Amid international focus on the crisis in Ukraine, a senior Pakistani diplomat has urged the United Nations to promote universal accountability for grave human rights violations, especially under foreign occupation – Kashmir and Palestine – as he stressed that there should be no disparity between such violations in two different circumstances.
Speaking at a virtual event where the alleged rights violations in the war-hit Ukraine were highlighted by several members, Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN Ambassador Aamir Khan said, “If we want to pay attention to a particular situation which is currently in the limelight, we should also not forget the situations of Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir, where human rights are being trampled every day, and where counter-terrorism laws are used to silence civil society.”
“If we are raising voice in the context of one situation, we should not forget raising our voices in other two situations as well,” he stressed.
The Pakistani envoy urged the international community and the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva to make pronouncements on violations of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir and in Palestine as well, just like they were making pronouncements elsewhere – referring to Ukraine.
“Earlier today,” he said, “there was mention of global shocks (Ukraine crisis), in the context of violation of human rights – I would like to add here that the application of human rights in the Charter should be universal and impartial.”
“Just like there is no hierarchy or precedence in the context of two sets of rights, i.e. economic rights or civil/political rights, there is also no disparity between violations of human rights in two different
situations,” he added.
The virtual event was held to mark the second anniversary of the UN secretary-general’s ‘Call to Action for Human Rights’, and the Pakistani envoy called it an opportunity to exchange views on how to advance SG’s ‘Agenda for Human Rights’ more robustly. This included exploring its linkages with ‘Our Common Agenda’, which deals with what has become known as the three “Cs’ – ‘Conflict, Climate Risk, and Covid-19” – linked by some, to poverty.
“For the universal promotion and preservation of human rights, in this regard, we need to end the politicisation of human rights; follow a cooperative approach based on principles of non-discrimination and genuine dialogue; and promote the UPR (universal periodic review) as a state-led peer process, which is not exploited through partisan pressures,” Ambassador Khan said.
He also called for giving equal attention to socio-economic rights. “The Right to Development must become a global international legally in forcible right, especially through a legally binding international convention on Right to Development,” the Pakistani envoy said, adding that the right was even more imperative in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis and the challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
At the same time, he said the UN should supplement governments’ efforts and give due regard to national priorities, interests and particular circumstances of countries concerned.
In doing so, he added, the UN should respond to the violations of human rights, focusing on upholding respect for the Charter; eliminate double standards and promote universal accountability for grave human rights violations, especially in situation of foreign occupation.
Noting that human rights are a cardinal principle in the UN Charter alongside development and peace and security, Ambassador Khan said, “It is unfortunate that despite so much progress on the front of human rights, the egregious and systematic human rights violations continue unabated, including in situations of foreign occupation.”
“Millions of human beings continue to be victims of racism, racial discrimination, Islamophobia, xenophobia and related intolerance, including their contemporary forms, some of which manifest in violent forms.”
Against this backdrop, the Pakistan envoy welcomed the secretary-general’s “Call to Action for Human Rights” and his report “Our Common Agenda”.
“We must endeavour to work together to find a common framework through consultation, coordination and consensus,” he added.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Policy, Volkar Turk, moderated the event.