Argentine ambassador discusses U.N.’s challenges in addressing human rights

Selah Maya Zighelboim

The United Nations does not prioritize human rights as much as it could, Argentine Ambassador to the U.N. Alberto Pedro D’Alotto said at the on Wednesday.

At a Latin American Initiative speaker event, D’Alotto discussed the challenges hindering the U.N.’s ability to address human rights violations. These include a limited budget, an excess of recommended issues to address and a lack of ability to implement and follow up on recommendations, D’Alotto said.

“In the creation of the [U.N.], human rights was seen as one of the main purposes of this system,” D’Alotto said. “However, the organization didn’t create immediately a main body for that. If security was a main problem, they created a security council. For economic and social development, they created an economic and social council, but no creation of a main body for human rights.”

According to D’Alotto, the U.N. has only recently created the Human Rights Council, despite the U.N. listing human rights as one of its main purposes in its charter. Before 2006, a commission handled human rights issues in the U.N. Economic and Social Council. D’Alotto said the creation of a human rights main body has increased the U.N.’s access to resources and depoliticized the process of addressing human rights.

The Human Rights Council receives 3.2 percent of the U.N. budget, compared to the 24 percent of the budget the security council receives and 19 percent the development council receives, D’Alotto said.

“Some states do not want human rights to be one of the most important things to do at the U.N., though they may accept it in the rhetorics,” D’Alotto said. “In reality, they prefer not to deal with human rights.”

D’Alotto said the U.N. does not address issues such as civilian disappearances in his own country of Argentina when there are so many other issues it has to deal with.

Most of the event’s attendants were students from Anderson High School. Liz Close, an Anderson High School teacher who accompanied the students, said she is grateful her students got the opportunity to be exposed to a figure like D’Alotto.

“We’ve talked a lot about human rights issues in class, and we’re hoping that [students] can get a more global perspective,” Close said.

Law student Stephanie Bradford said she understood a message of hope from the ambassador.

“He seemed hopeful that human rights are increasingly becoming a priority, especially with our generation,” Bradford said.