Archive ref no: NCA-20232
Statement by Hon. K.P. Sharma Oli, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Leader of the Nepalese Delegation at the First Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, June 19, 2006
Madame High Commissioner,
Secretary General of the United Nations, President of the UN General Assembly
I would like to extend warm felicitations to you, Mr. Chairman, on your unanimous election to the Chair of the first Session of the newly created Human Rights Council. Let me assure you, Mr. Chairman, of my country’s full support to you in conducting the deliberations of the Council in a smooth and successful manner. I would particularly like to appreciate the presence of the UN Secretary General and the president of the UNGA.
Today, we are meeting at a time when the Commission on Human Rights has become a page of history. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the UN Treaty Bodies, the Special Procedures, UN Sub-Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, its Regional and Field Offices are its important contributions. The Commission on Human Rights deserves our approbation for having played its due role in taking up human rights issues as per its mandate.
We welcome the creation of a Human Rights Council as an important milestone. It illustrates the profound desire of the international community to bring human rights to a new height of global prominence and visibility consistent with the changing times. We are convinced that scrupulous observance of Human Rights constitutes the foundation of peace and stability in the world. But mere elevation into a higher body is not enough. The real challenge before us is how to transform this body into a global forum for international cooperation, collaboration and dialogue on all human rights issues. We believe that the work of the Human Rights Council would be guided by the principles of universality, interdependence, objectivity and non-selectivity and would be based on genuine international dialogue and co-operation. Achieving a balance between all the human rights issues is equally necessary to give legitimacy, dignity and substance to its work. In the final analysis, the council would be judged on the basis of what contributions it can make to bring improvements in the lives of men and women in different parts of the world and how it contributes to ensure that systematic violations do not occur around the world.
We think that the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is one of the most important and innovative features and mechanisms of the Council. Success of the Council would therefore depend on how this mechanism would be crafted and executed. It is our hope that based on the principles of cooperation and interactive dialogue, it will be able to deal with the human rights issues from a long term and comprehensive perspective. The Working group should examine in depth and agree on modalities of the UPR.
We also feel that the best features of the Commission such as the Special Procedures, the Treaty Bodies, the Sub-commission, the participation of the NGOs should be preserved. We therefore support the constitution of an Intergovernmental Open-ended Working Group to review and rationalize their mandates, functions and responsibilities as per the UNGA resolution to render them capable of playing objective and constructive role in the new Human Rights Council.
There is another important aspect that we would like to stress here in particular. Human Rights Council should give priority to strengthen the role of the national human rights institutions, because that would create a sustainable basis and strong national ownership for the protection and promotion of human rights.
Let me now take this opportunity to inform this august Assembly about the far reaching changes that have taken place in Nepal. As you all are aware that political changes of historic proportions have taken place in Nepal following the success of an unprecedented peaceful popular movement. A full-fledged democracy has been restored in the country. The reinstated Parliament has made several historic pronouncements bringing all institutions under the authority of the people for the first time. It has also made the Nepalese people truly supreme and sovereign for the first time and once for all. We will continue to consolidate our achievements opening a new dawn of full fledged democracy, human rights, peace and stability. The declaration of a cease-fire, the signing of the code of conduct during a ceasefire and the intensification of negotiations between the Government of Nepal and the Nepal Communist Party (Maoists) to agree on the modalities for holding the elections for the Constituent Assembly in order to write a new Constitution by the peoples' representatives are some of the major steps the new government has already taken. These are developments, which have no doubt brightened the prospects for long-term peace and stability in Nepal. Yet, much remains to be accomplished in this period of transition. Holding election for the Constituent Assembly in a free, fair and fearless atmosphere, management of weapons, consolidation of the newly reinstituted democracy and making peace sustainable are some of our preoccupations. We have formidable tasks ahead of us to give a healing touch to the wounds inflicted upon the nation and the people. The peace process embedded with the protection and promotion of human rights, formulation and launching of programs aimed at post-conflict reconstruction, rebuilding and rehabilitation are our immediate national priorities. Bringing about social transformation through integration, inclusion and empowerment of all people is another issue that is close to our heart. This would require efforts to weave all ethnic groups, culture and religions into a common thread of harmony and tolerance. And this will be possible to materialize only in a condition of sustainable peace and an inclusive, people-centered and participatory democracy. We therefore look forward to the international community for its continued support and cooperation to reinforce our national efforts for building lasting peace and democracy in the days ahead. Let me also take this opportunity to state how grateful we are to the international community, in particular the human rights community, whose relentless support has been so important in our struggle to finally bring about these momentous changes in the country.
I now want to touch upon some of the efforts we have since undertaken to promote and protect human rights in the country. One of the urgent priorities of the present government is to seek to restore the international credibility and respectability of Nepal as a country committed to respecting all human rights norms and principles. Undoubtedly, therefore, respect for democracy, rule of law and promotion and protection of all human rights are the foremost priorities of the Government. As victims of the violation of human rights in the past, many of us have experienced very closely how helpless and vulnerable one would become in the absence of any safeguard and protection of these rights. To realize these objectives, we have already deployed our immediate attention and efforts to initiate administrative, legislative and other necessary reforms relevant to consolidate human rights and to implement them with utmost urgency.
It is our hope that these measures would help bring perceptible and qualitative improvement in observance of human rights in the days ahead. Another priority of ours would be to enhance greater accountability and transparency in matters related to human rights cases. Similarly, no efforts will be spared to investigate into all the alleged human rights violation cases in a responsible manner. And the proven human rights violators will be held accountable and persecuted as per the law of the land. Meanwhile, continuity will be given to the ongoing efforts for sufficiently sensitizing the security agencies and the personnel on the implication and importance of the observance of human rights norms and principles in the exercise of their duty.
NGOs and Civil Societies are building blocks of democracy, human rights and rule of law. They have played a very prominent role in defending and advancing the cause of democracy, individual freedom, human rights and rule of law in Nepal and elsewhere. We will therefore forge a constructive and cooperative partnership with the members of the National NGOs, INGOs, human rights defenders as well as those of the Civil Society Organizations.
Likewise, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Kathmandu established last year played an important role during the democratic movement. As it is dedicated to the fulfillment of its mandate to promote and observe the human rights situation in the country, it will receive full cooperation of the Government in the discharge of its mandated responsibilities.
The original signatories of the United Nations Charter had uppermost in mind the fundamental human rights when they reaffirmed their faith in ‘the dignity and worth of human person, in the equal rights of men and women and make them free from fear and want’. As we stand here in the first Session of the Human Rights Council, we must collectively pledge to realize those lofty visions. We must make a fresh resolve to build it on the foundation of unity, understanding, dialogue and co-operation for the effective promotion and protection of all human rights, including right to development. That can be ensured only when we can truly translate our common ideals of fundamental human rights into reality in our daily lives.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.