India on Tuesday said that the human rights agenda faces severe challenges mostly due to Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism.
Speaking at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said that the human rights agenda continues to face severe challenges, most of all from terrorism.
“The perennial concerns remain equally strong, be it global inequities or armed conflicts. Multilateral institutions and mechanisms need to be reformed to be able to deal with these effectively,” he said.
Terrorism continues to be one of the gravest threats to humankind, the minister said, adding that it is a crime against humanity and violates the most fundamental human right – namely ‘the Right to Life’.
“As a long-standing victim, India has been in the forefront of the global action against terrorism. This is possible only when there is a clear realisation, including in bodies dealing with human rights, that terrorism can never be justified, nor its perpetrators be ever equated with its victims,” the minister argued.
India, he pointed out, had presented at the UNSC last month an eight-point action plan to deal with the scourge of terrorism. He said India will continue to work together with the members of the UN Security Council and other states to ensure the implementation of the Indian government’s action plan.
The minister asserted that India has always played an active role in global promotion and protection of human rights.
“Our strong commitment to the welfare of entire humanity, inspired by our civilisational ethos of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’ or ‘the World is one family’ has provided the very foundation on which our constitutional and legal framework of human rights has been built,” he said.
Jaishankar argued that India’s approach is based on its own experience as an inclusive and pluralistic society and a vibrant democracy. India’s constitution has enshrined basic human rights as fundamental rights, guaranteeing civil and political rights, stipulating provisions for progressive realisation of economic, social and cultural rights. These continue to evolve through legislations by the Parliament, progressive interpretation of laws by the judiciary and active participation of civil society and citizens.
He said India believes that equal emphasis should be placed on both promotion and protection of human rights. Both are best pursued through dialogue, consultation and cooperation among states as well as technical assistance and capacity building. India, he said, also believes that achievement of sustainable development goals will contribute to realisation and enjoyment of basic human rights.
As a member of the UNHRC, India remains committed to work together with fellow members of the council to achieve consensus.
“India believes that violation of and gaps in implementation of human rights should be addressed in a fair and just manner, with objectivity, non-selectivity, transparency and with due respect to the principles of non-interference in internal affairs and national sovereignty,” he said.
As the UN Human Rights Council completes 15 years since its establishment, it is time to assess its achievements, reflect on its failures and deliberate on the ways to strengthen and reform it so as to enable it to achieve the objectives for which it has been set up, Jaishankar said.
India, as always, is ready to contribute in this endeavour, he added.