Pak urges UN to invest “more time and energy” to address global disputes: Ambassador Khan

Our priorities on the rule of law & access to speedy justice, accountability: Pakistani envoy


UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has called on the United Nations to invest “more time and energy” to address situations where people are still denied the right to self-determination, saying that realization of a just world order will remain elusive without resolving festering disputes.

“While most dependent or occupied peoples have been able to exercise their right to self-determination peacefully, there are some who have been denied this right and have been obliged to struggle for it,” Ambassador Aamir Khan, deputy permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told the General Assembly’s legal committee on Friday.

He said the rule of law at the national and international levels — the subject of the committee’s debate — required that States must subject themselves to international law, including its dispute-resolution mechanisms in settling outstanding disputes with other countries — an obvious reference to Kashmir and Palestine. “Respect for the Charter and the principles of sovereign equality, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in State affairs and the right to

self-determination is critical for promoting the rule of law on the international level,” the Pakistani envoy said.

“In the absence of resolution of such disputes, realization of a just and equitable world order and respect for rule of law at the international level will remain elusive,” Ambassador Khan added.

Noting that several resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council have categorically declared that attempts to unilaterally change the status of an occupied territory – legally or demographically – whose people have yet to exercise their right to self-determination were null and void, Ambassador Khan said.

Pakistan, he said, fully recognizes the centrality of the UN’s role in the promotion of rule of law at the international level.

Ambassador Khan said Pakistan would continue to call for necessary changes in the global counter-terrorism architecture and the UN Security Council sanctions regime, as also in the procedures of the Security Council committees to ensure due process and effective remedy in the implementation of sanctions regimes.

“We also acknowledge the contribution of the Office of the Ombudsperson to the Da’esh and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, towards enhancing the transparency in the UNSC sanctions, and calls for further strengthening of the office.”

Pointing out that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed the inequalities among and within nations, the Pakistan envoy renewed call for global solidarity and concerted efforts to meet these unprecedented challenges.

“The essence of the rule of law is access to justice; and the essence of access to justice is legal empowerment of people so that they can enjoy their full civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights,” Ambassador Khan said, citing Pakistan were strengthening of public institutions and making them more responsive to people’s needs were the cornerstone of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s policies.

“Our priorities on the rule of law and access to justice include speedy and inexpensive justice, a culture of accountability, and elimination of corruption”, the Pakistani envoy said.“Simultaneously”, he added, “we are working on an agenda to reduce poverty, create jobs and accelerate economic growth and development.”

Opening the debate, Volker Turk, Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination, introducing the secretary-general’s report on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities, said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed deep structural inequalities.

In particular, he said, women and minorities were being disproportionately affected by unequal distribution of wealth and resources.

Noting that this has weakened public trust, Turk stressed the need to ensure that judicial services respond to community needs, including the marginalized and vulnerable. Likewise, Pakistan has rejected as “ill-timed, ill-advised and potentially counter-productive” a European Union-sponsored resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council to install a special rapporteur to probe alleged abuses in Afghanistan, saying the move duplicates the existing monitoring and reporting process. Underscoring that Afghanistan today was at an “inflection point”, Ambassador Khalil Hashmi told the 47-member Council that shaping international responses to the situation in the war-torn country required “prudence, proportionality and a strategy of engagement that accords primacy to the legitimate needs and aspirations of its people.” “Amidst several justifiable concerns, there is also a real window of opportunity and a potential path to advancing the shared goals of peace, security, stability, development and human rights in Afghanistan,” the Pakistan envoy said in his national statement before the vote. The vote on the EU resolution, which took place on Thursday, was 28 states in favour with five against and 14 abstentions. Pakistan and other members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) voted against or abstained on the resolution. “The OIC countries stand with Afghanistan at this critical juncture,” Ambassador Hashmi said in a statement he also made later on behalf of the 57-member Jeddah-based organization.

Speaking for Pakistan, Ambassador Hashmi pointed out that the Human Rights Council has already outlined human rights-related concerns and expectations from Afghanistan, and appointing a special rapporteur would not bring any added value. Instead, he underlined the need for active engagement with Afghanistan in this regard, the earlier OIC’s initiative to call a special session and to steer an international consensus demonstrated prudence, proportionality, willingness to engage and offer of assistance, he said. The OIC-sponsored resolution also mandated an appropriate OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) – led monitoring and reporting process.

At the current session, the Pakistani envoy recalled that the High Commissioner of Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has already presented an oral report on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and will present a detailed report in March 2022.

“Unfortunately, the EU-led initiative will precipitate divisions and derail the Council consensus,” he said. Elaborating his concerns, Ambassador Hashmi said the resolution does not assess the rights situation against the backdrop of a protracted conflict in Afghanistan. He called the so-called ‘forward looking’ approach flawed as it fails to confront the reality of past human rights abuses committed by various actors, and instead seeks to pursue a politically convenient approach — evaluating only the evolving human rights situation.

“Designating a Special Rapporteur, who would carry out tasks already being performed by OHCHR and UNAMA (UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan), hardly brings any added value,” he said, questioning whether such a mandate would help improve the ground situation or complicate it further.

“The track record of many of such mandates in conflict and post-conflict situation is unenviable,” the Pakistani envoy added.

The resolution, he said, does not take into account the lack of governance machinery and financial insolvency and how in the absence of these critical enablers, the human rights landscape can be improved in Afghanistan, and it is also not aligned with the overall approach of the UN and regional countries to prioritize humanitarian and financial assistance as well as an inclusive political settlement.

“Instead, the contents of the resolution will end up further complicating an already fairly complex situation,” Ambassador Hashmi said.

“We are deeply disappointed to note that such a partisan approach promotes a troubling notion at this Council that violations and abuses have an expiry date and that powerful States remain immune to accountability.”

Speaking on behalf of OIC, the Pakistani envoy also recalled its initiative for a Special Session in August 2021 to shape this Council’s response to various dimensions of human rights concerns in Afghanistan, and noted that the Council joined ranks in adopting a consensus resolution.

“In doing so, this body conveyed a united message of solidarity to Afghan brothers and sisters at this critical juncture,” the OIC statement said.

The statement reiterated OIC ‘s salient elements of the Special Session resolution, and said it believes that maintaining a unified stance of the Council is of paramount importance in alleviating the human rights situation in Afghanistan. While noting that some of the elements of the OIC-sponsored resolution find reflection in the EU-sponsored text, the statement wondered whether it brings added value, as the text shies away from the notion of accountability.

“The OIC reaffirms the need for wide-ranging dialogue among all parties and representatives of the people of Afghanistan,” the statement said, adding that it underscores the imperative of active engagement of the international community with Kabul, including the UN, key international and regional actors on political, humanitarian, human rights and development tracks.

“International assistance remains critical for creating conducive environment where all the people of Afghanistan can realize their aspirations for human rights and needs,” it said.

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