Concluding Remarks by
the Hon. Christopher Sinckler M.P. Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development of Barbados on the Occasion of the Review of Barbados under the
Universal Periodic Review,
December 3-5, 2008
Thank you Mr. President
Over the previous three days Barbados has undergone a rigorous review of its legal and administrative system of protection of human rights and a debate on the practices and priorities of the Government on the extension of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights to all citizens of its country. This has been a welcome exercise and I extend sincere thanks to all members of the Human Rights Council and all Observer states for their constructive engagement on our report and for the robust discussions which were held on December 3 during the UPR session of Barbados. It is evident that member states read our report with great interest and approached our review with the importance it warranted as is reflected in the broad based recommendations which we have received.
I would wish to extend this appreciation to the Secretariat of the Universal Periodic Review, in particular to the Officers assigned to work with the troika and the State Under Review in the preparation of the report before the UPR today. The troika members- Japan, South Africa and the United Kingdom- have been very constructive in the discussions we held both pre and post the December 3 UPR Session and we commend them for the professional manner in which they approached their task.
Although the review of Barbados’ human rights record culminated in these three days in Geneva, we have been working assiduously in Barbados on this report for over nine months to ensure that the spirit of the Human Rights Council decision and guidelines on the UPR are respected. This preparatory process has been burdensome given the limited resources we were operating under but I must conclude that it has been a very useful process which has provided us, domestically, with clarity on what we have done, are currently doing and will need to do in the future to maintain and improve our human rights record.
The process has presented us with a platform to do even more for our citizens and to that end we welcome the opportunity to have taken part in this exercise. It would be remiss of me not to recognise the assistance we had received from the Human Rights Unit of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the UPR Secretariat of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and we hope that based on the recommendations in this report, this assistance will continue and will be more focused in its application.
One of the crucial aspects of this process is that it allows for recommendations to be coupled with technical assistance needs and requests and we are pleased that members have recognized that worthy as many of the recommendations are, there is a need for the international donor community to increase its efforts to help small island developing states and small, vulnerable economies to adopt these measures in a sustainable manner.
There is a dual responsibility in this regard. As the state under review, Barbados has the obligation to conduct a national process to determine which of the specific recommendations we would be in a position to adopt immediately; which would require more time; and which would require technical assistance and capacity building. Equally, the donor community and the Office of the High Commissioner have the responsibility to also take initiatives to support Barbados based on these recommendations. We call on the donor community, the United Nations and its relevant subsidiary bodies, including the Office of the High Commissioner to be proactive in this regard.
What this process has illustrated is that Barbados remains committed to international human rights law and practice and to providing its population with the highest level of civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights. Our policies on free access to education up to the tertiary level, free access to primary and secondary health care, free and fair elections, our system of good governance, our social partnership and respect for labour laws and our architecture of domestic agencies which protect the rights of the child, of women, of the disabled, and of the most vulnerable amongst us, is a testament to this commitment to the rights of the person. We intend to expand the breadth and depth of our rights based approach to development and human rights and the review before the UPR, including the national preparation and the expected follow up, will greatly assist us in this task.
In closing, Mr. President, I wish to inform the member states that as we complete Barbados’ UPR today, it is worth noting that Barbados has been one of a rare group of countries which has undergone both an intensive review of its human rights practices under the UPR and an examination of its trade policies under the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Policy Review in the same calendar year. This reaffirms Barbados’ commitment to all aspects of international affairs and illustrates the seriousness with which we approach our international obligations.
The government once again extends appreciation to all for what we consider to be a successful UPR review of Barbados and we look forward to presenting our concrete views on the recommendations at the 10th Session of the Human Rights Council in March 2009
I am much obliged
December 5, 2008