Statement by Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye at the opening of the eighth session of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee

20 February 2012

President of the Human Rights Council,
Distinguished members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to address you today at the opening of the eighth session of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee.

As customary, this address is a timely opportunity to share perspectives from the Office of the High Commissioner on thematic human rights issues which are dealt with in a complementary fashion by the Committee and the Office.

As recalled by the President of the Council, last December the General Assembly adopted by consensus the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, the first elements of which were elaborated by this Committee. The Office will undertake to disseminate the Declaration, which constitutes an important reference and tool for action for the international community and provides guidance for the implementation of quality human rights education and training initiatives and programmes at the national level.

With regard to the right to food and the global food crisis in particular, as member of the UN High-level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, the Office continues to contribute to the development of a common approach in order to prevent or respond to food crises, including those alerted for the Eastern Sahel region in Africa. Of note, at its 7th session last August, the Committee expressed deep concern at the food emergency in the East Horn of Africa. Subsequently, in the margins of the 18th session of the Council, in coordination with the President of the Council, the Office organized a well-attended side-event entitled “The crisis in the Horn of Africa: promoting a human rights-based approach”, which sought to provide a human rights analysis of the crisis and, on that basis, promote an emergency response as well as medium- and long-term strategies anchored in human rights.

Distinguished members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee,

At this session, the Committee is expected to finalize important studies on two sub topics within the broader issue of discrimination in the context of the right to food, namely the linkage between severe malnutrition and childhood diseases and the advancement of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. With regard to the former study, which analyses in depth issues related to the noma disease, it is critical to reiterate the need to give greater priority in the international agenda to the full range of neglected diseases and to the development of integrated strategies addressing discrimination against those affected by them.

The Committee will also further its work on rural women and their enjoyment of the right to food with a special focus on female-headed households and temporary or seasonal workers, as well as on the urban poor. To this end, it is particularly important to pursue cooperation and exchanges between UN human rights mechanisms working on these issues. I thus wish to draw your attention to the up-coming thematic report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food (A/HRC/19/59), which focuses on nutrition and the right to food.

It is noteworthy that the Advisory Committee provided its inputs to the Special Rapporteur’s report on the Guiding Principles on Human Rights Impact Assessments of Trade and Investment Agreements. In October 2011, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food was invited to the 37th session of the Committee on World Food Security to provide an update on progress made globally towards the realization of the right to food, and hopes that this will become a standing item of the Committee on World Food Security. In particular, the Rapporteur has been actively involved in the negotiation of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security. The Office itself has provided technical assistance for the development of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines, to ensure consistency of the guidelines with international human rights law.

Furthermore, on 4 and 5April 2012 in Nairobi, the Special Rapporteur on food will convene jointly with OHCHR and FAO a regional consultation with a view to sharing experiences on the national implementation of the right to food in Eastern and Southern Africa.,., The Special Rapporteur will also convene, jointly with OHCHR, FAO and UNEP, an expert meeting on fisheries and the right to food in Nairobi on 2 and 3 of April 2012.

The Office participated in the international farmers’ conference against land-grabbing, organized by the Via Campesina and the National Coordination of Farming Organizations in Mali on 17-19 November 2011. On that occasion, the Office shared its analysis on the impact of land management on human rights. Similarly, the Office and UN-Habitat conducted an analysis of a number of eviction impact assessment methodologies, in both urban and rural areas, as a basis for a global tool on eviction impact assessment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Most recently, the Committee has been mandated to prepare a study on human rights and terrorist hostage-taking. In this regard, the Office contributed to the organization of a panel discussion at the 16th session of the Human Rights Council on this subject and prepared a summary report of the event (A/HRC/18/29). The summary highlights key issues including the primary responsibility of States to promote and protect human rights for all under their jurisdiction; the importance of strengthening international cooperation to prevent and combat terrorism; and the protection of the rights of all victims of terrorism involved in hostage-taking.

I am pleased to note that the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Ms. Virginia Dandan, will be attending the session of the Committee to exchange views on the draft declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity. The Human Right Council in its resolution 18/5 requested the High Commissioner to convene a workshop in support of her mandate. The objective of this workshop is to exchange views on, inter alia, the gender implications, the role and the impact international solidarity in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the realization of the right to development. Relevant members of the Advisory Council will be invited to attend this workshop to be held on 7 and 8 June 2012.


Last but not least, pursuant to Council resolutions 6/30 and 7/9, the Advisory Committee is encouraged to integrate in its work the human rights of women and a gender perspective, as well as and the rights of persons with disabilities.

At its 18th session last September, the Council considered the institutional implications of gender integration. Lessons learnt from challenges and practices experienced by UN agencies, regional organizations, governments and civil society organizations led to a series of recommendations aimed at developing a conceptual and practical framework for a human-rights based approach to promoting gender equality and tracking the different impacts of the Council’s resolutions on women and men. Such recommendations may benefit from the expertise of the Advisory Committee in further implementing resolution 6/30.

Internally, the High Commissioner signed the OHCHR Gender Equality Policy in September 2011, which provides internal guidance on how to ensure that a gender perspective and the integration of women’s human rights are reflected in all policies, programmes and processes. A strategic plan for the implementation of that policy is currently being developed with a set of target and performance indicators including support provided by the Office to the work of the Council.

The Office continued to advocate for ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) and its Optional Protocol. The Office also contributed to increased awareness of the importance of aligning national anti-discrimination legislation to the CRPD, and provided assistance and support to States parties in reviewing national legislations. At present, over 20 human rights field presences promote the rights of persons with disabilities, including by focusing on law and policy reform.

In concluding, let me reiterate the Secretariat’s full support to your activities and wish you very fruitful deliberations at the present session.