Ambassador Sharon Brennen-Haylock, Director-General, led a delegation to the 39th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. Members included Ms. Jennifer Stuart-Bastian, Counsel, Office of The Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs. The session represented the first session convened under the leadership of Ms. Michelle Bachelet the newly appointed United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Dignitaries that addressed the session included the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations of the United Kingdom and the Vice-Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation of Panama.
The Bahamas is vying for membership on the Human Rights Council. Elections will take place in New York on 12th October, 2018. Other candidates vying for a seat on the council are Uruguay and Argentina for the GRULAC Seas for the term 2019-2021
Ambassador Brennen-Haylock pictured with Ms. Kate Gilmore. In light of The Bahamas’ candidacy for first-time election to the Human Rights Council, endorsed by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Haylock took the opportunity to reaffirm The Bahamas’ commitment to being an active and constructive Council member that would help bridge the gap between the CARICOM sub-region and the Geneva-based human rights mechanisms. Also discussed was the need for disaster resilience to be viewed from a human rights perspective, given the increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes linked to climate change and the resulting impact on the right to development. Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore conveyed her personal satisfaction as well as that of the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, at The Bahamas’ leadership in undertaking this historic candidacy. During the course of their discussion Ambassador Haylock also raised the need to increase representation of CARICOM nationals, in general, and Bahamian nationals, in particular, within the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as on UN human rights expert bodies.
On Wednesday 12 September 2018, during the ongoing 39th Session of the Human Rights Council, The Bahamas delivered a statement in the context of an Interactive Dialogue with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on hazardous wastes and substances. The discussion centered on the issue of occupational exposure to hazardous wastes and substances and the importance of protecting workers’ rights in this regard. The Bahamas took the opportunity to also raise with the Special Rapporteur the issue of the transshipment of hazardous wastes through the Caribbean Sea, a practice which poses significant threats to the economy and the well-being of people and livelihoods dependent upon its marine resources and fragile coralline ecosystem. The statement was delivered by Ms. Sasha Dixon, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of The Bahamas to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva.
Ambassador Sharon C. Brennen-Haylock, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Bahamas participated in a public pledging event for candidates seeking election to the Human Rights Council in the margins of the ongoing 39th Session of the Human Rights Council. The event was hosted by Amnesty International and the International Service for Human Rights and co-sponsored by a number of other State delegations. It offered candidate States an opportunity to present their visions and objectives for their membership on the Council as well as the pledges and commitments to the promotion of human rights that they will seek to uphold while serving on the Council. The event had participation by a worldwide audience through questions posed via social media. The Bahamas emphasized the importance of an approach to governance that places human rights at the centre; reaffirmed its commitment to bringing a regional perspective to the Human Rights Council as the endorsed candidate of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and highlighted its commitment to engagement with civil society and promoting non-discrimination on all grounds.
14th September, 2018 –39th Session of the Human Rights Council the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States met with the newly appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet. The purpose of the meeting was to give the group the opportunity to engage with the High Commissioner and articulate the priorities of the region as regards her mandate. In addressing the Group the High Commissioner highlighted issues such as the importance attached by the region to technical cooperation and capacity-building, addressing violence and discrimination as well as strengthening civil society space and reducing inequalities. She noted that notwithstanding the progress achieved by the region in the promotion and protection of human rights there was still work to do, including to address gaps in implementation of national legal frameworks, improve the situation of migrants and tackle violence and discrimination against women. The Bahamas congratulated the High Commissioner on her appointment and noted the importance of ensuring gender and geographical balance in the UN Secretariat, including in the upper echelons of the UN system. Promoting human rights and gender equality should not just be a priority outside the system but also within it. Ambassador Haylock also reaffirmed The Bahamas’ commitment to engaging constructively with the High Commissioner and her office, particularly in light of the country’s bid for election to the Human Rights Council for the term 2019-2021.