McClean: Human rights need more than political will


POLITICAL WILL ALONE will not deepen the appreciation for human rights. It requires much more, says this island’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean.

Addressing a capacity building workshop on Treaty Bodies Reporting at Radisson Hotel, Aquatic Gap, St Michael, yesterday, Senator McClean said there was need for education and training, review and implementation.

An initiative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), the five-day programme follows on the heels of another held here in July that addressed the Universal Periodic Process (UPR) under the theme How To Translate Human Resources’ Commitments into National Realities.

Deeming the session timely, Senator McClean said it illustrated that the calls of the United Nations and the OHCHR for member countries to offer ongoing and consistent assistance in building their capacity to review and implement their treaty body obligations had been heard and responded to.

 “It is important for States, particularly those who are striving to achieve sustainable economic development, to be able to access technical and other support to complement the human rights work already under way,” McClean said, adding that the Government of Barbados recognised its responsibility to ensure that effective human rights protection was afforded each citizen, along with other persons within its jurisdiction.

The Foreign Minister disclosed that to this end, efforts were under way to establish a standing committee to coordinate Barbados’ engagement on Human Rights matters, including the preparation of reports to the treaty bodies and the implementation of recommendations from these and other  entities.

Pointing out that the committee currently meets as an ad hoc body primarily for the purpose of preparing the National Report as part of the UPR process, she noted that Barbados was aware its human rights obligations extended to all branches and levels of Government with implementation falling on specific institutions. It was also noted that in responding to treaty obligations, for example, Government might be called upon to pass new laws or a Ministry might need to adjust its operating procedures.

Reiterating that Barbados was a small, resource scarce State, confronted by several constraints, Senator McClean added: “The committee that is being contemplated will seek to address several of these challenges as it serves to build the capacity of multiple ministries and strengthen the coordination among them. Undergirded by political will, this coordinated mechanism will spearhead efforts at implementation and reflect Barbados’ commitment to the rule of law. It should be obvious that the rights expressed in treaties, once they are accepted, impose obligations on the parties.

Emphasising that strengthening and promoting human rights were not solely the responsibility of Government, Senator McClean said each individual had a role to play in this, and she urged participants to view their work in a wider philosophical context and to recommit to the larger goal of securing a better future for each member of the human race, regardless of race, colour or creed. (BGIS)


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