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CARIBBEAN | Commonwealth small states highlight challenges, call for support

Featured Guyana’s Ambassador, J.R. Deep Ford Guyana’s Ambassador, J.R. Deep Ford
GENEVA, Sept 12, CMC – Several small island states within the 52-member Commonwealth Tuesday called for a more inclusive approach to human rights in the UN Human Rights Council that reflected their concerns, development interests and priorities.

“Human right is about justice and inclusion,” said Guyana’s Ambassador, J.R. Deep Ford ,  who co-hosted the event, which was organized by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) with support from Singapore and the Federation International des legues desdroits de L’Homme (FIDH).

Ford and other diplomats from the Bahamas and Singapore as well as Karen MacKenzie, head of the human rights unit at the Commonwealth Secretariat, spoke at a side event here at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC).

The CHRI event was titled, “Small States at the HRC, Building Capacity, Strengthening Presence and Developing Outreach”.

Singapore’s Deputy Permanent Representative in Geneva, Nitya Menon, spoke of the difficulties of small states in handling complex issues relating to UN processes, because of a shortage of staff or economic resources and the need to simplify and demystify these.

“We need collective combined inputs,” she added, saying that if small states were unrepresented at major programmes, the UN system and major donor countries “were missing important voices”.

Mackenzie shared the Commonwealth’s efforts to build capacity among small states and showcased some success stories like the Bahamas which is contesting for a seat at the next HRC but admitted that much more was needed to be done, because of a funding crunch.

During the discussions, diplomats and civil society representatives urged better coordination among larger countries, small states and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to foster better understanding of their needs and their complex societies.

was a need for better engagement with CSOs to help develop a greater “quality of trust” as well as review of implementation of UN resolutions in the home countries.

CHRI Director, Sanjoy Hazarika, who moderated the session, said there was need for better accountability processes as well as “bridging democratic deficits”.

The HRC was formed on founding principles of impartiality, non-selectivity and international cooperation by the General Assembly in 2006.

However, existing practice of clean-slate elections, where regional groups propose only one candidate for each available seat, have undermined the diversity and the quality of the HRC’s membership.

While in the first decade of the HRC, 19 Commonwealth countries have served at the HRC, with only four have been Small States.

But since the institution of the Special Procedures was established, only six Commonwealth Small States – Jamaica, Fiji, Malta, Maldives, Mauritius and Namibia – have had one or more of their nations appointed as Special Rapporteurs.

Last modified onTuesday, 12 September 2017 20:11
  • Countries: Guyana