Thursday, August 13, 2009

Filipino elected vice president of UN rights council body

A Filipino has been unanimously elected vice president of the United Nations Human Rights Council's advisory committee.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the official, Purificacion Valera-Quisumbing, presidential envoy for human rights and humanitarian law, was elected unanimously on August 6.

“It is an honor for me to accept this important position. I feel it is fitting for the Philippines to be acknowledged as an advocate for human rights in the global arena. Tita Cory was a symbol of our national quest for justice and freedom, and we must remain true to her spirit and reverence for human rights," Quisumbing said in an article on the DFA website (

The HRC advisory committee is the expert think-tank body of the UN Human Rights Council, of which the Philippines is a founding member.

Some 17 independent human rights experts comprise the advisory committee, which conducts studies and accomplishes tasks given to it by member states.

Ambassador Erlinda Basilio, the Philippines permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, served as vice president of the Human Rights Council representing the Asian Group of states from June 2008 to June 2009.

One of the most significant tasks given to the advisory committee is the elaboration of a draft UN Declaration on Human Rights Education.

The DFA said the Philippines plays a leading role in this task, with Quisumbing’s inclusion as a member of the drafting group which is preparing the initial text for consideration of the council.

Also, the Philippines is a member of the cross-regional Platform for Human Rights Education and Training composed of delegations from Costa Rica, Italy, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland.

The Platform supports the efforts of the advisory committee in preparing a draft UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training.

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