… ON REPORTS ON RIGHTS TO HEALTH, FOOD AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Published on OHCHR, MORNING 12 March 2008:
The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its interactive debate on the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Paul Hunt, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, said in concluding remarks that with regards to questions posed on the draft guidelines on pharmaceutical companies, he recalled that his report stated the intention for States to adopt these guidelines. Pharmaceutical companies had a major impact on the right to health, often it was positive, but something it was not. The guidelines were aimed for these companies to improve their activities, and to especially benefit those living in poverty. Responding to questions on how to engage more with health workers, he noted that there was a willingness of the health workers to learn, but it was necessary to spell out to them how they could improve their work and States should raise human rights at health meetings, such as at the World Health Organization Assembly.
Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said in concluding remarks that concerning the role of trans-national corporations on the right to food, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development had made an inventory of 85,000 transnational companies and the five largest ones were much more powerful in terms of annual revenue than most countries in the world. They were beyond the control of this Council. One positive step to reducing the power of multinational corporations was the guidelines of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on human rights and multinationals, which should be signed by as many Governments as possible. The Human Rights Council had not yet focussed on this problem and had accepted to prepare an inventory of ombudsmen and officials but there was a great need for a regulatory framework and a Special Rapporteur on this issue as these non-state actors had become incredibly powerful in recent years.
Ambeyi Ligabo, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said in concluding remarks that on freedom of expression and the respect of religion, many delegations had pointed out the importance of exercising this right with care. Freedom of expression was not absolute. He had often recalled this. Infringing this was not creating a peaceful dialogue between communities. Various existing legal frameworks could offer remedies to this problem. He agreed that cases of expression of hate against religions had to be vehemently condemned. On the criminalization of defamation, there was an annex in his report about this topic. On the issue of the Danish cartoon, he had made a visit to Denmark, and had made a report on this topic in the past.
The three Special Rapporteurs presented their reports to the Council on 11 March in the afternoon. For more details, see press release HRC/08/20 …
… Concluding Remarks by the Special Rapporteurs: …
… Right of Reply: … (full long texts).
(For use of the information media; not an official record).