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Convention against Torture Initiative 2014 - 2024

24.09.2014  13:16

At a high level meeting held today during the high level week of the 69th session of the General Assembly in New York, the Convention against Torture Initiative – a global initiative for the universal ratification and implementation of the UN Convention against Torture – was presented by foreign ministers and other high level representatives from Chile, Denmark, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco.

No state stands alone in the fight against torture. The message was clear when governments and state representatives were today introduced to the Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) at a high level event during the high level week of the General Assembly in New York.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Mr Heraldo Muñoz Valenzuela explained that:

“Torture can never be justified, under any circumstances, and this should never be forgotten. This is why we have embarked on this Initiative and why we want to continue our support of the campaign for universal ratification of the Convention against Torture, as a first step towards the final goal of eradicating this scourge from the planet.  Some years ago, my country experienced the systematic practice of torture. This experience made us more aware of our responsibility vis-à-vis future generations to make Chile a country where every one of the inhabitants can live without fear of suffering torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The rule of law existing in Chile is the best guarantee that any complaint of torture will be investigated and the perpetrators punished by the law courts.”  

The CTI, which was officially launched in Geneva in March 2014, has as its objective to reach universal ratification and implementation of UN Convention against Torture within the next 10 year. The initiative will support governments’ efforts to ratify and implement UNCAT by serving as 

  • a vehicle to publicly highlight the good work and progress being achieved by individual governments on torture prevention;
  • a knowledge hub, collecting and developing best practices, guidelines etc. and as
  • a facilitator of technical assistance and peer-to-peer advice to governments in relation to ratification and implementation of UNCAT,

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Mr Martin Lidegaard, explained that:

“We are very well aware that we cannot achieve our goal overnight. That is why the CTI has a 10-year perspective. We’re in it for the long haul. But with our eyes firmly fixed on our goal: To stand here again in 10 years, and celebrate that all States in the world are Parties to the Convention against Torture and that we have all become better at implementing it.”

Forty Member States of the United Nations have still not ratified the Convention against Torture, and of the 155 States that have, many still face challenges of living up to Convention obligations. With the Convention against Torture Initiative, the five countries spearheading the initiative, Chile, Denmark, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco want to introduce a new concerted approach of inter-State cooperation to facilitate mutual support when finding solutions to shared challenges that tend to be dealt with on a national basis without seeking experience and advice from peers. 

Underscoring the important link between existing mechanisms and the CTI, the Chair of the Committee against Torture, Mr Claudio Grossman stressed that:

“States should see ratification as the start of a process which brings them into compliance with obligations over time, through the mechanisms described in the Convention, and the CTI is an excellent platform to assist States to take the necessary steps to join in and to achieve universal ratification of the Convention.”

Chile, Denmark, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco encouraged all UN Member States to join the CTI Group of Friends – a platform for States, civil society organizations, UN experts and other relevant stakeholders sharing the vision of the CTI. Norway, Togo and Tunisia announced their membership earlier this month in Geneva, and during today’s meeting Costa Rica, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom announced their intention to also join the Group of Friends.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, Mr Manuel Gonzalez-Sanz, said:

“The effective implementation of human rights instruments, in particular of the Convention against Torture, demands of the international community to move from words to action. In this regard, Costa Rica is happy to join today the Group of Friends of the Convention Against Torture Initiative. I hope many more Member States will Follow."

The Convention against Torture Initiative was launched in March 2014 by the Governments of Chile, Denmark, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco. The objective is to have universal ratification of the UN Convention against Torture by 2024.

Journalists are welcome to contact:

Mr Rene Ruidiaz, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN, rruidiaz@minrel.gov.cl, +1 917 322 6804

Ms Rikke Skou Melsen, Advisor, Permanent Mission of Denmark to the UN, rikkme@um.dk, +1 212 705 4931

Ms Charlotte Djan, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Ghana to the UN, c3ghanaun@aol.com, +1 832 1300

Ms Nona Gae Luna, Third Secretary, Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the UN, nona.luna@kemlu.go.id, +1 212 972 8333

Mr Omar Rabi, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Morocco to the UN, omarrabi@gmail.com, +1 347 651 9532