Statement President opening 5th session of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee

2 August 2010

Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee,
Madam Chairperson,
Ms. Kran, Director of the Research and Right to Development Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to meet with you for the first time in my capacity as President of the Human Rights Council at the opening of the fifth session of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee.

I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the new Committee members elected during the previous two Council sessions, and to express my heartfelt condolences for the loss of one of your esteemed colleagues, Mr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez earlier this year.

Distinguished Advisory Committee members,

Madam Chairperson,

I should like to begin by underscoring, on behalf of the Human Rights Council, our appreciation for the important work carried out by the Advisory Committee.  Over the past sessions, the Committee has provided valuable expertise and advice to the Council on a wide range of issues, which has advanced the work of the Human Rights Council. 

You have accomplished many significant tasks.  A case in point is the submission of the draft declaration on human rights education and training to the Council during the 13th session, and subsequently, the establishment of an open-ended intergovernmental working group by the Council to negotiate the draft on the basis of the text submitted by the Committee.  Such progress achieved is a tangible example of the potential for stronger collaboration between the Council and its subsidiary expert mechanisms, particularly the Advisory Committee.

I am certain that the Council will also look forward to further contributions from the Committee, especially in regard to the on-going work that you are doing such as the study on discrimination in the context of the right to food; the study on the best practices in the matter of missing persons; and, the draft set of principles and guidelines to eliminate discrimination against persons affected by leprosy, and their family members. 

Distinguished Advisory Committee members,

Madam Chairperson,

As President of the Council, it is my hope, my expectations that the Council will need to rely more on the Advisory Committee as its think-tank, as mandated in the Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1.  In order to give you an indication of the agenda of the Council which may be relevant to your work, allow me to take this opportunity to apprise you of what we have undertaken since last January.

At its 13th Session in March, the Council considered a number of thematic issues, including: (i) the impact of global economic crises on the enjoyment of human rights; (ii) rights of persons with disabilities; (iii) right to the truth; (iv) rights of the child in the aspect of sexual violence against children; and (v) human rights education and training.  Twenty-seven resolutions were adopted at this session.

Among all of these, I should take particular note that: first, the Council gave clear commitment towards strengthening of the rights of the child by extending the mandate of the Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the child to provide a communication procedure and entrusting it with drafting of such instrument.  Second, as I mentioned at the beginning, the Council also provided for the establishment of an open-ended intergovernmental working group to finalize the draft declaration on human rights education and training, on the basis of the excellent work done by the Advisory Committee.

At the 14th Session in June, the Council furthered its thematic work on the issues of (i) the protection of journalists in situations of armed conflict; (ii) the adverse effects of the moving and dumping of toxic wastes; (iii) trafficking in persons; (iv) women rights, particularly the right to education and the empowerment of women and girls; and (v) maternal mortality and morbidity.  Sixteen Resolutions are adopted along with three decisions.

At the upcoming session in this September, the Council will take up, among others, the issues of the integration of gender perspective and women's equality before the law, which will be relevant to the recommendations previously made by this Committee and the discussion you will continue to have in this session.

Distinguished Members of the Advisory Committee,

Madam Chairperson,

Looking ahead, in line with General Assembly resolution 60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council, later this year the Council will begin the formal process of a review of its work and functioning.  As President, I am currently elaborating on the modalities for the review with a view to providing guidance for the process.

The review should offer an opportunity to improve the Council's performance in the promotion and protection of human rights for all.  It will be important to build upon the Council's successes, which are indeed many.  It will be equally important not to shy away from tackling whatever key issues that need to be addressed as a part of the review.

The review process will be undertaken by the open-ended intergovernmental working group on the review, established by the Council pursuant to resolution 12/1.  The first meeting is scheduled to take place from 25 to 29 October 2010.  In its review, the Council should benefit from the contributions of all relevant stakeholders, which are therefore encouraged to take stock of their respective working methods and relations with the Council.

In so far as the Advisory Committee is concerned, I believe that the review should not only address the relationship between the Council and the Committee, but also the Committee's engagement with all relevant stakeholders.

Distinguished Advisory Committee members,

Madam Chairperson,

In my inaugural address to the Human Rights Council upon taking the Presidency in June, I stated that I would be guided by a number of key principles: in particular, the credibility and effectiveness of the Council as a whole; strengthening the spirit of constructive dialogue and cooperative approach to the promotion and protection of human rights; and finally, enhancing the Council's outreach and ensuring respect for the views of all.

I am further convinced that an important component of the Council's effectiveness is its ability to work in coherence and synergy with all its mechanisms including the UPR and the expert bodies such as the Advisory Committee. 

Given that the Council has an important year ahead, I look forward to working with all of you.  At the same time, I encourage you to continue providing valuable inputs, recommendations, and contributions both to the work as well as to the review process of the Human Rights Council in order to advance the promotion and protection of human rights for all. 

Thank you.