The Human Rights Council this morning held an interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, and concluded its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development. The Council then began to discuss a report on the right to privacy in the digital age.
Mihir Kanade, Chair Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, said the Expert Mechanism’s thematic study highlighted the negative effects of racism at both the national and international levels. Racism and racial discrimination could result in the loss of transnational economic opportunities for individuals, and of foreign direct investment, and of relief from debt for developing countries. The Expert Mechanism hoped that the study would help to address racial discrimination and the obstacles it posed to social and economic development worldwide.
In the discussion, many speakers said the full enjoyment of all human rights was a precondition to sustainable development, and racism had negative consequences on development. Compounding inequalities as legacies of colonialism, slavery and apartheid regimes had exacerbated global instability and were barriers to development. Persons from disadvantaged groups faced barriers to housing, health, education and other services and facilities. For the full enjoyment of the right to development, the international community needed to prevent racism in all its forms and fight inequalities. States needed to strengthen cooperation on development through multilateral fora, share best practices, promote human rights for all, and refrain from politicising development policies.
Speaking in the discussion with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development were the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, India, Cuba, Iraq, Ethiopia, Venezuela, South Africa, Russian Federation, Namibia, China, Nigeria, Syrian Arab Republic, Armenia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bolivia, Uganda, Malawi, Iran, Tanzania, Surinam, Algeria, and Azerbaijan.
Also speaking were Centre Europe-Tiers Monde, China NGO Network for International Exchanges, World Barua Organization, Action Canada for Population and Development, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, China Family Planning Association, Pratyek, Asociazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Instituto de Desenvolvimento e Direitos Humanos, and Chunhui Children’s Foundation.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development, with speakers saying that inequality, unpaid work, and economic injustice for women were important issues, and there was now a unique opportunity to change the system. Some speakers noted that developing countries had encountered huge obstacles to obtain vaccines, including due to debt. Development had to do with people, not objects, and had to be assessed in the context of improving the quality of life. This was a time to change society.
In concluding remarks, Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development, said that all had the collective responsibility to implement the commitments outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. States needed to ensure equality for all regarding health, food, housing and employment, and work to remove obstacles to development. Mr. Alfarargi said that for the remainder of his mandate until May 2023, he would continue to promote the right to development and relevant international agreements.
Speaking in the dialogue were the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, Beijing Guangming Charity Foundation, Make Mothers Matter, Partners for Transparency, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, Sikh Human Rights Group, Chinese Association for International Understanding, International Muslim Women’s Union, and China Society for Human Rights Studies.
Also this morning, the Council started an interactive dialogue on a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the right to privacy in the digital age.
Peggy Hicks, Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures, and Right to Development Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the report identified challenges and best practices regarding the right to privacy in the digital sphere. The right to privacy was under threat from State and non-State actions. States needed to conduct human rights due diligence when designing and developing surveillance technologies, and encourage public debate about their use. Without appropriate safeguards, the world risked walking into a reality where privacy was an unobtainable goal.
In the interactive dialogue, some speakers said privacy was a fundamental human right that enabled the enjoyment of many other rights, such as freedom of opinion and expression, and was crucial for the work of human rights defenders and journalists. The use of digital technologies, be it by governments or private companies, should be regulated by safeguards that were up to date and complied with international human rights law. Digital surveillance or hacking could only be used in very specific and limited cases for legitimate, necessary goals, some speakers said.
Speaking on the right to privacy were Finland on behalf of a group of countries, European Union, Brazil on behalf of a group of countries, France, Switzerland, Morocco, Luxembourg, India, Costa Rica, United Nations Children’s Fund, Iraq, Germany, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Russian Federation, Namibia, China, Netherlands, Armenia, Malaysia, Cameroon, United States, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Pakistan, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Ireland, Algeria, Greece, Cuba, Georgia, Malawi, South Africa, Lebanon, and Cambodia.
Also speaking was the Indian National Human Rights Commission, as well as the following non-governmental organizations: Réseau Européen pour l’Égalité des Langues, Article 19 – International Centre Against Censorship, Sikh Human Rights Group, Partners for Transparency, Youth Parliament for SDG, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, China Foundation for Human Rights Development, and Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco.
The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s fifty-first regular session can be found here.
The next meeting of the Council will be at 3 p.m. this afternoon, when it will conclude its interactive dialogue on the right to privacy, followed by an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development
The interactive dialogue with Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development, started on 15 September and a summary can be found here.
In the discussion, some speakers said the COVID-19 pandemic had had a disproportionate impact on women. Inequality, unpaid work, and economic injustice for women were important issues, and there was now a unique opportunity to change the system, recognising unpaid work as collective work, benefiting society across generations, and as a high-return investment in people. The multiple crises being faced today were due to a failure to recognise that the old system had not worked. The implementation of the right to development was a unique opportunity to move beyond the old system to a well-being economy with care and education at its heart. Some speakers noted that developing countries had encountered huge obstacles to obtain vaccines, including due to debt. Development had to do with people, not objects, and had to be assessed in the context of improving the quality of life. This was a time to change society as a whole.
One speaker said there should be an international legal instrument to freeze and repatriate illicit funds, overseen by the United Nations, as this would aid countries with depleted funds to achieve the right to development. Another speaker said there should be a support system for developing countries to ensure that they received all taxes. Development was a comprehensive, economic, social and cultural process aiming at the improvement of the well-being of the whole population and of all individuals. One speaker said the human right to development also implied the full realisation of self-determination and the enjoyment of resources by the people.
SAAD ALFARARGI, Special Rapporteur on the right to development, said that all had the collective responsibility to implement the commitments outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. States needed to ensure equality for all regarding health, food, housing and employment, and work to remove obstacles to development. Developed States needed to support developing States in achieving these goals. Cooperation with the private sector and civil society was needed to achieve concrete results. Mr. Alfarargi said that he was presenting his last thematic report. For the remainder of his mandate until May 2023, he would continue to promote the right to development and relevant international agreements, and continue to cooperate with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development.
Interactive Dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development
The Council has before it the annual report of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, and its report containing a thematic study on racism, racial discrimination and the right to development(A/HRC/51/36, A/HRC/51/37).
MIHIR KANADE, Chair Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, said since last September, the Expert Mechanism had held two sessions. During the reporting period, the Expert Mechanism had invested considerable efforts to carry out country study visits to feed into its thematic studies, in discharge of the mandate entrusted to it by the Council, namely, to identify and share best practices with Member States and promote the implementation of the right to development worldwide. While two of these study visits were successfully realised, two other visits did not take place.
Today, the Chair was presenting the second thematic study, which addressed “racism, racial discrimination and the right to development”, and examined racism and racial discrimination as barriers to the operationalisation of the right to development in the context of State obligations, international cooperation and global partnerships. The study highlighted the negative effects of racism at both the national and international levels, including the fracture of the national social cohesion which affected the well-being of racialised groups by denying them equitable access to social services, economic opportunities, justice, safety and security.