PH, UN forge pact on human rights protection

Published July 24, 2021, 10:09 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

The Philippines and the United Nations (UN) have launched a joint program that outlines mechanisms that aim to strengthen the country’s institution and support its continued fulfillment of international human rights obligations, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

L-R: United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. are the signatories of the UN Joint Program on Human Rights (UNJP) (DFA-OPCD Photo by Philip Fernandez)

In a statement, the DFA said the UN Joint Program: Technical Cooperation and Capacity-building for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Philippines (2021 – 2024) (UNJP) was launched on July 22.

The UNJP document was signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, and UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez.

Guevarra, who served as the Philippine co-chair of the UNJP Steering Committee, hailed the program as a “historic event and the first of its kind in the Philippines.”

He emphasized that the UNJP was “a manifestation of the sincere and genuine commitment of the Philippine Government to infuse a human rights dimension in its law enforcement and investigative work.”

According to the DFA, the UNJP document outlines the strategies, targets, indicators, and governance mechanism of the cooperation, and was developed following a series of intensive consultations between Philippine government agencies and participating UN organizations.

It implements the Human Rights Council (HRC) 45/33 resolution “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 October 7, 2020.

The program aimed to further strengthen national institutions and support the Philippines in the continued fulfillment of its international human rights obligations, in a spirit of partnership, trust-building, and constructive engagement.

Activities under the Joint Program related 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.

The implementing agencies of the UNJP are the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), the Department of Health (DOH), the Anti-Terrorism Council-Program Management Center (ATC-PMC), and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Participating UN organizations are the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Office on Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The UNJP also closely engages the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and civil society partners as part of an inclusive process.