Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al-Marri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee of the State of Qatar, and Secretary General and Acting president of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions called for the reflection on the rethinking of governance and how to build societies that are more participatory and inclusive. In the same context, Al Marri said: The world is facing unprecedented times that have challenged us all to adapt and rethink the ways we were addressing life itself.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, together with co-sponsors (Argentina, Costa Rica, Denmark, the European Union, The Gambia, the Republic of Korea, Ukraine and Uruguay) hosted a high-level virtual side event on: Participation, Human Rights and the Governance Challenge Ahead. The high-level event was organized on the sideline of the 75th session of the UN general assembly. The side event discussed participation as a human right and a vital tool for multilateralism and Member States’ governance in addressing grave global challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crisis and development. Among the panelists are Ms. Michelle Bachelet UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Eamon Gilmore Special Representative for Human Rights of the European Union, Mr. Dawda A. Jallow Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia, Mr. Christof Heyns Professor of Human Rights Law, University of Pretoria, and Member of the UN Human Rights Committee, and Ms. Satta Sheriff Young Leader for the SDGs and Founder and Executive Director of Action for Justice and Human Rights, Liberia. The side event was moderated by Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.
Al Marri pointed out Human rights have a constructive contribution to make as the world navigates these challenging times. They embody values – the importance of safety, dignity, decency, fairness, freedom, equality, respect, wellbeing, community and responsibility – which provide a compass for the way forward. A central element along this road are inclusive and participatory processes at all levels, and a safe and enabling environment for those promoting and defending rights. Participation in public affairs is a human right that is vital for leaving no one behind. The SDGs can only be achieved where there is a safe and enabling environment for participation in policy planning, implementing and assessment. National human rights institutions (or: NHRIs) have a critical role in supporting their states’ in building more inclusive and effective participation across their societies. NHRIs are a fundamental source of the maintenance of democracy and civic space, and by this, I mean autonomy, participation, inclusion, pluralism and security. We are in charge of ensuring that the new governance that are built from the changes that we are experiencing, have human rights as its main core.
Al Marri explained that The General Assembly has recently called on all states to establish and strengthen NHRIs as a means to accelerating and guaranteeing progress under the Agenda of 2030 for Sustainable Development. Inclusive dialogue with governments on public policies, safe environment for human rights defenders, free independent media and resources to guarantee the existence and continuity of civil society organizations, are all conditions for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
Al Marri emphasized that GANHRI, as the alliance of national human rights institutions at the global level, fully supports the UN Secretary General’s mandate and call of action, and the work of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for human rights, and look forward to working with all in support of a just recovery that builds more equitable, accessibly, and participatory societies.
In conclusion, Dr. Ali extended thanks and gratitude to all participants for supporting GANHRI in its mission of establishing and strengthening independent NHRIs throughout the globe and encourage member states to protect National Human Rights Institutions.