ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS 11 TEXTS ON SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS, TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE, CORRUPTION AND TERRORIST HOSTAGE-TAKING

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS 11 TEXTS ON SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS, TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE, CORRUPTION AND TERRORIST HOSTAGE-TAKING
Establishes a Working Group to Draft a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas
27 September 2012

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted 11 resolutions in which it, among other things, decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental Working Group to negotiate and finalize a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, to convene a panel discussion on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, to extend the deadline for submission of the final study on human rights and issues related to terrorist hostage-taking, and to convene a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

The Council also adopted other texts on the safety of journalists, the World Programme for Human Rights Education, human rights and transitional justice, the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, and on technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights.
 
In a resolution on the promotion of the human rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 9 against and 15 abstentions, the Council decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental Working Group with the mandate of negotiating, finalizing and submitting to the Human Rights Council a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas on the basis of the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee.

The Council decided to convene at its twenty-second session a panel discussion on the issue of the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, and requested the Office to prepare and submit a summary report on the panel discussion to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-third session.

On human rights and issues related to terrorist hostage-taking, the Council decided to grant the Advisory Committee extra time to allow it to submit an interim report on the subject at its twenty-second session and the final study at its twenty-fourth session.

The Council decided to convene, at the first day of the high-level segment of its twenty-second session, a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, to focus on achievements, best practices and challenges in its implementation.

In a resolution regarding the safety of journalists, the Council condemned in the strongest terms all attacks and violence against journalists, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, intimidation and harassment, and called upon States to ensure accountability through the conduct of impartial, speedy and effective investigations.

Concerning the World Programme for Human Rights Education, the Council encouraged all States and relevant stakeholders to implement the World Programme and the Plan of Action and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to seek the views of all relevant stakeholders on focus areas or thematic issues for the third phase of the World Programme, and to submit a report to the Council at its twenty-fourth session.

Regarding human rights and transitional justice, the Human Rights Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to submit an analytical study to the Council prior to its twenty-seventh session, focusing on gender-based and sexual violence in relation to transitional justice and the participatory procedures necessary to address the different needs and opportunities of women, men and children, including good practices in the field of truth-seeking, justice, reparation and institutional reform.

In a resolution on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the Council invited the Special Rapporteur to include in his next annual report the importance of the freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to the work of civil society actors and requested the Special Rapporteur to present an annual report to the General Assembly.

The Council requested the new Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes to provide comprehensive information on the adverse effects that the improper management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes may have on the enjoyment of human rights and urged the Special Rapporteur to develop a guide to best practices to be submitted together with his report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-fourth session.

Regarding the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, the Council decided that the theme for an annual thematic panel discussion under agenda item 10, to be held during the twenty-second session of the Council, would be “promoting technical cooperation for strengthening of the judiciary system and administration of justice in order to ensure human rights and the rule of law”.

Concerning technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights, the Council requested the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance and to work with Yemen to identify additional areas of assistance to enable Yemen to fulfil its human rights obligations, and to present to the Human Rights Council, at its twenty-fourth session, a progress report on the situation of human rights in Yemen.

Introducing resolutions were Austria, Morocco, Costa Rica, Switzerland, United States, Senegal, Bolivia, Thailand, Yemen and Norway.  Speaking in general comments were Russia, Austria on behalf of the European Union, United States and Cuba.

Ecuador, United States, Austria on behalf of the European Union, Mexico, Norway, Senegal and Thailand spoke in explanation of the vote before or after the vote.

The next meeting of the Human Rights Council will be on Friday, 28 September at 10 a.m. when it will continue to take action on draft decisions and resolutions and then close its twenty-first regular session.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on 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 Safety of Journalists

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L6) regarding the safety of journalists, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council recalls the rights contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular article 19; and condemns in the strongest terms all attacks and violence against journalists, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, as well as intimidation and harassment.  The Council expresses its concern that there is a growing threat to the safety of journalists posed by non-State actors; calls on all parties to armed conflict to respect their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law; and calls upon States to ensure accountability through the conduct of impartial, speedy and effective investigations into such acts falling within their jurisdiction, and to bring to justice those responsible and to ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies; and to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.  The resolution stresses the need to ensure better cooperation and coordination at the international level with regard to ensuring the safety of journalists; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, to prepare a compilation of good practices in the protection of journalists, the prevention of attacks and the fight against impunity for attacks committed against journalists, and to present the compilation in a report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-fourth session.

Austria, introducing the draft resolution L.6, said that the resolution put the issue of safety of journalists squarely on the agenda of the Human Rights Council and there were three main elements.  Firstly, it made a clear statement in condemning attacks against journalists.  Secondly, it expressed a clear concern about the widespread impunity in the aftermath of attacks against journalists and in that context, called on States to ensure accountability by investigating those attacks and bringing perpetrators to justice.  Thirdly, it encouraged States to put in place a safe and enabling protection environment for journalists, to be able to fulfil their important role in providing information to the public.  The resolution also emphasised the importance of good practices in the area of the protection of journalists and to this effect requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a compilation of good practices for the twenty-fourth session.  Austria made an oral revision to the text.

Ecuador, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, welcomed the efforts made by Austria to bring this crucial issue before the Council.  Ecuador considered that the right to equal access to information was also closely related to the freedom of the press.  Ecuador supported all measures that promoted and strengthened the protection of the rights and lives of journalists

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the free flow of news and information created a dynamic society.  Journalists remained threatened all around the world, on the basis of misuses of laws such as terrorism laws.  The United States appreciated that the resolution condemned violations of the journalists’ right to freedom of expression both by States and by non-States actors of all kinds.  International human rights law and humanitarian law contained mutually reinforcing rules.  The United States recognized the vital role of an open press and would continue to work for the protection of journalists.  

Action on Resolution on a Panel Discussion on the Negative Impact of Corruption on the Enjoyment of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L13) regarding a panel discussion on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to convene, at its twenty-second session, within existing resources, a panel discussion on the issue of the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights; requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize the above-mentioned panel discussion and to liaise with States, relevant United Nations bodies, agencies, treaty bodies and Special Procedures, in particular the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the United Nations Development Programme, also with international organizations, in particular the International Anti-Corruption Academy, relevant regional human rights mechanisms, as well as with civil society, non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions, with a view to ensuring their participation in the panel discussion; and also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare and submit a summary report on the panel discussion to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-third session.

Morocco, introducing draft resolution L.13, said that the draft resolution followed up on a joint statement on the same theme read by Morocco’s delegation during the June session of the Human Rights Council.  The draft decision was purely procedural in nature, and its aim was to enable an interactive and substantial debate to be held in the Council on the impact of corruption on human rights.  The resolution asked the Human Rights Council to convene a panel discussion on that theme at its twenty-second session in March.  The co-sponsors considered it was appropriate to invite experts from different backgrounds.  After an informal consultation meeting and several bi-lateral consultations, co-sponsors of the draft decision agreed on several amendments, which it orally introduced. 

Action on Resolution on the World Programme for Human Rights Education

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.22) on the World Programme for Human Rights Education, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council takes notes of the progress report on the implementation of the World Programme for Human Rights Education prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; encourages all States, and, where appropriate, relevant stakeholders that have not yet taken steps to implement, within their capabilities, the World Programme and the Plan of Action to do so; encourages all States and other relevant stakeholders to apply in their human rights education initiatives sound educational methodologies based on good practices and assessed through continued evaluation, and recommends cooperation, networking and information sharing among all actors; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to seek the views of States, national human rights institutions and other relevant stakeholders on the target sectors, focus areas or thematic human rights issues for the third phase of the World Programme, and to submit a report thereon to the Council at its twenty-fourth session.

Costa Rica, presenting draft resolution L.22 on the World Programme for Human Rights Education, said that the issue of human rights education had already been discussed by the Council on many occasions.  The report on human rights education presented by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was a useful tool to advance human rights education.  The resolution welcomed the report and introduced the third phase of the Human Rights Education Programme.  The resolution asked the Office of the High Commissioner to seek the views of States on that matter, and to compile it before its presentation to the Council.  Costa Rica presented an amendment to operative paragraph 5.  Wide consultations had been made, and Costa Rica called for the adoption of the resolution by consensus. 

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it was not party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and it understood that States were not duty bound to provisions of instruments they were not party to, but it nonetheless was pleased to join consensus on the resolution, which underscored the critical role human rights education played in the promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. 

Action on Resolution on Human Rights and Transitional Justice

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L24) regarding human rights and transitional justice, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive approach to transitional justice and calls upon the international community and regional organizations to assist countries to incorporate best practices into the development and implementation of transitional justice mechanisms; strongly condemns violence against women and girls committed in conflict and post-conflict situations, such as murder, rape including systematic rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy and enforced sterilization, recognizing that the term “violence against women” is not limited to sexual violence but includes any act of gender-based violence, and calls for effective measures of accountability and redress where those acts amount to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to continue to enhance its leading role within the United Nations, including with regard to conceptual and analytical work regarding transitional justice, and to assist States to design, establish and implement transitional justice mechanisms from a human rights perspective; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to submit an analytical study to the Human Rights Council, prior to its twenty-seventh session, focusing on gender-based and sexual violence in relation to transitional justice, the effective participation of victims, and the participatory procedures necessary to address the different needs and opportunities of women, men and children, including good practices in the field of truth-seeking, justice, reparation and institutional reform.

Switzerland, introducing draft resolution L.24 on human rights and transitional justice, said that it had sought to reflect as far as possible the concerns of all delegations in the text.  There were amendments to the text, which had been distributed to all delegations.  The resolution underscored the need to associate all categories of victims in the elaboration of transitional justice measures, in particular women and children.  The resolution also recognized the importance of taking into account males that had been subjected to sexual violence.  Switzerland hoped that consensus could be reached. 

Russia, in a general comment, said that it attached primary significance to ensuring the rule of law and justice.  These matters were particularly acute for countries going through a transitional period.  It had thus taken an active part in the work on the draft resolution and taken the decision to support the consensus on the resolution.  At same time, Russia regretted that sponsors had not paid proper attention to its proposals to improve the text of the resolution, which contained a series of provisions that contradicted norms of international law.  For example, the International Criminal Court was turned into a body designed to ensure compliance with human rights.  Russia also noted that resolutions of the Human Rights Council had to keep to the provisions in the United Nations Charter.

Action on Resolution on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L25) regarding the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council calls upon States to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law; expresses its concern at the limitations imposed by States on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association other than those permitted by international law; reiterates its call upon States to cooperate fully with and assist the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the performance of his mandate; invites the Special Rapporteur to include, in his next annual report, the importance of the freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to the work of civil society actors; and requests the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to present an annual report to the General Assembly.

United States, presenting draft resolution L.25 on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, said that the creation two years ago of the first ever Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and association highlighted the current challenges that those rights faced.  Civil society organizations were playing a fundamental role to promote rights and policies and to keep Governments on track to remain efficient and accountable.  In order to allow civil society to serve the common good, the right to freedom of assembly and association had to be respected.  The United States called on all States to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur.  The issue was presented before the Council again to reaffirm the importance of those freedoms.  The resolution encouraged the Special Rapporteur in his next report to examine more deeply the role of civil society in relation to those rights and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights. 

Ecuador, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it had decided to add its voice to the consensus on the resolution as the right to freedom of peaceful assembly was a basic human right.  Ecuador encouraged States to add their efforts to create an arena for the exercise of that right.  It also reiterated the importance of the accomplishment of the right to peaceful resistance as a link between States and their constituents.  

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Implications for Human Rights of the Environmentally Sound Management and Disposal of Hazardous Substances and Wastes

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L26) regarding the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requests the new Special Rapporteur to provide comprehensive and up-to-date information on the adverse effects that the improper management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes may have on the enjoyment of human rights; urges the Special Rapporteur to continue his consultations concerning a multidisciplinary, in-depth approach to existing problems and to take due account of progress made in other bodies as well as to identify gaps with a view to finding lasting solutions for the management of such substances in order to formulate a progress report and specific recommendations and proposals for submission to the twenty-fourth session on the steps to be taken to control, minimize and eliminate these problems; urges the Special Rapporteur to develop a guide to best practices regarding the human rights obligations related to the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, to be submitted together with his report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-fourth session; and reiterates its appeal to States and other stakeholders to facilitate the work of the Special Rapporteur by providing information and inviting him to undertake country visits.

Senegal, introducing draft resolution L.26 on behalf of the African Group, and said that since 1995, the mandate holders on that issue had contributed to raise awareness of the international community on the negative effects that some dangerous wastes had on human rights.  The new name for the mandate meant that the entire cycle of the management of dangerous wastes was now being covered.  The African Group’s aim was to take the nomination of a new Special Rapporteur as an opportunity to call for a better management of the issues covered by the mandate.  More specifically, it was expected from this new Special Rapporteur to present during the twenty-seventh session of the Council a guide of good practices on that matter.  The African Group invited the Council to adopt the resolution by consensus. 

Austria, in a general comment, said that the European Union was aware of the importance of the issue and had consequently engaged constructively in the negotiation process.  It welcomed the decision of the African Group to include additional language that helped to ensure that the Special Rapporteur focused on the human rights aspects of hazardous waste management and disposal rather than more broadly and outside the scope of the Human Rights Council.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, recognized the serious effects that the improper disposal and management of hazardous substances could have on the effective enjoyment of human rights.  The United States was committed to the proper management of such substances.  However it would disassociate itself from consensus as some critical issues were already being comprehensively addressed in other bodies of the United Nation.  Some language implied an increased scope of mandate, already considered as broad.  On budgetary implications, the significant costs merited careful review and scrutiny.  The United States requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a review of the costs associated with the mandate at the earliest opportunity. 

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

Action on Resolution on Human Rights and Issues Related to Terrorist Hostage-Taking

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L8) regarding human rights and issues related to terrorist hostage-taking, adopted without a vote, the Council takes note of the preliminary report submitted by the Advisory Committee at the ninth session of the Committee; and decides to grant the Advisory Committee extra time in order to allow it to submit an interim report on the subject at its twenty-second session and the final study at its twenty-fourth session, in September 2013.

Senegal, introducing on behalf of the African Group draft resolution L.8 on human rights issues related to terrorist hostage-taking, said the resolution was procedural.  The resolution asked the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee to conduct a study on that §matter to better understand the human rights violations related to hostage taking.  The result of that study would be presented next year before the Council. 

United States, in a general comment, thanked Algeria for its close cooperation on discussions on the topic, shared the grave concerns and condemned impunity for hostage-takers.  The United States would join consensus, but it was concerned that the Human Rights Council was not the appropriate forum to address counter-terrorist issues.  

Action on Resolution on the Promotion of the Human Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L23) regarding the promotion of the human rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 9 against and 15 abstentions as orally amended, the Council decides to establish an open-ended intergovernmental Working Group with the mandate of negotiating, finalizing and submitting to the Human Rights Council a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas on the basis of the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee, and without prejudging relevant past, present and future views and proposals; decides that the Working Group shall hold its first session for five working days in 2013, before the twenty–third session of the Human Rights Council; requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the Working Group with the human, technical and financial assistance necessary for it to fulfil its mandate; requests the President of the Human Rights Council to invite the Rapporteur of the Advisory Committee drafting group on the draft declaration to participate in the first session of the working group; invites States, civil society and all relevant stakeholders to contribute actively and constructively to the work of the Working Group; and requests the Working Group to submit a report on progress made to the Human Rights Council for its consideration at its twenty-sixth session.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (23): Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Thailand, Uganda, and Uruguay.

Against (9): Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, and United States.

Abstentions (15): Botswana, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Switzerland.

Bolivia, introducing draft resolution L.23, said that the resolution reflected the findings of the report of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on the advancement of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas that was submitted to the Council at its nineteenth session.  Hunger, like poverty, was indeed still predominantly a rural problem and in the rural population it was those who produced food who suffered disproportionally, particularly in developing countries.  The Advisory Committee concluded in its report that existing international human rights instruments remained insufficient to fully protect the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.  Bolivia, together with Cuba, Ecuador and South Africa, had decided to present to the Council a resolution on the promotion and protection of the human rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, with the objective of establishing an open-ended intergovernmental Working Group with the mandate of negotiating, finalizing and submitting to the Human Rights Council a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that it was deeply concerned about the challenges faced by people living in rural areas around the world.  The United States was extensively contributing to building infrastructure, promoting land access and capacity building worldwide.  It was however premature to establish an intergovernmental Working Group.  The United States would oppose the resolution for three reasons.  First, the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee had exceeded its mandate by calling for the adoption of a new mechanism without being asked to do so by members of the Council.  Second, the United States was concerned that the resolution did not reflect the diverse views that States expressed during the consultations.  Thirdly, the United States was concerned about resources allocated to that mechanism.  The limited staffing resources could be better used at that time, especially given the current economic situation worldwide. 

Cuba, speaking in a general comment, commended Bolivia for its activism on that initiative.  The resolution was crucial for tens of millions of people in the world.  President Clinton himself once spoke about human rights and food security.  People living in rural areas needed their rights recognized and protected.  The resolution did not impose the text presented by the Advisory Committee, which would be open to comments and changes. 

Austria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said it was deeply regrettable that consensus could not be found on the resolution.  The European Union was committed to finding a measured and cooperative way forward.  The improvement of living conditions of those living and working in rural areas was of crucial importance.  Giving poor people better access to resources without harming the environment was being given special attention.  Without shared appreciation of the issue at hand, the convening of a Working Group would probably be of little use.   The European Union had substantial concerns over procedure and it could not support the resolution.

Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the human rights of peasants and those living in rural areas had to be respected, promoted and guaranteed by the State on equal footing with other citizens.  Those rights were already protected in the main international human rights instruments, treaty bodies and declarations on the matter.  Mexico had identified serious flaws and inconsistencies, even contradictions in the resolution.  In light of financial implications of the adoption of the draft resolution, Mexico found itself in need to reconsider its position and it would abstain in the vote. 

Norway, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted that consensus could not be reached on this issue.  Norway considered the enjoyment of human rights by people living in rural areas to be highly important.  The resolution however was not an efficient way to move forward on that issue.  Norway would therefore abstain.

Senegal, speaking in an explanation of vote before the vote, said that it considered that this initiative had the merit of giving rise to an important issue.  Everything should work through a gradual and consensual movement.  At this stage, Senegal had difficulties supporting the resolution, including for procedural and technical reasons linked to the document presented by the Advisory Committee. 

Thailand, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that it had taken steps to enhance the rights of people living in rural areas.  It therefore supported the spirit of the resolution.  However, without a clear definition of the term peasant, Thailand could not fully support it. 

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Follow-up and Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

Action on Resolution on a High-level Panel to Commemorate the Twentieth Anniversary of the Adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
         
In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L12) regarding a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene, at the first day of the high-level segment of its twenty-second session, a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, with a particular focus on its implementation as well as on achievements, best practices and challenges in this regard; requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize the panel discussion; and also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on the panel discussion in the form of a summary.

Austria, introducing draft resolution L.12, said that the achievements of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted in 1993 at the World Conference, whose twentieth anniversary would be celebrated next year, were still outstanding.  Austria was convinced that the occasion of the anniversary would provide the opportunity to reflect on the many achievements as well as challenges ahead.  The Declaration remained a very solid foundation, on which the building of the system of human rights protection should continue.  Austria hoped that stakeholders would use the occasion of the anniversary to strengthen the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. 

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

Action on Resolution on Enhancement of Technical Cooperation and Capacity Building in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L11) regarding the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides that the theme for an annual thematic panel discussion under agenda item 10, to be held during the twenty-second session of the Council, will be “promoting technical cooperation for strengthening of the judiciary system and administration of justice in order to ensure human rights and the rule of law.”; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on activities undertaken by United Nations agencies to support efforts by States to strengthen their judicial systems; emphasizes that the discussion on technical cooperation should be based on the consent of the concerned States; encourages donor countries to take into consideration technical assistance needs identified by States under review in the formulation of their bilateral technical cooperation programmes; stresses the importance of the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance for the Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review in promoting the implementation of the accepted recommendations; and encourages States and donors to make contributions to the Fund.

Thailand, introducing draft resolution L.11, said that the annual draft resolution was a follow up to the resolution 18/18, which had been adopted by consensus by the Council last year.  The resolution underlined the pivotal role of States, the Office of the High Commissioner, and other relevant United Nations agencies, regional mechanisms, and civil society in enhancing technical cooperation to help States fulfil their international human rights obligations and the accepted Universal Periodic Review recommendations.  Apart from this element, the main purpose of this year’s draft resolution were, first, to decide on the theme for an annual thematic panel discussion under agenda item 10 to be organized during the twenty-second session of the Council; and, second, to capture and reflect important points and common views emerging from the thematic discussion on the promotion of technical cooperation in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review, held during the nineteenth session, as well as the general debate under agenda item 10 of the twentieth session of the Council.

United States, in a general comment, said that technical assistance was one of the more tangible kinds of support that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights could provide.  While it was a useful tool, each State had the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights. 

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building for Yemen in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.30.Rev.1) regarding technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council notes with appreciation the efforts made by the Government of Yemen to implement Human Rights Council resolutions 18/19 and 19/29; calls upon all parties to release persons arbitrarily detained by them and to end any practice of unlawful detention of persons; calls upon the Government of Yemen and armed opposition groups to take immediate measures to end the use and recruitment of children; calls upon the international community to provide financial support for the Yemen humanitarian response plan of 2012 and the urgent appeals for Abyan as well as the joint United Nations stabilization plan; encourages the Government of Yemen to continue its efforts to ensure that women are represented at all levels of the political process and that they are able to participate in public life; requests the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance and to work with the Government of Yemen, as needed, to identify additional areas of assistance to enable Yemen to fulfil its human rights obligations; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present to the Human Rights Council, at its twenty-fourth session, a progress report on the situation of human rights in Yemen and on the follow-up to the present resolution and Council resolutions 18/19 and 19/29.

Yemen, introducing draft resolution L.30/Rev.1, said that Yemen was undergoing a transition phase and required the support of the international community so that the Government could honour its commitments in the field of human rights.  Yemen was ready to work with the High Commissioner to improve the human rights situation in Yemen and several measures had been taken, including the creation a local office of the High Commissioner in Sana’a.  The draft resolution was a follow up to resolution 19/L.37/Rev.1, adopted in June by the Council, and Yemen hoped that it would be supported by other members of the Council and adopted by consensus.  Yemen thanked the Netherlands for its efforts and hoped that the draft resolution would be widely supported. 

Netherlands, also introducing resolution L.30 Rev.1., said that it was an important resolution and the Netherlands was happy that it had worked with Yemen to produce the draft.  Yemen had committed itself to live up to international human rights standards, and had opted for the engagement of the international community.  The High Commissioner had responded by setting up an office in Yemen.  The Government had just decided to establish a committee to investigate human rights violations.  The Netherland would continue to support the role of Yemen and the international community.  It trusted that the resolution would be adopted without a vote. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC12/126E