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.


Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights

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

Programme of Action

The effective application of paragraph 5, chapter I and paragraph 28, chapter II of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

I refer to our written statement A/HRC/15/NGO/43. The Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights and others have already called attention to the adverse implications of Council resolution 12/21 which, contrary to obligations undertaken in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of action, aligned the Council in favour of a re-examination of the relation between traditional values and practices and human rights.

Laudable exceptions to this dangerous tendency, are the laws prohibiting the full-face veil in public places passed in France and Belgium; and placing certain restrictions on the practice in Morocco, Syria, Turkey and several other Muslim countries.

We regret that In June 2010 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe declared its position against a general ban of full veiling.

Is the full-face veil religious attire? Neither the Koran nor any other religious work requires it. Nor does it comprise part of a religious ritual or manifestation as does the cassock worn by priests.

The covering of a woman's face is to deny her the ability to communicate her personality, rendering her in effect invisible. It is a grave violation of a human right -- equality for all without discrimination. In practice it violates: the right of the woman to freely develop her personality, the right to work outside the home, the right to choose one's spouse freely, the right to exercise political rights including running for public office, the right to good health, and the right of the child to an education directed to belief in equality of the sexes and equal respect for both parents.

We reaffirm the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action as well as paragraph 230 (g) of the Bejing Platform for Action on the predominance of human rights over traditional values and practices. All traditions and laws imposing the full-face veil are contrary to the universality of human rights and should be abolished in every country in the world so as to render to every woman the visibility of her personality, her freedom and her equality.

September 28, 2010


15 June 2010

Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights (MFHR)*

Inter-African Committee (IAC)*

Interfaith International*

International Alliance of Women (IAW)*

International Council of Women (ICW)*

International Educational Development, Inc. (IED)*

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

Programme of Action

Traditional values and practices versus women's rights

            I refer to the written statement A/HRC/14/NGO/52 of MFHR. We wish to remind the Council of the engagement States undertook in the Vienna Declaration to eradicate "any conflicts which may arise between the rights of women and the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices".

            We take note of Council resolution 12/21 on "Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of human kind" in which it calls on the High Commissioner to convene in 2010 a workshop for an exchange of ideas on traditional values underpinning human rights norms and to present to the Council a summary of the discussions.

            But Mr. Chairman, advancing "traditional values" may have a certain negative effect on the campaign against such practices as sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence and female genital mutilation.


            We call on the Council to:

  • Reconsider its Resolution 12/21 in order to avoid legitimizing, directly or indirectly, harmful traditional practices, and introducing cultural relativism;
  • Adopt a Resolution reminding States of their international obligations to address effectively all traditional practices resulting in violations of women's rights, making it crystal clear that traditional values may not be invoked to justify human rights violations and advancing only those values that are consistent with individual human rights law; and
  • Direct the Special Rapporteur on violence against women to study the link between traditional values that legitimize harmful practices and the violation of women's rights.


* The above NGOs enjoy consultative status with the UN (ECOSOC)