The High Court in Nairobi has on 7 December 2016 declared unconstitutional a presidential directive seeking to collect names of people living with HIV, including names of school going children among others. The court declared that the directive issued by H.E Uhuru Kenyatta on 23 February 2015 is in breach of the petitioner’s constitutional rights under Articles 31 and 53(2) which safeguard the right to privacy and best interest of the child respectively. The court further declared that the actions and omissions of the respondents in relation to the directive violated fundamental rights and freedoms of the petitioners. The case was filed by KELIN, Children of God Relief Institute (Nyumbani), James Njenga Kamau and Millicent Kipsang challenging the directive in court on the grounds that it was a breach to the right to privacy and confidentiality and was likely to expose persons living with HIV to stigma and discrimination, among other human rights violations.
Values, Policies and Rights
This Convention is a remarkable and forward-looking document. While it focuses on the rights and development of people with disabilities, it also speaks about our societies as a whole -- and about the need to enable every person to contribute to the best of their abilities and potential.
At the 56th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, held in April 2012, the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development report that the Commission failed to adopt agreed conclusions protecting women’s rights for reasons of ‘safeguarding traditional values’. This failure comes at the expense of human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, according to this statement of a number of feminist and women's rights organisations in the Forum. These organisations reject any proposed re-opening of negotiations on the already established international agreements on women's human rights and call on all governments to demonstrate their commitment to promote, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms of women. Customs, tradition or religious considerations must not be tolerated to justify discrimination and violence against women and girls, whether committed by State authorities or by non-state actors. In particular, the statement urges governments to ensure that the health and human rights of girls and women are secured and reaffirmed at the upcoming 2012 Commission on Population and Development and the International Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Any future international negotiations must move forward implementation of policies and programmes that secure the human rights of girls and women.
The purpose of the Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has declared access to safe, clean drinking water and sanitation to be a ‘'human right' in this resolution, which more than 40 countries (including the United States) didn't support. The text is non-binding. The resolution expresses deep concern that, despite the fact that the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2000 call for the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation to be cut in half by 2015, an estimated 884 million people still lack access to safe drinking water and more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. In the resolution, the Assembly calls on UN ‘member states and international organisations to offer funding, technology and other resources to help poorer countries scale up their efforts to provide clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for everyone’. Additionally, the resolution backs the UN Human Rights Council recommendation that the UN independent expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation must report annually to the General Assembly. This annual report will focus predominantly on the principle challenges of achieving the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, as well as progress towards the relevant MDGs.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has described as ‘a very significant advance’ the outcome document of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) summit, but noted a number of gaps in some aspects of the global plan of action to eradicate poverty and end social-economic inequality. During the summit, she emphasised that States should take a human rights-based approach to the MDGs, which would mean that development and aid policies should explicitly prioritise the needs of the poorest and most excluded people. But she stressed that, with their emphasis on global average targets, the MDGs often neglect large segments of the world’s population, and may unwittingly exacerbate existing inequalities. The principle of participation, for example, is reflected strongly in relation to the empowerment of women, but there is no explicit recognition of participation as a right, and no specific commitments to guarantee freedom of expression and association or other human rights guarantees necessary for active, free and meaningful participation. Issues of accountability, good governance and the rule of law are referred to in a number of contexts, she said, but in relation to MDG 8, which mandates a global partnership for development, there is still a critical accountability defect because it lacks time-bound targets.
The UN General Assembly Human Rights Council on 29 September 2016 adopted a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.29) which established a mandate for a Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development. The draft of the resolution was presented by Venezuela on behalf of the member states of the Non-aligned Movement and China, and was adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, two against and 11 abstentions. The Council decided to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur on the right to development, whose mandate will include: to contribute to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right to development in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other internationally agreed outcomes of 2015; to engage and support efforts to mainstream the right to development among various United Nations bodies, development agencies, international development, financial and trade institutions, and to submit proposals aimed at strengthening the revitalized global partnership for sustainable development from the perspective of the right to development; to contribute to the work of the Working Group with a view to supporting the accomplishment of its overall mandate, taking into account, inter alia, the deliberations and recommendations of the Working Group while avoiding any duplication; to submit any specific study by the Human Rights Council in accordance with its mandate; to submit an annual report to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly covering all activities relating to the mandate. In his remarks introducing the draft proposal, Ambassador Mr. Jorge Valero (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela), on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), recalled that in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on the Right to Development, the Council committed to elevate the right to development to the same level as other human rights and fundamental freedoms. South Africa’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, speaking on behalf of the African Group expressed the support of the African continent for the draft resolution proposed by NAM and China. Ambassador Mxakato-Diseko underscored that 2016 was a crucial year for the start of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The United Nations International Day for Older Persons falls on 1 October every year. This year it was commemorated under the theme celebrating older human rights champions. Belated commemorations were held on Friday 23 November 2018 at Mahusekwa district hospital in Marondera, Zimbabwe. Representatives from the District Administrator’s office, the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Services, Ministry of Health and Child Care, the National Age Network of Zimbabwe (NANZ), chiefs, the private sector, NGOs, older people representative organisations and older people champions among others were in attendance. In line with celebrating older human rights champions the event was run and owned by older persons with Gogo Mufuta and Gogo Nyamande sharing the master of ceremonies platform. Speeches centred on the important role that older people play in society emphasising their role as custodians of culture. Older people were also noted to be key carers of orphaned and vulnerable children. Dr Guvheya, the former chairman of the Zimbabwe Older Persons Association (ZOPO) praised the constitution which enshrines the rights of older people. He challenged government to operationalize provisions of the constitution and other pieces of legislation to enable older people to enjoy their rights. Dr Guvheya also spoke about the challenges faced by older people, including witchcraft accusations and property grabbing. He lamented on the current environment where pharmacies are demanding payment in foreign currency for medicines. This point was emphasised throughout the day as older people are in need of holistic health care and support as many are living with diseases including HIV, cancer, diabetes and dementia yet they have lost the capacity to generate income to access health services.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has unveiled its new agenda for action to combat the spread of HIV among women and girls, which underscores the need to understand and respond to the particular effects of the HIV epidemic on women and girls and translate political commitments into scaled-up action. It calls on the United Nations to support governments, civil society and development partners in reinforcing country actions to put women and girls at the centre of the AIDS response, ensuring that their rights are protected. The UNDP will support leadership development for HIV positive women and girls in 30 countries, support positive women’s networks being fully involved and reporting on the Millennium Development Goals, encourage countries to put HIV reporting into their reporting under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and initiate 'know your rights' campaigns focusing on the rights of women and girls in a number of countries.
In the run-up to the United Nations (UN) High-level Summit on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) in September 2011, a number of international women’s rights organisations joined together in a global campaign - Women for a Healthy Future - to demand solutions to NCDs among women. NCDs are the leading cause of death among women, the campaign argues, estimated at 18 million deaths each year. Key NCDs include breast and cervical cancer, with heart disease the primary cause of mortality among women. Girls and women are at a particular disadvantage for getting NCDs, as 60% of the world’s poor are women, and many are malnourished and uneducated. In developing countries, women often cook over open fires and get chronic lung diseases. Women for a Healthy Future has sent a petition to the UN as the new campaign’s first step in a planned programme of action.