will result in sanctions of similar severity as in the cases of violations of rules concerning, say, international trade or finance. But, we should take a first step in that direction.

            In this respect, I propose that consideration should be given to the possibility of establishing, under the auspices of the Council of Human Rights, an international observatory to monitor policies of economic adjustment, especially those in which international organizations have a direct involvement. Such an observatory will enable us to evaluate, on a regular basis, the extent to which economic adjustment policies affect the extremely poor or may induce a process in which segments of the working population are led to live in poverty.