Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 6

REV2/07 MARCH 07

FORWARD IN UPHOLDING HUMAN RIGHTS


Statement of H.E. ALBERTO G. ROMULO
Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines
At the High-Level Segment of the 4th Session
Of the United Nations Human Rights Council
12 March 2007, Geneva, Switzerland
Mr. President,
Madame High Commissioner,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be with you again at this fourth regular session of the
Human Rights Council at a time when the Council must manage central
challenges to its identity and development.
This Council is a new creation. It must respond to the expectations of the
peoples of the world for a truly effective global human rights mechanism.
Even as we speak, we confront continued assaults on freedom of
conscience and faith, on the expression of peaceful ideals and aspirations, and
on the rights of people to pursue decent, productive and dignified lives.
THE COUNCIL AT A CROSSROADS
The Council has come to a crossroads.
It must make decisions that will shape its institutional mechanisms and its
future course .
The Council must translate respect and protection for human rights from
abstractions into a defined, accepted and verifiable reality.
In doing so, the Council can draw valuable lessons from the experience of
its predecessor, the United Nations Human Rights Commission. However, it
must also avoid the Commissions well-known shortcomings.
Last June, I joined other delegations in hailing the birth of this Council as a
new beginning in global human rights promotion and protection, in which all
human rights could be upheld for all.
Now, after ten months of existence, we must assess whether the Council
is making decisions, through genuine dialogue and cooperation, that will enable it

REV2/07 MARCH 07

to discharge its global responsibilities as the principal human rights body of the
United Nations.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE NEW COUNCIL
The scope of these responsibilities is enormous.
We look to the Council to encourage norms and codes of conduct that will
foster the universal protection and promotion of human rights.
We want the Council to mobilize resources to strengthen the capacity of
developing member states to institute the full range of human rights observance.
We hope that the Council will bring us together, rather than split us apart,
by avoiding discrimination, inequality and politicization of our deliberations and
actions on human rights.
And we expect that the Council will not stand idly by in the face of the
most clear and egregious violations of human rights .
AN INITIAL ASSESSMENT
From the perspective of the Philippines, the Council has already taken key
steps since its inaugural session. Institution-building working groups have
progressed in their work, while the Council has gone forward with its primary task
of addressing substantive human rights issues.
The Philippines supports the Councils recommendation to the General
Assembly that the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the
Convention on Enforced Disappearances be adopted.
These international agreements significantly advance the global human
rights agenda. Many develop norms to cover new and pioneering areas of
human rights concern. Indeed, it would serve us well for the Council to cultivate
a forward-looking and visionary approach.
The Philippines also supports the decisions of the Council on the need for
action against extreme poverty, on the right to development, on regional
cooperation, and on the effective implementation of international human rights
instruments.
These decisions embody our commitment to avoid the feared gap in
human rights protection during the Councils transitional period.

REV2/07 MARCH 07

But the true test and larger challenge remain. The Council must have
credible and predictable working methods in order to fulfill its many
responsibilities in a timely, effective and equitable manner.
BUILDING A STRONG HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
The way forward is clear if we are to build a strong and responsive
Council.
First, sovereign equality has to remain the major organizing principle of
the Council as it is for the rest of the work of the United Nations. There is no
other means of ensuring fairness, balance and broad universality in the global
discourse on human rights. The Philippines and all developing nations see in
sovereignty, not only equity but a protective shield.
Second, nonetheless, all member states must not only accept but
embrace the reality that there are many other stakeholders who deserve be part
of that discourse. In the Philippines, we have always had an active and critical
civil society with a diversity of actors. Inclusiveness strengthens the collective
commitment to human rights.
Third, we must have openness, transparency and accountability in our
proceedings. If we are to rise above the past and protect future generations, we
have to establish working mechanisms that will promote dialogue and exchange.
Without open avenues for discussion, we cannot compare perspectives and
arrive at consensus on what we need to do.
Fourth, internal consistency in what we do is not enough. The Council
must have external credibility as well. It must not drift into becoming a closeddoor talkshop. It is not to ourselves that we must justify our existence. The world
has to see us work and believe in our work, or else we fail.
THE FIRST PRIORITY
Mr. President.
The Philippine shares the view of many delegations that the priority of the
Council during its first year should be institution-building.
Strong foundations will give the Council stability to pursue constructive
dialogue and cooperation among all states and stakeholders to strengthen the
global protection and promotion of human rights..

REV2/07 MARCH 07

The Philippines looks at the substantial progress made in the Councils


institution-building Working Groups with optimism. This does not blind us to the
fact, however, that member states have to work even harder to bridge remaining
differences in the next three months.
Institution-building requires that we innovate with new concepts, such as
the Universal Periodic Review, and that we review all existing procedures,
including the special procedures system and other mechanisms
HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL PEOPLE
The Philippines strongly believes that the Council must focus on bringing
the practical benefits of human rights to ordinary citizens everywhere.
We can accomplish this goal by enlisting every tool at our disposal.
Human rights education, capacity building, and technical assistance programs
should be formulated with the special needs of developing nations in mind.
Many developing nations, while strongly committed to human rights
promotion and protection, face substantial challenges from lack of resources,
weak institutions and limited governmental reach. There can be no task more
important than in helping such developing countries implant human rights firmly
and comprehensively in their societies.
Human rights, with its universal nature, were never meant to be a dividing
factor. If we are create a viable and dynamic Council, therefore, we need to be
guided by this principle of universality. Human rights should be a unifying force
among all peoples, regardless of race, gender, creed, level of development or
political inclination.
THE PHILIPPINE EXPERIENCE
Mr. President,
Allow me the opportunity to briefly speak about the human rights policy and
experience of the Philippines..
The Philippines is the oldest constitutional democracy in Asia. We have wellestablished tradition of political liberties. Our governments for long have been
representative, limited and accountable.
The separation of powers, the separation of church and state, a free press,
freedom of conscience and religiojn, the bill of rights and many other institutions
of democracy are in place, even if there may be room for improvement.

REV2/07 MARCH 07

As a founding member of the Human Rights Council, the Philippines upholds


international standards in human rights protection and promotion.
Last October, the Philippines signed the Second Optional Protocol to the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The signing of the Second
Optional Protocol came after H.E. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into
law the abolition of the death penalty.
The Philippine Government has recently strengthened the Presidential Human
Rights Committee which shall serve as focal point for inter-agency coordination
on human rights matters.
Additional budgetary funds have been earmarked for the Philippine Human
Rights Commission to bolster its human rights protection and promotion efforts.
As a measure if its abiding commitment to human rights, the Philippine
Government invited the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings last month to
conduct a country visit. The full cooperation of the Government was openly and
gratefully acknowledged by the raporteur. We have received his preliminary
report which we are studying constructively.
With regard to vulnerable groups, the Philippines remains particularly concerned
and active in promoting the human rights of migrants and their families, and in
curbing the problem of human trafficking, especially of women and children.
The Philippines is one of the few countries to have ratified all seven core
international human rights treaties.
The Philippines also continues to play a leading role, as current chair of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in the development of an ASEAN human
rights mechanism.
FULL ENGAGEMENT ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Mr. President,
The Philippines will be unremitting in its full engagement with you and all relevant
stakeholders, to move the Human Rights Council and the protection of human
rights for ----forward.
We cannot take human rights and freedom for granted. We must be vigilant and
determined to defend them.

REV2/07 MARCH 07

The past hundred years have seen the most tragic mass violations of human
rights in every region of the world. We must resolve never to let these happen
again.
We must not politicize human rights, which has led only to discord and
dysfunction.
We must not allow a world of growing inequality, among and within nations, to
lead to unequal treatment in human rights as well.
Human rights should not just unify us, they must also be an equalizer among us
all, if we are to avoid the terrible mistakes of the past.
In the words of the venerable Mahatma Gandhi, If we are to make progress, we
must not repeat history, but make new history.
Thank you.