The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, today launched its national consultations on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December of 1966, and came into force in March 1976.
The ICCPR ensures the protection of civil and political rights. The Covenant includes two sets of over-arching responsibilities:
Article 1, for instance, guarantees that “all persons have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”.
Belize signed and ratified this Convention in 1996 and is therefore bound to submit a comprehensive report on the measures it has adopted to give effect to the rights recognized in the ICCPR. So, today was step one of that venture and the Government invited interested stakeholders to this morning’s consultation.
Those stakeholders include the Attorney General’s Ministry, The Human Rights Commission, NGO’s and the civil society – pretty much anyone wanting to lend their voice. Reporter Emanuel Pech, sat down with CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Alexis Rosado to discuss today’s meeting.
“We have the Human Rights convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Belize signed unto in 1996. As part of the convention, we are required to submit reports periodically about Belize’s Implementation on the provision of the Convention. So, we had not done that for a number of years. So, today marks the launch of that will be held nationwide over a period of several months, so that Belize will come out with its first report on the implementation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights”.
The cause for Belize’s non-submission of the report since signing on to the convention says Rosado, may be owed to a lack of human resources. But whatever the reason was, a primary report is now forthcoming. And is expected to reap much advantage for the human rights cause in Belize. Ambassador Rosado expounded on those benefits.
H.E. Alexis Rosado: “The greatest benefit from any such report is really show the consultation process itself; an opportunity for us to be introspective to stop and analyze what we have been doing over the years, or what we have failed to do in respect of human rights. The whole idea of the reporting process is to help countries to be able to, apart from just analyzing what progress has been made; also to help us to help identify areas where there are weaknesses, and where there are strengths, we can be an example to many other countries. Hopefully, the international community would also find ways of assistance where we need assistance”.
Now some may say that human rights is relative – what is considered the right of a person differs in opinion across sectors of society. It is for this reason, says Rosado, that individuals and agencies will be afforded a fair share in the consultation.
H.E. Alexis Rosado: “In Belize, we are blessed because we live in a democratic society or free society where human rights generally have been respected and promoted. Of course, we have some areas that we have to improve, but this is an opportunity for Belize to really report to the world because the report goes to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights all the progress that we have done and achieved over the years. Everybody is included in this process. Everybody has a voice in this consultation process; everybody’s views will be listened to because as I said earlier, human rights is the business for every single person. Different people have various views about what constitutes human rights and so forth. The important thing is that the dignity of the human person is maintained respected and promoted at all times”.
For the next few months, the Ministry will be in discussion with certain sections of society, after which they will facilitate general consultations. A first draft of the report is expected by July/August. The document will then be distributed to stakeholders for further recommendation. The aim is to complete the report by the end of the year. It will then be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The Committee usually requests report every four years.