I have the honor to deliver this statement on the behalf of a cross-regional group of 13 countries, namely: Azerbaijan, Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Lao PDR, the Philippines, Singapore, Russia, Thailand, Venezuela and Viet Nam.
We welcome the engagement of the Chair of the Coordination Committee, Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar, in engaging with member states aiming to better understand their concerns and views on the Special Procedures Mandate Holders (SPMHs). We hope that her good practices will be continued by the next Chair.
We take this opportunity to share our concerns with the view to improve and strengthen the Special Procedures mechanisms.
First, the SPMHs should conduct their work strictly in accordance with the Code of Conduct for SPMHs. It is of utmost importance that mandate holders, in implementing their respective mandates, such as during country visits and reporting, confine themselves to issues specific to their respective mandates. Very often we have seen cases where mandate holders include in their reporting issues that fall under different mandates.
Second, the reports of the SPMHs should be balanced and take into account the perspectives of governments as stakeholders having the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as consider national circumstances and existing challenges of member states. Therefore, in undertaking their mandates, the SPMHs are required to – through dialogue and constructive engagement – obtain the consent of the member states and maintain close consultation and coordination with them throughout that undertaking. The SPMHs should also allow for sufficiently enough time for States to consider the request.
Third, it is of utmost importance for the SPMHs to exercise objectivity, neutrality, independency and impartiality in their actions as this has a bearing on their accountability, credibility, and integrity. The SPMHs should also have listening skills and sufficient understanding of the situation’s context in order to conduct a proper assessment of the information they receive before taking action. Hasty or unprofessional qualification of the facts should be avoided. Prudence and integrity requires that their statements and actions are made on the basis of factual information and not on invalidated or unsubstantiated allegations, news and reports, in particular false information on the internet.
Fourth, a comprehensive review on the mandate of each SPMH and Treaty Body could be considered to avoid a duplication of work. We encourage States to carefully evaluate the extension of the mandate of each SPMH, so as to ensure that there are no ineffective nor overlapping mandates. New mandates should only be created with strong justifications and broad support, and for a limited period. We also call for greater coherence between the work of the SPMHs and the relevant Treaty Bodies.
We hope that our concerns will be addressed in concrete ways by the SPMHs, and we look forward to engaging them and the Coordination Committee constructively going forward.
I thank you Mdm Chairperson.