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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS EIGHT TEXTS, EXTENDS MANDATES ON ERITREA, CÔTE D’IVOIRE AND ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS EIGHT TEXTS, EXTENDS MANDATES ON ERITREA, CÔTE D’IVOIRE AND ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Adopts Presidential Statement on the Situation of Human Rights of Muslims in Myanmar
14 June 2013

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted eight texts in which it extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women.  The Council also adopted a Presidential Statement on the human rights situation of Muslims in Myanmar, calling on the Government to take immediate measures to put an end to all acts of violence and violations of human rights against Muslims.

Other texts dealt with the human rights of migrants; strengthening of technical assistance and consultative services to Guinea; the holding of a stand-alone high-level interactive dialogue with the aim of exploring how all stakeholders can work effectively towards the implementation of the road map and the realization of human rights in Somalia; and technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan.

In a Presidential Statement on the situation of human rights of Muslims in Myanmar, the Council expressed its deep concern at the gross violations of human rights against Muslims in Myanmar, including against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State and urged the Government of Myanmar to take immediate measures to put an end to all acts of violence and all violations of human rights against Muslims.  It also called upon political and religious leaders in the country to give precedence to peaceful resolution through dialogue.

In a resolution on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea for a period of one year.  It called upon the Government of Eritrea to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and requested the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with all information and the resources necessary to fulfil the mandate.

In a resolution, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide the technical assistance requested by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire for a period of one year, and requested the Independent Expert to submit his report at the twenty-fifth session and his recommendations at the twenty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council.

In a resolution, the Council urged States to take meaningful steps to address the harmful attitudes, customs, practices, stereotypes and unequal power relations that underlay and perpetuated rape and other forms of sexual violence and to ensure that national laws and policies were in compliance with their international human rights obligations and were non-discriminatory and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women for a period of three years.

Concerning the human rights of migrants, the Council called upon States that had not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and reaffirmed that when exercising their sovereign right to enact and implement migration and border security measures, States had the duty to comply with their obligations under international law in order to ensure full respect for the human rights of all migrants.

In a resolution on strengthening of technical cooperation and consultative services in Guinea, the Council urged all political actors to take an active part in good faith in the political dialogue, and invited them to organize free, democratic and transparent legislative elections as soon as possible, and to prevent and prohibit acts of violence during the democratization process.  It firmly reiterated its appeal to the international community to provide the Guinean Government with appropriate assistance.

In a resolution on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the Council decided to hold, at its twenty-fourth session a stand-alone high-level interactive dialogue with the aim of exploring how all stakeholders can work effectively towards the implementation of the road map and the realization of human rights in Somalia and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to provide a summary of the key conclusions.

The Council in a resolution called upon the Government of South Sudan to implement legally binding international and regional human rights instruments to which it was party, and requested it to take steps to tackle impunity and improve the justice system.  The Council also requested Member States and stakeholders to support the national efforts of the Government of South Sudan on technical assistance and capacity-building.

Introducing resolutions and decisions were Mexico, Djibouti, Gabon on behalf of the African Group, Turkey, Somalia, Canada and Russia.

Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, United States, India, Japan, Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Indonesia, Thailand, Venezuela, Brazil, Switzerland and Sierra Leone made general comments.

The United States spoke in explanation of the vote before the vote.

Myanmar, Eritrea, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and South Sudan spoke as concerned countries.

The Human Rights Council will resume its work this afternoon at 3 p.m., to continue to take action on decisions and resolutions, appoint special procedures mandate holders, and adopt the report of its twenty-third regular session before closing the session.   

Action on Presidential Statement under Organizational and Procedural Matters

Action on Presidential Statement on Myanmar

In a Presidential Statement (A/HRC/23/L.26) on the situation of human rights of Muslims in Myanmar, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council expresses its deep concern at the gross violations of human rights against Muslims in Myanmar, including against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State; urges the Government of Myanmar to take immediate measures to put an end to all acts of violence and all violations of human rights against Muslims and to take all necessary measures to prevent the destruction of places of worship, and calls upon political and religious leaders in the country to give precedence to peaceful resolution through dialogue; calls upon the Government of Myanmar to take all necessary measures to ensure accountability and to end impunity for all violations of human rights, to ensure the return of all refugees and persons displaced, and to allow full access of humanitarian assistance to affected persons and communities and, in this regard, urges the Government to implement agreements between the authorities of Myanmar and the international community for the distribution of humanitarian aid without any discrimination; and encourages the Government of Myanmar to continue to engage with the Human Rights Council on this matter.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in a general comment on Presidential Statement L. 26 which was drafted by all members of the Council, said that the Council fully recognized the challenges which Myanmar confronted but could not remain indifferent to the difficulties facing Muslims in the country.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation wished Myanmar every success in addressing those challenges.    

United States, in a general comment, said that Myanmar was an ethnically and religiously diverse country.  The United States was concerned about violence against ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar and said that durable solutions grounded in international human rights norms and standards were needed.  The United States urged Myanmar to promote a pluralistic society and put an end to violence and discrimination against minorities.  Refugees and internally displaced persons should be allowed to return with dignity and consistently with international humanitarian principles.  The United States would continue to work with Myanmar to help it protect the rights of all its diverse peoples.

India, speaking in a general comment, said that it would join the consensus on the issue even if it did not see a need for the Presidential Statement at this time as a resolution on the issue had been already adopted during the March 2013 session of the Human Rights Council.  The international community should work constructively with Myanmar and support its efforts.

Japan, speaking in a general comment, expressed condolences to victims of the violence and condemned all violence regardless of where it came from.  Japan welcomed the commitment of the authorities to address impunity and to undertake action to ensure the human rights of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.  Myanmar faced significant challenges in the democratisation and national reconciliation process and Japan called on the international community to support the country in those efforts.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, strongly condemned widespread and systematic violations of human rights of the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State and violence against Muslims in other provinces in Myanmar.  The European Union was of the opinion that the Presidential Statement should have made the difference between the situation in Rakhine State and the violence against Muslims elsewhere in Myanmar and should have made it clear that the issue of that violence was more complex than just sectarian intolerance.  The return of all refuges must be voluntary and must be implemented according to international standards.

Indonesia, speaking in a general comment, said that it saw an urgent need for Myanmar to respond to the concerns of the international community about human rights challenges in the country and to address those challenges in accordance with international law.  Indonesia believed that democracy and stability in Myanmar were essential not only for the region but also globally; therefore the international community should give encouragement and space to Myanmar to complete the democratization process.

Thailand, speaking in a general comment, said that it had been following closely the situation in the Rohingya state and that Myanmar should be given more time and space to implement the recommendations made to it.  Thailand appreciated the constructive engagement and the flexibility shown by Myanmar during the preparation of the Presidential Statement. 

Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, said that it believed in the merit of engagement and dialogue.  Presidential Statements normally had a consensual nature but the particular statement on Myanmar was characterized by inaccuracy, misrepresentation, and lack of credible information.  Myanmar expressed strong reservations about the recurrent use of the word “Rohingya” in the statement.  Nevertheless, the right to citizenship would be considered in line with Myanmar’s citizenship law.  Myanmar’s President had made it very clear that all perpetrators of violence would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  In addition, practical measures were being taken to address the situation in the Rakhine state, including establishing the independent Rakhine Investigation Commission.  It was regrettable that senseless violence had caused tragic loss of life, destruction of property and displacement of people from both sides.  However, the recent violent incidents were isolated incidents and did not represent the Myanmar society.  Myanmar was determined to continue to move forward towards a peaceful, just, harmonious and democratic society, but, as a country in transition, it was facing many challenges and obstacles and therefore needed encouragement and support from the international community.   

Action on Resolution under the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development

Action on Resolution on the Human Rights of Migrants

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.12) on the human rights of migrants, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council calls upon States that have not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and requests the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to promote and raise awareness of the Convention; expresses its concern at legislation and measures adopted by some States that may restrict the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, and reaffirms that, when exercising their sovereign right to enact and implement migration and border security measures, States have the duty to comply with their obligations under international law in order to ensure full respect for the human rights of all migrants; and takes note with appreciation of the actions taken by several special procedures of the Human Rights Council and the treaty bodies for the effective prevention of violations of the human rights of migrants.

Mexico, introducing draft resolution L.12, said that while States did have a sovereign right to design and implement their migratory policies and measures, they were also bound to tailor those measures to the human rights of people crossing their borders and residing on their territories.  The number of people dying while crossing borders today was unacceptable, as was the language used to describe migrants as illegal.  Mexico stressed that all States in the world were involved in migration, either as senders or receivers of migrants.  Promoting and reaffirming international standards that sought to protect the rights of migrants was not only the imperative dictated by the universality of human rights, but was the responsibility of States before their citizens.  The draft resolution focused on the right of life and liberty of migrants and urged States to respect those rights by using detention only as a last resort.  States should also consider border crossing as administrative offences and not as crimes.  States should ensure that their migratory laws and policies were in line with internationally accepted standards.  Mexico said that oral revisions to the draft resolution L.12 were circulated in the room. 

Action on Resolution under Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.17) on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms committed by the Eritrean authorities, the severe restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression, the forced conscription of citizens for indefinite periods of national service, and the widespread use of torture; calls upon the Government of Eritrea to end its use of arbitrary detention of its citizens, to end the use of torture, to account for and release all political prisoners, to ensure free and fair access to an independent judicial system for those detained, and to put an end to the system of indefinite national service.  The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea for a period of one year and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report to the Council at its twenty-sixth session; calls upon the Government of Eritrea to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with all information and the resources necessary to fulfil the mandate.

Djibouti, introducing resolution L.17 on behalf of a group of countries, said that the human rights situation in Eritrea was seriously deteriorating.  According to information gathered by the Special Rapporteur, the serious human rights violations included extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, and degrading treatment.  The resolution proposed to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one year.  The resolution also urged Eritrea to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to grant him access to its territory.  The group of countries hoped that the Council would adopt the resolution by consensus, as it did the last time.     

Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, said that generally it did not support mandates which targeted specific countries.  It therefore wished to dissociate itself from the proposed resolution on Eritrea, and would explain its vote after the vote on this resolution. 

Eritrea, speaking as the concerned country, said that the draft resolution L.17 was similar to previous politically-motivated resolutions on Eritrea and reminded the Council that Eritrea was a country born in the struggle for liberation and human rights in which it citizens had been denied their human rights, including the right to self-determination.  Eritrea reiterated its commitment to uphold human rights as a priority and reassured the Council that this commitment would not be hampered by any hostile acts and politicized resolutions of the Council.  The United States and other countries continuously ignored human rights in order to adopt this resolution and Eritrea called on the Council to desist from falling into the politically motivated trap, show transparency and impartiality and work to promote human rights only.  The allegations in the draft resolution were false and diverted the attention from the subject of the illegal occupation of parts of the territory of the country by Ethiopia.  The establishment of settlements in the illegally occupied territories and the expulsion of the population represented a serious human rights violation and Eritrea called on the Human Rights Council to urgently address this serious human rights issue.  Eritrea would not abandon its independent and sovereign rights and the Council should desist from being dragged into a resolution that undermined the sovereignty of the country.  The draft resolution and the decision to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea undermined the constructive dialogue on human rights and hampered the efforts to prepare for the second cycle of Universal Periodic Review.

Action on Resolutions under Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance to Côte d’Ivoire

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.2.Rev1) on technical assistance to Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council condemns the resurgence of attacks by unidentified armed groups in Côte d’Ivoire; deplores the attack on the Nahibly camp for displaced persons and urges the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to expedite the investigations under way to identify the perpetrators of these acts and to bring them before the competent courts.  The Council requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide the technical assistance requested by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, including support for the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the international community to continue to support the reconstruction and reconciliation process under way in Côte d’Ivoire, and to support the national efforts made by Côte d’Ivoire and its institutions to improve the human rights situation in the country, and to support the new National Human Rights Commission, through technical assistance and capacity-building programmes; decides therefore to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire for a period of one year, from the twenty-third to the twenty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council; requests the Independent Expert to submit his report at the twenty-fifth session and his recommendations at the twenty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council.

Gabon, introducing resolution L. 2/Rev. 1 on behalf of the African Group, said that the resolution was a logical consequence of resolutions previously adopted by the Council.  The African Group expressed its gratitude to the Independent Expert for his work on this mandate, and noted a clear improvement in the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire.  However, the African Group remained concerned about the fragile security situation in the country and said that a mandate was necessary to protect the population.  Allegations of violence against women and girls were a major concern.  The resolution asked for the renewal of the Independent Expert’s mandate and for the continuation of technical assistance provided to Cote d’Ivoire.  The resolution also appealed to the international community to continue to offer its support and technical assistance to the country to help it meet the challenges it faced. 

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said that it welcomed the resolution and paid tribute to the Ivorian delegation for their constructive cooperation.  The security situation in the country was volatile, the population remained fragmented, and the country should remain on the agenda of the Council.  The resolution called on the Ivorian authorities to continue to promote dialogue and reconciliation in the country.  The resolution also tackled the issue of violence against women and children and called on the authorities to address them.  

Côte d’Ivoire, speaking as the concerned country, thanked all the partners who assisted the drafting of the resolution L.2/Rev.1 and particularly the African Group for their involvement in the drafting process.

Action on Resolution on Strengthening of Technical Cooperation and Consultative Services in Guinea

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.4) on strengthening of technical cooperation and consultative services in Guinea, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council recognizes the efforts made by the Government of Guinea to strengthen the rule of law and improve the human rights situation in Guinea; takes note of the change in the composition of the Independent National Electoral Commission; urges all political actors to take an active part in good faith in the political dialogue, and invites them to organize free, democratic and transparent legislative elections as soon as possible, and to prevent and prohibit acts of violence during the democratization process.  The Council firmly reiterates its appeal to the international community to provide the Guinean Government with appropriate assistance to promote respect for human rights, and to support the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guinea; and invites the High Commissioner to report to the Council at its twenty-fifth regular session on the situation of human rights and the work of her office in Guinea.

Gabon, introduced draft resolution L.4 on behalf of the African Group and then introduced oral revisions to the text.  This draft resolution followed logically from the previous resolutions of the Human Rights Council on Guinea and it recognized the efforts of the country to set up the institutions.  The African Group was concerned about the degradation of the situation due to the late implementation of the elections and firmly condemned all acts of ethnical hatred and all human rights violations.  The draft resolution encouraged Guinea to fight against impunity and violence and to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and appealed to the international community to support and accompany Guinea as it sought to build and consolidate the rule of law and respect for human rights in the country.  

Guinea, speaking as the concerned country, said that it was a country in democratic transition and therefore it was confronted with many difficulties.  Nevertheless, Guinea remained committed to consolidating respect for human rights and reaffirmed its political will to do everything necessary to promote and protect human rights despite the numerous difficulties.  Significant progress had been made in promoting constructive and inclusive dialogue.  Guinea reaffirmed its will to continue to cooperate fully with the Council.
 
United States, speaking in a general comment, said that the challenges before Guinea remained serious given the ongoing violence, human rights violations and violence at political protests, including the killings of protest participants.  The Government had taken positive steps as witnessed in the recent agreement with the opposition political parties to pave the way for all parties to participate in the legislative elections.

Action on Resolution on Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.11) on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to hold, at its twenty-fourth session, a stand-alone high-level interactive dialogue with the aim of exploring how all stakeholders can work effectively towards the implementation of the road map and the realization of human rights in Somalia; also decides to invite to the above-mentioned high-level interactive dialogue the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a high-level representation from the Federal Government of Somalia, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, and other relevant stakeholders; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to provide a summary of the key conclusions of the high-level dialogue pertaining to how to ensure maximum effectiveness of technical and other assistance in implementing the road map.

Turkey, introducing draft resolution L.11 on behalf of the Group of Friends of Somalia, warmly welcomed the ownership that Somalia had shown in furthering this initiative.  The eight-year transition had ended last year and a new Parliament, President, and Government had been chosen.  Security was improving and the famine had receded.  It was crucial to improve the human rights situation which must be seen as integral to establishing the foundations for wider peace, stability and prosperity in this country.  Somalia should pursue its efforts to address challenges in the field of human rights and to strengthen the protection of women, children, journalists and human rights defenders.  Strategic and coordinated assistance was important in supporting the ambitions of the Government to realize their human rights obligations and the international community had a pivotal role to play.  The draft resolution moved the international community away from previous approach to Somalia and set in motion a more strategic and coordinated engagement between the council and the Federal Government of Somalia.

Somalia, also introducing draft resolution L.11, expressed gratitude to the United Kingdom for co-hosting the two London Conferences on Somalia, and to Turkey, Japan and the African Union for other Conferences on Somalia.  The draft resolution represented the first consideration of the Human Rights Council after the end of the 13 long years of the institutional transitional period in Somalia.  The Government was engaging proactively with the Council since 2008 in spite of the tremendous challenges and had decided to reinforce this engagement with the view to improving the human rights situation for all the Somalis.  The Government would soon adopt its post-transition human rights road map in close cooperation with the Independent Expert and envisaged the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission which would be broad-based and the result of in-depth consultation with all the regional stakeholders to prevent political misunderstanding.  The support and respect for national ownership for a sustainable and responsible performance was directly linked to the strengthening of the legitimacy of the Government at national and sub-national levels.  Timely and better coordinated bilateral and multilateral cooperation was vital for the full stabilization of the country.  Somalia then introduced oral revisions to the text of the draft resolution.

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that it looked forward to continuing to help Somalia in its efforts to strengthen human rights in full consultation with its civil society and with all international stakeholders.  The reforms currently underway in Somalia were critical to improving the human rights environment in the country.  Reform of the security sector, in particular, played a key role in protecting human rights, which, in turn, was crucial to consolidating stability in Somalia. 

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building for South Sudan in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.24) on technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon the Government of South Sudan to implement legally binding international and regional human rights instruments to which it is party; requests the Government to take steps to tackle impunity and improve the justice system and to further strengthen the independence of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission.  The Council also requests Member States and stakeholders to support the national efforts of the Government of South Sudan on technical assistance and capacity-building to include training and workshops in human rights education; requests the High Commissioner to report on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, to work with the Government of South Sudan to provide technical assistance, and to identify additional areas of assistance; also requests the High Commissioner to submit an interim report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-sixth session, and a final report at its twenty-eighth session, on progress in technical assistance and capacity-building.

Gabon, speaking on behalf of African Group, introducing resolution L. 24, said that it was aware of the difficulties facing South Sudan, the youngest State in Africa, in its efforts to promote and protect human rights.  The African Group recognized the steps taken by South Sudan to strengthen human rights mechanisms and improve the situation on the ground.  Nevertheless, it noted with concern the continuation of clashes between various groups in the country, which, the African Group said, undermined progress.  South Sudan should take concrete measures to combat impunity, which should include, among other things, the training of officials.  The African Group encouraged the international community to provide the necessary technical assistance and financial aid required to help South Sudan move along the path to democracy.  

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, welcomed the resolution and recognized the progress which South Sudan had made on certain issues, such as improving media freedom.  However, the European Union remained concerned about acts of intimidation against journalists and about intercommunity fighting.  South Sudan should take steps to promote reconciliation, combat impunity, tackle the issue of arbitrary arrest and detention, and ensure the protection of civilians at all times.  The European Union would continue to support South Sudan to build the capacity of the rule of law and human rights institutions.  The international community should also carry on monitoring closely the human rights situation on the ground.

South Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, expressed appreciation for the efforts and the contributions in drafting resolution L.24 made by the United States, Ireland on behalf of the European Union and the African Group.  South Sudan would never have a policy of violating the human rights of its people and was committed to fully protecting their human rights.  South Sudan called on the international community to help build a viable and vibrant State that protected and promoted human rights.

Action on Resolution under the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development

Action on Resolution on Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate All Forms of Violence against Women

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.28) on accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women: preventing and responding to rape and other forms of sexual violence, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council strongly condemns all acts of violence against women and girls, and calls for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence; urges States to take meaningful steps to address the harmful attitudes, customs, practices, stereotypes and unequal power relations that underlie and perpetuate rape and other forms of sexual violence and to ensure that national laws and policies are in compliance with their international human rights obligations and are non-discriminatory; invites the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to make available to the State concerned, upon its request, the rapid deployment of expertise to investigate allegations of mass rape or systematic sexual violence, including by utilizing existing regionally diverse and gender-balanced multilateral rosters of readily deployable trained professionals; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women for a period of three years.

Canada, introducing draft resolution L. 28, said that violence against women and girls remained a global problem experienced both in the private and public sphere, in conflict and non-conflict situations.  In recent years, high-profile cases of rape had been reported, so the resolution focused on preventing and responding to rape.  Canada had engaged in open and inclusive consultations on the resolution, which proposed action to be taken by Governments, communities, religious leaders, women and girls, men and boys, and all other concerned international actors in order to prevent and respond to rape and other forms of violence.  The resolution also proposed action to be taken to tackle religious, cultural and other practices which underlay and perpetuated rape.  Canada underlined the serious health consequences of sexual violence and the need to provide appropriate healthcare services to victims.  Oral revisions were proposed to the text of the resolution. 

Russian Federation, introducing amendments to draft resolution L. 28, said that the co-sponsors of the resolution had refused to listen to the serious concerns expressed by a number of delegations, so the Russian Federation was obliged to propose institutional amendments.  However, in order to avoid standing in the way of the resolution being adopted by consensus, the Russian Federation would withdraw its amendments.  

Brazil, speaking in a general comment on behalf of a group of States, said that violence against women and especially sexual violence was the most harsh and cruel facet of discrimination against women and girls and was an offence against human dignity.  Every woman had the right to be free of violence, the right to recognition and enjoyment of all human rights and all liberties enshrined in international and regional instruments.  Adopting firm action to put an end to this scourge was pressing.  The response to violence against women and girls must include actions to prevent it and must ensure access to justice and care for the victims.  The text represented a significant progress in addressing sexual violence, its root causes and intervening in the area of reproductive health which was crucial for victims of sexual violence.  The draft resolution would be the first basis from which to build strategy to eradicate violence against women and take forward the decisions of the many conferences on the situation of women.

United States, speaking in a general comment, strongly supported the commitment of the Human Rights Council to the human rights of women and girls and said that ending the global scourge of violence against women would require services for survivors, prosecution for perpetrators and should address all forms of violence against women especially those inflicted by intimate partners.  Most vulnerable women and girls, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, indigenous women and women with disabilities must be protected.  In post-conflict situations, domestic violence or intimate partner violence increased due to a breakdown of laws and social norms.  Respecting and improving the human rights of women must be at the heart of efforts to end violence against women and the United States was pleased that the draft text recognized the links between reproductive rights, violence against women and the human rights of women.  The United States remained deeply concerned about sexual violence and rape in situations of conflict and stressed the need for accountability for those committing such crimes.

Switzerland, in a general comment, said that combating violence against women was a priority in Swiss human rights policy.  The problem required concrete measures by all States.  Switzerland said that the text of the draft resolution proposed by Canada should have referred to the main cause of violence against women, which was the inequality between men and women.  In addition, the issue of impunity was not adequately and exhaustively addressed in the text.  Moreover, several important elements had been dropped in the amended version of the resolution.  Despite all that, Switzerland supported the resolution.

Sierra Leone, speaking in a general comment, said that despite numerous resolutions little progress had been made and women continued to suffer violence and rape.  The proposed draft resolution put forward a holistic approach to the problem, and Sierra Leone strongly supported it. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/090E