DFA welcomes completion of negotiations on joint human rights project with UN

Published June 2, 2021, 7:57 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday welcomed the completion of the talks between the Philippine government and the United Nations on planned technical cooperation projects on human rights.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

In a statement, the DFA said the UN Joint Program (UNJP) document produced as a result of the negotiation outlines the objectives, strategies, indicators and targets, and governance mechanism of the three-year program on human rights.

The UNJP was developed following a series of intensive consultations between Philippine government agencies and participating UN agencies, and with inputs from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and civil society groups as part of an inclusive process.

The DFA expressed its appreciation to the UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), different lead government agencies, and other relevant stakeholders for formulating what it described as a “substantive, credible and forward-looking UNJP” that seeks to enhance the capacity of national institutions and actors to promote and protect human rights and strengthen the country’s compliance with its international human rights obligations.

Reacting to the conclusion of the talks, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted: “This is technical stuff and serious; as I said, we need technical help and it isn’t just in drugs control. There’s child porn.”

Among the activities under the joint program are those that relate to human rights-based approaches on countering terrorism; strengthening the conduct of investigations and filing of appropriate administrative and/or criminal charges on human rights violations; provision of treatment and care services for persons who use drugs (PWUDs); and establishment of a national referral pathway to address human rights concerns using appropriate domestic mechanisms, among others.

UN Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzales said the joint program is a “key step” for technical assistance among other things on alleged police violations, civic space, a national mechanism for reporting and follow-up, counter-terrorism legislation, and human rights-based approaches to drug control.

The DFA said government agencies and UN counterparts will develop annual work plans to implement these activities.

“The UNJP embodies the spirit of partnership, trust-building and constructive engagement of Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution 45/33 entitled “Technical cooperation and capacity-building for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines,” co-initiated by the Philippines and Iceland and adopted by consensus on 07 October 2020,” the foreign affairs office said.

Furthermore, it said the Philippine government and the UN are now in the process of finalizing administrative requirements for the signing of the program document of the UNJP.