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UN: Resolution on traditional values adopted by the human rights council

Monday 5 October 2009, by siawi2

Human Rights Council holds general debates on situation in Palestine and Occupied Arab Territories, human rights bodies and Vienna declaration

Date: 30 Sep 2009

Human Rights Council


… Many speakers expressed their opposition to the draft resolution on traditional values, which was being presented under this agenda item, saying it was ironic since the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action actually imposed upon States a positive obligation to work towards the elimination of the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices, cultural prejudices and religious extremism? It was said that the draft resolution did nothing to enhance respect for human rights, but achieved quite the opposite. It was divisive; it was polarising; and it sought to affirm a concept often used to justify human rights violations. This draft resolution did not acknowledge that many harmful practices, which constituted human rights violations, were justified by invoking traditional values. It was feared that this draft resolution would be the start of an initiative that would undermine international human rights standards.

Speaking in the general debate on follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action were Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Sweden on behalf of the European Union, Thailand on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Uruguay on behalf of the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), Slovenia, Norway, Russian Federation, United States, Turkey and Belarus.

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions, Asian Forum for Human Rights, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Association for World Education, Mouvement Contre le Racisme et pour l’Amitié entre les Peuples, Human Rights Watch, United Nations Watch, Amnesty International, International Humanist and Ethical Union, COC Netherlands, Indian Council of Education, European Union for Public Relations, International Club for Peace Research, International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, International Commission of Jurists, Action Canada for Population and Development, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Universal Esperanto Association, and International Service for Human Rights.

Speaking in right of reply were Sri Lanka, Sudan and Iran.

The Council today is meeting in three back-to-back meetings from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In its midday meeting, it will hear the presentation of the report of the Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, and then hold a general debate on this agenda item….

October 2, 2009

Subject: Traditional Values resolution

L.13 Traditional Values (29 co-sponsors)
- Russia - very carefully thought and document; in depth consultation with all countries; PPs reflect universality of Hr ; all states are bound to meet their obligations to encourage universal respect...; OPs - ways of encouraging human rights through a better understanding of traditional values - values underpinning international standards and norms
2 minor changes made orally (removal
(22 additional co-sponsors)

Bolivia - general comment - ancestral values and principles of indigenous people of our country - don’t be lazy, don’t be a thief, don’t be a liar; co-sponsoring this resolution because we believe it is important to share these values with everyone; some have negative understanding of traditional values; can’t keep thinking of this topic as a taboo, we need to discuss all topics
Norway - thank Russia for the process they have conducted on this initiative - open, transparent, inclusive - but we have problems with idea of traditional values in the human rights context; we appreciate that many it’l standards and norms have developed over time and have their roots in all art of the world; these took place in spite of traditional values - esp. progress achieved on gender equality; cannot support an initiative that may challenge our struggle for gender equality therefore we request a vote and will vote AGAINST it

France (EU) - EU does as a whole endorse this resolution; concerned about the undefined nature of traditional values - might render norms and principles of intl’l human rights more vulnerable; but EU wanted to commit itself since the concept had first been introduced in the june session; we suggested drafting changes to clarify; changes in did not include efforts to reach consensus - EU proposals had been made to prevent abuses in using ’traditional values’ - re “in keeping with IHRL” - there is nothing to be gained in looking at traditional values of humankind; other values less positive underpin some harmful traditional values and shouldnt be refered to as the infringe upon HR and inhibit them - e.g. FGM could be legitimised by TVs ; thus the EU will vote AGAINST this resolution

Senegal - support the resolution, but share the idea that taking into account such values should in no way jeopardize principles we have adopted in human rights

Chile - thanks Russia for concern on this topic - [... ] - the resolution doesn’t contain a definition of “traditional values” no does it out them in context of IHRL - therefore TVs may be used to justify traditional practices that are harmful thus we vote AGAINST

Mexico - resolution lacks clarity as it doesn’t define TVs - risk of introducing cultural relativism as regards international human rights - might open the door for thi - we would prefer reference that TVs can in no way stand in the way of human rights - it would be a mistake to reinterpret human rights in the context of individual beliefs, cultures, etc. - the resolution doesn’t contribute anything or help an understanding therefore we vote AGAINST

Japan - respect efforts of Russia, but when seeking to protect and promote HR we need to take in a common understanding which has been established in discussions in the international community; remain concerned about “traditional values of humankind” could be contrary to concept of universality of human rights - we do not find this term without explanation or qualification acceptable; altho we respect unique histories, cultures etc of each state, overemphasizing this could undermine HR, therefore we vote AGAINST

USA - we tried to anchor this to international human rights law - we still have concerns about the concept of TV unmoored to international human rights law could undermine HR; the term hasn’t been clearly defined or understood - could be used to legitimise abuses, thus we vote AGAINST

Argentina - we would like to thank Russia for presenting this; TVs cannot be invoked to abuse rights - thus we ABSTAIN

Indonesia - TVs should be considered in how they could collectively add to an understanding of HR; importance of traditional family values which can strengthen int’l standards and norms; TVs have contributed to int’l HR standards and norms thus a discussion to better understand TV would be helpful thus we vote FOR

China (sponsor) - we believe TVs with regard to some countries especially those with long histories; TVs are very good and contain good points; TVs originate originate earlier than the relevant HR values, good values should be protected and respected; TVs and HRs are complementary; we hope the current draft resn covers the concerns of many countries thus we think it should be supported

Korea - concerned this draft resolution has been brought to vote; esp when many countries tried to bring consensus by bringing legitimate concerns; the concept of TV has often been used to justify harmful traditional practices that abuse HR; major responsibility of each government to eradicate to eliminate traditional practices that are contrary to international human rights law; thus we vote AGAINST

- Yes 26
- No 15
- Abstain 6

Draft resolution adopted

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