General Assembly General Assembly




Mr. Chairperson,
The idea of human rights is deeply rooted in several ancient traditions and religions. The western political philosophies emerging in the middle ages shaped the discourse towards individual sovereignty. While, the ideas of certain inalienable rights were developed in the late 18th century, slavery, colonization and racial discrimination pointed to the contradictions of selective application.  The World Wars and decolonization brought the concept of human rights firmly on the global stage. 
2. The UN Charter adopted in 1945 spoke of fundamental human rights, while stressing the sovereign equality of nations. Three years later, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights adopted in 1948 sought to strengthen the emphasis on human rights further. Within two decades, as most nations achieved independence, two separate legally binding covenants came to be established - one regarding Civil and Political Rights and the other on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - speaking of differing priorities and emphasis. 
3. The optimism generated post-Cold War saw the adoption of the very wide-ranging and landmark Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action in 1993 that sought to bridge the gap between the two Covenants by highlighting universality and inter-dependence of human rights. It also sought to link democracy, economic development and human rights.  The recognition by the VDPA of the Right to Development was another milestone. 
4. The momentum to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development on one hand, and to prevent gross violation of human rights in a armed conflicts and terrorist attacks around the world over the past two decades, has informed recent debates on human rights. This is witnessed in the somewhat contradictory approaches inherent in the 2030 Agenda on one hand, and the moves towards external action to protect civilians, on the other. 
Mr. Chairperson,
5. While, the global discourse on human rights has continued to evolve, fundamental contradictions remain. The relative prioritisation of individual vs State; national sovereignty vs international norms; universal vs culture-specific approach evoke differing opinions. 
6. Today, the international community has developed extensive institutional  mechanisms and normative framework encompassing various aspects of human rights.  There are also calls for reforms of some of these mechanisms. 
7. Constraints on national capacities to implement rights; instances of politicization of human rights issues as a foreign policy tool; and perceived intrusiveness beyond mandated activities remain areas of contention. 
Mr. Chairperson,
8. India recognizes the primacy of national responsibility and efforts in the realization of human rights. India believes that promotion and protection of human rights can be best pursued through dialogue and cooperation. Human rights should be addressed in a fair and equal manner with objectivity, respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs of States, non-selectivity and transparency as the guiding principles.
9. We firmly believe that all State Parties must make all efforts to fulfill their treaty obligations. The emphasis of the Human Rights Council and the Treaty bodies; and Special Procedures and OHCHR should not be confrontational but focus on achieving the desired results through dialogue and capacity building. 
Mr. Chairperson,
10. With one-sixth of the global population, India is the world's largest democracy that is home to a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-linguistic population that has lived together for millennia. Commitment to pluralism and tolerance informs all aspects of the Indian Constitution. India has a secular polity and independent judiciary; a range of national and state level commissions that monitor compliance with human rights; a free press, and a vibrant and vocal civil society. India continues its endeavours towards fulfilling its human rights obligations and places equal emphasis on the civil and political rights and freedoms of its citizens as well as their socio-economic development. A series of affirmative measures are also in place to help the more vulnerable and marginalised, who have long suffered discrimination.
Mr. Chairperson, 
11. This year, India presented Universal Periodic Review, the third in less than ten years, on its human rights record in Geneva. Also this year, India presented its Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the SDGs under the 2030 Agenda here at the UN. Both these voluntary and state-driven processes elicited wide interest and engagement. A similar voluntary aspect is behind the success of the climate action contributions put forward by Parties under the landmark Paris Agreement. 
12. All these are instances of constructive and collaborative engagement for shaping a better collective future. We believe that this cooperative spirit rather than the counter-productive and often politicized 'naming and shaming', is essential to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights globally. 
Thank you Mr. Chairperson.