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2 OCTOBER 2014

STATEMENT by the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order , Alfred de Zayas


Distinguished Delegates,

On the issue of the numerical growth of Special Procedures, I believe that each and every mandate created by the Council has specificity and added value – especially in putting particular human rights problems in focus, identifying obstacles and good practices, and formulating implementable recommendations to States, the Council, national human rights institutions and civil society.


Personally, I believe that the creation of new mandates is justified. For instance, in view of the worldwide illegal surveillance of persons, I think that the creation of a Rapporteurship on the Right to Privacy is reasonable, or, in the alternative, tasking several mandate-holders with a joint study on the erosion of human rights through illegal surveillance and intimidation, in particular in connection with the “war on terror”, which has given rise to totalitarian legislation and practice in a number of States.

My own mandate on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order is a hybrid: less naming and shaming, more constructive reflection on solutions and conflict-prevention, non-confrontational exchanges, dialogue, solidarity, advisory services and technical assistance. Admittedly, the resolution establishing my mandate reflects a grand design, a bold vision of convergence of civil, cultural, economic, social and political rights. The task is daunting, but it is certainly a feasible undertaking, which I pursue with due attention to and in cooperation with my colleague-Rapporteurs, whose studies and recommendations I take into account in my own reports.

On the issue of duplication and overlapping, I believe that in human rights duplication can be seen as emphasis, as revealing new perspectives and approaches, as recasting problems in more accessible terms, as reaffirmation of the over-arching universal principles of human rights.

The rich menu of the Special Procedures actually enhances the appetite for innovation and concertation. Happily we receive considerable support from civil society and national human rights institutions, for which we are most grateful.

Among my concerns is the lack of follow-up on our recommendations. Sometimes I get the impression that we are just churning out reports as in an assembly line – without a mechanism for facilitating the realization of our recommendations. We have no procedure to find out whether and to what extent any of our recommendations are being considered by States. Monitoring in this field would enhance our effectiveness.

As to the issue of resources, I have a proposal to all States: REDUCE MILITARY EXPENDITURES and redirect the released funds to the promotion of human rights. As Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly said:

“The world is overarmed and peace is underfunded”

I would add: The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is woefully underfunded and needs your support in the Third and Fifth Committees of the General Assembly, where you can highlight the many successes of OHCHR in helping victims of violations of their rights. You can stress the professionalism, competence and devotion of the hard-working OHCHR staff that supports our mandates in spite of being seriously over-stretched.

Where should the funding come from? As everywhere else, it is a question of priorities. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in 2013 the world spent 1.75 trillion US dollars for the military. Let’s reorient 10% of these funds toward conflict-prevention and building a culture of peace, justice and human rights.

I thank you.