GENEVA, Switzerland – The Philippines has informed the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and members of Human Rights Council that the government is in talks with the UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC) in Manila on a framework for the UN to support national efforts to uphold the human rights-based approach in governance within the country’s vibrant government institutions.
Consultations on a joint program have been going on for months between the UNRC and UN agencies and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In a recent briefing to High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Ambassador Evan Garcia, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the Human Rights Council, said the government expects that discussions on the joint program would be concluded by the end of the year.
Garcia said the DFA and DOJ, together with other Philippine agencies, including the Philippine National Police, have proposed the elements of multi-year joint program on the basis of priorities of the government to strengthen various technical aspects of the country’s rule of law, accountability and human rights mechanisms.
“Discussions on the joint program attest to the long-standing commitment and openness of the Philippine government to engage and cooperate with the UN system, in its efforts to strengthen national institutions to protect and advance the rights and dignity of the 110 million Filipino people,” he said.
The Philippine government, he added, is encouraged that Human Rights Council’s discussions have recognized the positive steps taken by the Philippines to enhance its domestic human rights and accountability mechanisms.
This constructive, forward-looking approach between the UN and the Philippines will be in support of the directive of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for the UN system to strengthen actions to develop national capacities and support state institutions to respond to human rights challenges.
In his remarks to the Human Rights Council in February 2020, the UN chief said the UN is “committed to strengthening our support to Member States to build their own human rights institutions and make full use of the tools of the United Nations to meet the challenges of ‘today and tomorrow.”
Garcia’s briefing to the High Commissioner for Human Rights underlined consultations to invite the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) to support national programs related to the strengthening of its accountability mechanisms, including platforms for data-sharing and operational coordination between the government, the Commission on Human Rights and civil society actors, a police tool to record, track and act on, reported incidents of human rights violations and the national monitoring and implementation of the Philippines’ obligations in human rights instruments.
The joint program under consideration between the government and the UN Resident Coordinator would mainstream human rights in the cooperation between the Philippines and the UN, and strengthen synergies in cooperative efforts to advance human rights side by side with the country’s determined pursuit of sustainable development goals.
The UN has a long history of actively cooperating with the Philippines on a comprehensive scope of engagements encompassing development, security and human rights.
OHCHR activities in the Philippines fall within this framework consistent with reforms in the UN development system. (PR)