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Welcome Remarks for the eLearning Course: “Unrolling the Links Between Anticorruption and Human Rights”


President of the Human Rights Council Nazhat Shameem Khan

Recording Scheduled for 14 April 2021

Good day.

Let me start by thanking the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the Rule of Law and Anticorruption Centre, who have developed this important tool on anticorruption and human rights. Needless to say, I am honoured and very glad to be given this opportunity to make my own small contribution to your learning journey.

In this spirit, it is my great pleasure to warmly welcome you to module one of the eLearning course on "anticorruption and human rights: mainstreaming anticorruption for the effective promotion and protection of human rights".

This first module is titled "Unrolling the Links Between Anticorruption and Human Rights" and at its conclusion you will be able to understand the effects of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights and identify the linkages between anticorruption efforts and the full enjoyment, protection and promotion of human rights issues.

By way of introduction, my name is Nazhat Shameem Khan and I have the great honour to serve as the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the year 2021, during the Council's 15th cycle.

The United Nations General Assembly established the Human Rights Council in 2006 and it is composed of 47 Member States of the United Nations, each of whom is elected on the basis of equitable geographic representation, directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the Member States of the United Nations.[1]

The General Assembly mandated that the Council "shall be responsible for promoting universal respect of the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner"[2].

As President I work hard to ensure that the Council functions properly and can address all human rights and fundamental freedoms issues in a timely and effective manner.

In this context, I am pleased to inform you that the Human Rights Council has undertaken significant work related to your first module on "unrolling the links between anticorruption and human rights" and this work clearly shows that corruption does negatively impact all human rights, whether they be civil and political rights or economic, social and cultural rights.

In fact, since 2012 the Council has adopted five resolutions on the negative impacts of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, each of which mandates an activity or report on the subject.

One particularly useful report, mandated by a Council resolution, that I would like to encourage you to consult is entitled "Progress report on the issue of the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights", which very insightfully considers, inter alia, the definition of corruption, how corruption has negatively impacted the enjoyment of human rights and the value in linking corruption and its negative impact with the enjoyment of human rights[3].

In addition, I would like to bring to your attention two Council processes that regularly assist States' anticorruption efforts.

The first is the Universal Periodic Review, during which Member States of the United Nations offer recommendations to a Member State on what actions to take to improve the human rights situations in their country. Every State participates in the Universal Periodic Review, and many recommendations are specifically on anticorruption efforts.

The second is Agenda Item 10, under which various resolutions are adopted during sessions of the Human Rights Council. The resolutions under Agenda Item 10 provide technical assistance and capacity building to various Member States. And this technical assistance and capacity building often focuses on helping those States strengthen good governance efforts, which in turn reduces the corruption and helps improve human rights.

Each of these Human Rights Council resources and processes on anticorruption is complemented by the efforts of other United Nations Bodies to enhance anticorruption efforts.

Indeed, in 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which covers many different forms of corruption, such as bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions and various acts of corruption in the private sector. The Convention also outlines five areas of action on corruption, which are preventive measures, criminalization and law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery and technical assistance and information exchange.[4] This is an additional resource that I would encourage you to consult, especially given that nearly all Member States of the United Nations are Parties to the Convention.[5]

Relatedly, I wish to highlight the official United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day, 9 December, which is a day to raise awareness about corruption and the role of the Convention against Corruption in preventing it.

As my speaking time is running out, I wish to complete my intervention by mentioning the two following interdependent concepts namely: "ethics" and "good governance". Indeed, these concepts have an inextricable linkage with human rights promotion and each is as important as the other and also inseparably bound with the other. In this regard, States have the primary responsibility, at the national level, including through constitutional provisions and other relevant legislation consistent with their international obligations, to ensure that professional public services uphold the highest standards of efficiency and are predicated on good governance principles. Consequently, the work of United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the Rule of Law and Anticorruption Centre to create this tool is critical given the importance of human rights training and education in disseminating positive values and standards that are key for the efficiency of the public service.

To conclude, I wish to express my sincerest hope that this module helps you understand the negative impacts of corruption on human rights, that you consult the wide-ranging and important materials on corruption produced by the United Nations and that you carry all of your learning forward with you.

I thank you for your attention and wish you all the best with your module.


[1] Operative Paragraph 1 & 7, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/251.

[2] Operative Paragraph 2, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/251.

[3] "Progress Report of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on the Issue of the Negative Impact of Corruption on the Enjoyment of Human Rights", A/HRC/26/42 (14 May 2014).