The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has expressed its concern over the proliferation of selective country-specific resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Gholam Hossein Dehqani, speaking on behalf of the NAM at the council’s session in New York expressed concerns that selective practices exploited human rights for political purposes, and breached the principles of universality, objectivity and non-selectivity in addressing those issues.
Mr. Dehaqni succinctly reiterated the principled position of NAM which reaffirms that democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, and remarked that the international community should support the strengthening and promotion of democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the entire world, without distinction between developed and developing countries.
In this regard one also needs to mention the commitments made by the Head of States and Governments of the Non-Aligned Movement during the different NAM summits. For example, during the NAM Algiers Ministerial summit of 2014, leaders highlighted that it was necessary to harmonize guidelines on reporting procedure of human rights treaty bodies, and as greater efforts were needed to ensure that their work would be more effective, objective, transparent and accountable, as well as to ensure a more balanced membership therein, in accordance with the principle of equitable geographical representation, gender balance, representation of different legal systems as well as ensuring that members nominated to serve with the treaty bodies will serve in their personal capacity, of high moral character, acknowledged impartiality, and possess competence in the field of human rights.
NAM also places a high significance to the General Assembly resolution 62/155 which emphasizes that all actors on the international scene should build an international order based on inclusion, justice, equality and equity, human dignity, mutual understanding and promotion of and respect for cultural diversity and universal human rights and to reject all doctrines of exclusion based on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
However NAM is firm in its stance over a selective approach of human rights and this was evident in the pronouncement of Dehqani on behalf of the movement that NAM emphasized the role of the Human Rights Council as a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly responsible for consideration of human rights situations in all countries in the context of the Universal Periodic Review based on cooperation and constructive dialogue. However, in this regard, the Movement expressed deep concerns over the continuation and the proliferation of the practice of selective adoption of country-specific resolutions in the Human Rights Council, which is a tool that exploits human rights for political purposes and breaches the principles of universality, objectivity and non selectivity in addressing human rights issues which undermine cooperation as the essential principle to effectively promote and protect all universally recognized human rights for all.
NAM has urged all member countries to strengthen cooperation and exchange views on how to prevent political and selective exploitation of human rights that would discredit the UN Commission on Human Rights. It may be mentioned here that this is not the first time any NAM Member State has called for a non-selective approach to human rights issues. On 31 October 2015, Cuba rejected at the United Nations what it called the ‘selective approach with which some powerful countries use the human rights issue in the attacks against developing countries.’ Addressing the UN General Assembly’s Third Commission, which focuses on safeguarding human rights, Cuban representative Daylenis Moreno called for international cooperation on the issue, based on mutual respect, justice and impartiality.
India, one of founder members of the NAM too has been vocal against the political use of human rights. In October 2015, Indian diplomat Mayank Joshi remarked at a General Assembly Committee that deals with social and humanitarian affairs that selective naming and shaming of countries and intrusive monitoring not only go against the principles of impartiality, neutrality, objectivity and non-interference but also deters cooperation from the country concerned.
NAM and the Member States in their individual capacity also have taken a firm stand against the exploitation and the use of human rights as an instrument for political purposes, including selective targeting of individual Countries for extraneous considerations, regarding them as is contrary to the Founding Principles of the Movement and the UN Charter, and thus calling for their prohibition. The principled position of NAM reiterates that , in the discussion on human rights, adequate attention should be given to the issues of poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, instability and foreign occupation that engender social and economic exclusion and violation of human dignity and human rights, and these cannot be divested from any meaningful discussion relating to human rights.
By Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Editor