UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navenethem Pillay (left) was warmly??welcomed to the island??by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean (right). At centre is UNDP Resident Coordinator, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough.
(C. Pitt/BGIS)

This island has been praised for accepting 15 of the 21 recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review of Barbados.

The accolades have come from United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, during a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, yesterday. High Commissioner Pillay is in Barbados for a three-day fact finding mission.

Noting that this country was on the right track in its promotion and protection of all human rights, she encouraged Government to suggest how the UN could help in the implementation process of those recommendations.

Ms. Pillay also confirmed that this country would be issued with a Human Rights Adviser following Barbados’ formal request for on-site technical capacity from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

"We see your good initiatives, commitments and the political will," the top Human Rights activist said, further praising Barbados for being a universal leader in establishing a Human Rights unit at the Governmental level, and being the first English-speaking Caribbean Island to invite her and a delegation to discuss implementation.

However, the Commissioner called on officials to consider eliminating all forms of corporal punishment; to establish a National Human Rights institution; and for government to find ways that local legislation could better comply with and reflect international standards.??

Minister McClean noted the High Commissioner’s observations and welcomed her compliments. She stressed that while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs interfaced with the UN and other international agencies, the on-the-ground implementation of recommendations was done by a number of Ministries. On the other hand, she outlined that the process was challenged by a lack of resources, personnel and a need for training.

"We are working to adapt and adopt a collaborative approach with other ministries in the implementation process," she remarked, further stating that although an Inter-Ministerial Consultation on Human Rights was in place and operational, it was not recognised formally as an established group as yet.

The Foreign Affairs Minister called on the UN to provide assistance in education and technical support.?? She noted that it was critical for administrators, policymakers and officials of other ministries to be educated on the application of human rights issues, adding that this would help Barbados to "take a quantum leap forward".??

Assuring Commissioner Pillay that this island was committed to following best practices, she also appealed for similar assistance to be extended across the region.??

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navenethem Pillay (centre), praised Barbados for accepting 15 of the 21 recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review during a courtesy call yesterday on Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean (right). Also at that meeting was UNDP Resident Coordinator, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough (left).??(C. Pitt/BGIS)??

The Universal Periodic Review is a system established by the UN which requires its 192 Member States to submit country specific human rights reports once every four years.?? According to the website for the OHCHR, that report provides nations with the opportunity to "declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations".

Barbados first submitted its Universal Periodic Review on December 3, 2008, and was asked to consider 21 recommendations to improve the human rights situation on the island.?? The second review cycle is scheduled to start next month, and Barbados will be required to report on the implementation of those recommendations.

To date, Barbados has signed six of the nine human rights conventions.?? They are the Convention on Civil and Political Rights; Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; and the Convention on the Rights of the Disabled.??


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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