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GA/SHC/4323
13 October 2021
Seventy-sixth Session, Virtual Meetings (AM & PM)

Femicide, Enforced Disappearance Flourish as Governments Grapple with Climate, COVID‑19 Crises, High Commissioner for Human Rights Tells Third Committee

Special Rapporteur Says Sanctions Deepen Poverty, Undermine Range of Human Rights

Femicide, enforced disappearances and discrimination against vulnerable groups continue to flourish as the world grapples with the joint crises of COVID‑19 and climate change, the United Nations human rights chief told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, as delegates raised questions about protections for children, older adults and those living in poverty in a series of interactive dialogues.

Between the climate emergency and the pandemic, “the world is experiencing its biggest shared test since the Second World War”, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet cautioned, as she delineated the sheer range of violations exacerbating entrenched social disparities.

Low-income countries ‑ many in debt distress for years ‑ are struggling to fight the pandemic, Ms. Bachelet said.  Her Office is working with other United Nations agencies to ensure that the most vulnerable can gain access to health services during the vaccine roll-out.  “I cannot stress it enough:  COVID‑19 vaccines must be treated as a global public good,” she affirmed.

Highlighting her Office’s efforts to incorporate women’s rights into COVID‑19 responses, she described support provided in South Africa, Tunisia and Uruguay to dismantle the barriers to justice caused by gender stereotyping.  In Honduras, meanwhile, it collaborates with the Attorney General to strengthen investigations of femicide cases.  She also described her Office’s activities related to transitional justice, including for enforced disappearances and missing persons in Sri Lanka, Mexico and Lebanon, as well as in the creation of truth commissions in the Central African Republic, Colombia, Mali and Gambia.

In the broad human rights dialogue that followed, several delegates sounded the alarm over the budget of the High Commissioner’s Office, with Croatia’s representative noting that funding should be sourced from the United Nations regular budget.

Others spoke about human rights in relation to national sovereignty, with Syria’s delegate noting that the High Commissioner’s activities must abide by the latter principle.  Mexico’s delegate, on the other hand, argued that “protecting human rights is a responsible exercise of sovereignty”.  Asked for her views, the High Commissioner pointed out that, “properly understood, there is no tension” between the two notions”.

In the afternoon, Alena Douhan, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights ‑ one of three special procedure mandate holders to brief the Committee ‑ described the humanitarian toll that sanctions exact on affected populations.

“One cannot protect human rights by calling for sanctions, as the effect actually undermines them ‑ starting with the very rights to life, to health, to work, to education and to development,” she said.  And yet, the targets of sanctions have expanded during the pandemic.

She said sanctions against companies ‑ particularly in key economic sectors ‑ can affect workers and have a trickle-down humanitarian impact.  Those against individuals violate a broad scope of rights, including due process guarantees, and affect a range of people in their networks, including family members.  They can also deepen poverty, criminality, human trafficking and prostitution, she said.

In the ensuing dialogue, Cuba’s delegate stressed that sanctions represent “massive violations of human rights due to the actions of the United States against Cuba and the Cuban people”.  In a similar vein, Venezuela’s representative denounced sanctions as an “act of propaganda” that result in the very humanitarian losses they purport to prevent.

Also briefing the Third Committee today was the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 14 October, to continue its consideration of human rights.

Interactive Dialogues - United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting her report (document A/76/36), said that despite the exceptional circumstances imposed by COVID‑19, 98 field presences have been conducted since 1 January 2021.  Between the pandemic and the climate crisis, “the world is experiencing its biggest shared test since the Second World War”, she said, noting that both have exposed “a world immersed in human rights gaps”, notably in access to justice, health, education and social protection, as well as in access to technology, employment or protection from violence.

Detailing work to achieve accountability and justice for human rights violations, she said the Office provided technical assistance to Mexico’s Prosecutor and Government in the investigation of the enforced disappearance of the 43 students of the Ayotzinapa Rural School.  In the Philippines, it supported the development of a new United Nations joint programme to strengthen domestic accountability measures and promote rights-based approaches to counter-terrorism and drug control.  Elsewhere, the Office supports transitional justice, notably through the establishment of truth commissions in the Central African Republic, Colombia, Mali and Gambia, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it supports the Provincial Truth Commission for the Kasai.

More broadly, she said the Office has advocated for transitional justice processes on missing persons and enforced disappearance in Lebanon, Mexico and Sri Lanka.  In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, it engages with security and justice actors to increase human rights protections, while in Honduras, it provides technical assistance to the Attorney General’s Office in efforts to strengthen the investigation of femicide.  To help women surmount barriers to justice in South Africa, Tunisia and Uruguay caused by gender stereotyping, the Office is providing support to the judiciary.  To prevent violations, emergency response teams have recently been sent to Chad, Ethiopia and Sudan’s Blue Nile state to monitor the crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, and separately, to Uganda for election-related work.  Remote capacity also has been enhanced to monitor the post-coup situation in Myanmar.

She went on to stress that the Office continues its work to protect the human rights of all migrants ‑ regardless of their status ‑ pointing to the release of two reports on the rights of those in Libya and the neighbouring region, which highlight the need to deploy sufficient search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean Sea. In the Americas, it provided expertise to protection and civil society actors through the inter-agency platform on refugees and migrants from Venezuela. It continues to work with Governments, judiciaries, business and civil society to change laws and attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer+ communities, notably in Albania, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Mongolia, Panama, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine and Vietnam.  With the International Paralympic Committee and the International Disability Alliance, it launched the “We The 15” campaign to raise awareness of people with disabilities.

Describing other efforts to integrate women’s rights into COVID‑19 response plans in Western and Central Africa, and address the human rights risks posed by digital technologies, she went on to caution against losing sight of the interlinked crises of pollution, climate change and biodiversity ‑ threats that “will likely pose the single greatest challenge to human rights in our era”.  Her Office is working to strengthen human rights protection for environmental defenders in the Pacific, safeguard the rights of indigenous and Afrodescendant communities in Colombia and address protection gaps related to climate-induced human mobility in the Sahel.

“In essence, in different areas, we are working towards narrowing the overall gaps that separate peoples as well as people from their rights,” she explained.  “In that, we must address widespread inequalities within and among countries.”  Vaccine inequity has compounded pressures on low-income countries facing severe fiscal limits on their ability to recover from the pandemic.  “Over 100 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty worldwide,” she warned. Her Office, together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), is monitoring the roll-out of vaccines among groups likely to be left behind.  “I cannot stress it enough:  COVID‑19 vaccines must be treated as a global public good,” she declared.

When the floor opened for comments and questions, several delegations raised the subject of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, with the representative of Syria stressing that the field activities of the High Commissioner’s Office must respect these principles.  Offering a different view, the representative of Mexico expressed concern over narratives that seek to juxtapose compliance with human rights with the principle of national sovereignty.  “Protecting human rights is a responsible exercise of sovereignty,” he explained, asking the High Commissioner for her views on the complementarity between human rights protection and national sovereignty.

Others expressed concern over the High Commissioner’s budget, with the representative of Ireland stressing that budgetary constraints have limited the Office’s ability to provide sufficient professional support to treaty bodies.  In that vein, the representative of Croatia, associating with the European Union, called for funding from the United Nations regular budget.

Several others asked about human rights protections for specific groups, with the representative of Argentina calling for a COVID‑19 response tailored for children, those living in poverty and older persons.  He asked about actions the High Commissioner intends to carry out to protect older persons, taking into account that there is no legally binding instrument for that group.  An observer for the European Union asked about alleged violations in Xinjiang, while the representative of the United Kingdom wondered if there had been any meaningful developments on the granting of access to the Office to enter Xinjiang.

Meanwhile, the representative of Poland, associating with the European Union, asked the High Commissioner for her views on the situation east of Poland’s border, while the representative of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of 20 members of the Human Rights Caucus New York, welcomed the Secretary-General’s appeal in the Our Common Agenda report to recognize cross-cutting issues such as climate change, gender equality and human rights with greater effectiveness and accountability.  He asked the High Commissioner how her Office will address these issues.

Interactive Dialogues — United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting her report (document A/76/36), said that despite the exceptional circumstances imposed by COVID‑19, 98 field presences have been conducted since 1 January 2021.  Between the pandemic and the climate crisis, “the world is experiencing its biggest shared test since the Second World War”, she said, noting that both have exposed “a world immersed in human rights gaps”, notably in access to justice, health, education and social protection, as well as in access to technology, employment or protection from violence.

Detailing work to achieve accountability and justice for human rights violations, she said the Office provided technical assistance to Mexico’s Prosecutor and Government in the investigation of the enforced disappearance of the 43 students of the Ayotzinapa Rural School.  In the Philippines, it supported the development of a new United Nations joint programme to strengthen domestic accountability measures and promote rights-based approaches to counter-terrorism and drug control.  Elsewhere, the Office supports transitional justice, notably through the establishment of truth commissions in the Central African Republic, Colombia, Mali and Gambia, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it supports the Provincial Truth Commission for the Kasai.

More broadly, she said the Office has advocated for transitional justice processes on missing persons and enforced disappearance in Lebanon, Mexico and Sri Lanka.  In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, it engages with security and justice actors to increase human rights protections, while in Honduras, it provides technical assistance to the Attorney General’s Office in efforts to strengthen the investigation of femicide.  To help women surmount barriers to justice in South Africa, Tunisia and Uruguay caused by gender stereotyping, the Office is providing support to the judiciary.  To prevent violations, emergency response teams have recently been sent to Chad, Ethiopia and Sudan’s Blue Nile state to monitor the crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, and separately, to Uganda for election-related work.  Remote capacity also has been enhanced to monitor the post-coup situation in Myanmar.

She went on to stress that the Office continues its work to protect the human rights of all migrants ‑ regardless of their status ‑ pointing to the release of two reports on the rights of those in Libya and the neighbouring region, which highlight the need to deploy sufficient search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean Sea. In the Americas, it provided expertise to protection and civil society actors through the inter-agency platform on refugees and migrants from Venezuela. It continues to work with Governments, judiciaries, businesses and civil society to change laws and attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, intersex and queer+ communities, notably in Albania, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Mongolia, Panama, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine and Vietnam.  With the International Paralympic Committee and the International Disability Alliance, it launched the “We The 15” campaign to raise awareness of people with disabilities.

Describing other efforts to integrate women’s rights into COVID‑19 response plans in Western and Central Africa, and address the human rights risks posed by digital technologies, she went on to caution against losing sight of the interlinked crises of pollution, climate change and biodiversity ‑ threats that “will likely pose the single greatest challenge to human rights in our era”.  Her Office is working to strengthen human rights protection for environmental defenders in the Pacific, safeguard the rights of indigenous and Afrodescendant communities in Colombia and address protection gaps related to climate-induced human mobility in the Sahel.

“In essence, in different areas, we are working towards narrowing the overall gaps that separate peoples as well as people from their rights,” she explained.  “In that, we must address widespread inequalities within and among countries.”  Vaccine inequity has compounded pressures on low-income countries facing severe fiscal limits on their ability to recover from the pandemic.  “Over 100 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty worldwide,” she warned. Her Office, together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), is monitoring the roll-out of vaccines among groups likely to be left behind.  “I cannot stress it enough:  COVID‑19 vaccines must be treated as a global public good,” she declared.

When the floor opened for comments and questions, several delegations raised the subject of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, with the representative of Syria stressing that the field activities of the High Commissioner’s Office must respect these principles.  Offering a different view, the representative of Mexico expressed concern over narratives that seek to juxtapose compliance with human rights with the principle of national sovereignty.  “Protecting human rights is a responsible exercise of sovereignty,” he explained, asking the High Commissioner for her views on the complementarity between human rights protection and national sovereignty.

Others expressed concern over the High Commissioner’s budget, with the representative of Ireland stressing that budgetary constraints have limited the Office’s ability to provide sufficient professional support to treaty bodies.  In that vein, the representative of Croatia, associating with the European Union, called for funding from the United Nations regular budget.

Several others asked about human rights protections for specific groups, with the representative of Argentina calling for a COVID‑19 response tailored for children, those living in poverty and older persons.  He asked about actions the High Commissioner intends to carry out to protect older persons, taking into account that there is no legally binding instrument for that group.  An observer for the European Union asked about alleged violations in Xinjiang, while the representative of the United Kingdom wondered if there had been any meaningful developments on the granting of access to the Office to enter Xinjiang.

Meanwhile, the representative of Poland, associating with the European Union, asked the High Commissioner for her views on the situation east of Poland’s border, while the representative of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of 20 members of the Human Rights Caucus New York, welcomed the Secretary-General’s appeal in the Our Common Agenda report to recognize cross-cutting issues such as climate change, gender equality and human rights with greater effectiveness and accountability.  He asked the High Commissioner how her Office will address these issues.

Unilateral Coercive Measures

Ms. ALENA DOUHAN, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, presenting her report (document A/76/174), said the targets of sanctions have expanded during the pandemic, despite repeated calls by the United Nations High Commissioner, the Secretary-General and special procedure mandate holders, including her office.  Recalling that multiple resolutions of the Human Rights Council and General Assembly have qualified sanctions as illegal and described their humanitarian impact as “indiscriminate”, she went on to outline the toll they took on affected populations.  Land or flight embargos, for example, exacerbate economic crises and make it impossible to purchase essential goods, including technological and medical equipment.  They also worsen poverty, involvement in the informal economy, criminal activity, human trafficking and prostitution.

She said sanctions against targeted companies ‑ particularly in key economic sectors ‑ can affect their workers and have a trickle-down humanitarian impact on the rest of the population, while those on the Internet prevent online payments and access to information and communication platforms, which impinge on people’s cultural and economic rights.  Meanwhile, sanctions against individuals violate a broad scope of rights, including due process guarantees, and affect a large number of people in their networks, including family members and associates.  More broadly, she said the fear of sanctions often results in “overcompliance” by banks and other companies and expands the effects of sanctions from residents and nationals of targeted countries to trade partners and humanitarian actors, making them targets of secondary sanctions.  She called on all United Nations organs and agencies to include assessments of the legality and humanitarian impact of sanctions to assist in protecting the human rights of affected targets.  She likewise called on States and regional organizations to consider the consequence of such actions.  “One cannot protect human rights by calling for sanctions, as the effect actually undermines them ‑ starting with the very rights to life, to health, to work, to education and to development,” she stressed.

When the floor was opened for questions and comments, several representatives addressed the detrimental impact of unilateral coercive measures, with the representative of Azerbaijan, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stressing that they can lead to the violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, a point also raised by the representative of Syria, who cited the rights to health, food and life.  “Noble means are not a justification for these sanctions”, she said, denouncing so-called humanitarian exemptions, which prevent patients — including children — from receiving medicines and other treatments.  Echoing such concerns, the representative of Cuba said embargoes on exports and other economic measures impact an entire population of a country.  Stressing that Cuba has suffered under an economic and financial blockade by the United States for more than six decades, he said this hostility is opportunistic during the pandemic — and has only worsened.  “These are massive violations of human rights due to the actions of the United States against Cuba and the Cuban people,” he asserted, describing the embargo as the “main obstacle to Cuba’s development”.

Along similar lines, the representative of Venezuela denounced the direct and indirect impact of unilateral coercive measures, pointing to economic, trade and humanitarian losses.  “The humanitarian justification is used to alleviate their bad conscience,” he said of States that impose them as “an act of propaganda”.  The representative of Eritrea meanwhile said unilateral coercive measures have exacerbated the effects of the pandemic.  At the time when global solidarity is needed, some countries continue to use sanctions against States and their citizens, with the effects extending “far beyond collateral damage”.  It is impossible to deliver medical supplies, vaccines and even food to civilians and he called for the lifting of all unilateral coercive measures.

Also participating in the interactive dialogue were representatives of the Russian Federation, Belarus, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, Iran and China.

Ms. DOUHAN, responding, said her work is not based on political motivation, but rather, the rule of law.  She stressed that sanctions have no humanitarian impact, and their consequences affect the most vulnerable.  Highlighting the “dramatic” impact of unilateral sanctions — and the rationale of having “a good intention” when imposing them — she said “the intention to protect human rights” cannot justify the violation of human rights.  No good intention justifies children dying because they are unable to access vaccines — or people dying for want of access to food.  It cannot justify children engaging in prostitution in exchange for food; nor can it justify human trafficking.  People have no food, no health care and no access to hospitals, she emphasized, suggesting that States should not organize themselves on the basis of “good intentions” — but rather, on the rule of law and the protection of human rights.  “We all deserve the full scope of human rights without any discrimination,” she stressed.  Labour, economic and social rights are violated by the application of unilateral coercive measures.

Counter-terrorism

FIONNUALA Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, said the twentieth anniversary of the 11 September attacks is a “prescient time” to reflect on global counter-terrorism and the counter-terrorism architecture that has deepened over the past two decades — and to ask “painful and difficult questions” about its costs and effectiveness.  She expressed concern around the securitization of the response to the pandemic, which affects the most vulnerable communities that often have difficult relationships with State security sectors.  She outlined work done under her mandate in the past year, including the presentation of a report to the Human Rights Council in March on the gendered impact of counter-terrorism and programmes to counter violent extremism.  The repatriation and reintegration of women and children from conflict zones remains a critical priority, she said, adding that she issued many communications to States on the issue, including to 57 States with third-country nationals in al-Hawl and Rawj camps in north-east Syria, and welcomed recent returns to Germany and Denmark.

“It is a challenging time for human rights and rule of law compliant counter-terrorism,” she observed.  The past two decades have seen the “unprecedented growth” of counter-terrorism institutions, frameworks and funding, she said, stressing that such programmes are ad hoc and divorced from realities on the ground.  Set against this growth, States have not prioritized human rights protection, rule of law capacity or monitoring or oversight.  The report examines global, regional and bilateral capacity-building and technical assistance for counter-terrorism and urges United Nations entities engaged in such work to not inadvertently enable serious human rights violations.  Noting that such work can end up targeting the legitimate exercise of fundamental rights and enable authoritarian governance where national definitions of terrorism and extremism do not comply with international law, she called for greater civil society participation in and civilian oversight of the security sector, “which is essentially missing” in current structures.  “Counter-terrorism capacity-building and technical assistance practices are in dire need of transparency, accountability, and overhaul to be both effective and human rights compliant,” she stressed.

When the floor was opened for questions and comments, many delegates expressed support for the mandate and asked how capacity-building efforts to counter terrorism can better include civil society.

In that context, an observer for the European Union asked about actions that can be immediately prioritized to address the structural concerns identified in the report around the exclusion of civil society and civilian oversight in ballooning counter-terrorism institutions and frameworks.  In a similar vein, the representative of the United Kingdom asked about steps States should take to better involve civil society actors in capacity-building.  The representative of Mexico likewise asked how technical assistance can promote the participation of women in fighting terrorism.

Meanwhile, the representative of Syria said the “unprecedented terrorist war” in her country had countered development gains.  She asked the Special Rapporteur for her opinion on the policy of certain countries that revoke the nationality of their citizens when they become foreign terrorist fighters, as well as the actions of countries that infiltrate Syria using counter-terrorism as cover, instead of collaborating with Syria’s Government.

Pakistan’s delegate observed that some Governments framed legitimate struggles for self-determination as terrorist movements, seeking a “smokescreen” for their violation of human rights.  He asked how counter-terrorism measures can be made human-rights-compliant, in a manner that considers the right to self-determination.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed concern about the thrust of the report, which seems to subordinate human rights concerns to those of security.  “We do not believe it is unjustified to broaden counter-terrorism structures, in the face of new and growing threats, including those posed by new technologies,” he stressed.

Ms. Ní Aoláin, responding to Syria’s delegate on the topic of foreign terrorist fighters, shared her “grave concern” over the arbitrary citizenship-stripping by some States, which creates statelessness and prolongs a human rights crisis in camps in northern Syria.  Noting that about 70 per cent of the population of the camps are composed of children under age 12, she said States have a “profound obligation” to prevent cycles of violence, and to ensure these children reach home.  Policies of child separation pursued by some States violate human rights, lead to long-term trauma and make it difficult to enable children’s successful reintegration, she said, urging countries to follow the lead of Iraq, which is committed to doing the work of “hard repatriation”.  To concerns about security expressed by the Russian Federation’s delegate, she assured that the mandate’s role has never been to subordinate security interests to those of human rights; it does not see them as opposites but integrated with one another.

Turning to questions on civil society participation, she said listening to women and engaging civil society are at the heart of successful counter-terrorism efforts ‑ and to addressing the problems underlying terrorist activities.  On the gender dimension, she affirmed the multiple roles played by women, as well as the need to address their victimhood from terrorism and ensure that the perpetrators of terrorist activities are treated in a manner that respects due process.  To the representative of Pakistan, she affirmed the importance of maintaining the fundamental right to self-determination.

Also speaking in the interactive debate were representatives of Egypt, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Qatar, Indonesia, United States, Ireland, Switzerland, China, Algeria and Morocco.

DIEGO GARCIA-SAYAN, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said his report (document A/76/142) focuses on the urgency of creating access for women in the judicial system.  Reviewing the barriers that impede access, he pointed to the situation in Afghanistan and expressed solidarity with the women, judges and law students who have been harassed, persecuted, attacked, and prevented from fulfilling their functions.  In this context, he called on States to quickly welcome these women who are at risk.  More broadly, he said the number of women in leadership positions is considerably lower than the number of men, adding that this applies on a global level.

Due to gender stereotypes, he said, women tend to be allocated to certain jurisdictions or assigned to areas such as family courts ‑ a widespread trend.  Turning to working conditions, he drew attention to women with less economic capacity or who are required to have an additional degree ‑ beyond a law degree ‑ or to attend special courses in order to be promoted.  Stressing that achieving these credentials requires additional resources and time outside of working hours, he said the lack of political will in this area has had a negative impact on the equality of women in judicial or prosecutorial systems.  In this context, he called for dismantling the so-called “glass ceiling” and “invisible barrier” that has prevented women and minorities from moving up the judicial ladder, and which violates human rights.  He cited the example of India, where only 3.3 per cent of the 245 judges who reached the highest Court were women.  He called for reconciling the work‑family life balance so that it is compatible with greater professional responsibilities.

In the ensuing dialogue, several delegates cited the underrepresentation of women in their judiciaries, with the representative of Egypt taking note of the reference to his country in paragraph 26 of the report, which states that women judges represent less than 1 per cent of the total.  “This is our reality, and the State is working hard to change it through specific actions and measures,” he said.  Egypt is keen to develop the role of judicial bodies and attain gender equality in all judicial bodies.  An observer for the European Union meanwhile recognized that bias against women in the judiciary exists in all regions.  In 2017, the European Union mapped women and men in these positions and found that women continued to face prejudices and gender stereotypes in this area.

On the other end of the spectrum, the representative of Lebanon said that in 2018 the number of females in the judiciary in her country was more than 51 per cent of the total ‑ a figure that is increasing.  People say there is a “women invasion” in the justice system, she said, as the participation of women lawyers and judges is noticeable.  This trend started in 1969, and Lebanese women today occupy high posts in high courts. The representative of Chile meanwhile said his country has taken various actions to promote women, and it is among the few countries in the region with 40 per cent of women judges in its Supreme Court.

The representative of Liechtenstein asked the Special Rapporteur about what can be done to counter recent trends on corruption, as well as attempts to undermine the judiciary through corruption.  The representative of the United States asked about the role of mentors and mentorship programmes in efforts to increase the proportion of female judges, particularly within higher levels of the judiciary.

Also speaking were representatives of the Russian Federation, Peru, Saudi Arabia, United States, United Kingdom, China and Algeria.

Mr. GARCIA-SAYAN, responding briefly, said the report reflects the views of civil society and States, and is based on meetings with judges in several regions.  It does not constitute a denunciation, he said.  “It reflects a reality that exists in all countries.”  Commending positive changes made by Egypt, China and Kuwait on women’s representation in positions of higher legal authority, he stressed the need to work towards the goal of equal representation in the judicial system, even if countries have different pathways to get there.  Such changes cannot be brought about by decree; they require a re-examination of conceptual frameworks, he said, adding that efforts must be taken to guarantee women that their application to positions is not symbolic, and that selection committees must include women judges and prosecutors in a trusted ‑ rather than tokenistic ‑ capacity.  He acknowledged that there are instances of women in the judiciary involved in corruption.  However, he has observed “great results” in countering corruption when women have a highlighted role in the judicial system.

For information media. Not an official record.