‘Solidarity Cooperation’ at Rio+20: “It is not about charity,” highlights UN Independent Expert

RIO DE JANEIRO / GENEVA (18 June 2012) – United Nations Independent Expert Virginia Dandan urged world governments to adopt a clear approach focused on ‘Solidarity Cooperation’ as a key element towards a successful Rio+20 and its future processes. “We are all in this project together,” she said as representatives gather this week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, on June 20-22.

“States must wake up from the illusion that each one has a stake to protect that is separate from that of another. What happens to one of us happens to all of us. We win or we lose, together,” the expert on international solidarity noted today during a meeting of civil society organisations held at the Peoples’ Summit, in Rio de Janeiro.

“It is not about charity but rather, it is the expression of our mutual responsibility for each other as members of one human family sharing one small planet, our only home,” Ms. Dandan said, stressing the vital role of international solidarity in the attainment of sustainable development.

“The urgent need to work together side by side to find solutions to the global challenges we face, is a clear signal that the age of Solidarity is upon us,” said the rights expert designated by the Human Rights Council to study the issue of international solidarity and prepare a draft declaration on the right of individuals and peoples to it.

The Independent Expert underscored that the decisions being made in Rio must reflect the concept of Sustainable Development based on the interaction between environmental, social and economic development endorsed by world leaders at the historic Earth Summit twenty years ago here in Rio, along with the principles and the rich outcome outlined in its Agenda 21.

“Principles such as ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ adopted in 1992 must not disappear,” the human rights expert warned, expressing concern over ongoing negotiations that are putting at risk, the key principles adopted at that Earth Summit.

Ms. Dandan called on world governments “to cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth's ecosystem.” In her view, States should also be open to the contributions of civil society organizations, and give value to their proven capacities to network, mobilize, and influence decisions.

“Imagine what could be achieved, when States and civil society are fully engaged, building on their commonalities, surmounting their differences, in the spirit of partnership, mutual respect and genuine international solidarity, for the sake of our common future,” the Independent Expert noted.

“Rio+20 will yet again test the capacity of our global community to come together, recognizing, accepting and—most of all—acting on the varying levels of responsibilities we all have, in the process of ensuring sustainable development for our present and future generations,” she said. “To lose out now, is to lose for all time.”


Ms. Virginia Dandan is an internationally recognized specialist in economic, social and cultural rights serving as the Chairperson of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Right from 1999 to 2007 and a member from 1990 to 2010. Ms. Dandan retired as professor of the University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts in 2009 where she also served as Dean from 2001 to 2006. She was appointed Independent Expert on human Rights and International Solidarity by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2011. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. The mandate covers all countries. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Solidarity/Pages/IESolidarityIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact: Adriano José Timossi (+41 79 201 0116 / atimossi@ohchr.org) or write to iesolidarity@ohchr.org.

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