General Debate under Agenda Item: 8 - Follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
2 July 2018
Joint statement by: International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) and Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ)
Thank you Mr. President.
Unfortunately, States and stakeholders seem to disregard the significance of the correct implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
While the VDPA calls for increased coordination on human rights within the UN system, States have shown a tendency to participate less in the activities of this Council –to even withdraw from it in certain cases.
The VDPA also reminds us that “Special emphasis should be given to (…) strengthening of a pluralistic civil society".
EAFORD and Geneva International Centre for Justice stress that civil society reflects the plurality of voices that is the bedrock for any open and democratic society. The VDPA puts emphasis on the indispensable role played by civil society to remind governments of their human rights obligations, to highlight violations of human rights and to support them in their implementation.
To this end, we are particularly concerned regarding the shrinking NGO space within the UN system.
The VDPA calls for enhanced cooperation between all relevant stakeholders if it is to achieve its objective. However, nowadays States seem to draw in on their national problems, to isolate themselves from the international community.
We wish to remind them that with the adoption of the VDPA, all States reaffirmed that human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.
Let us always remember Helen Keller’s famous words: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”