Towards a discourse on human rights
The Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Honorable. Fortune Chasi appealed to stakeholders in Zimbabwe to support the Government of Zimbabwe in the promotion and protection of human rights.
Speaking during the official opening of a review and validation workshop of the National Midterm Report of the Universal Periodic Review, he noted that the universality of human rights provides a bedrock for all societies but argued further that even in highly democratic societies, there are inherent tensions between the citizen and the state.
“This is not necessarily conflictual” remarked the Deputy Minister during a three-day forum which was supported by UNDP and ran from 2 June 2014.
Constructive participation in the UPR process can contribute to Zimbabwe’s achievement of its national development priorities. Likewise, these priorities and goals can help galvanize efforts toward the achievement of human rights.
Zimbabwe underwent the UPR process from October 2011 to March 2012. During the review by the Human Rights Council in October 2012, 177 recommendations were made and Zimbabwe accepted 130.
Commending the Government of Zimbabwe for successfully embarking on the drafting of the UPR’s mid-term report, UNDP Deputy Country Director in charge of Programmes Mr. Martim Maya described the development as a critical milestone that is taking place midway through the UPR cycle.
“Zimbabwe has voluntarily chosen to provide a written update to the UN Human Rights Council on progress in the implementation of accepted recommendations” said Mr. Maya. One of the most important benefits of the UPR mechanism is that it provides an inclusive platform for all stakeholders “to come together and identify strengths and gaps in the human rights protection system, and how to overcome remaining challenges” explained the UNDP deputy director.
Through the National UPR Steering Committee, stakeholders are able to provide guidance for the implementation and ensure monitoring of recommended actions and activities as per the National Plan of Action prepared by all stakeholders. The Committee comprises representatives of government ministries and departments, civil society organisations, Parliament and traditional leaders, independent commissions, labour market Institutions and the business sector as well as the UN Country Team.
“The fact that we came together as different groups and managed to agree on a myriad of issues and in some cases, disagree shows the spirit of togetherness that we have as a nation” stressed Mrs. M. Msika, director of policy and legal research in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. “This process has shown that we are all committed to the promotion and protection of human rights in Zimbabwe.”
“Zimbabwe has remained very consistent in its compliance with the requirements of the UPR process since its initial review of October 2011. The midterm review will therefore provide it with a solid step of internally reviewing progress towards implementation of the accepted recommendations as it draws closer to its next UPR review which is in 2016” noted Ms Tafadzwa Muvingi, the UNDP Justice and Human Rights Programme Specialist.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years.