Baha'is address historic UN hearings

5 July 2005

UNITED NATIONS, United States — A representative of the Baha'i International Community outlined specific recommendations for reform of the United Nations during an address at historic hearings between non-governmental organizations and the UN General Assembly.

Roberto Eghrari, who is from Brazil, put forward the Baha'i position on 24 June at a session chaired by the president of the UN General Assembly, Jean Ping.

Among the recommendations Mr. Eghrari outlined were:

-- That advancement of the role of women is an essential element in strengthening the effectiveness of the UN.

-- That the Human Rights Commission should be greatly strengthened by creating a standing "Human Rights Council."

-- That mechanisms for funding the United Nations should be strengthened, beyond voluntary contributions.

-- That the capacities and diverse experiences of civil society must be included in all aspects of UN work-- from decision making to on-the-ground implementation.

Mr. Eghrari said the guiding principle that must now animate reform "is the oneness of humanity, a spiritual principle that underpins the very nature of human reality."

"We are one human family, and each member of the human race is born into the world as a trust of the whole," said Mr. Eghrari. "It is on the basis of this recognition of our essential oneness that a process of reform can be successful."

The Baha'i International Community was among some 200 international civil society organizations invited to participate in the series of interactive hearings held 23-24 June 2005.

In advance of September's Millennium Plus Five Summit of world leaders, the General Assembly sought input from NGOs on four main themes: human rights, poverty elimination, peace and security, and United Nations reform.

The hearings featured statements by select NGOs, along with a dialogue between a larger group of NGO representatives and government delegations. It was the first time the UN General Assembly has held this type of meeting.

The Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Diane Ala'i, was also chosen as an "active participant" in the hearing on human rights, which was held 23 June.

That designation entitled Ms. Ala'i to offer a response during the dialogue held on "Freedom to Live in Dignity."

In her remarks, Ms. Ala'i also supported the creation of a Human Rights Council. Such a council should continue to utilize so-called "special procedures" by which the current Human Rights Commission can create special rapporteurs that can monitor human rights in specific countries.

She also stressed the importance of maintaining the understanding that human rights are universal, as outlined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.