This is the fifth time the Special Rapporteur is appearing before the Third Committee in an informal setting whose bias work against Eritrea has been clear. Her mandate was tabled and spearheaded by countries with known hostile stance against Eritrea with the aim of demonizing and isolating Eritrea under the guise of human rights concerns.
Eritrea all along has registered its rejection of any politically motivated country specific mandate and it equally opposes any abuse of the Human Rights Council by any country or group of countries for extraneous objectives. Bringing the issue from Geneva to the General Assembly is in itself a perpetuation of double standards and politicization of the lofty human rights objectives.
Before my delegation presents its statement, it wishes to set the record straight with respect to the report of the COI that the Special Rapporteur (SR) mentioned in her presentation. That report was not endorsed by the Human Rights Council.
In the face of the multiple challenges and hostilities, Eritrea has demonstrated its resilience and steadfastness and has emerged as a stable, secure, and harmonious country. For the Eritrean people that was determined to safeguard its independence and chart its own development path, it was clear from the outset to step up to the demands of nation building through shared responsibilities and sacrifices, without any let up.
Yet, Eritrea’s journey for peace, development and human dignity has been attacked and the human rights objective has been obscured by the SR’s involvement in political activism, using any and every opportunity to target Eritrea.
We continue to hear presentations from the SR that attempts to paint an unrealistic image of the country with a broad brush. Information that fits pre-conceived narratives were compiled selectively and presented as facts, while inputs that expressed different views were dismissed as irrelevant.
Achievements and challenges of Eritrea were ignored and the shortcomings were exaggerated and sensationalized to heighten concern. To meet the objectives of the sponsors, the SR recommended unwarranted severe measures. This cannot be the work of an impartial individual.The methodology adopted and pursued by the SR lacks minimum level of rigor and professionalism and is not in consonance with the important principles highlighted in GA Resolution 60/251 that stresses impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity in the human rights endeavour.
Since on numerous occasions, Eritrea has expressed its serious concern about the biased and unbalanced reports prepared by the SR on the human rights situation in Eritrea, my delegation will devote more time to sharing information about Eritrea’s efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Eritrea’s bilateral and multilateral dialogue and cooperation is growing, more member states and organizations are engaging with Eritrea on concrete actions that embody cooperative approach to the consolidation of human rights as well as on broader pressing regional issues of peace and development.
Eritrea welcomes such constructive engagement and it will continue to do so. Eritrea concurs with the wider view of the UN membership that human rights objectives are best promoted in all countries through engagement, underpinned by cooperation and mutual respect. This approach is at the heart of what the Universal Periodic Review mechanism stands for.
Eritrea faces human rights challenges like all member states in this room, and it recognizes the work ahead towards better and higher human rights standards. As a state party to several core international and regional human rights treaties, Eritrea has submitted its periodic reports to the different treaty bodies, such as the Committee on the Right of the Child (CRC), the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). It has also submitted responses to communications emanating from the ILO.
Furthermore, Eritrea has undergone through the first and second UPR mechanisms. To expedite implementation of the recommendations it accepted, Eritrea has established the UPR Coordinating Body composed of representatives of line ministries and civil society organizations. The meetings of this body are increasingly becoming more frequent with deeper human rights discourse.
Last year, Eritrea concluded the Strategic Partnership Cooperation Framework (SPCF) with the United Nations, a program that runs from 2017 – 2021, with specific budgetary allocations that has taken on board the implementation of all human rights commitments Eritrea made. The commitments are broad in their scope, covering the rights enshrined in the two important international covenants, namely the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Civil and Political Rights.
The supremacy and the respect of the law is being strengthened by maintaining equality before the law with the principle of non-discrimination as a major pillar. Public sensitization on the new national codes at all levels is continuing to impart better understanding on the rights and responsibilities and the overall judicial system. The campaign on the due process is extensive and it covers all stakeholders, including public officials and enforcement agencies. Preparations are underway to translate the national codes in all Eritrean languages. The codes are already available in three languages: Tigrigna, Arabic and English.
Guided by its newly articulated Development strategy, Eritrea has introduced salary increments of the youth on the basis of educational merit. Educational and skills development programs have also been expanded with the view of leaving no one behind. These measures are allowing the Eritrean National Service to evolve while the core mission of the program, such as peace, unity, cohesion, resilience and self confidence remains in place.
Still Eritrea regards these measures and the advances it made in the provision of basic social services as modest and maintains that more needs to be done towards the bigger objective of raising the standards of living of its citizens. In this regard, building on its successes of the MDGs, implementation of the SDGs has become a top priority, and Eritrea will boost productivity and investment by further mobilizing its human and material resources.
Eritrea is mindful of the enormous resources needed to implement the ambitious and transformative development agenda; and in this connection, Eritrea invites all member states to join it in its call to end Ethiopia’s occupation and the unjustified sanctions which have been huge impediments to the development efforts of the country, not to mention their direct bearing on the full enjoyment of all human rights of its nationals. These obstacles cannot be dismissed as excuses by the Special Rapporteur who views them as inconsequential to the rights of the Eritrean people.
Another important pillar of the new ‘Development Agenda or trend’ is the political process which will cover defining the future governance system of the country, supported by a new political road map.
Before concluding, my delegation wishes to say a word or two on the country specific mandate on Eritrea. As alluded in the introductory part of the statement, there is regional and geo-political dynamics that sees human rights instruments as a political tool that could be exploited and manipulated.
The mandate that created and renewed the work of the SR continues to be negotiated and consulted mainly among some of our partners and the delegation of Ethiopia. This is a country with known egregious human rights abuses, and a country that continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territory in violation of international law and a country that continues to advocate for the sanctions on Eritrea to be maintained and strengthened.
So it is important to ponder whether this is about human rights concerns for Eritreans by the Government in Ethiopia, or advancing its policy of conflict and destabilization by any other means. The evidence on the ground points to the latter.
There is also the larger question whether country specific mandates are useful tools in the promotion and protection of human rights. Lest we forget, country specific mandates were the main source of concern and the reason for the General Assembly to establish a new body, the Human Rights Council, with the Universal Periodic Review as a key tool to scrutinize human rights records not only in developing countries, but everywhere.
So it is important that we don’t undermine the UPR mechanism with proliferation of country specific mandates in the promotion and protection of human rights in all countries.
Eritrea’s Charge d’affaires to the UN
New York, 26 October 2017