Spain in the United Nations Human Rights Council

On June 9th, INCIPE hosted a Working Breakfast under the name Spain in the United Nations Human Rights Council, with the participation of Juan Ignacio Morro, General Director of United Nations and Human Rights in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.

The defense of human rights is an unfathomable theme, but it is based on the basis that is a person is sacred and its protection should move into a political-institutional dimension that will support itself off the United Nations Charter (whose objective is to promote peace, international cooperation, and human rights) and the rule of law, which is characterized by the separation of powers and the protection of human rights.

Currently, the United Nations has a variety of tools for the defense of human rights: first, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the 9 treaties and committees (over themes like race, women, torture, amd infant protection); but also the Office of the High Commissioner and the Council of Human Rights. This council was created in 2006 and its 47 members are chosen according to a geographical distribution in which the Asian, African, and Latin American countries each have 13 seats, the Occidental countries have 7, and the Oriental European countries have 6.

The main function of the Council is to elaborate the Universal Periodic Review in which the 193 member countries of the UN are subject to scrutiny over the situation regarding human rights within their frontiers. Even though the Council does not have any executive power, the pressure of having to submit to this test results in greater respect towards human rights. Also, the Council has the option of activating special procedures to approach specific situations of human rights violations, in certain areas or specific countries.

Spain is a part of the Council until 2020 and their performance will be centered around 3 areas in order to achieve 6 major objectives. Therefore, Spain bets for the defense of human dignity and human rights, the support for democracy and the rule of law, as well as sustainable development. These priorities are centered around 6 purposes: fight against the death penalty, through a gradual advance until its repeal, eliminate gender and sexual orientation discrimination, defend the human rights of the disabled, promote the right of access to safe, drinking water and sanitation, protect human rights defenders and ensure that that businesses´ respect these rights scrupulously.

Spain´s commitment with human rights is based on its absolute respect within their borders, as recognized by the 180 members of the UN General Assembly that voted in favor of Spain’s entry into the Human Rights Council.

Pablo Blanco

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