HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS SIX RESOLUTIONS, CREATES MANDATE ON CÔTE D’IVOIRE
Appoints Six Special Procedure Mandate Holders, Adopts the Report of the Session Ad Referendum
27 June 2014
The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted six resolutions, including the creation of a mandate on Côte d’Ivoire, appointed six Special Procedure mandate holders and adopted the report of the session ad referendum. Other adopted texts were on human rights and climate change, the Social Forum, the contribution of Parliaments to the work of the Council and the Universal Periodic Review, and resolutions of technical assistance and cooperation to Ukraine and South Sudan.
The Council emphasized the urgent importance of continuing to address the adverse consequences of climate change and decided to hold a full-day discussion on specific themes relating to human rights and climate change during its twenty-eighth session.
It also decided that the Social Forum would meet for three working days in 2015 and requested the President of the Council to appoint the Chairperson-Rapporteur for the 2015 Social Forum.
Concerning the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review, the Council invited the High Commissioner to provide the Council with regular updates on Inter-Parliamentary Union activities on capacity building and related activities.
Concerning technical cooperation and assistance, the Council adopted, by a vote of 23 in favour, 4 against and 19 abstentions, a resolution on cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights.
The Council decided to convene, at its twenty-seventh session, a panel discussion on the human rights situation in South Sudan.
It decided to establish, for the duration of one year, a new mandate on strenghtening of capacities and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights.
The Council appointed David Kaye (United States) as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Danius Puras (Lithuania) as the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Maria Grazia Giammarinaro (Italy) as the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Baskut Tuncak (Turkey) as the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes; Seong-Phil Hong (Republic of Korea) as the member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention from Asia- Pacific States; and Sabelo Gumedze (South Africa) as the member of the Working Group on People of African Descent, from African States.
The Council then adopted ad referendum the report of its twenty-sixth session, presented by Katerina Sequensova, Human Rights Council Vice-President and Rapporteur.
In his closing remarks, Baudelaire Ndong Ella, President of the Human Rights Council, called on all to respect the Council and also called on States to halt and prevent acts of reprisals against human rights defenders.
Introducing draft texts were the Philippines, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ecuador, Ukraine, and Ethiopia on behalf of the African Group.
South Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire spoke as concerned countries.
Sierra Leone, the Maldives, Italy on behalf of the European Union, the United States, Italy, Côte d’Ivoire, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic spoke in general comments.
Japan, Mexico, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Venezuela, Chile, Japan, the United States, Italy on behalf of the European Union, Russia, Pakistan, China, Kuwait on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council States, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Cuba, and Argentina took the floor in an explanation of the vote before the vote or after the vote.
Speaking regarding the appointment of new mandate-holders were Brazil on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, India, and Ethiopia.
The following observer States spoke on the resolutions adopted: Canada, Azerbaijan, Singapore, Eritrea, Egypt, Switzerland, Georgia, Australia, and Bahrain.
Also speaking were Ethiopia on behalf of the African Group, Nigeria and Italy.
International Service for Human Rights and General Arab Women Federation took the floor in general concluding remarks.
At 6 p.m., the Council will bid farewell to Navi Pillay, the outgoing United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and will then close its twenty-sixth regular session. The twenty-seventh regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 8 to 26 September 2014.
Action on Resolution under Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
Action on Resolution on Human Rights and Climate Change
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.33) on human rights and climate change, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council expresses concern that the adverse effects of climate change have a range of direct and indirect implications for the effective enjoyment of human rights, including the right to development, and concern that climate change has contributed to the increase of both sudden-onset natural disasters and slow-onset events; emphasizes the urgent importance of continuing to address the adverse consequences of climate change for all, particularly in developing countries and its people; calls upon all States to continue to enhance international dialogue and cooperation in relation to the adverse impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights; decides to incorporate in its programme of work for the twenty-eighth session a full-day discussion on specific themes relating to human rights and climate change; and encourages relevant special procedures mandate holders to give consideration to the issue of climate change and human rights within their respective mandates.
Philippines, introducing draft resolution L.33/Rev.1 on human rights and climate change, said that it was the product of thorough and transparent consultations and negotiations, sometimes contentious, but always constructive. It was endeavoured to bring in core issues that had to be addressed by the Council in the context of climate change. There was no doubt that climate change was a global phenomenon that required concerted and global action. It affected all, it had a severe impact on the full enjoyment of human rights, in particular people of communities and countries that were less developed, poor, and had less capacities and resources. Human rights and climate change was an important issue that had to be addressed by the Council. Through this resolution the Council reintroduced the issue of the adverse impact of climate change on human rights, particularly on the right of people that were in climate change-vulnerable countries.
Bangladesh, also introducing the draft resolution, said that the impact of global climate change posed a global threat. The poor and vulnerable countries that had contributed the least to climate change and global warming bore the brunt. This important global phenomenon should receive due importance in the programme of work of the Council. The real life scenario was that millions of the world populations already in a vulnerable situation would feel the impact of climate change more acutely. The effects of climate change needed urgent attention and action. By joining the consensus, Members of the Human Rights Council would increase the credibility and effectiveness of the Council.
Sierra Leone, speaking in a general comment, was pleased that the subject of climate change had been brought to the attention of the Council. The predictions were worrying given the threats posed to States. Renewable energy options were expensive and additional research was required from the countries capable of doing so to mitigate changes and save lives. This discussion was desirable, timely and should be encouraged.
Maldives, speaking in a general comment, said it initiated the work on human rights and climate change in 2007, with the aim of giving climate change a human face and to integrate a human rights perspective in the work on climate change. As a small island developing state, vulnerable to climate change, Maldives attached great importance to this work and had followed negotiations on the resolution with the understanding that delegations central to this issue would remain involved, but expressed concerns by the manner in which co-sponsors had conducted consultations. Given the high importance attached to the work on climate change and human rights, Maldives would support the resolution and hoped that in the future countries would work together in the spirit of cooperation.
Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, recognised that climate change was a decisive global challenge which, if not urgently managed, would put at risk not only the environment but also world economic prosperity, development and, more broadly, stability and security. There was concern about the focus in the text on a specific geographic region, when climate change affected all regions and particularly least developed countries and small island and developing States in every region. International cooperation was an essential element of the European Union’s external relations. At the same time, it was stressed that the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of all human rights lay with the State. Thus international cooperation had to be utilized in conjunction with national efforts.
United States, in a general comment, recognised that climate change was an urgent, complex and far reaching global challenge, which required cooperation among all. The United States agreed that climate change had a range of direct and indirect effects on the enjoyment of human rights. On that basis it would join consensus. At the same time, the draft text raised serious concerns. There had been a missed opportunity to discuss the issue through a true human rights lens. The language of the text would in no way affect what had been agreed and accepted with regards to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The text failed to take into consideration a range of views.
Japan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, recognised that there existed serious negative impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of rights, particularly certain countries such as least developed countries and small island states. Based on this concern, Japan supported the resolution. However, Japan was concerned by the fact that the draft resolution addressed technical issues on which the Council did not have expertise. The full-day panel discussion to be established should be carried out in the most cost-effective manner, and the Council should play its role in discussing the human rights implications of climate change without duplicating work within the United Nations system.
Explanations of the Vote after the Vote on all Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote concerning the draft resolution on human rights and climate change, said that Mexico was pleased with the adoption of this resolution which made clear the human rights implications of climate change, which was one of the most serious challenges facing the world. However, Mexico stressed that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the context of climate change should be read in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and should be in no way transposed to the Council.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it would address two resolutions. On the protection of the family, it regretted that the core group was not able to reach consensus. Many legislative measures and reforms that The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had adopted at the national level were in conformity with international standards. The result of action taken had confirmed and revealed the existing differences between Members of the Human Rights Council. Secondly, on the resolution on human rights and regulation of civilians’ acquisition and possession of firearms, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia paid utmost importance to the right to life. This always was and would be a priority for it. However, this was an initiative that did not fall fully under the scope of the Council and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was not convinced to what extent the resolution would help.
Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that it had voted in favour of the resolution on the drafting of a legally binding international instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises. On the protection of the family, Venezuela would continue to participate actively on this important issue in the Council. Venezuela restated its concern at the growing use of hate speech, and racial and religious discrimination on social networks. It supported the oral amendment to the resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet.
Chile, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote concerning L.1/Rev.1 and L.22/Rev.1 on human rights and business, noted that the negotiation process did not bear fruit because of the lack of consensus. Both resolutions aimed at strengthening and guaranteeing a progressive implementation of the Guiding Principles and Chile believed that there must be a clear roadmap for the full integration of human rights in business, whether transnational or not. The broad implementation of the Guiding Principles, including on the remedies to victims, was necessary and Chile urged the establishment of positive synergies between the two processes.
Japan, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on the resolution on the death penalty, said that in Japan the death penalty was only applied for the most heinous crimes and was never applied to minors. The implementation of the death penalty in Japan was done in accordance with relevant legal and human rights norms. Abolition of the death penalty or establishment of a moratorium on the death penalty were up to each State to decide with due consideration given to the public opinion. This was why Japan voted against the resolution.
United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on resolutions under item 3, said that the United States had joined consensus on the resolution on the right to nationality (L.25), noting that despite international instruments people around the world were stateless, leading to violations such as forceful displacement and limitations on freedom of movement. The United States noted the irony in Russia’s sponsorship of the draft resolution given its actions in occupied Crimea, such as compelling the population to adopt the Russian nationality. The United States reiterated its commitment to education but had some concerns about the resolution on the right to education (L.28); some evaluation mechanisms only worked with in particular frameworks. In the United States’ federal system, evaluation mechanisms and other decisions regarding education were made at the local level. The United States was not a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its Optional Protocol, and stressed that joining in consensus did not mean its endorsement. While international assistance might facilitate the domestic promotion of human rights, its absence could not be used to justify States’ failure to fulfil their obligations for the promotion and protection of human rights. In joining consensus on the resolution concerning the right to health (L.29), the United States reiterated that this should not be interpreted as entailing the recognition of any additional rights or changes in the status of international law.
Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
Action on Resolution on the Social Forum
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.17) on the Social Forum, adopted without a vote, the Council reaffirms the Social Forum as a unique space for interactive dialogue between the United Nations human rights machinery and various stakeholders; decides that the Social Forum will meet for three working days in 2015, in Geneva; requests the President of the Human Rights Council to appoint, as early as possible, from candidates nominated by regional groups, the Chairperson-Rapporteur for the 2015 Social Forum, bearing in mind the principle of regional rotation; decides that the Social Forum will remain open to the participation of representatives of States Members of the United Nations and all other interested stakeholders; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to seek effective means of ensuring consultation and the broadest possible participation of representatives from every region, especially those from developing countries, in the Social Forum.
Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.17 on the Social Forum, said the Forum was unique within the United Nations system within. In the Social Forum, there was a possibility of exchanges on a diverse range of views, with the active participation of various sectors of civil society, including grass root organizations. It was noted with regret that some of these organizations could not participate due to lack of resources. The draft text reiterated a call to boost the participation of these sectors and a call was made to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to facilitate the participation of 10 experts in the Social Forum. Given the unique nature of the Forum, it was hoped that the draft text would be adopted without a vote.
Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it was firmly committed to the active involvement of civil society in the work of the Human Rights Council, its mechanisms, and fora. It was regretted that there was no process of consultation on the proposed theme for the next forum. Had there been such a consultation, the European Union would have signalled that access to medicine had already been discussed by the Council. The European Union disassociated itself from consensus on the draft resolution.
Japan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it recognized the overall importance of the theme of the draft resolution. However, it was concerned that previous discussions and resolutions and the mandate that would be created by this draft text, may overlap. There was a need for further examination of content, including the number of days designated for the Forum, from the point of view of resource constraints.
United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported the engagement and participation of civil society and the private sector in the work of the Council. The United States was concerned about this draft resolution on the Social Forum (L.17). Among these concerns, the draft resolution included misleading language about the economic crisis which contradicted previously agreed language. The Social Forum’s time and resources could be best spent addressing other issues rather than access to medicines, a topic which had been thoroughly discussed by the Council. The United States reiterated its explanation of vote stated on a resolution on this issue in June 2013.
Action on Resolution on the Contribution of Parliaments to the Work of the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.21) on the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review, adopted without a vote, the Council encourages States to promote the involvement of their parliaments in all stages of the Universal Periodic Review reporting process, in particular through the inclusion of the parliament as a stakeholder in the consultation process of the national report; welcomes the growing trend by States to include parliamentarians in their national delegations to the Universal Periodic Review; welcomes recent regional seminars organized with the support of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; and invites the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the Council with regular updates on Inter-Parliamentary Union activities on capacity building and related activities.
Ecuador, introducing draft resolution L.21 on the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review, expressed gratitude to the various actors that had actively participated in the negotiation of the text. It was convinced of the importance of joining efforts towards the effective promotion and protection of human rights through the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review. The document referred to recent seminars held with the support of the Inter Parliamentary Union and encouraged States to build the capacity of parliaments to contribute to the work of the Human Rights Council. It welcomed the recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly for the Mediterranean on involving parliaments in the Universal Periodic Review process in those countries.
Italy, in a general comment, said that it had contributed to the initiative with full resolve as it was convinced that the involvement of parliaments in the work of the Human Rights Council was very important. Parliaments’ awareness about the work of the Human Rights Council as well as their involvement in various stages of the Universal Periodic Review helped to better translate into action the work of this body.
Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
Action on Resolution on Cooperation and Assistance to Ukraine in the Field of Human Rights
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.15/Rev.1) on cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 4 against and 19 abstentions as orally revised, the Council calls upon all concerned parties to cooperate fully with, provide access to and allow deployment of independent human rights monitors; calls upon all concerned parties to implement recommendations contained in the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; calls on the Government of Ukraine to continue its reform efforts aimed at strengthening the human rights protection of all citizens, the rule of law and democracy; calls upon all concerned to respect freedom of expression and safe space for work of journalists; strongly condemns the violence and abuses committed by illegal armed groups; urges the Government of Ukraine to conduct security and law enforcement operations in accordance with applicable international law; and calls for protection of all human rights in Ukraine, including in Crimea.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (23): Austria, Benin, Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sierra Leone, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, and United States of America.
Against (4): China, Cuba, Russian Federation, and Venezuela.
Abstentions (19): Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and Viet Nam.
Ukraine, introducing draft resolution L. 15/Rev.1 as orally revised, said that Ukraine had been confronting a range of profound human rights challenges in recent months following the events of February this year, which witnessed a large scale loss of life and casualties related to demonstrations in the country. Ukraine had been actively seeking the help of the international community to address these challenges as it moved forward to embed democracy and the rule of law, and was grateful for the support of the Office of the High Commissioner. While many problems remained to be addressed, Ukraine was committed to open coordination with the Office of the High Commissioner and other human rights mechanisms and to give due consideration to their recommendations and in this spirit the mandate of the field presence of the Office had been prolonged. The draft resolution highlighted this cooperation and much of its content was based on the reports by the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission deployed in Ukraine at the invitation of the Government since March 2014. The draft acknowledged the efforts and achievements of the Government while highlighting remaining concerns, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, freedom of expression, the protection of journalists, and accountability for past violations. Draft resolution L.15/Rev.1 sought to bring these issues before the Council at its next session through a report by the High Commissioner on the implementation of this resolution which would be presented in September.
Côte d’Ivoire, in a general comment, said that having benefited from technical assistance and capacity building itself, it was disposed to bear witness to the positive impact of this rich experience. It would willingly support any State that considered it needed the technical assistance of the Council. Côte d’Ivoire supported the draft resolution.
Italy, on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said it believed that it was right and appropriate for the Human Rights Council to support a country seeking assistance with a view to promoting and protecting human rights on their territory. The European Union strongly supported the initiative of Ukraine seeking such assistance. It welcomed that the draft resolution addressed human rights concerns in all of Ukraine and applicable international law. The European Union regretted that ongoing activities of illegal armed groups had caused a worsening of the overall human rights situation, which the draft text also addressed.
Mexico, in a general comment, welcomed the will of Ukraine to seek support and for this reason it was convinced that the Human Rights Council had to be consolidated as a forum for cooperation. However, it was of the view that the political issues that came up in discussions on the draft resolution were not under the scope of the Council, but rather the General Assembly.
United Kingdom, in a general comment, commended Ukraine for bringing the draft resolution to the Council under item 10. The Government of Ukraine had cooperated with the United Nations human rights mechanisms over the previous months, and was committed to accepting further visits by human rights monitors. The draft resolution was a further evidence of Ukraine’s readiness to engage with the international community on protecting human rights. The United Kingdom expressed appreciation for the Office of the High Commissioner, which had reacted rapidly by deploying monitors to Ukraine.
Czech Republic, in a general comment, welcomed the timely draft resolution presented by Ukraine. Technical cooperation and capacity building were among the main roles of the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Ukraine’s cooperation with international mechanisms was exemplary and should be commended. The Czech Republic supported Ukraine’s efforts to further enhance cooperation with international human rights bodies.
Russia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it was very concerned about the situation in Ukraine and violations of human rights, including the right to life, neo Nazism and xenophobia. It therefore welcomed technical assistance to Ukraine. However, the Council was once again being used for political aims, and there had been discussions that in principle were not in keeping with the Human Rights Council. The amendments were cosmetic. Russia called for a vote.
Pakistan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, believed that the principles of impartiality, non-selectivity and non-politicization were of paramount importance. Pakistan felt that the draft resolution violated this principle. In order for the resolution to be tabled under Item 10, it was important to ensure that it did not contain any contentious element and references. Political considerations should not be allowed to undermine the work of the Council. This would set a dangerous precedent and would lead to further polarization of the Council’s work. Pakistan would abstain on the draft resolution.
China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed its concern about the situation in Ukraine and called on all sides to abstain from violence. China subscribed to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs and believed that political dialogue was the only way to solve the ongoing crisis. The international community should make constructive efforts to help calm down the situation in Ukraine. The main purpose for item 10 was to promote technical cooperation in the field of human rights, which the draft resolution did not do. Some points in the draft resolution went against principles of the Human Rights Council, which was why China would vote against the resolution.
Kuwait, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council States in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it would have liked to see consensus on all draft resolutions under item 10. However, if the draft resolution in the current form was put to a vote, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would need to abstain for reasons of procedure.
Viet Nam, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was following the situation in Ukraine and sincerely wished that Ukrainians would soon enjoy peace and prosperity, and better promotion and protection of human rights. Viet Nam believed that there was a positive role for the Council to play through technical cooperation and assistance. Viet Nam stood ready and willing to cooperate with Ukraine and other stakeholders in this area.
Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that item 10 of the Council was aimed at dealing with technical assistance and capacity building with the cooperation of the concerned country, improving the situation, on the basis of genuine cooperation. It noted with regret that there had been a presentation of a draft resolution that did not adhere to these parameters. Initiatives based on political aims did not help to truly promote and protect human rights. Venezuela rejected any undue use of the Council for political ends. It would vote against this draft resolution.
Indonesia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its clear principled position on State independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Indonesia evoked the necessity to avoid selective approach and politicization of the Council. Indonesia stated that those principles were not reflected in the draft resolution, which was why Indonesia would abstain in the vote.
Cuba, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted that the draft resolution had been presented under the agenda item 10, while the text did not correspond to the substance of that item. The draft resolution contained profoundly political aspects, which was why Cuba would vote against the draft resolution.
Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building for South Sudan in Human Rights
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.32) on technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan in human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses grave concern at the situation in South Sudan; strongly condemns the violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law that have occurred in the aftermath of the violence that broke out on 15 December 2013; demands a halt to all human rights violations, abuses and acts of violence by all parties; emphasizes that international human rights mechanisms should make efforts to support the work of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the African Union and its Commission of Inquiry for South Sudan upon their request; requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in South Sudan and decides to convene, at its twenty-seventh session, a panel discussion on the human rights situation in South Sudan.
Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, introducing draft resolution L.32 on technical assistance and capacity building assistance for South Sudan in the field of human rights, said the draft resolution expressed deep concern on the situation of human rights in South Sudan including reports of atrocities committed since the outbreak of violence on 15 December 2013. The draft text welcomed the leading role played by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and the establishment and work of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan. As per the draft resolution, a panel discussion on the human rights situation in South Sudan would be held at the twenty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council. The African Group appreciated the support of the Council to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development-led peace process and the caution exercised by Members of the Council not to duplicate the work being done by the African Union Commission of Inquiry.
Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said it was alarmed about credible reports of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by all parties in South Sudan, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The European Union welcomed intensive regional efforts to bring the crisis to an end. Human rights and violations of such gravity and scale were of grave concern to the whole international community and had to appropriately be addressed by the Council in a complimentary way. The establishment of a Special Procedure on South Sudan would be a minimum measure to be taken. The text did not reflect the gravity of the situation on the ground. The European Union also regretted the lack of transparency of the process of consultations on the draft resolution.
United States, in a general comment, said it was gravely concerned about the ongoing conflict in South Sudan and the widespread reports of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The United States was disappointed by the reluctance of leaders on both sides to set aside their narrow interests to move towards peace. It was deeply concerned by reports of unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers. Impunity for the violence had to end and those responsible had to be held to account.
South Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, said that the resolution had come as a result of negotiations between South Sudan and partners. South Sudan took its responsibilities seriously, including the protection of all of its citizens. The current conflict would be resolved and South Sudan would rise once again. While South Sudan did not want to impose its will on anyone, it expected the others to extend the same respect to South Sudan. The language used by certain delegations today was the language of the powerful towards the weak and was not acceptable in the Council. South Sudan called upon the Council to unequivocally support the ongoing peace process.
Action on Resolution on the Strengthening of Capacities and Technical Cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the Field of Human Rights
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.39) on the strengthening of capacities and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council (unofficial translation from French) condemns attacks perpetrated by non-identified armed elements in Côte d’Ivoire; notes with concern the continuing precarious humanitarian situation on the ground; welcomes the efforts of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to ratify international and regional instruments related to human rights and encourages the Government to continue its efforts to implement those instruments; requests the High Commissioner to continue to provide technical assistance requested by the Government, in particular its support to the Commission for Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation; asks the international community to continue its support to the process of reconstruction and reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire; and decides to establish a new mandate on strenghtening the capacities and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights, in the continuation of the previous mandate, for the duration of one year, renewable.
Ethiopia, on behalf of the African Group, introducing draft resolution L.39 on capacity building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights, said the resolution was intended to appoint a new mandate on capacity building and technical cooperation to Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights for a period of one year. It also welcomed the creation of and measures taken by the National Programme for Social Cohesion and the renewal of the mandate of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission and that of the Special Investigation and Prosecution Unit. It also noted the challenges, particularly as regarded the restoration of peace, national reconciliation and the fight against impunity, as well as security sector reform. The draft text requested the High Commissioner to continue to provide the technical assistance request by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire. It also called on the international community to support the efforts made by Côte d’Ivoire to improve the human rights situation in the country and to respond to its requests for technical assistance in the humanitarian, educational, health, economic and social spheres.
United States, in a general comment, said that it was pleased to join consensus on the draft resolution. The United States continued to have strong concerns about the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire. The Government was urged to ensure the protection of witnesses and judicial personnel throughout the ongoing justice and reconciliation process.
Burkina Faso, in a general comment, reiterated its support to Côte d’Ivoire, and was following with the greatest attention the ongoing conflicts in Africa. Côte d’Ivoire had made considerable progress towards reconciliation and peacebuilding, but many challenges remained nonetheless. The adoption of the resolution would make it possible for Côte d’Ivoire to continue its exemplary cooperation with the Council and guarantee the best possible protection of human rights. That was why Burkina Faso called on the Council members to adopt the draft resolution by consensus.
Côte d'Ivoire, speaking as the concerned country, thanked 72 States parties co-sponsoring the draft resolution, which showed, once again, the trust they continued to place in Côte d'Ivoire. After three years, and looking at the progress made, the Government believed that it had benefited greatly from the mandate and was now looking for a new mandate which would better meet the needs of the people in the mid-term process. The proposed mandate was based on a realistic estimation of the current circumstances. Transparent and inclusive elections were scheduled to take place in 2015. Côte d'Ivoire hoped that the Council would adopt the draft resolution by consensus.
Explanations of the Vote after the Vote after all Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building were Adopted
Argentina, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on item 10, said that the situation in Ukraine remained of concern and required a peaceful solution. The violations identified in the report of the Office of the High Commissioner were also of concern and it was important to ensure protection for the rights of all Ukrainians regardless of their individual situation. Argentina welcomed all initiatives geared towards cooperating with Ukraine to address this human rights situation, however, Argentina had abstained because the draft resolution went beyond these concerns and some of the references in the draft resolution represented a departure from technical cooperation in the field of human rights.
Chile, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on item 10, endorsed the resolution on technical assistance to Ukraine in the framework of respect for territorial integrity, the human rights of minorities, and the rights of Ukrainians to pursue self-determination through a national dialogue. Chile welcomed the report of the Office of the High Commissioner on this topic, drafted in support of the country. Chile understood that this resolution was geared towards ensuring respect for all human rights and bringing accountability for human rights violations.
Appointment of Mandate Holders
The President of the Council introduced the list of candidates and invited the Council to appoint the mandate holders.
The Council appointed David Kaye (United States) as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Danius Puras (Lithuania) as the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Maria Grazia Giammarinaro (Italy) as the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Baskut Tuncak (Turkey) as the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes; Seong-Phil Hong (Republic of Korea) as the member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention from Asia-Pacific States; and Sabelo Gumedze (South Africa) as the member of the Working Group on People of African Descent, from African States.
Brazil, speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, regretted that the list of mandate holders was not able to correct the discrepancy in the regional balance within the United Nations human rights Special Procedures system. The Group had previously stressed the importance of giving due consideration to regional and gender balance in the elections of Special Procedure mandate holders, hoping that the imbalance would be addressed in future appointment. The current list of appointees, however, would mean that the Group would lose one more representatives in the Special Procedures system: a continued decrease of mandate holders from the region. The Group recognised that mandate holders should be chosen on their basis of their expertise, which was fundamental in the performance of their function, but the system should give due consideration to regional balance. The Group urged the President in the Council to do so in the subsequent appointment of mandate holders.
India said that Special Procedures were an important mechanism of the Human Rights Council, enabling the Council to be aware of various human rights situations around the world and promoting capacity building. It was essential for Special Rapporteurs to be representative of the Council and possess intimate knowledge of the subject matter. Unfortunately, almost one third of the mandate holders came from one region, and few had in-depth knowledge of the developing world. The current proposal of mandate holders reinforced the existing imbalance. In the spirit of cooperation and in the hope that such a trend would change in the future, India would join the consensus.
Ethiopia stated that geographical and gender distribution had to be taken into consideration. The African Group supported the current proposal and hoped that a balanced distribution would be taken into account in the future.
Statements Made after the Council Concluded Taking Action on Resolutions and Decisions
Canada was committed to the global fight against human trafficking and continued to pursue a multi-faceted strategy in Canada and abroad. Human trafficking was a despicable crime that preyed on the most vulnerable, especially women and children. Canada had taken strong action and was committed to doing more. The Council had an important role to play on this file and it was vital that the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons recognised how demand for sexual services served as an important driver.
Azerbaijan condemned any forms of extremism, radicalism, and separatism, and reaffirmed once again its unequivocal commitment to the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the inviolability of internationally recognised borders. Azerbaijan adhered itself to the solution of conflicts though political dialogue; and expressed support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and was of the view that the resolution of the crisis was possible only through political dialogue across all sectors of society.
Singapore placed on record its concern regarding the adoption of resolution L.8/Rev.1 on the question of the death penalty. The resolution attempted to portray the abolition of the death penalty as an already agreed international goal, and to portray its use as a violation of the rights of the convicted prisoners; it ignored the violations of the rights of the victims and the right of the community to live in peace. The resolution therefore misused the Council’s scarce resources for some countries to impose their views.
Eritrea said that it had always advocated for dialogue and cooperation. Unfortunately, there was a trend of politicization in the Council. Why did the Council ignore procedural irregularities and ignore the minimum standards of the resolution against Eritrea? The budgetary implications were beyond the Council’s possibilities. The results had proven to be controversial and were a waste of time and money.
Egypt, regarding the resolution on Syria, said that it remained concerned over the situation in the brotherly Arab country. Egypt condemned the use of violence against civilians and called for an immediate cessation of violence. All parties should listen to the demands of the Syrian people and pay attention to alleviating their suffering. A political peaceful solution was the only way to guarantee the unity of Syria.
Switzerland welcomed the adoption of the resolution on the death penalty. Although there was no international consensus on that matter, Switzerland hoped that the dialogue would allow the international community to narrow down existing differences. Switzerland believed that if multi-national companies should improve their behaviour, the same applied to national companies. Switzerland also regretted that the resolution on the family did not recognize the existence that various family models.
Georgia was pleased to co-sponsor the resolution on cooperation in the field of human rights in Ukraine and reiterated support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, welcoming peace efforts and the de-escalation of the tension through dialogue. Georgia commended the reports of the High Commissioner and the work of her Office in Ukraine, and stressed the importance of ensuring the monitoring of the human rights situation and respect for international law in Ukraine.
Australia said that the Guiding Principles on business and human rights had been endorsed by business, civil society, and States alike. Australia was disappointed about the adoption of a resolution establishing an open-ended intergovernmental working group on a legally binding instrument, the two resolutions were not complementary and the Council should focus on strengthening the implementation of the Guiding Principles. Australia was concerned that the resolution on the protection of the family failed to acknowledge that different forms of family existed.
Bahrain said that it only imposed the death penalty for the most serious of crimes and after all legal guarantees had been respected, in order to protect society’s security and stability in accordance with Sharia Law. The death penalty was not contrary to international law and therefore Bahrain demanded that national legislation was respected. Bahrain regretted that China’s draft amendment to the resolution on freedom of expression on the Internet (L.24), which would have made the text more balanced, had not been accepted and therefore disassociated itself from the resolution.
Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that terrorism was a global menace and condemned in the strongest terms the gross human rights violations perpetuated by Boko Haram, as well as the abduction of girls and other defenceless civilians. Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and other groups if not stopped would continue to pose serious threats to human rights and fundamental freedoms of people, and should be stopped by concerted efforts of the international community. The African Group noted with satisfaction the commitment of Nigeria and its neighbours to join efforts in stomping out Boko Haram and other terrorist groups, and urged the international community to support those efforts. The African Group reiterated its firm commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms in Africa and globally. The African Group deeply regretted that the consensus could not be reached on L.40 which was supposed to be issued as a Presidential statement. The African Group then read out the draft statement and requested it be included in the records of the Council.
Nigeria condemned in the strongest terms the acts of terrorism and gross abuse of human rights being committed by Boko Haram, which constituted a betrayal of the traditions, morality and key essence of societies. Nigeria was committed to fighting Boko Haram with all legitimate resources available to it under international law until the group was totally eliminated from the country and sub-region. Nigeria called on the international community to add their voices in sending a strong message.
Italy reiterated its consistent condemnation of all forms and manifestations of terrorism and condemned in the strongest possible terms the abduction of girls in Nigeria. Those responsible for this and other terrorist attacks must be brought to justice and Italy must stand ready to support the partners in addressing the issue appropriately.
Adoption of the Report of the Session
BAUDELAIRE NDONG ELLA, President of the Human Rights Council, suggested that the Council proceed with the adoption of the draft report of the session.
KATERINA SQUENSOVA, Rapporteur and Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, introducing the draft report of the twenty-sixth session of the Council, said yesterday afternoon the draft document was made available on the extranet as an advanced, unedited version. It contained a procedural description of the Council’s work up to the thirty-sixth meeting on Wednesday afternoon, before the consideration of the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Cambodia. After the session, the Secretariat would finalize the report, add the details of action on draft proposals, and circulate it for comments.
During the three-week session, the Council heard the update by the High Commissioner on the activities of her Office as well as an update from the Commission of Inquiry on Syria. The Council also discussed a wide range of topics during panels, held interactive dialogues with Special Procedure mandate holders and general debates, including during the panel on the identification of good practices in combating female genital mutilation. Among other important decisions, the Council also considered the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of 14 countries.
BAUDELAIRE NDONG ELLA, President of the Human Rights Council, said the Council adopted the draft report of the session ad referendum by consensus.
General Concluding Remarks
International Service for Human Rights was concerned about increasing signs of deliberately divisive resolutions and amendments. It was disappointing that the Council had adopted a resolution on the family which deliberately omitted agreed language on diversity. The artificial distinction between transnational corporations and other business enterprises as it related to their obligation to respect human rights, in another resolution, was deeply regrettable.
General Arab Women Federation appreciated that the Office of the High Commissioner had called for a Special Session on the situation in Iraq. It was of utmost importance that the international community did not hastily take sides or fuel more violence through military supply. The resolution on Syria only condemned human rights violations committed by one side. Nothing could do worse disservice to human rights than being partial in judgment and empathy.
BAUDELAIRE NDONG ELLA, President of the Human Rights Council, called on all to respect the Council, which was an august body. While certain issues caused divergent views, the Council had to fulfil its mission and prove its participatory nature. Reprisals against human rights defenders were unacceptable and had to be halted. States were called to take all necessary steps to prevent such acts.
For use of the information media; not an official record