PHL, UN activate joint program on human rights
THE Philippine government and the United Nations have formally launched the UN Joint Program (UNJP): Technical Cooperation and Capacity-building for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Philippines (2021-2024).
Said UNJP document was signed by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin Jr., Secretary of Justice Menardo I. Guevarra and UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez at the Department of Foreign Affairs headquarters on July 22. Developed following a series of intensive consultations between national government agencies and participating UN organizations, it outlines strategies, targets, indicators and governance mechanisms of the cooperation.
As cochair of the UNJP Steering Committee, Guevarra hailed the program as a “historic event, and the first of its kind in the Philippines.” He emphasized that the UNJP is “a manifestation of the sincere and genuine commitment of the…government
to infuse a human rights dimension in its law enforcement and investigative work.”
The UNJP 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 as well as Iceland, and adopted by consensus on October 7, 2020. It aims to further strengthen national institutions and support the country in its continued fulfillment of international human rights obligations, in a spirit of partnership, trust-building, and constructive engagement.
Activities under the joint program 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, and establishment of a national referral pathway to address human rights concerns using appropriate domestic mechanisms, among others.
Implementing agencies of the UNJP are the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS), Department of Justice,
Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Dangerous Drugs Board, Department of Health, Anti-terrorism Council-program Management Center, as well as the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
Participating organizations are the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO, the UN Office on Counter-terrorism, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The UNJP also closely engages the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and civil-society partners for an inclusive process.
Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon of the CHR, Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Sisson of the Embassy of Australia, Chargé d’affaires Rafael de Bustamante Tello of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, and Undersecretary Severo Catura of the PHRCS witnessed the signing ceremony.