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Sixty-ninth session,
27th & 28th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/4110

Migrants Hailed as Development ‘Drivers and Enablers’, Special Rapporteur Tells Third Committee as Rights Debate Continues

Experts Present Reports on Migration, Trafficking, Minorities, Extreme Poverty, Violence against Women, Right to Food

Migrants and internally displaced persons (IDPs) needed identification without fear of detention or deportation to fully enjoy their human rights, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) heard today as eight United Nations human rights experts presented their reports on issues spanning from the right to food to trafficking.

Migrants were the “drivers and enablers” of development, François Crépeau, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, told delegates.  Highlighting their contributions to boosting economies, he said their remittances to developing countries accounted for a significant proportion of their gross domestic product and were an important source of foreign currency earnings, among other things.  In destination countries, they increased domestic demand for goods and services, which in turn increased total economic output, thereby creating jobs.

States should, therefore, strive for a comprehensive and balanced approach, he urged, recognizing the roles and responsibilities of countries of origin with respect to transit and destination, as well as protecting, respecting and promoting the human rights of all migrants.  “Sustainable development requires the meaningful involvement and active participation of all affected, including migrants, whatever their status.”

Migrants were silenced by fears of detection, deportation and losing their employment, he told delegates in the interactive dialogue following his presentation.  Firewalls were immigration enforcement mechanisms that were sensitive to human rights and allowed, for example, migrants to access public services without fear that their information would be transmitted to immigration offices.  “We don’t invite them to speak up”, he said, urging States to include the voice of migrants in building up immigration policies, the post-2015 agenda and data collection efforts.

Echoing that sentiment was Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.  Displaced persons were often invisible and lived among the urban poor.  “Continued efforts are needed to identify them and their location and to assess their needs,” he added.  Residing in makeshift shelters, they were barely protected from intruders and were exposed to the risk of sexual and gender-based violence while facing challenges posed by unequal access to education, health services and employment.

Turning to the inclusion of human rights in internationally agreed upon development goals, including the post-2015 development agenda, Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights recognition, said human rights language did matter, as it invoked the specific legal obligations that States had agreed upon in the various human rights treaties.  The recognition of the human rights of those living in extreme poverty would not guarantee them food, education or health care, but it would acknowledge their dignity and agency, he said.

Francisco Carrion Mena, Chair of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, recognized migration as an important economic and social phenomenon, one that involved more than 230 million people worldwide.  As potential victims of exploitation and abuse, he supported a human rights-based approach to migration policies and practices as part of the post-2015 agenda.

A consistent human rights-based approach included strengthening the fight against human trafficking, said Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.  Taking into account the massive dimension of trafficking, it was important to focus on prevention as a strategic approach, she added, as well as on the intersection of gender inequality and trafficking.  It was necessary and possible to address trafficking through the social inclusion of all vulnerable people, including migrants, ethnic or racial minorities, asylum seekers, refugees and others.

Also addressing the Committee today were Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Rita Izsák, Special Rapporteur on minority issues and Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

Participating in today’s interactive dialogue were speakers representing Israel, Qatar, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Belarus, Indonesia, Maldives, Iraq, Norway, Austria, Hungary, Syria, Latvia, Russian Federation, Myanmar, Chile, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Azerbaijan, Canada, South Africa, Cuba, Iran, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Lithuania, Germany, Czech Republic, Libya, Japan and Netherlands, as well as the European Union and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The Third Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 27 October, to continue its discussion on the protection and promotion of the human rights.

Background

The Third Committee met this morning to continue its consideration of the protection and promotion of human rights, with eight experts expected to present reports and engage in interactive dialogues.  For background, see Press Releases GA/SHC/4108 of 22 October and GA/SHC/4109 of 23 October.

Interactive Debate

FRANÇOIS CRÉPEAU, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, recognized migrants as “drivers and enablers” of development, as they boosted household income, resulting in improved health and greater school enrolment.  At the national level, remittances to developing countries accounted for a significant proportion of their gross domestic product and were an important source of foreign currency earnings, supporting national income and allowing countries to pay for critical imports, to gain access to capital markets and to pay lower interest rates on sovereign debt.  Migrants increased domestic demand for goods and services, he added, which in turn increased total economic output, thereby creating jobs in the country of destination.  At regional and global levels, migration addressed global talent and labour shortages.

At the national level, he said development plans must acknowledge the positive role migration played and spur policies that went beyond implementing security controls and curbing irregular patterns.  National plans must also recognize the development potential of migration and build coherent labour migration and employment policies that match supply and demand for highly skilled workers, as well as for those considered to be low-skilled.  States should strive for a comprehensive and balanced approach, recognizing the roles and responsibilities of countries of origin, transit and destination in protecting, respecting and promoting the human rights of all migrants.

 

The post-2015 development agenda must recognize that migration interacted with development in important areas beyond the workplace, including in the communities that migrants left or joined, and in the areas of health, education and cultural life.  “Sustainable development requires the meaningful involvement and active participation of all affected, including migrants, whatever their status,” he said.  It should, therefore, ensure a systematic disaggregation of indicators by nationality and migrant status under relevant goal areas, in order to measure the progress of marginalized migrant groups, including by identifying structural discrimination.

In the ensuing interactive dialogue, delegates asked questions about ways to protect a great quantity of migrants, strategies to increase data collection efforts, especially for illegal migrants, and challenges to include related issues in the post-2015 agenda.  Other questions related to durable solutions in strengthening the multilateral system and to the best ways to assess progress made and lessons learned.

Mr. CRÉPEAU said the first step to protect the great quantity of migrants was to properly define them and tailor a response based on that information.  If they were refugees, he added, there was a regime to be applied properly.  If they were migrants looking for labour opportunities, the recognition of their presence was extremely important, as they were coming to work for the wealth of the destination country.  States had a difficult task in trying to protect the human rights of people who were not represented.  Yet because they were human beings, he said, their voices must be heard, which could be done through the empowerment of human rights institutions and other tribunals.

A useful element put in place by States to protect the human rights of migrants was the idea of firewalls, as human rights were better defended by their holders.  The rights of women were fought for by women, he noted, but the problem with migrants was the fact that they were silenced by fears of detection, deportation and losing their employment.  Firewalls were immigration enforcement mechanisms that were human rights sensitive and allowed, for example, migrants to access public services without fear that their information would be transmitted to immigration offices.  Migrants should be able to call the police without fear of being asked for their immigration documents, he added, saying it applied to labour inspectors as well.

On data collection, he emphasized that “we don’t invite them to speak up”, noting that migration policies were traditionally created by non-migrants.  There was need to include the voice of migrants in building up immigrations policies, the post-2015 agenda and data collection efforts.  They should feel free to contribute to data collection without fear of being detected, he said.

Participating in the dialogue were representatives of Israel, Qatar, United States, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, as well as the European Union and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

FRANCISCO CARRION MENA, Chair of the Committee on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, said migration was an important economic and social phenomenon.  It was also a fundamentally human process, with more than 230 million migrants worldwide.  On violence and discrimination, he noted that many were subjected to exploitation and abuse.  In that regard, he supported a human rights-based approach to migration policies and practices as part of the post-2015 development agenda. Also, he called upon States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Currently, there were 47 States parties to the Convention, which sought minimum standards applicable to migrant workers and members of their families.  On partnership issues, he said, the Committee continued to encourage the input and support of civil society organizations, national human rights institutions, parliamentarians and United Nations programmes, funds and specialized agencies.  In order to strengthen coordination, the Committee continued to engage with States parties and signatories, while occasionally holding meetings to provide updates on its work.

On the promotion of the Convention, he emphasized that Committee members had been actively promoting the instrument and the human rights of migrant workers through speaking at the United Nations and other fora.  In all of its work, he underlined, the Committee had, among other things, striven to emphasize the need to give high prominence to the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrant workers.  Concluding, he said, the challenge was the low level of the Convention’s ratification and the lack of political will surrounding the issue of migrants’ rights.

In the ensuing dialogue, delegates asked questions and made comments about the promotion and implementation of the Convention and recommendations on cooperation with other treaty bodies.

Mr. CARRION MENA said he had been working the IOM, which provided great input and information in the Committee’s efforts.  As there were only 47 States parties to the Convention, he called upon States to ratify it expeditiously.  On the challenges, he said traditional receiving or destination countries viewed migrants as a labour source.  In that regard, he stressed that they were attacking the issue of migration from the wrong angle.

Indeed, the issue of migration must be on the global agenda to better protect the rights of all migrant workers and their family members, he continued.  However, that could be achieved only if there were a political will.  In that regard, he appreciated the positive contributions of civil society organizations in reaching out to governments and raising awareness about the need to ratify the Convention.  Today, there were many conflicts around the world that were leading to an increase in the numbers of refugees and migrants.  Concluding, he called for attention to the issue to find a long-term solution for dealing with some of the causes of migration.

Also participating in the interactive dialogue were representatives of Mexico, Ecuador, Bangladesh and Cameroon, as well as IOM.

MARIA GRAZIA GIAMMARINARO, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, outlined areas of cross-cutting concerns that had emerged as major themes of importance to the anti-trafficking movement, including the right of victims to assistance, as well as their right to effective remedies.  Further, a strong response from the criminal justice system was integral to effective responses.

Trafficking could be prevented, she added, by addressing the demand and supply chain, and tackling the root causes that make individuals vulnerable to traffickers.  Non-State actors, including victims themselves, could play an important role in preventing and responding to the illicit practice.  She noted that in recent years, there had been a series of reputable reports documenting the systematic trafficking in persons for the removal of organs in different regions of the world.

Turning to future priorities, she said that one of the added values of her mandate was to show that a consistent human rights-based approach was strengthening the fight against trafficking.  Taking into account the massive dimension of trafficking, it was important to focus on prevention as a strategic approach.  Further, she would focus on the intersection of gender inequality and trafficking.  It was necessary and possible to address trafficking through the social inclusion of all vulnerable people, including migrants, ethnic or racial minorities, asylum seekers, refugees and others.

In the ensuing interactive dialogue, delegates asked questions about effective strategies and measures to ensure that supply chains were free from exploitation and that victims had access to justice and to address the root causes of human trafficking.  Additional questions were posed on potential cooperation with regional mechanisms and national rapporteurs, ways to address the mandate’s gender dimension, post-2015 agenda targets and indicators to identify and prevent trafficking.

Ms. GIAMMARINARO noted the need to engage actively with businesses regarding strategies to address the problem of preventing trafficking that was linked to labour.  States had the primary obligation to protect the rights of potential victims, she added, but the protection of persons at risk was a shared responsibility.  She asked governments to share action plans with the private sector, detailing actions it expected from the business world in areas such as the selection of sub-contractors, the monitoring of the implementation of codes of conduct in supply chains and actions to be taken when faced with cases of trafficking and forced labour.  A public-private partnership was “absolutely crucial”, she said, calling on the governments to take similar actions with their own sub-contracting procedures and in public procurements, to prevent forced labour.

Victims’ access to justice was an essential measure to empower them and to give them the ability to regain ownership of their lives.  The problem was that real access was limited, she added, calling on States to explore obstacles that were hampering it.  Irregular migration status and limited access to legal representation were among the many challenges migrants faced when attempting to access labour law justice.

Turning to the cooperation between her mandate and regional and sub-regional mechanisms, she said she depended on them for access to reliable information, calling for interactive dialogues to find better ways to address problems and challenges.  Too few victims were being identified, she said, urging Member States to revise their own national policies and legislations, in order to identify gaps and reasons why victims were not identified.

She said that expert consultations would continue with national rapporteurs or other equivalent mechanisms, such as national human rights institutions.  In indicators to evaluate effectiveness, she noted that the response of governments should be evaluated in terms of criminal justice responses and on the provision of remedies to victims in terms of assistance and compensations, as that would take into account the human rights aspect of the issue.

Asking questions were delegations from Australia, Switzerland, United States, Qatar, Germany, Belarus, Israel, Indonesia and Maldives, as well as the European Union Delegation and the IOM.

RITA IZSÁK, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, said that disadvantaged minority communities often lived in poverty and were poorly represented in government posts, law enforcement and justice bodies.  Therefore, they were rarely in a position to influence the decisions that affected them.  Violence could occur in any country, but was less likely to happen in ones with a functioning democracy and rule of law.  Other relevant factors included past and unresolved grievances, a history of ethnic or religious tensions and the denial or deprivation of citizenship.

To prevent problems and tensions, she added, States must consult with minorities and ensure their participation in decision-making.  Recommending data collection disaggregated by ethnicity, religion and geographical location, she added that it was vital to protect their rights, with a strong framework of legal protection and dedicated institutional attention to minorities, in the form of specialized departments or units.

While the primary responsibility for protecting minorities from violence rested with the States, she said the international community must also improve its ability to assist States in efforts to resolve violence.  When such efforts failed, States must effectively intervene to protect minorities.  In conclusion, she informed delegates that the seventh session of the Forum on Minority Issues was scheduled to be held in Geneva in November 2014.

In the ensuing dialogue, delegates asked about violent crimes against minorities, cooperation to end discrimination, best practices related to protection, early warning systems and representation and protection of minorities.

Ms. IZSÁK, replying to questions about the prevention of violence, stressed it was possible to prevent problems and tensions thanks to early warning systems.  Reminding all Member States that no society woke up one day and started hating each other, she said, past and unresolved grievances, a history of ethnic or religious tensions and a denial or deprivation of citizenship were among the factors breeding hatred.  In that regard, religious and government leaders were influential in shaping public opinion.  In addition, she said, deficits in the rule of law, accountability, justice and trust could be eliminated through good governance.  Also, civil society organizations were the key partners on the ground.  Concluding, she said holding timely discussions of findings and reports were among the challenges.  She also noted that in 2015, she would be visiting Brazil, Russian Federation and Botswana.

Also participating in the interactive dialogue were representatives of Iraq, United States, Brazil, Norway, Austria, Hungary, Belarus, Syria, Latvia, Russian Federation, Ecuador, and Myanmar, as well as the European Union.

CHALOKA BEYANI, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), presented his annual report, dedicated to durable solutions for internal displacement in urban settings.  In view of rapid urbanization, population growth and human mobility, as well as the increased frequency of natural disasters, achieving solutions for internally displaced persons in urban areas must be a priority.  Such persons typically resided in makeshift shelters, where they were barely protected from intruders and exposed to the risk of sexual and gender-based violence.  They were also at risk of evictions and faced challenges posed by unequal access to education, health services and employment.

“Internally displaced persons in urban settings are often invisible and tend to live among the urban poor,” he said.  Continued efforts were needed to identify them and their location and to assess their needs.  His report addressed some of the most critical challenges related to finding solutions so they could enjoy their human rights without discrimination.  That could be attained through secure returns to their place of origin, sustainable local integration where they had taken refuge or integration in another part of the country.  Competent national and local authorities had the primary responsibility of establishing conditions and means for the achievement of durable solutions.

His report made a set of recommendations intended for States affected by internal displacement, national and municipal authorities, donors and the international community.  “Much more needs to be done to support durable solutions for IDPs in urban settings in a more comprehensive and coordinated manner,” he said.  It was critical to develop national frameworks, structures and policies on internal displacements, and to ensure that durable solution options were included in national laws and policies.  He urged donor States to allocate sufficient funding to respond effectively and sustainably to internal displacement in urban contexts and to devote part of it to profiling exercises in conflict-affected and natural disaster-affected urban areas.

During the interactive dialogue, questions were asked about the risk of sexual and gender-based violence for women and girls in urban settings and armed conflict.  Delegates also wanted to know how best to ensure a participatory approach between local communities and IDPs, and how Member States could be more helpful to the Rapporteur.  Expressing concern about the humanitarian disaster in Syria, they asked how the United Nations could ensure protection of IDPs in Syria and other armed conflicts.

Responding, Mr. BEYANI said that more proactive steps were needed in New York to protect the rights of IDPs around the world.  Better capacity-building and intensified coordination between United Nations bodies would be instrumental.  It was very clear that internally displaced women and girls needed an effective system of protection to safeguard them from trafficking “and indeed, slavery”.

Calling for a re-examination of the United Nations architecture for protection, he added that peacebuilding measures, conflict resolution and humanitarian work needed to be in better coordination.  IDPs were usually on the periphery of urban areas and it was important to ensure that urban planning by municipal authorities included them and targeted their areas, he said, commending the work of the IOM.

Raising the profile of internally displaced persons was a major task, he continued.  “When I look at the budgets of humanitarian agencies, the entry lines for IDPs usually said zero,” he lamented.  States must liaise with agencies to ensure that their resources were deployed to tackle this urgent issue.  Further, governments needed to be in a state of preparedness at all times, because internal displacement may arise from natural disasters, not just from armed conflict.

Participating in the interactive dialogue were the delegates of Chile, Austria, United States, Switzerland, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Azerbaijan, Syria, Norway, Iraq, Canada and Brazil, as well as the European Union Delegation and the IOM.

HILAL ELVER, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said that more than 800 million people still went to bed hungry every day, while 2 billion were nutrition deficient, most living in Africa and South Asia in remote villages or urban slums.  While the right to food may once have been controversial, it was now enshrined in international human rights law with States obliged to ensure its progressive realization through the ratification of international treaties and the development of supportive domestic and national legislation.  However, many countries had failed to develop a judicial culture that recognized the practice or necessary legal frameworks required to ensure that right.

Women, she added, played a vital role in food security and nutrition.  As farm labourers, vendors, unpaid care workers and mothers, women were responsible for food production and preparation.  The empowerment of women should, therefore, be placed at the centre of the right to food and policy-making.  Providing healthy, adequate and nutritious food to all children was an investment in future generations, but 5.1 million children under age five suffered from acute malnutrition.  In contrast, dietary changes associated with processed food and excessive consumption of sugar, fat and salt were contributing to rising levels of chronic diseases in developed and middle-income countries.

Climate change, sustainable resource management and food security were among the most complex, interdependent and urgent global policy challenges.  Climate change had already affected approximately 1 billion of the world’s poor and time was of the essence.  Turning to sustainable development goals and the right to food, she added that the proposed goals should adopt a rights-based approach and include mechanisms for establishing a transparent participatory process involving people directly affected by hunger and extreme poverty.

During the interactive dialogue, questions were asked about the risk of sexual and gender-based violence for women and girls in urban settings and armed conflict.  Delegates also wanted to know how best to ensure a participatory approach between local communities and IDPs, and how Member States could be more helpful to the Rapporteur.  Expressing concern about the humanitarian disaster in Syria, they asked how the United Nations could ensure protection of IDPs in Syria and other armed conflicts.

Responding, Mr. BEYANI said that more proactive steps were needed in New York to protect the rights of IDPs around the world.  Better capacity-building and intensified coordination between United Nations bodies would be instrumental.  It was very clear that internally displaced women and girls needed an effective system of protection to safeguard them from trafficking “and indeed, slavery”.

Calling for a re-examination of the United Nations architecture for protection, he added that peacebuilding measures, conflict resolution and humanitarian work needed to be in better coordination.  IDPs were usually on the periphery of urban areas and it was important to ensure that urban planning by municipal authorities included them and targeted their areas, he said, commending the work of the IOM.

Raising the profile of internally displaced persons was a major task, he continued.  “When I look at the budgets of humanitarian agencies, the entry lines for IDPs usually said zero,” he lamented.  States must liaise with agencies to ensure that their resources were deployed to tackle this urgent issue.  Further, governments needed to be in a state of preparedness at all times, because internal displacement may arise from natural disasters, not just from armed conflict.

Participating in the interactive dialogue were the delegates of Chile, Austria, United States, Switzerland, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Azerbaijan, Syria, Norway, Iraq, Canada and Brazil, as well as the European Union Delegation and the IOM.

In the ensuing dialogue, the Special Rapporteur was asked about her expectations of the Second International Conference on Nutrition, the impact of sanctions on exercising the right to food and how she would promote mainstreaming that right into the post-2015 agenda.  Delegates also asked for examples of lessons learned from countries that had obtained food security and for suggestions on how to share best practices, improve State promotion of the right to food, strengthen private sector commitments to food security, and ensure that gender equality was at the centre of the right to food.  Other questions related to the non-discriminatory access to resources, including scientific research on high-yielding seeds, the use of Millennium Development Goal 8 [a global partnership for development] for the realization of the right to development, and the cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Responding, Ms. ELVER said that voluntary guidelines were followed by many governments, with right-to-food principles included in the constitutions of 28 countries.  However, their inclusion in constitutions and law books was not enough, and their implementation was extremely difficult.  Eradicating hunger was not a progressive realization of the right to food; it was an obligation.  Legal remedies were not enough without political will.  In that context, she stressed the importance of policy coherence, not only in relation to food and agriculture, but also in the areas of trade and the global economy.  She also said that nutrition could not be excluded from the work on the right to food.

She said that FAO, WHO and the Committee on World Food Security should come together using a new kind of global governance, which should include civil society and the private sector.  However, such pursuit must take caution about the private sector’s responsibilities, and there must be accountability in order to follow a human-rights-based approach.  Trade issues should be examined, she said, but the right to food was more important than trade.  On gender equality, she said that women were at the centre of right-to-food issues.  As many small farms were run by women, at least practically if not legally, their role should be enhanced by way of legal principles and sometimes social protection.

Also participating in the interactive dialogue were representatives of Norway, South Africa, Cuba, Brazil, Switzerland, Qatar and Iran, as well as the European Union Delegation.

PHILIP ALSTON, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, focused his remarks on social protection floors, the post-2015 agenda and why it was a mistake to shun human rights language in the context of development.  The concept of a social protection floor, which aimed at guaranteeing basic income security and access to essential social services, sought to implement existing international human rights law and was universal rather than selective.  By following the Human Rights Council’s lead in endorsing the social protection floor initiative, the Committee could make a major contribution, he said.

On the post-2015 goals, it was an achievement that a range of issues of particular concern were now addressed in the current draft generated by the Open-ended Working Group, he continued.  But there were only two references to human rights in the whole document and neither of those represented an endorsement of the concept in the overall context of development.

He then addressed the consequences of systematic avoidance of human rights language in some of the key forums addressing development issues.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report, “a true thought-leader in the field”, went out of its way in 2014 to side line the concept, he suggested.  Human rights language did matter, as it invoked the specific legal obligations that States had agreed upon in the various human rights treaties, among other things.  The recognition of the human rights of those living in extreme poverty would not guarantee them food, education or health care, but it would acknowledge their dignity.  The international community needed to ask itself why the language of human rights was being intentionally avoided in the context of development debates, he said.

In the ensuing interactive dialogue, delegates asked questions on what to do about those who might misuse benefits, how social protection could be more effectively integrated in the climate change agenda, what strategies could be used to guarantee effective participation of stakeholders and what potential he saw in the exchange of best practices with countries with a track record of success in implementing social protection policies.

Mr. ALSTON said in many areas of human rights, there was a division between the North and the South, with an accusation that the North was trying to impose strategies on the South.  But one concept that had decidedly emerged from the South was the social protection floor initiative.  Various international organizations had been trying to turn it into a more global effort, but the South had taken the initiative, demonstrating that a comprehensive protection of social rights was desirable.  It was designed to make the populace more productive and less dependent on the state. It was designed as a universal programme that covered everyone in the society.

A competing approach in many countries was the social safety net, where some groups were singled out, and bureaucrats tried to identify who was in need and for how long.  The first approach was guaranteed and applied to everyone.  The second was a recipe for the bureaucratic regulation of a society, which put power in hands of elites, to whom the poor would always have to explain themselves and apply for benefits.  The guarantees of the social protection floor were minimal, but designed to protect those in extreme poverty who needed the assistance.  And while the possible abuse of benefits was always an issue, it was usually of greater interest to multi-millionaires and populist politicians.

On the topic of climate change, he noted that a lot of World Bank literature linked extreme poverty to climate change.  The issues belonged very much together.  Delegates should not accept that they did not need to talk about human rights in the post-2015 agenda.  A reference to social protection was not an acknowledgement that there was a human right to social protection.  Reiterating that it was important to emphasize that social protection floors were not a northern agenda or something being imposed, he called the World Bank the biggest obstacle, as the Bank did not want to recognize universal coverage, but wanted closely monitored technocratic coverage, and was not prepared to move in the direction of empowering individuals.

Participating in the dialogue were representatives of South Africa, Maldives, Brazil, and Indonesia, as well as the European Union.

RASHIDA MANJOO, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, presented her report, providing delegates with an update on a number of issues.  Violence against women was a pervasive human rights violation across the globe, and it had reached epidemic proportions in some societies.  Whether in public or private spheres, it contributed to impeding women’s realization of a broad range of human rights that were essential to the exercise of full, inclusive and participatory citizenship.  In that regard, she emphasized that States had an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights in order to enable the effective exercise of citizenship rights.  Furthermore, elimination of violence against women was critical to women’s ability to participate in all spheres of their communities as full and equal citizens.

On the most recent report to the Human Rights Council, she said, continuing challenges were identified, including a shift to gender neutrality; a persisting public-private dichotomy in response to violence against women; a failure of States to act with due diligence in eliminating violence; and a lack of a legally binding instrument to hold all stakeholders accountable.  Also, the normative gap under international human rights law, with regard to violence against women, was a source of grave concern to her mandate.  Regarding other challenges identified in

 

the report, she proposed that the Secretary-General initiated a study on the impact of the continuing challenges to eliminate violence against women.

The twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women provided an opportunity to reflect on global developments in the elimination of violence, and to identify gaps and challenges.  During her tenure as Special Rapporteur, she conducted several official country visits, where she had seen many positive legislative developments in addressing women and girls.  However, there was a long way to go to eliminating the problem, which was a barrier to the effective exercise of all human rights.

In the ensuing dialogue, delegates asked questions and made comments about difficulties in eradicating all forms of violence against women, engaging men and boys, protecting citizenship rights in conflict situations, active leadership of international community, investments in the education of women and girls, the post-2015 agenda, cooperation between United Nations entities, normative and practical measures, the role of legislation and community, unreported incidents, and best practices to solve the root causes.

Ms. MANJOO said the biggest challenge in addressing violence against women was the lack of legislation and effective implementation of existing measures.  Lack of effective implementation of those measures led women and girls to sometimes decide against using justice systems.  National action plans tended to be symbolic rather than practical, she continued.  Often, those plans did not come with adequate political power, budget allocations and human resources.  Among other challenges were the failure of States to act with due diligence in eliminating violence against women, and the lack of a legally binding instrument to hold all stakeholders accountable.

The normative gap under the international human rights law should provide a better link between local and global protocols, she said.  The international community was facing an epidemic of discrimination and violence against women, which was not addressed adequately.  The numbers of women dying in conflict areas and being beaten by their partners were increasing, she underlined.  She said men and boys must be allies of women.  Concluding, she called upon countries to take the kind of approaches needed to eliminate barriers against women.

Also participating in the interactive dialogue were representatives of Chile, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Cameroon, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Germany, Czech Republic, Libya, Argentina, Japan, Netherlands, and Iran, as well as the European Union.

 

For information media. Not an official record.