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Inauguration of Call to Action for Human Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean

Fecha: (6/21/2021 10:49:41 AM)

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On June 19, 2021, PNUD Uruguay and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR), with the support of the Regional Center of PNUD in Latin America and the Caribbean (PNUDLAC) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in South America (OACNUDH), held a conversation with Alejandro Álvarez, Director of the Rule of Law Unit of the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General. The purpose of the meeting was to make known regionally the Call to Action for Human Rights of the UN Secretary-General, issued in February 2020.

Video https://www.facebook.com/pnudlac/videos/406004203850392

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The opening of the conversation -moderated by Gloria Manzotti, Regional Advisor of Rule of Law, Justice, Security and Human Rights for PNUDLAC- was led by Jan Jarab, Representative of OACNUDH; Stefan Liller, Resident Representative of PNUD Uruguay and Mónica Pinto,Vice President of the Executive Board of the IIDH.

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Ms. Pinto, in addition to welcoming the participants in the name of the IIHR, stated that “we need gender equality, opportunities, judicial independence… The call of António Guterres establishes that human rights have to be the center of collective action, an agenda to which the IIDH is committed.”

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In the second section, Alejandro Álvarez explained that the Call is a response to the problems of human rights that have been observed in many countries due to the pandemic, such as the large popular movements of 2018 and 2019 that are attributed to the lack of quality of democracy and its inability to improve lives, in addition to corruption, inequalities and institutional violence, among other factors. The Secretary-General therefore decided that the entire UN system must work for human rights, regardless of the mandate of each agency. 

He gave a detailed explanation of the seven areas of the Call to Action:

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In the following section, Eduardo Bertoni, Alternate Representative and Coordinator of the IIHR Regional Office for South America, pointed out that the Call must be converted into specific answers on behalf of the people and he underlined the importance of educating in human rights in order to form indiduals who will dedicate themselves to their protection. He referred to information and communications technology as a new challenge and the role of the UN in adopting binding human rights rules and, more specifically, to protect personal data, an urgent matter due to the velocity of change in technology. He stated that this is a field in which the IIHR is involved and that the IIHR has been accepted as an Observer to the Committee of the Covention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (Covention No. 108) of the Council of Europe and its pending inclusion into the Ibero-American Network for the Protection of Personal Data. 

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Jembell Chifundo, poet and activist for the human rights of Afro-descendant youth, women and persons with disabilities, belongs to the feminist collective movement La Luz de Frida, which has a perspective on disability, spoke of challenges with a focus on inter-sectionality. Her voice is that of a young Afro-descendant mother of a child, both with disabilities, a condition that, for the Afro-descendant population, is aggravated by poverty, extreme poverty, lack of educational and employment opportunities, difficulties in achieving the full enjoyment of its rights and, now, the impact of the coronavirus, heightened by the prevalence of stereiotypes and taboos that cause “those who follow, stay behind.”  To this must be added the lack of desegregated data and violence against women and children with disabilities that deepened during the pandemic; the lack of sign language interpretation in events of this type; the inaccessibility of appropriate technologies and the need to transcend the medical focus for a situation where the solution is the creation of social conditions in which one can live and autonomously develop.

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Zelmar Lucas, social educator and coordinator of the socio-educative project Nada Crece a la Sombra, then alluded to the penitentiary and security policies of his country, which have have been responsible for some progress but that contain discriminatory and criminalizing traits fior impoverished sectors, with the consequent increase in sentences that lead to overcrowded jails, a problem that converts penitentiaries into schools of crime. He also stated that there are more imprisoned women without access to sexual and reproductive health. Under these conditions, he said, rehabilitation continues to be a challenge.

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Alejandro Álvarez emphasized the need for working jointly with the Institute and thanked Zelmar and Jembell for their participation because they reminded us why we work for human rights. In his final thoughts, he strongly suggested that “… rights are not achieved without a fight…these things cost and cost a lot.. it is necessary everywhere to fight for our rights and to fight means to advocate, to sensibilize, to propose, to have ideas, to vote. There are many ways to fight, but the only way that we know, as the human family, to enjoy our rights is to go and search for the rights, create conscience, create consensus, until they are achieved. Many of the things that we are discussing here were not even discussed ten years ago by the human rights movement and, ten years from now, I hope that they will be matters of the past. The human rights movement must change the way that we have been fighting for the past ten, twenty, thirty years… It must be more inclusive, must take into account inter-sectionality…Where we are..this is a common fight and the only way to do it is to do it… ‘

Download: The Highest Aspiration: A Call to Action for Human Rights, initiated by António Guterres, UN Secretary General on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the UN