Sun. Sep 19th, 2021

GENEVA, Switzerland – The Philippine government expressed support to the direction that the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres and the High Commissioner for Human Rights have outlined for a human rights agenda oriented towards cooperation between states and the UN system, to veer away from a naming-and-shaming approach that has characterized the work of the Human Rights Council.

Ambassador Evan Garcia, Philippine Permanent Representative in Geneva, said the Philippines welcomes this guidance from the highest leadership of the UN as steps in the right direction, noting that the “ Council’s focus on unilateral and arbitrary actions such as country-specific resolutions, had been misguided, and have proved lacking in positive impact on the ground.”

“This encouragement from the UN leadership itself is for the Council to discuss “practical, actionable solutions based on sound human rights norms” which promote engagement between and among the UN system, governments, regional institutions, and stakeholders, means a lot in reorienting the Council’s work towards more meaningful pursuits,” Ambassador Garcia said.

If this approach from the highest leadership of the UN is pursued, Garcia said it would be in stark contrast to the trends of the Council taking arbitrary, hasty actions such as country-specific resolutions, and politicized measures that divide the Council and offer no concrete solutions to situations and affected communities.

“This message is important, especially because the Human Rights Council, the inter-government body at the center of promoting and protecting human rights globally, must be seen as a credible and constructive platform of multilateralism. It must discuss urgent issues in an objective manner, but equally promote productive conversations on how human rights norms must be upheld and embedded in national, regional and global institutions, without double standards,” he added.

Garcia added that Secretary-General Guterres, in his remarks at the Council on Feb. 24, cautioned that human rights “must never be a vehicle for double standards or a means to pursue hidden agendas.”

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Jose Martin Andanar, at the High-Level Segment of the Human Rights Council on Feb. 26, lamented that the Philippines had been subject to Council action, on the basis of sweeping allegations that have not been substantiated by critics.

Andanar said these allegations are inconsistent with the realities on the ground, the solid legacy of the administration of President Duterte on his good governance agenda for inclusive and sustained social justice and peace, and his growing approval ratings from the Filipino public.

He also called for prudence in the Council’s assessment of claims especially those brought forward by actors who masquerade as human rights defenders but are in fact waging the longest insurgency in Asia and terrorizing communities in the Philippines.

Andanar’s message to the Council emphasized that human rights and fundamental freedoms are guaranteed in the Philippine constitution and that the Duterte administration is committed to attach high priority to preserving press freedom and the protection of journalists. (ia/

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