Statement of the UN Resident Coordinator at the Virtual Training on State Reporting with Members of the National Mechanism Reporting and Follow-up (NMRF)

The virtual training was organised by OHCHR Southern Africa, UNDP Eswatini and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs on Tuesday, 27th October 2020.

Hon. Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs,

Vice Chair of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

OHCHR Regional Representative for Southern Africa,

UNDP Resident Representative,

Principal Secretaries, Directors and all High-Level Government personnel,

UN colleagues, esteemed members of the media,

Ladies and gentlemen.

 

A very good morning to you all. On behalf of the United Nations Development System in the Kingdom of Eswatini, it is with great pleasure that I address you at this important training on State reporting in a humanitarian context.

The Kingdom of Eswatini has made significant strides towards ensuring the human rights of all Emaswati, committing to seven (7) out of nine (9) core human rights treaties, ranging from the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The adoption and the implementation of those treaties are paramount to the flourishing of the people of this majestic nation and, ultimately, the achievement of Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in Eswatini.

However, effective treaty monitoring bodies are crucial in ensuring the successful and righteous implementation of various agreements. Not only do treaty monitoring bodies work to operationalise human rights standards at a national level, through reviews and reforms, they promote and instil a culture of human rights across the world by reporting and communicating important messages.

The United Nations is committed to the protection and the fulfilment of human rights standards throughout the UN Development System and to assisting Governments worldwide in the implementation of such standards. Treating monitoring bodies are vital in this process.

Although the Kingdom of Eswatini has taken significant steps towards ratifying many of the human rights treaties, progress is needed in completing vital monitoring reports in a timely manner. In this regard, Eswatini has several outstanding reports; an issue that is unfortunately not unique to the country. However, it is encouraging to witness the collaboration and the partnership that have arisen in addressing the issue. Today’s training is indeed a leap towards the protection of human rights in Eswatini, as we work towards ensuring efficient monitoring and reporting of human rights treaties.

Effective monitoring and reporting cannot take place without sufficient investment in human and financial resources. The United Nations Development System is committed to providing the necessary technical support to the Government of Eswatini: together, we will strengthen the capacity of the NMRF to report effectively and efficiently on human rights treaties in the Kingdom.

Not only do State party reports provide a unique opportunity to evaluate the gaps and vulnerabilities within human rights implementation, but they also enable a platform for opportunities to be harnessed. It is in solidarity with partners and the people of Eswatini that these opportunities can be effectively harnessed.

As the United Nations celebrated its 75th anniversary on Saturday, during a time in which the COVID-19 pandemic has caused much disruption and suffering, we are reminded of the importance of solidarity and unity in achieving ‘the future we want, the UN we need’. Launched by the UN Secretary-General in January 2020, our Organization sought to establish priorities, locate challenges and identify opportunities in creating a better future for all. Across the globe, over one thousand dialogues were hosted with Eswatini sharing 16 dialogues with vulnerable populations. It is clear from both international and local feedback, that people aspire to peace, inclusivity, shared dividends of economic growth, good governance, no corruption and the respect of all persons’ human rights and dignity, especially those in vulnerable groups such as women, children, persons living with disabilities, the LGBTQI community, migrants and many more.

The COVID-19 pandemic - a health, human rights and economic crisis - has exposed the many inequalities within societies and the deep ongoing humanitarian crises. In order to recover better, sustained focus on protecting the human rights of all people is essential. Human rights treaties provide the blueprint to recovering better, whilst ensuring the dignity of all.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Honourable Minister  of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for her support and leadership lent to our collective efforts, as well as counterparts in her Ministry and supporting Ministries in their sturdy efforts to ensuring the respect of all Emaswati’s rights, by setting up the NMRF team.

In solidarity with the Government and the people of Eswatini, the United Nations remains committed to supporting the important work of this team. In this Decade of Action to achieve Agenda 2030, hastened steps towards attaining the rights enshrined in the treaties are crucial in realising the SDGs and His Majesty’s Vision 2022. It is only through effective and efficient monitoring, reporting and follow-up mechanisms, that we will achieve a better future for the Kingdom of Eswatini.

I would therefore like to strongly encourage the Government of Eswatini to work towards ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW) and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED) (in force 23 December 2010). Our nation cannot thrive when 1, 2 or more Emaswati are left behind.

The State report for the Universal Periodic Review, due in July 2021, will be significant in protecting the human rights of the people of our nation; something which is recommended and indeed, can only be achieved together. So too is the visit of the independent Human Rights Council essential in our progress towards ratifying the various human rights treaties. I would like to encourage the Government of Eswatini to consider such visits, in collaboration with the United Nations, as the Council will provide expertise in an effective country-specific manner.

In conclusion, I would like to extend my gratitude to the team members who have worked in preparing today’s training, as well as UNDP and OHCHR colleagues for their essential support. My appreciation is extended to  the Hon. Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, her team, and the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, for their extended efforts in supporting and operationalising the crucial NMRF and training.

I wish you all a successful training session today. Together, through effective support, reporting, monitoring and follow-ups, we will be able to protect and fulfil the rights of all Emaswati.

I thank you.

Speech by
Author
Nathalie Ndongo-Seh
Resident Coordinator
RCO
Nathalie Ndongo-Seh
UN entities involved in this initiative
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme