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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATES ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN, INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS AND BELARUS
Adopts 16 Resolutions, including on Corruption and Albinism, among others
13 June 2013

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted 16 resolutions in which it extended the mandates of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, and of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus.  The Council further requested the Advisory Committee to submit a research-based report on the issue of the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights and requested the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to submit a preliminary report on attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism.  

Other texts dealt with the role of freedom of opinion and expression in women’s empowerment; the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; the right to education; trafficking in persons, especially women and children; independence and impartiality of the judiciary; enjoyment of cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity; foreign debt and human rights; human rights and international solidarity; access to medicines; the right to peace; and national human rights institutions.

The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice for a period of three years and requested the Working Group to dedicate specific attention to good practices that have contributed to mobilizing society as a whole, and to offer support to States’ initiatives to address multiple forms of discrimination against women and girls when implementing their obligations as State parties to relevant international human rights treaties.

The Council also decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons for a period of three years to address the complex problem of internal displacement and to work towards strengthening the international response to the complex problem of situations of internal displacement and to engage in coordinated international advocacy and action, and invited the Special Rapporteur to continue to submit annual reports on the implementation of his or her mandate to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

The Council in a resolution adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 3 against and 18 abstentions, expressed deep concern at continuing violations of human rights in Belarus and the systemic and systematic restrictions on human rights.  It decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus for a period of one year and urged the Government of Belarus to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur.

The Council requested the Advisory Committee to submit a research-based report on the issue of the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights and to make recommendations on how the Council and its subsidiary bodies should consider this issue.

Concerning attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism, the Council urged States to take all measures necessary to ensure the effective protection of persons with albinism and requested the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to submit a preliminary report on attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism to the Council at its twenty-fourth session.

In its resolution on the role of freedom of opinion and expression in women’s empowerment, the Council invited the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to include in his reports an analysis of the role of freedom of opinion and expression in improving women’s participation, as well as an analysis of the challenges that women face in exercising their freedom of opinion and expression.

Concerning the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to seek to enhance dialogue with representatives from non-traditional donor countries with a view to broaden the donor base and replenish the resources available to both funds.  The Council also requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a more focused and in-depth study on the ways and means to enhance international cooperation in the field of human rights and to submit a progressive report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-sixth session.

On the right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4, the Council called upon all relevant stakeholders urgently to increase their efforts so that the goals of the Education for All agenda can be achieved by 2015 and invited all States and other relevant stakeholders to intensify their efforts to disseminate and to promote universal respect for and understanding of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training as a means to give full effect to the right to education worldwide.

In a resolution regarding trafficking in persons, especially women and children: efforts to combat human trafficking in supply chains of businesses, the Council urged States to recognize trafficked persons as victims with specific protection needs from the moment they are trafficked, and encouraged businesses to become supporters of the Global Compact and the Athens Ethical Principles, in addition to committing themselves to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and to establish an effective monitoring system to scrutinize the risks of human trafficking at all levels of the supply chain.

Regarding independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers, adopted without a vote, the Council condemned all acts of violence, intimidation or reprisals against judges, prosecutors and lawyers, called upon States to provide adequate training, including human rights training, for judges, prosecutors and lawyers, and encouraged States to ensure that their legal frameworks, implementing regulations and judicial manuals are fully in line with their international obligations.

Regarding the promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity, the Council invited the Special Rapporteur to include in her next report the issue of the ways and means to sensitize institutions and society on diverse cultural heritage and to continue to address issue of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.

In a resolution on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, adopted by a vote of 30 in favour, 15 against and 2 abstentions, the Council urged States, international financial institutions and the private sector to take urgent measures to alleviate the debt problem of those developing countries particularly affected by HIV/AIDS and also requested the Independent Expert to continue to explore the interlinkages with trade and other issues, including HIV/AIDS. 

The Council adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 15 against and no abstentions, a resolution on human rights and international solidarity in which it urged the international community to consider urgently concrete measures to promote and consolidate international assistance to developing countries and reiterated the request to the Independent Expert to continue to work in the preparation of a draft declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity and in further developing guidelines, standards, norms and principles.

In a resolution on access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, none against and 16 abstentions, the Council urged States to foster the development of technology and the voluntary transfer of technology to developing countries and to apply measures and procedures for enforcing intellectual property rights in such a manner as to avoid creating barriers to the legitimate trade of affordable, safe, efficacious and quality medicines.

The Council decided by a vote of 30 in favour, 9 against and 8 abstentions, that the open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate of progressively negotiating a draft United Nations declaration on the right to peace should hold its second session for five working days in 2014, before the twenty-fifth session of the Human Rights Council.

The Council encouraged national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights to continue to play an active role in preventing and combating all violations of human rights as enumerated in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session on the activities of the International Coordinating Committee in accrediting national institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles.

Introducing resolutions and decisions were the United States, Montenegro, Iran on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, Portugal, the Philippines, Germany, Hungary, Colombia, Mexico, Austria, Morocco, Gabon on behalf of the African Group, Brazil, Ireland on behalf of the European Union and Australia.

Ireland on behalf of the European Union, United States, India, Thailand and Venezuela made general comments.

Ireland on behalf of the European Union, United States, Venezuela and Ecuador spoke in explanation of vote before or after the vote.

Belarus spoke as a concerned country.

The Council will resume its work at 3 p.m. this afternoon to continue to take action on decisions and resolutions.  It will conclude its regular twenty-third session on Friday, 14 June.

Action on Resolutions 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 Role of Freedom of Opinion and Expression in Women’s Empowerment

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.5) on the role of freedom of opinion and expression in women’s empowerment, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council expresses deep concern that discrimination, intimidation, harassment and violence often prevent women and girls from enjoying fully their human rights and fundamental freedoms; calls upon all States to promote, respect and ensure women’s exercise of freedom of opinion and expression; and invites the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to include in his reports an analysis of the role of freedom of opinion and expression in improving women’s participation, as well as an analysis of the challenges that women face in exercising their freedom of opinion and expression.

United States, introducing resolution L. 5, said that the resolution affirmed the fundamental role of freedom of expression in enabling women to participate in the social and political spheres on equal terms with men.  It also showed that the Council expressed concern at incidents of intimidation against women and girls, which hindered their full participation in the social, economic and political life.  

Montenegro, co-introducing resolution L. 5, said that the resolution was particularly important because it would help to end discrimination against women.  The Council would thus affirm women’s participation at all levels of decision-making.  Montenegro recalled Nelson Mandela’s message on the importance of the empowerment of women for society in general. 

Action on Resolution on the Enhancement of International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.6) on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to seek to enhance dialogue with representatives from non-traditional donor countries with a view to broaden the donor base and replenish the resources available to both funds, and to make clear the process by which States request assistance from both funds; urges States to continue to support both funds and to take necessary measures to enhance cooperation aimed at addressing the adverse impact of consecutive and compounded global crises on the full enjoyment of human rights; and requests the Advisory Committee to prepare a more focused and in-depth study on the ways and means to enhance international cooperation in the field of human rights, taking into account responses received further to the consultations as requested by the General Assembly in resolution 67/169, and to submit a progressive report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-sixth session; and decides to continue its consideration of the matter in 2014, in accordance with its annual programme of work.

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, introducing draft resolution L.6, said that it was worth mentioning that open information and bilateral consultations had been held in order to reach consensus.  The resolution recognised that the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights was essential for the full achievement of the purposes of the United Nations, including the effective promotion and promotion of all human rights, guided by the principles of universality, objectivity and non-selectivity.  It also drew upon the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.  In follow-up to previous resolutions, it took note of the latest report of the High Commissioner on the operations of the Voluntary Fund, and requested the Office to continue to seek ways and means to facilitate the existing procedure, including by addressing concerns of the report, and to report on its progress in that regard on operations of the Voluntary Fund.  It requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a more focused and in-depth study on ways and means of enhancing international cooperation in the field of human rights and to submit a progress report.  It was hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, expressed its appreciation for the transparent process and discussions on this draft resolution.  It was grateful that its proposals had been accommodated.  International cooperation was an essential element of the European Union’s external relations.  At the same time, other principles governing its relations had to be respected.  The primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights was with States.  International cooperation had to be used in conjunction with the efforts of States.  The Universal Periodic Review was a cooperative mechanism.  The international community was encouraged to assist countries in consultations with them and with their consent to implement recommendations.  The resolution requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a more focused and in-depth study on enhancing international cooperation.  It was the responsibility of Member States to analyse information on activities in international cooperation.  The European Union was not convinced that the Advisory Committee was the appropriate format for these issues.  In a spirit of compromise, it would join consensus on the draft resolution. 

United States, speaking in a general comment on resolution L. 6, said that States’ obligations to respect and ensure the civil and political rights of their citizens in accordance with international law were not dependent on the capacity of a State or the availability of technical assistance.

Action on Resolution on the Right to Education: Follow-up to Human Rights Council Resolution 8/4

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.7) on the right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon all States to take all measures to implement Human Rights Council resolutions on the right to education; calls upon all relevant stakeholders urgently to increase their efforts so that the goals of the Education for All agenda can be achieved by 2015; invites all States to give full effect to the right to education and States and other relevant stakeholders to intensify their efforts to disseminate and to promote universal respect for and understanding of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training as a means to give full effect to the right to education worldwide; encourages all stakeholders to continue their efforts to promote the realization of the right to education worldwide and to enhance their cooperation in this regard; stresses the importance of the contribution of national human rights institutions, non-governmental and civil society organizations, and parliamentarians to the realization of the right to education; and decides to remain seized of the matter.

Portugal, introducing resolution L. 7, said that the resolution built upon the resolutions on the right to education previously adopted by the Council.  It also expressed the Council’s concern at the fact that, despite progress in some of the world’s poorest countries in the provision of education to their citizens, the implementation of steps to ensure education for all was slowing down.  The resolution referred to the initiative “Education First” and to the need to ensure that the right to education retained an important place in the international post-2015 development agenda.  An oral revision was made to the draft text of the resolution.    

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that it firmly believed in the provision of equal access to education and strongly supported the promotion of the implementation of that right.  Increased attention should be paid to education as a public good, but vague components which were difficult to quantify should not be included in the text of the resolution.  The United States remained concerned that the resolution contained strong references to the post-2015 development agenda and said that the language used in the resolution should not pre-decide the outcome of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda.   

Action on Resolution on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children: Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking in Supply Chains of Businesses

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.8) on trafficking in persons, especially women and children: efforts to            combat human trafficking in supply chains of businesses, adopted without a vote, the Council urges States to recognize trafficked persons as victims with specific protection needs from the moment they are trafficked, and to ensure the promotion, protection and fulfilment of their human rights; encourages businesses, in order to contribute to prevent or mitigate any risks, to become supporters of the Global Compact and the Athens Ethical Principles, in addition to committing themselves to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and to establish an effective monitoring system to scrutinize the risks of human trafficking at all levels of the supply chain; urges States, regional and subregional organizations to develop collective regional strategies and plans of actions to combat trafficking in persons; and decides to continue consideration of this matter under the same agenda item in accordance with its annual programme of work.

Philippines, introducing draft resolution L.8, said that it was the product of an inclusive, transparent and constructive process with broad participation.  Trafficking in persons was a persistent, major problem for humanity and the statistics were alarming.  There was an urgent need for stronger efforts.  The draft text focused on trafficking in persons in the supply chain of businesses and recognised that this was a serious societal malady and a challenge that had to be addressed in various business areas.  The private sector was encouraged to actively participate in coordination mechanisms to combat trafficking in persons.  Concerted international assessments and response as well as genuine multilateral cooperation were necessary between countries of origin, transit and destination.  It hoped that the resolution would be adopted by consensus.

Germany, also introducing the draft resolution, said that exploitative labour in supply chains was certainly one of the most important reasons why persons became victims of trafficking.  The primary responsibility for preventing trafficking in persons was with States.  There was a need for a multi-stakeholder approach of States and private businesses as well as other partners in civil society.  The resolution addressed this important issue and contained a set of measures for all partners to join their efforts.  The Council was invited to adopt the resolution by consensus.

Action on Resolution on the Independence and Impartiality of the Judiciary, Jurors and Assessors, and the Independence of Lawyers

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.9) on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States to guarantee the independence of judges and lawyers and the objectivity and impartiality of prosecutors, and to ensure that prosecutors can perform their functional activities in an independent, objective and impartial manner; stresses that the term of office of judges, their independence, security, adequate remuneration, conditions of service, pensions and the age of retirement should be adequately secured by law; condemns all acts of violence, intimidation or reprisals against judges, prosecutors and lawyers, and reminds States of their duty to uphold the integrity of judges, prosecutors and lawyers; calls upon States, in collaboration with relevant national entities, such as bar associations, associations of judges and prosecutors, and educational institutions, to provide adequate training, including human rights training, for judges, prosecutors and lawyers; and encourages States to ensure that their legal frameworks, implementing regulations and judicial manuals are fully in line with their international obligations.

Hungary, introducing resolution L. 9, said that the core group had conducted intensive consultations with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, representatives from civil society, and other United Nations Member States.  The resolution was based on resolution 15/3 of 2010 but contained new elements, such as addressing the use of threats and intimidation against judges and lawyers, the importance of legal aid, the selection and appointment of judges and prosecutors, and the provision of human rights education to judges and prosecutors.

Action on Resolution on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.13) on elimination of discrimination against women, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon States to include special or positive action measures to achieve gender equality in political and public life, to take concrete steps towards eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and girls, and to promote reforms and implement legal frameworks and policies directed towards achieving equality and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls; decides to extend the mandate of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice for a period of three years on the same terms as provided for by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 15/23; and requests the Working Group to dedicate specific attention to good practices that have contributed to mobilizing society as a whole, and to offer support to States’ initiatives to address multiple forms of discrimination against women and girls when implementing their obligations as States parties to relevant international human rights treaties.

Colombia, introducing draft resolution L.13, said that the international community had recognised that equal rights and opportunities between men and women were definitive in order to ensure sustainable development in economic and social areas and for societies to fund durable solutions to world problems.  However, women were still marginalised in all aspects of life and the international community needed to maintain spaces to continue discussing this and to propose measures to achieve gender equality. 

Mexico, also introducing the draft resolution, said that it renewed the main recommendations and good practices contained in the first thematic report of the Working Group that centred on the political and public participation of women, and renewed the mandate of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women.  The initiative called upon States to adopt and implement measures in law and practice to guarantee the participation of women under equal conditions.  They were urged to ensure that women took part in decision-making processes.  Members of the Council were invited to accept this draft resolution by consensus.

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.14) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses concern at the persistent problems of large numbers of internally displaced persons worldwide, at protracted internal displacement and at the grave problems faced by many internally displaced women and children; strongly condemns the continued perpetration of sexual and gender-based violence against internally displaced persons of all ages; and decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons for a period of three years to address the complex problem of internal displacement and to work towards strengthening the international response to the complex problem of situations of internal displacement and to engage in coordinated international advocacy and action; and invites the Special Rapporteur to continue to submit annual reports on the implementation of his or her mandate to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

Austria, introducing resolution L. 14, said that the resolution proposed to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, and highlighted the need for the facilitation and implementation of durable solutions.  The resolution also focused on other serious issues relating to the problem of internal displacement, such as sexual violence against internally displaced persons, access to justice and assistance, and impunity.  The resolution welcomed the entry into force of the Kampala Convention.

Action on Resolution on the Negative Impact of Corruption on the Enjoyment of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.19) on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council recognizes that all forms of corruption have a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights, was well as the link between anti-corruption efforts and human rights and the importance of exploring how to better utilize United Nations human rights mechanisms; requests the Advisory Committee to submit a research-based report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-sixth session on the issue of the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, to make recommendations on how the Council and its subsidiary bodies should consider this issue.  The Council also requests the Advisory Committee, when elaborating the above-mentioned report, to take into account the specific mandate of the Human Rights Council as well as the work done on the issue by competent United Nations bodies and mechanisms within their respective mandates.

Morocco, introducing draft resolution L.19, said that it requested the Advisory Committee to consider the matter of the negative effects of corruption on human rights and present a report to the Council in June 2014.  It called on the Advisory Committee to gather views and contributions of a broad range of stakeholders, on the negative effect of corruption on human rights.  It recognised that all forms of corruption could have a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights and that the Council should address the issue further, the importance of exploring how to better use human rights mechanisms in this regards, and underlined the contribution of international cooperation in combating corruption and promoting human rights.  Oral revisions were introduced.  It was hoped that the draft text would be adopted by consensus.   

Action on Resolution on the Promotion of the Enjoyment of the Cultural Rights of Everyone and Respect for Cultural Diversity

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.20) on the promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity, adopted without a vote, the Council recognizes the right of everyone to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications; reaffirms that States have the responsibility to promote and protect cultural rights for all; emphasizes that the universal promotion and protection of human rights and respect for cultural diversity should reinforce each other.  The Council also invites the Special Rapporteur to include in her next report the issue of the ways and means to sensitize institutions and society on diverse cultural heritage and to enhance cooperation for its safeguard and promotion, and to continue to address issue of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications; and requests the Special Rapporteur to present her next report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-fifth session.

Cuba, introducing resolution L. 20, said that the resolution was a gesture of support and commitment to the promotion and protection of cultural rights.  Cultural diversity was a major source of wealth and strength, and should not be linked to cultural relativism.  The Council should promote cultural heritage and create a climate of better understanding of cultural diversity.  Cuba recalled that in 2013 a seminar would take place on the right to benefit from scientific progress and its applications, with the aim of helping States to make more progress on the matter.  Cuba encouraged all States to actively participate in the seminar.

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that it continued to support the promotion of cultural diversity and tolerance, both of which had played an important role in the history of the United States.  There was also evidence to suggest that cultural diversity could strengthen human rights and that respect for human rights substantially enhanced respect for diversity.  Nevertheless, cultural diversity should not be used to justify human rights abuses or to limit the scope of human rights.  Intellectual property rights should be respected and States’ economic, social and cultural rights should be progressively realized.    

Action on Resolution on the Effects of Foreign Debt on the Full Enjoyment of All Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.22) on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, adopted by a vote of 30 in favour, 15 against and 2 abstentions, the Council urges the international community to take measures and actions for the implementation of the pledges, commitments, agreements and decisions of major United Nations conferences and summits, and States, international financial institutions and the private sector to take urgent measures to alleviate the debt problem of those developing countries particularly affected by HIV/AIDS; requests the Independent Expert to continue to explore the interlinkages with trade and other issues, including HIV/AIDS.  The Council also requests the Independent Expert to report to the General Assembly on the issue of the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, and to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution, containing the commentary to the Guiding Principles on Foreign Debt and Human Rights, to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-fifth session; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Independent Expert with all necessary assistance.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (30): Angola, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Against (15): Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and United States.

Abstentions (2): Chile, and Peru.


Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.22, said it dealt with the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.  The economic and financial crisis had had a significant impact on all countries, especially developing countries, and had had an impact on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.  The draft resolution drew attention to this problem and sought ways to make progress to alleviate the situation, taking into account the negative consequences of foreign debt on the realization of human rights, particularly developing countries.  It was regrettable that some developed countries did not recognise the link between foreign debt and the enjoyment of human rights.  To say that this forum was not the correct place to take up this issue was not technically or politically correct.  It was hoped that this draft resolution could be adopted with broad support. 

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the European Union continued to believe that it was important for the Council to focus on its mandate.  In its view, the Council was not the forum to discuss such an issue.  It appreciated the importance of the issue of unsustainable foreign debt and would continue to pursue discussions in the appropriate fora, such as the General Assembly.  The European Union strongly believed that this issue did fall within the mandate of the Council and would place added budgetary strain on the Council.  It would call for a vote, and its Member States would vote against the initiative. 

Action on Resolution on Human Rights and International Solidarity

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.23) on human rights and international solidarity, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 15 against and no abstentions, the Council urges the international community to consider urgently concrete measures to promote and consolidate international assistance to developing countries in their development endeavours and for the promotion the full realization of all human rights; reaffirms the fact that the promotion of international cooperation is a duty for States, without any conditionality and on the basis of mutual respect; reiterates its request to the Independent Expert to continue to work in the preparation of a draft declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity and in further developing guidelines, standards, norms and principles; requests the Independent Expert to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-sixth session, and the Secretary-General and the Office of the High Commissioner to provide all the human and financial resources necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate of the Independent Expert.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32): Angola, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Against (15): Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and United States.

Abstentions (0):


Cuba, introducing resolution L. 23, said that the resolution, which had been adopted for several years by a large majority of the Council’s Members.  It was of strategic importance for developing countries severely affected by the lack of resources and technology.  In that context, cooperation and international solidarity could reinforce national efforts to promote and protect human rights.  To those opposing the text of the resolution, Cuba said that international solidarity was necessary as a prerequisite for human dignity, which was at the heart of the work carried out by the Council.  The resolution did not propose punitive monitoring but, rather, was aimed at promoting sincere and respectful dialogue on the issues raised by the resolution.      

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that its opposition to the resolution was well known and requested a vote.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Member States of the European Union had actively demonstrated their commitment to international solidarity on a daily basis and would continue to work for the eradication of poverty.  However, it remained the responsibility of States to promote the human rights of their populations regardless of any aid received from other States.  International solidarity was an important moral concept but it did not meet the requirements of a legal concept relevant to the work of the Council.  The European Union, therefore, would vote against the draft resolution.


Action on Resolution on Attacks and Discrimination against Persons with Albinism

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.25) on attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council urges States to take all measures necessary to ensure the effective protection of persons with albinism; calls upon States to ensure accountability through the conduct of impartial, speedy and effective investigations into attacks against persons with albinism and to ensure that victims and family members have access to appropriate remedies and to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; encourages States to share best practices in protecting and promoting the rights of persons with albinism; and invites States to promote initiatives to support the protection of persons with albinism.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit a preliminary report on attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism to the Council at its twenty-fourth session.

Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group, introducing draft resolution L.25 on attacks against persons with albinism, introduced oral amendments.  This draft resolution created a precedent because for the first time the Human Rights Council would be addressing this issue which was an issue that concerned all of humanity and affected several countries in the world.  This issue was taken up because the victimization and exclusion of such persons affected their rights to health, education, security, freedom and even the right to life.  Despite efforts to protect these persons, the African Group believed that stronger efforts by the international community were required to protect all the human rights of these persons.  The draft text strongly condemned all human rights violations and intolerable acts against these persons, and called for the strict respect of their fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as for a halt of attacks against them.  States were invited to take all necessary measures to effectively fight against such attacks and eliminate all forms of discrimination and stigmatisation against persons with albinism. 

Action on Resolution on Access to Medicines

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.10/Rev.1) on access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, none against and 16 abstentions, the Council recognizes that access to medicines is one of the fundamental elements in achieving progressively the full realization of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; and stresses the responsibility of States to ensure access for all, without discrimination, to medicines; urges States to ensure that procurement practices and procedures for medicines are transparent, fair, competitive and non-discriminatory, to promote access to medicines for all, to foster the development of technology and the voluntary transfer of technology to developing countries, to apply measures and procedures for enforcing intellectual property rights in such a manner as to avoid creating barriers to the legitimate trade of affordable, safe, efficacious and quality medicines, and to provide for safeguards against the abuse of such measures and procedures; recognizes the innovative funding mechanisms that contribute to the availability of vaccines and medicines in developing countries, and encourages relevant stakeholders, including pharmaceutical companies, to further collaborate to enable equitable access to quality, safe and efficacious medicines that are affordable to all; and invites the Special Rapporteur on the right to health to continue to focus on the issue of access to medicines, including in his regular country missions.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (31): Angola, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Against (0):

Abstentions (16): Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and United States.


Brazil, introducing resolution L. 10/Rev. 1 said that the resolution on access to medicines in the context of the right to health was inspired by the study presented two weeks ago by the Special Rapporteur on existing challenges and ways to overcome them.  Access to medicines was one of the fundamental elements in the realization of the right to health.  The resolution reminded all of the challenges they still faced in that domain and proposed a number of solutions to existing problems.  In 2009 the Council had adopted a resolution on access to medicines, which was an important first step in that direction.  Brazil said that it was hoping for consensus and did not want to cause divisiveness nor did it want to re-write existing agreements.  The right to health should remain at the top of the Council’s agenda and the resolution invited a number of players, including the World Health Organization, to reflect on the findings of the Special Rapporteur’s study on the topic.  

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that it wished to put the matter to a vote and it would abstain.  While recognizing the importance of access to medicines, countries had a wide range of measures to ensure that.  Moreover, the United States did not recognize the creation of a new right to which it had not previously agreed.  The Global Health Initiative and various investments in medicine research demonstrated that the United States played an important and catalyzing role in facilitating access to medicines for millions of people around the world.  Access to essential medicines, however, was a complex issue facing States and each State had to devise its own strategy taking into account its own circumstances and in accordance with its international obligations.  Many of the obstacles which impeded access to medicines were best addressed through measures at the domestic level.  The United States emphasized that nothing in this resolution should be seen as altering in any way the text of the Doha Declaration, which the United States supported.   

India, speaking in a general comment, said that health was emerging as a major area of concern all over the world, more so in developing countries.  This was complicated with the emergence of new diseases.  Access to new medicines at affordable costs was a major challenge.  New and practical ways and means to provide safe and quality measures to citizens was even more challenging in the context of the global financial and economic crisis.  States had to ensure the availability of medicines at affordable prices and promote research and development, especially in the public sector, and ensure a balanced patent system.  This resolution would contribute to the full and effective enjoyment of everyone to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health.

Thailand, speaking in a general comment, said that it regretted that consensus was not reached on this issue, which was one that should enjoy broad support.  It was indispensable to address the issue from a holistic and human rights based approach.

Ireland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said that it was committed to the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights.  The European Union was fully committed to the right of enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health.  It supported the promotion of access to safe, efficacious and affordable medicine.  The importance of access to medicines had adequately been addressed by the Council in past resolutions, reports and discussions.  It expressed doubts with regards to yet another resolution focusing on this issue, and the risk of duplication with work in other fora.  The European Union could not support this resolution and would abstain from voting. 

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

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.18) on the situation of human rights in Belarus, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 3 against and 18 abstentions, the Council expresses deep concern at continuing violations of human rights in Belarus and the systemic and systematic restrictions on human rights; calls upon the Government of Belarus to carry out a comprehensive review of relevant legislation to ensure that the provisions are clearly defined, consistent with international human rights law and their human rights commitments, and to carry out a comprehensive reform of the justice sector and bar associations; strongly urges the Government of Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners, to address reports of torture and ill-treatment by law-enforcement officials.  The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus for a period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report to the Council at its twenty-sixth session and to the General Assembly at its sixty-ninth session; urges the Government of Belarus to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the Special Rapporteur with the assistance and resources necessary to allow the fulfilment of the mandate.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (26): Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Estonia, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Maldives, Montenegro, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and United States.

Against (3): India, Kazakhstan, and Venezuela.

Abstentions (18): Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uganda, and United Arab Emirates.


Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, introducing resolution L. 18, said that human rights violations in Belarus were found by the Special Rapporteur to be serious, systematic and systemic.  The list of the human rights violations referred to in the resolution was long but not exhaustive.  There were particular concerns about the continuing application of the capital punishment in the country, which could not be justified under any circumstances.  Moreover, there was a complete lack of transparency surrounding the circumstances of those facing the death penalty in Belarus, the only European country still applying the death penalty.  The European Union urged Belarus to place a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.  The continuing lack of cooperation of Belarus with the mechanisms of the Council was another matter of concern.  In light of the deplorable human rights situation in the country, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur provided an important source of information on the human rights situation in Belarus and, therefore, his mandate should be renewed.   

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that it was pleased to support the draft resolution, which underscored the fundamental need for structural changes in a country where the situation of human rights was deplorable, and supported the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.  However, the United States did not share the view that the death penalty constituted a violation of human rights and said that any decision to abolish the capital punishment should be left to the people of Belarus to make by following democratic processes.  Nevertheless, Belarus should release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners, should provide fair trial guarantees, and should protect the right to appeal.

Belarus, speaking as the concerned country, said that Belarus cooperated with the Office of the High Commissioner, the treaty bodies and with the thematic Special Procedures.  There should be no doubt about this.  On the other hand it made a request to Members of the Council not to support this resolution.  The draft submitted called for the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.  This was a political mandate and Belarus did not recognise it.  It saw no prospects for cooperation with this mandate.  The resolution proposed was a kind of act of aggression against the United Nations.  Behind the concern for human rights stood the clear political interest of the European Union, which sought to impose a vision of how a State should be domestically organised and which proposed that recommendations of a political nature be implemented.  Belarus would not accept the tyranny of the democracy of others.  Belarus knew how and what to do to promote and protect human rights.  It had made considerable progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and held an honourable fiftieth position in the Human Development Index.  Belarus cherished its sovereignty, culture, values and historical tradition.  Members of the Council were urged not to support this resolution.

Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it rejected and condemned with great energy the double standards shown in the proliferation of specific mandates against countries.  There was no approval of the interested country, in this case, of Belarus.  The Government of Belarus had shown that it was committed and attached to human rights and participated and cooperated with the Council’s mechanism.  This type of initiative undermined the credibility of the Human Rights Council because it made the same mistakes as the former Human Rights Commission.  Venezuela therefore had to denounce this form of politicised activity.  It energetically and firmly opposed this draft resolution, requested a vote, and would vote against it. 

Ecuador, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it objected to the proliferation of resolutions on specific countries and that it was regrettable that the Council was being used to target countries in that way.  Ecuador also called on the international community to use the objective, thematic mechanisms available, including the Universal Periodic Review.  The resolution barely recognized the efforts made by Belarus in areas such as trafficking in persons and human development in compliance with the recommendations it had received during its 2010 Universal Periodic Review.  Ecuador rejected any attempt to intervene in the situation, which ran counter to the Council’s commitment to respecting human rights and peace.  The Council should continue to function as a technical body promoting and protecting human rights.
 
Action on Resolutions on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

Action on Resolution on the Promotion of the Right to Peace

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.21) on the promotion of the right to peace, adopted by a vote of 30 in favour, 9 against and 8 abstentions, the Council decides that the working group shall hold its second session for five working days in 2014, before the twenty-fifth session of the Human Rights Council; requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the working group with the assistance necessary, and the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the working group to conduct informal consultations with Governments and relevant stakeholders before the second session of the working group.  The Council also requests the Chairperson-Rapporteur to prepare a new text, on the basis of the discussions held during the first session of the working group and the intersessional informal consultations to be held, and to present it prior to the second session of the working group for consideration; and requests the working group to prepare a report on progress made, and to submit it to the Human Rights Council as a pre-session document for consideration at its twenty-sixth session.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (30): Angola, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
Against (9): Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Japan, Montenegro, Republic of Korea, Spain, and United States.

Abstentions (8): India, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, and Switzerland.


Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.21 on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the draft resolution continued the work done on the issue of the promotion of the right to peace over the last few years.  Its objective was to convene the second session of the Working Group on the right to peace.   It stressed the work done by civil society in promoting the right to peace.  The text had a broad number of co-sponsors and sectors of civil society.  The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States hoped that this draft resolution would be adopted with broad support, sending a very strong message of commitment to the promotion of this important issue. 

Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, said that peace-loving countries supported this initiative that renewed the mandate of the Working Group on the right to peace.  Peace was an essential condition for the full enjoyment of human rights on equal footing, especially the right to life, with strict attention to complimentarity, international solidarity and respect for sovereignty.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that there remained fundamental differences concerning the way in which States viewed the work of the Working Group.  The United States continued to question the initiative concerning the declaration on the right to peace, because that was not one of the already recognized human rights.  Moreover, the parameters of the right to peace were entirely unclear and, therefore, it could be used for the endorsement of controversial issues, or to advance other agendas and circumvent the Council.  The United States remained open to the possibility of discussing the relationship between human rights and peace, including in this Working Group, but was not prepared to accept a resolution which proposed to negotiate a declaration on the right to peace.  The United States stressed that a vote against the resolution was not a vote against peace, and said that it hoped to find a constructive path forward to promote peace.  

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the European Union was a firm believer in peace and human rights, which it saw as closely interlinked, and that it recognized human dignity as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace throughout the world.  However, European Union Member States could not support the resolution because there was no legal basis for the right of peace in international law.  The European Union had serious concerns about the content of the resolution and saw no reason to continue discussion on a declaration relating to a concept on which there could be no consensus.  Nevertheless, the European Union was ready to engage in discussions about the relationship between peace and human rights.

Action on Resolution on National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.15) on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council encourages national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights to continue to play an active role in preventing and combating all violations of human rights as enumerated in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action; recognizes the important role played by national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Human Rights Council; stresses the importance of financial and administrative independence and the stability of national human rights institutions, the role they can play in creating a coherent institutional architecture for women’s human rights and gender equality, and their contribution to the elimination of discrimination and violence against women and girls; and requests the Secretary-General to report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session on the implementation of this resolution; and to report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session on the activities of the International Coordinating Committee in accrediting national institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles.

Australia, introducing draft resolution L.15, said it reaffirmed the broad and strong recognition of the valuable work of national human rights institutions on building capacity and promoting and protecting human rights around the world.  It would ensure the continued reporting by the Secretary-General to the Council on the achievements, challenges and priorities at the national level regarding the establishment, strengthening and accreditation of national institutions.  Consistent with the strong focus on women at this session of the Council, it acknowledged the important role national institutions could play in protecting the human rights of women and girls.  Their commitment to the rights of women and girls were contained in the Amman Declaration and Programme of Action.  The resolution reiterated important recommendations on the role of national institutions in promoting and protecting the human rights of women and girls as contained in the report of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice.  It acknowledged the most recent report to the Council of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/088E