Panel on Human Rights Mainstreaming and International Cooperation

On the 28th of February, the Human Rights Council held a panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming and international cooperation. The panel opened with a message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon recalling that respect for human rights is a responsibility for all United Nations Member States and agencies.

The message was followed by the speech of Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which affirmed that an increasing number of United Nations agencies were integrating human rights into their internal policies and were actively involved, through their work, in the promotion of the right of people to food, education and health. The importance of international cooperation for human rights was also highlighted by Jordan Ryan, Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, who recalled the upcoming Rio +20 Summit focusing on sustainable development. The second panelist, Ms. Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health of World Health Organization, remarked on the continuous commitment of WHO in assisting the Human Rights Council in the fight against maternal mortality and in ensuring that countries take steps towards universal birth registration, because “without an identity there are no other rights”. The speech of Ms. Marie-Pierre Poirier, Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (United Nations Children’s Fund), highlighted the importance of human rights, central to UNICEF’s development cooperation, and the need for monitoring mechanisms and capacity development, in order to ensure the full enjoyment of children’s rights. A good example of a rights-based approach was Brazil, which demonstrated a reduction of child mortality and an increase of the rate of nutrition of poor people. In fact, Brazil adopted the right to food as a central objective of its institution’s work, as was reported by the Senior Officer, Right to Food Coordinator of Food and Agriculture Organization. Ms. Ekwall also stated the significant role of civil society in implementing human rights standards by translating them into concrete actions. Equally focused on the issue of children’s rights was the presentation of Constance Thomas, Director of International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (International Labour Organization) who reminded of the importance of interaction among FAO, UNICEF and UNESCO to ensure the right to health, education and labour. She also welcomed the positive results achieved regarding child labour, especially of young girls, which decreased 30% worldwide over the last 5 years. In the subsequent discussion, several countries affirmed the importance of the United Nations in the promotion of human rights but also the essential role played by member states to integrate human rights in all United Nations activities.