Mahathir’s commitment to ratify all core UN rights treaties applauded

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Mahathir addressing the United Nations in September 2018

Hakam welcomes Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s commitment to “ratify all remaining core UN instruments related to the protection of human rights” at his speech in the 73rd UN General Assembly yesterday.

Mahathir has also promised that the new Malaysia “will firmly espouse the principles promoted by the UN in our international engagements”, which include “the principles of truth, human rights, the rule of law, justice, fairness, responsibility and accountability, as well as sustainability”.

Hakam highly commends the new Malaysia’s principled commitment to human rights at the international stage. In a world threatened by the rise of right-wing nationalism and erosion of civil liberties, the new Malaysia yesterday showed leadership and hope to the other nations on the future of human rights.

Nonetheless, Hakam also takes note of Mahathir’s concern that it “will not be easy for us because Malaysia is multi-ethnic, multireligious, multicultural and multilingual”, and that the government will “accord space and time for all to deliberate and to decide freely based on democracy”.

Whilst consultation with all stakeholders is a must, Hakam believes that the presence of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural society should not be a barrier to a country’s responsibility to uphold human rights. Human rights are innate, inalienable and universal in nature. Religion, race and culture should never be used as a justification for condoning discrimination, injustice and suffering. Everyone deserves to be shielded by and to thrive underneath the overarching umbrella of human rights.

In this respect, Hakam urges the new Malaysian government to take immediate steps to:

  • ratify, without reservations, all key international human rights conventions, which include the:
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– International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
– International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
– International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;
– UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment;
– International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families;
– International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; and
– Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

  • remove all reservations in the international human rights conventions which it has ratified, which include the:

– Convention on the Rights of the Child;
– Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw); and
– Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Malaysian government is not alone in this journey. As long as Malaysia is consistent with its recent stance in the 73rd UN General Assembly, Hakam believes that civil society organisations will wholeheartedly support this endeavour and provide all the assistance they can.

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