You are on page 1of 3

High-level thematic debate entitled

UN@70 Human Rights at the center of the global agenda

13 July 2016

Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin
Permanent Representative

Mr. President,
We thank you for organizing this High Level Thematic Debate. It comes at a time when we
mark 70 years of the UN; five decades since the adoption of international human rights
covenants; three decades since the Declaration on the Right to Development and also the 10th
anniversary of the establishment of the Human Rights Council.
Today's discussion provides us an opportunity to assess the status of our quest to work
towards both promotion and protection of human rights across the world.
Mr. President,
3. The idea of human rights is rooted in several ancient traditions and religions. As the more
contemporary notions of the State evolved, notions of individual rights also started to
crystallize. Colonization and the subsequent major wars between colonial powers provided
another context to the evolution of the rights of peoples and individuals. The United Nations
Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights became transformative in their impact
by bringing the concept of human rights firmly into the international domain.
Mr. President,
4. While much of the success of the human rights agenda has been achieved because of its
underlying consensus, unanimity is often difficult to achieve because of complexities and
inherent contradictions on many other issues. For instance between individual rights and
common good; the role of state sovereignty; the relative merits of pursuing civil vs political vs
more expansive rights; the highly divergent contexts and immediate concerns of the UN
member states, whose number itself has multiplied four times in the last seven decades;
emphasis on thematic vs country-specific efforts; and the politicization and select targeting of

Mr. President,

Despite the establishment of the Human Rights Council as a deliberate replacement of
the earlier Commission, for a variety of reasons, the human rights agenda appears to be again
turning increasingly contentious.
A more constructive and non-confrontational approach that is sensitive to the genuine
concerns and capacity constraints of countries is needed to assist them improve their
implementation of human rights agenda among their citizens. An aggressive 'naming and
shaming' exercise has its limits, is often counter-productive and tends to divide member states
into opposing camps. The primacy of national efforts in the realisation of human rights
alongwith due consideration for the values and other specific contexts of individual countries
must guide our efforts.
Sustained efforts are needed to overcome inherent ambiguities in governance and
administrative arrangements of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights including in funding, geographical representation and strategic planning that
are hindering its optimal performance.
The Special Procedures mandate holders are an important mechanism. However, their
proliferation and duplication of mandates is not helpful. The independent, unbiased and
impartial nature of the Special Procedures must be maintained to avoid any perception of bias.
Transparency about their funding would lay to rest these apprehensions. It may be advisable
that the conclusions and recommendations of Special Procedures be first shared with the
country concerned before being made available publicly.
Mr. President,
The challenges of poverty eradication, armed-conflict, terrorism, democracy deficit and
impunity continue to deprive millions of people from full enjoyment of their human rights.
Democracy, good governance, rule of law and access to justice and civil society engagement
are essential for safeguarding fundamental freedoms and promoting and protecting human
rights for all.
10. It is imperative to recognize the Right to Development as a distinct, universal, inalienable
and fundamental human right that is applicable to all people in all countries to build collective
and sustainable peace and prosperity across the world.
Mr. President,
11. Regrettably, earlier today we have seen an attempt at misuse of this UN platform. The
attempt came from Pakistan; a country that covets the territory of others; a country that uses
terrorism as state policy towards that misguided end; a country that extols the virtues of
terrorists and that provides sanctuary to UN-designated terrorists; and a country that
masquerades its efforts as support for human rights and self determination.

12. Pakistan, is the same country whose track record has failed to convince the international
community to gain membership of the Human Rights Council in this very Session of the UNGA.
The international community has long seen through such designs. Cynical attempts, like the
one this morning therefore, find no resonance in this forum or elsewhere in the United Nations.
13. As a diverse, pluralistic and tolerant society, Indias commitment to the rule of law,
democracy and human rights is enshrined in its founding principles and we remain strongly
committed to the promotion and protection of all human rights for all through pursuit of
dialogue and cooperation.
Thank you.