HON. MARTHA W. KARUA, EGH, MP
MINISTER FOR JUSTICE, NATIONAL COHESION AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS
AT THE HIGH LEVEL SEGMENT OF THE TENTH SESSION OF THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
GENEVA MARCH 4, 2009
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and the people of Kenya, I take this opportunity to congratulate you for the role you have played in ensuring that the Human Rights Council remains a key forum for dialogue within the United Nations on human rights issues and the central platform from which universal adherence to human rights is promoted.
I also wish to register our appreciation to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Madame Navanthan Pillay and assure her of our cooperation as she continues to discharge her challenging responsibilities.
We are gathered at a crucial time in the evolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The UN’s 60th anniversary summit affirmed that security, development and human rights are the three pillars of the UN work.
To this end, although we have together, almost completed the institution building process, we need to redouble our efforts to make the human rights system more effective and efficient, guided by the principle of impartiality and adhering to universal standards without politicization or selectivity.
As the main organ of the United Nations in the field of human rights, the Council has the obligation to human civilization. Therefore, although the primary responsibility to guarantee human rights is a self-evident duty of every State, individual states must be supported by international activities and partners in their substantive work on human rights issues. We are confident that the Council will live up to the expectations of the international community of offering a unique opportunity to all of us to promote the human rights agenda by advocating strong effective mechanisms through international dialogue and cooperation.
In this regard, the system of special procedures is one of the ways of ensuring that the Council and the international community is fully briefed and therefore able to respond aptly to situations of human rights violations throughout the world.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
Kenya recently presented its state reports to the Committee against Torture and the Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In both cases we were highly impressed by the commitment shown by the Committees to work with us in meeting our obligations under these treaty bodies. As a further demonstration of Kenya’s commitment to the UN Human Rights machinery, the country has welcomed a number of Special Rapporteurs to conduct missions in Kenya. Indeed the Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Killings and Summary Executions has just completed his visit to Kenya.
Another key mechanism of the Council which Kenya has wholly embraced is the Universal Periodic Review mechanism which provides an excellent opportunity for states under review to highlight their achievements in meeting their human rights obligations as well as acknowledging existing deficiencies and charting out a programme for addressing them.
The Kenya Government has already embarked on the preparation of reports for the 2010 review session. We look forward to a constructive dialogue with member states at that session.
Allow me to highlight a few issues of concern to our Government.
We welcome the Resolution recently adopted at the Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the impact of the global economic and financial crisis on the universal realization and effective enjoyment of human rights. For many developing countries, Kenya included, the financial crisis has exacerbated existing economic challenges with dire results on food security, energy and commodity prices. It has also led to the decline in exports and foreign direct investment. We therefore urge the international community to continue supporting the most vulnerable sectors and to strive to ensure that developing countries are cushioned against the effects of this crisis.
It is our hope that this session will address itself to the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms which have been most adversely affected by the global financial crisis such as the right to food, water and housing.
With regard to the Durban Review Conference scheduled to take place in Geneva next month, Kenya appeals to all member states and the international community at large to lend their full support to ensure that the conference succeeds in addressing the vestiges of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance that continue to bear its ugly head in many parts of the world. We expect the conference to strengthen rather than weaken the Durban Declaration and Program of Action adopted in 2001.
At the national level, the Government of Kenya remains committed to the human rights agenda. Towards this end, we have drafted a comprehensive human rights policy, to provide a roadmap for addressing the human rights challenges facing the country. We are also in the process of finalizing the National Action plan on human rights.
Following the signing of the National Accord in 2008, the Grand Coalition government has put in place various mechanisms aimed at ensuring that the terrible experiences of the post election violence will never recur. We are determined to lay a firm foundation for a stable and cohesive society. To achieve this, constitutional, legal and institutional reforms will be necessary. The Kriegler Commission of enquiry on the 2007 elections and the Waki Commission on the post election violence have already completed their work and we are in the process of implementing the reforms recommended in the two reports. To operationalise these, the following laws have been enacted:
• The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act ;
• The National Cohesion and Integration Act ;
• Constitution of Kenya Amendment Act; and
• The Constitution of Kenya Review Act.
Kenya is committed to promoting and protecting human rights at the national and international levels and will continue to support the initiatives and necessary reforms of the Council to ensure that the Council continues to inspire the confidence of everybody, everywhere. In this regard, Kenya was privileged to host the 9th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions last year and we look forward to other activities to promote the noble ideals that we share.
In conclusion, Mr. President, Kenya is determined to overcome the prevailing challenges in upholding and protecting human rights of all. It is our considered view that working closely with the Council will be of immense benefit to Kenya in our quest to become a model human rights state. To this end Kenya has put forward her candidature for membership to the Council at the elections to be held in May. We are ready and willing to make our contribution to the global efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world in the conviction that all human rights are inherent, inter-related, indivisible and universal.
Together we must and shall succeed.