OIC Statement

OIC Statement at the 59th Session of the Commission on Human Rights on Agenda Item 4 – Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Follow-up to the World Conference on Human Rights

Madame Chairperson,

I have the honour to make these comments on the High Commissioner’s Report (document E/CN.4/2003/14) on behalf of the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Conference. We wish to thank the High Commissioner for his report.

2. The report, in our view, is a strong reiteration of the core general principles essential for promoting human rights, especially, the importance of action at national level. In the spirit of international human rights law, human suffering anywhere in the world is our common concern.

3. The High Commissioner assumed his responsibilities only a few months ago. In this short period he has taken a series of measures to enhance the efficiency and credibility of his Office. The OIC welcomes this approach. It also looks forward to further such steps. We assure him of our support in enhancing the political independence of his Organization.

4. The resurgence of Islamophobia and motivated attempts to undermine the noble values of Islam and its followers in the post September 11 is a matter of particular concern and anguish to the OIC. Given the High Commissioner’s pronounced commitment to oppose such errant behavior, which is laudable, we expect a pro-active role from him on this vital issue. He has the unique position and personal commitment, manifest in our Group’s various interactions with him, to avert the dangers of such trends.

5. In para 2 of his report the High Commissioner has encapsulated with great lucidity, the essence of the tragedy of human rights abuse. We fully agree with him that upholding the international standards of human rights and humanitarian and refugee law, and defending dignity, freedom, democracy and the rule of law must remain the guiding star of the human rights movement. We also agree with him that implementation of the vision of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are essential pre-requisites for a world of peace, justice equality and economic and social justice.

6. Millions of victims of human rights violations look up to the Office of the High Commissioner for relief and justice. We are confident that given his strong commitment for the universal promotion of human rights he would live up to their expectations. The Islamic world is, however, disappointed over the absence of even a passing reference to the grave situation of human rights of the Palestinian people. This Commission had adopted three resolutions in its previous session and held exclusive meetings. The High Commissioner’s silence on this subject in his main report to the Commission, in our view, is an omission. The same applies to the absence of any concern on the plight of the other occupied people and minorities in some parts of the world. The OIC welcomes the High Commissioner’s intention to visit the occupied Palestinian territory in May this year. We look forward to his visit and a comprehensive report thereon.

7. Terrorism is a scourge that concerns all of us. This issue needs to be addressed in a broader perspective including redressal of its root causes. Foreign occupation, poverty, disease, social and economic injustice, political dis-empowerment, absence of rule of law, prevalence of might over right are the factors that breed terrorism. These issues must be addressed in the context of eradicating international terrorism. We greatly value the High Commissioner’s timely injunction that particular attention must be paid to upholding human rights standards in the struggle against terrorism.

8. The High Commissioner has addressed the methodology for promotion of human rights. The deliberations of the Working Groups of the Commission on key issues provide guidance for future action. The Working Group on the Right to Development, for example, in its previous sessions had stressed the importance of action at national and international level for the realization of this right. In the current report there is a justified emphasis on the national dimensions of the right to development. Similar coverage of the international dimension would have been desirable.

9. The High Commissioner has emphasised the importance of national action towards the eradication of poverty which also needs to be complemented with international action. The World Bank’s World Development Report 2001-2002 mentions “but the lives of the poor people are also effected by forces originating outside their country’s borders – global trade, capital flows, Official Development Assistance, technological advance, diseases and conflicts to name just a few. Actions at the global level are therefore crucial compliments to country level action.”

10. The High Commissioner in paragraph 19 of his report has recommended the Commission to devote some deliberations under agenda item 9 to international cooperation for an annual resolution on the global prevention of human rights violations. This is a long awaited initiative for which the High Commissioner deserves our appreciation particularly if it can lead to dispensing with the politically motivated and accusatory country specific resolutions. The contribution of these resolutions in promotion of human rights in the targeted countries is highly questionable. It is time that we look at the alternative that the High Commissioner has proposed in his report.

11. Reiterating our commitment to the promotion of human rights in accordance with the tenets of our noble religion, we assure the High Commissioner of our full support to all constructive efforts in carrying out his mandate. We also hope that our concerns will be effectively addressed in the High Commissioner’s future report to the Commission on Human Rights.

I thank you, Madame Chairperson.