'Report on rights helps govt to plan'


Mr Adam addressing stakeholders at the launch of the validation workshop yesterday

Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam said this yesterday when he launched a validation workshop for the 140-page State Party Report for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which has been prepared by consultant Fiona Robinson.

If approved by stakeholders, the report will be submitted to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in June.

“As a government we take this opportunity to use this exercise not only to take stock of our achievements and showcase our success in front of the UN and the Human Rights Secretariat, but also to do better and more innovative planning,” he said.

“Planning to ensure we can better support our health sector, planning to ensure that our investments in basic infrastructure are not hindered by fiscal constraints. Planning to ensure our future progress in sanitation and adequate water supply are not hindered by climate change.”

He said other areas where the report will help is in planning to ensure our children can make full use of education chances available,  and that the country does not end up with an under-skilled workforce due to the risk of substance abuse among young people, which could cut families’ hopes for a better life.

He said since 2010, Seychelles has taken big steps to try and submit reports on conventions to which we are state parties, a goal that is being realised despite many challenges.

Mr Adam said Seychelles has remained active in striving to advance economic, social and cultural rights for its citizens.
“The call for Seychellois to leve debrouye has been able to advocate a new work ethic that promotes economic prosperity despite the challenging period in which we live.

“And this work ethic has been accompanied by a reinforcement of social safety nets: for example the government initiated a ‘dedicated fund’ to assist children of state schools who are in hardship since 2012.

“It  gives us reason to be proud when we are told that we are the country in Africa with the highest  Human Development Index (United Nations 2011 Human Development Report), and it was not by chance that throughout the last decade we have consistently remained amongst the top countries in Africa for human centered development,” he said.

State parties to all UN human rights treaties require the countries to submit reports on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures adopted to give effect to the treaties’ provisions.

Seychelles has to submit around 20 reports every decade. Each convention has its own procedures and requirements to be met in the preparation of reports.

Mr Adam said we have not always been able to submit the reports required. The report discussed yesterday is 20 years overdue.
“But we are not alone in this: the former secretary general of the UN, Kofi Annan, has noted that most states are delayed in their reporting submissions to international conventions, and in the cases of certain conventions this has reached chronic proportions.

“For a small island developing state such as Seychelles, with limited resources, personnel and reporting experience, the report writing process is particularly burdensome,” he said, noting Seychelles will never accept to simply report for the sake of reporting.  We must use the opportunity of these exercises to really reflect on how best we can face the challenges of today in relation to our fundamental rights, whether guaranteed in our own Constitution or in an international covenant.”

The validation exercise was funded by the European Development Fund through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Development Fund, said the director general for protocol, treaties and consular affairs Joseph Francois.

Those who took part, he said, were stakeholders from government and non-governmental bodies interested in socio-economic aspects of development.

The report includes local laws relating to the convention and how the activities outlined are being implemented and monitored.

Guests at the workshop’s opening ceremony included ministers, principal secretaries and prominent private sector and non-governmental organisations’ heads.

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