Women with Disabilities
Statement: Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) on 20th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt
20th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council
Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt[/h3]
Oral Statement delivered by Ms. Maria Abdullah on behalf of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) Thursday, 21 June 2012
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) appreciates the report of the UN Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt. We echo the foundational principles set out in the report by the Independent Expert that asserts primacy of human rights and recognises the obligations of States as well as international financial institutions and private corporations to respect, protect and fulfill all human rights of all people. We endorse the need for comprehensive solutions to sovereign debt problems of developing countries that are framed by human rights standards and principles.
The experiences of women from the Asia Pacific region overwhelmingly confirm that debt often leads to human rights violations against the poorest, most of whom are women. Debt redirects state spending away from spending on social services and infrastructure. Debt comes with harmful conditionalities on macroeconomic policy. The policies of privatisation, deregulation and trade and finance liberalisation are both direct and indirect results of debt as well as causes of debt. These policies result in violations of women's fundamental rights to education, health, water, energy, food, land, housing, and decent work and security amongst others.
Madame President, we are particularly concerned about the lack of meaningful consultation, access to information and democratic process over the adoption and terms of state debt. Women from Asia Pacific often find it impossible to have a voice in discussions around debt and macro-economic policy. These decisions, impacting significantly on their lives, are made globally, often with little resistance or discussion within their own governments and without the democratic voice of affected communities, least of all women. Furthermore, the region is witnessing increasing oppression and threats against women human rights defenders who oppose harmful effects of debt financed "development" projects. Most recently we have seen the forced evictions, abuse and even imprisonment of women defending their very basic livelihoods to make way for "developments" often partially funded through external debt. The responsibility for these most grave human rights violations should sit with the creditor as well as the government. We reiterate that the right to development is both a condition for, and dependant on the enjoyment of all other human rights.
In light of this, we truly appreciate the report of the Independent Expert and welcome his recommendation to establish an international debt restructuring mechanism. We urge the Human Rights Council to endorse the guiding principles and provide necessary assistance to the Independent Expert to translate the principles into practices. To assist States and all relevant stake holders to rightly adopt and integrate the guiding principles on foreign debt and human rights, we would like to ask the Independent Expert to elaborate on the following points:
- How could the proposed mechanism practically protect and promote women's human rights? One measure for consideration is to ensure participation of feminist experts in the mechanism.
- Are there any good practices that the Independent Expert wishes to share in relation to Governments efforts in creating conditions for the realisation of human rights?
- How does the Independent Expert plan to integrate women's human rights throughout the work of his mandate?
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By: Oral Statement delivered by Ms. Maria Abdullah on behalf of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)