UN expert seeks adoption of human rights declaration

A United Nations (UN) Inde-pendent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity, Prof Obiora Okafor, has called for the adoption of the Declaration on Human Right to International Solidarity.

He made the call while addressing the 72nd UN General Assembly for the first time under his new mandate.

Okafor was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to develop, promote, and shepherd the adoption of a draft declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity.

The mandate was created in 2005 by the predecessor of the Council (the United Nations Commission on Human Rights).

In 2014, the Council extended the mandate for a period of three years.  It further extended the mandate by another three years this year, and appointed Prof Okafor as the Independent Expert.

Speaking on the draft declaration on the right to International Solidarity, Okafor told the UN: “This document is the result of years of research and thoughtful consideration by those who have held this mandate before me, as well as significant input from states, civil society, and leading scholars.

“It is an extraordinary document, which presents a genuine practical tool for the expansion of international solidarity and human rights around the world, with the ultimate goal of realising what was promised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: a social and international order in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be realised.”

Recognising that resources are key to sustainable development, Okafor told the UN that the Draft Declaration builds on existing human rights law requiring states to mobilise resources for the realisation of human rights, including through international cooperation and assistance.

He referred to Aticle 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Prof Okafor emphasised the human rights-based international cooperation and an approach to international finance agreements that is consistent with human rights standards.

He urged all states to incorporate the vision of the Draft Declaration as they strive for the completion of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda, in order to create a partnership that is truly global, as well as development that is truly sustainable.

By committing to prepare a road map, Okafor promised to assist states in the process of the adoption of the Draft Declaration by the Human Rights Council and by the General Assembly.

Prof Okafor is also the York Research Chair in International and Transnational Legal Studies (Senior Tier) and a tenured Full Professor of Law at the Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Toronto, Canada.

A former Chairperson of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, he has held the Gani Fawehinmi Distinguished Chair in Human Rights Law at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS).

He has served as a Visiting Professor at a number of universities and institutes around the world, and was conferred with the Award of Academic Excellence of the Canadian Association of Law Teachers in 2010 and the Gold Medal for Exceptional Research and Major Contributions to Jurisprudence by NIALS 2013.

Credit: TheNation