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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CONCLUDES TWENTIETH REGULAR SESSION
Adopts 22 Resolutions, Appoints Special Rapporteurs on Belarus and Eritrea, Extends Mandates on Côte d'Ivoire and Somalia, Decides to Establish Working Group to Negotiate a Draft Declaration on the Right to Peace
6 July 2012

The Human Rights Council concluded its twentieth regular session this afternoon, adopting 22 resolutions and a presidential statement on a wide range of issues including the human rights situations in Belarus, Eritrea, Syria, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Somalia; arbitrary detention; the right to peace; the effects of foreign debt on human rights; and freedom of expression on the Internet.

A Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus was appointed following adoption of a resolution by the Council which noted concern at the findings of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that suggested a pattern of serious and systematic human rights violations in Belarus since 19 December 2010.  The Council also adopted a resolution in which it appointed a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea and strongly condemned the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean authorities.

Under technical assistance and capacity building, the current mandate of the Independent Expert concerning technical assistance to Côte d'Ivoire in the area of human rights was renewed for a period of one year.  In the resolution, the Council strongly condemned the attacks on the civilian population and personnel of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, in particular the killing of seven United Nations peacekeepers on 8 June 2012. 

The current mandate regarding technical assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights was also extended for one year in a resolution in which the Council strongly condemned the grave and systematic human rights abuses perpetrated against the civilian population and supported the efforts of the Transitional Federal Government and Somali sub-national authorities to ensure respect for human rights in preparation for the end of the transitional period on 20 August 2012.

The Council also passed a resolution 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 right to peace, on the basis of the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee.

The Council adopted, by a vote, a resolution on Syria that strongly condemned the widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and the continued extrajudicial killings and killings and prosecution of protestors, human rights defenders and journalists.  It reiterated the importance of bringing to justice those responsible for the widespread and systematic use of violence against the Syrian people and encouraged the international community to ensure there was no impunity for crimes. 

With regards to human rights in Mali, the Council condemned the human rights violations and acts of violence committed in northern Mali, expressed support for current efforts by the African Union and ECOWAS to settle the crisis and invited the High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor the human rights situation in the north of the Republic of Mali and to report thereon to the Council at its twenty-first session.

In a resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet the Council affirmed that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression.  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 requested the Independent Expert report to the General Assembly on the issue of the effects of foreign debt of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights.  In adopting a resolution on arbitrary detention, the Council requested the Working Group on arbitrary detention to prepare draft basic principles and guidelines on remedies and procedures on the right to anyone deprived of his or her liberty, to submit a specific report to the Council on national, regional and international laws, regulations and practices; and to hold subsequently a stakeholders consultation.

In a resolution concerning trafficking in persons, especially women and children the Council reiterated its concern at the high number of persons who are being trafficked and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to organize consultations on the draft basic principles on the right to effective remedy for trafficked persons.  With regards to conscientious objection to military service, the Council agreed on a resolution which requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a quadrennial analytical report on conscientious objection to military service and called upon all States to continue to review their laws, policies and practices relating to conscientious objection to military service.

On the issue of the right to a nationality: women and children, the Council called upon all States to adopt and implement nationality legislation with a view to prevent and reduce statelessness among women and children. It also passed a resolution on human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality in which it urged all States to adopt and implement nationality legislation with a view to avoiding statelessness.  A resolution on the elimination of discrimination against women called upon States to ensure full representation and full and equal participation of women in political, social and economic decision-making as an essential condition for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and a critical factor in the eradication of poverty.

In relation to the right to education and in follow-up to resolution 8/4, a resolution called upon all States to achieve the Education For All targets and to give full effect to the right to education.  In a resolution on the human rights of internally displaced persons the Council called upon States to provide durable solutions and assist affected countries in their national efforts relating to internally displaced persons. Regarding the human rights of migrants, a resolution was passed that called upon States to respect the right of everyone to education and encouraged them to take steps that promote the prevention and elimination of discriminatory policies that deny migrant children and children of migrants access to education.

The Council passed a resolution on cultural rights and respect for cultural diversity in which it requested the Office of the High Commissioner convene, in 2013, a seminar on the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and to provide all the resources necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate by the Special Rapporteur.  The Council also adopted a resolution on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights in which it recognized the role of such institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-third session on the activities of the International Coordinating Committee.

On the issue of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and remedies for women who have been subjected to violence, the Council agreed on a resolution which strongly condemned all acts of violence against women and girls and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare and present to the Council recommendations on how to create and/or strengthen linkages and synergies between the mechanisms of the Council and also with other relevant intergovernmental processes on the issue of violence against women and girls. On Nelson Mandela International Day, the Council decided to hold a high-level panel discussion on how the values of reconciliation, peace, freedom and racial equality can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights at its twenty-first session. 

Laura Lasserre Dupuy, President of the Human Rights Council, announced that the Council had examined the situation of religious minorities in Iraq and the human rights situation in Eritrea under its Complaint Procedure.  It had decided to discontinue its consideration of the situation of religious minorities in Iraq and recommended that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provide Iraq with technical cooperation, assistance and advisory services.  The Council had decided to keep under review the situation of human rights in Eritrea until its twenty-first session.

Ms. Dupuy Lasserre named John Knox as the Independent Expert on the human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean and healthy and sustainable environment, and appointed Christine Chanet, Unity Dow and Asma Jahangir to carry out the Council’s fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory.  At the closing of the session the Council also adopted its report. 

Over the course of its twentieth session the Council heard a number of reports and held interactive dialogues with the Special Procedures presenting them, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary-General, the Special Rapporteur on health, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, the Special Rapporteur on summary executions, the Special Rapporteur on peaceful assembly and association, the Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, the Special Representative on extreme poverty, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and the Special Rapporteur on racism.  All presentations were followed by interactive dialogues with States and non-governmental organizations. 

The agenda for the twentieth session also included presented of an oral report by the independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, on its investigation into the events of 5 May 2012 in El-Houleh, Syria, which resulted in the deaths of over 100 persons. The Council held clustered interactive dialogues with the Independent Expert on foreign debt, the Independent Expert on Haiti, the Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations, the Working Group on discrimination against women and the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee.  It undertook a review of human rights situations that required its attention, and held interactive dialogues on the human rights situation in Belarus, Haiti and the occupied Palestinian territories.  During the session the Council also heard a report presented by the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, as well as holding private meetings under its Complaint Procedure.

The twentieth regular session of the Human Rights Council was opened with an address on Monday 18 June 2012 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in which she urged the international community to overcome divisions in order to end the violence and human rights violations in Syria, as they might amount to crimes against humanity.  She also detailed the work of her Office on the human rights dimension of migration, accountability and rule of law, discrimination, rights of women, indigenous peoples, minorities, persons with disabilities and human rights in relation to the United Nations peace and security agenda.

The Council held its annual full-day discussion on women’s human rights, focusing on women human rights defenders, and remedies and reparations for women who have been subjected to violence, debating challenges and identifying promising practices in providing effective, prompt, just, transformative and culturally sensitive reparations for women who have been subjected to violence in different contexts.  It also held a panel discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights in a multicultural context, including through combating xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance. 

Documentation, statements, resolutions and reports relating to this and all Human Rights Council sessions are available on its webpage.  The twentieth session, which was presided over by Laura Dupuy Lasserre of Uruguay, was held from 18 June to 6 July 2012.  The twenty-first regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 10 to 28 September 2012. 


Resolutions Adopted by the Council

Agenda Item 3 on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.1) regarding trafficking in persons, especially women and children, adopted without a vote, the Council reiterates its concern at the high number of persons who are being trafficked within and between regions and States; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to organize consultations on the draft basic principles on the right to effective remedy for trafficked persons.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.4) on conscientious objection to military service, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a quadrennial analytical report on conscientious objection to military service and calls upon all States to continue to review their laws, policies and practices relating to conscientious objection to military service.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.5) on arbitrary detention, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requests the Working Group on arbitrary detention to prepare draft basic principles and guidelines on remedies and procedures on the right to anyone deprived of his or her liberty, to submit a specific report to the Council on national, regional and international laws and practices; to hold a stakeholders consultation and to present the draft basic guidelines to the Human Rights Council before the end of 2015.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.6) regarding the human rights of migrants, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to respect the right of everyone to education and encourages them to take steps that promote the prevention and elimination of discriminatory policies that deny migrant children and children of migrants access to education.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L8) regarding the right to a nationality: women and children, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States to adopt and implement nationality legislation with a view to prevent and reduce statelessness among women and children.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L9) regarding human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality, as orally revised, adopted without a vote, the Council urges all States to adopt and implement nationality legislation with a view to avoiding statelessness including measures aimed at ensuring that all children are registered immediately after birth and requests the Secretary-General to prepare a report on measures that may lead to the deprivation of nationality and to present the report to the Human Rights Council before its twenty-fifth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.10) regarding acceleration of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and remedies for women who have been subjected to violence, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council strongly condemns all acts of violence against women and girls and requests the Office of the High Commissioner present to the Council recommendations on how to create and/or strengthen linkages and synergies between the mechanisms of the Council and also with other relevant intergovernmental processes on the issue. 

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.11) regarding the elimination of discrimination against women, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to ensure full representation and full and equal participation of women in political, social and economic decision-making as an essential condition for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and a critical factor in the eradication of poverty.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.12) regarding the right to education and in follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States to achieve the Education For All targets and urges States and other relevant stakeholders to pay enhanced attention to education in emergency situations by, inter alia, enhancing the protection of schools from attacks and strengthening safety and disaster risk reduction.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.13) regarding the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, adopted without a vote, the Council affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression; calls upon all States to promote and facilitate access to the Internet and decides to continue its consideration of how the Internet can be an important tool for development and for exercising human rights.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.14) regarding the human rights of internally displaced persons, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to provide durable solutions and assist affected countries in their national efforts relating to internally displaced persons; recommends that States ensure that internally displaced children have access to education; and recognizes the adverse effects of climate change as contributors to environmental degradation which may contribute to human displacement.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.17) regarding 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, as orally amended, adopted by a vote of 31 votes in favour, 11 against and five abstentions, the Council reaffirms that responses to the global financial and economic crises should not result in a decrease in debt relief and requests the Independent Expert to report to the General Assembly on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.18) regarding the promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity, as orally amended, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene, in 2013, a seminar on the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, and to provide all the human and financial resources necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate by the Special Rapporteur.

Agenda Item 4 on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.7) regarding the situation of human rights in Belarus, adopted by a vote of 22 votes in favour, five against and 20 abstentions, the Council expresses grave concern at the findings that suggest the existence of a systematic pattern of serious violations of human rights including intensified restrictions on the fundamental freedoms as well as allegations of torture and ill-treatment in custody and impunity of perpetrators; and decides to appoint a Special Rapporteur to monitor the situation of human rights in Belarus and to make recommendations for its improvement.

Agenda Item 4 on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L19) regarding the situation of human rights in Eritrea, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council strongly condemns the continued violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean authorities, including arbitrary executions, enforced disappearances and systematic use of torture; the severe restrictions on freedom of expression, and the shoot-to-kill practice employed on the borders of Eritrea to stop citizens seeking to flee their country.  The Council decides to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.20) regarding the situation of human rights in the Republic of Mali, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council condemns the human rights violations and acts of violence committed in northern Mali, in particular by the rebels, terrorist groups and other organized transnational crime networks; expresses support for current efforts by the African Union and ECOWAS to settle the crisis and invites the High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor the human rights situation in the north of the Republic of Mali and to report thereon to the Council.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.22) regarding the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by 41 votes in favour, three against and three abstentions as orally revised, the Council strongly condemns the widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and the continued extrajudicial killings and prosecution of protestors, human rights defenders and journalists.  The Council reiterates the importance of bringing to justice those responsible for the use of violence and encourages the international community to ensure against impunity.  The Council rejected proposed amendments to the resolution by a vote of 33 against, eight for and six abstentions.

Agenda Item 5 on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

In a resolution (
A/HRC/20/L.16) regarding the promotion of the right to peace, as orally revised and adopted by a vote of 34 votes in favour, one against and 12 abstentions, 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 right to peace.  The working group should hold its first session for five working days in 2013 and report to the Council at its twenty-third session.

Agenda Item 8 on Follow-up to and Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.15) regarding national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Human Rights Council recognizes the role of independent national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights and encouraged Member States to establish effective, independent and pluralistic national institutions in accordance with the Paris Principles.  The Council also requests the Secretary-General to report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-third session on the activities of the International Coordinating Committee.
                  
Agenda Item 9 on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.3) regarding a Nelson Mandela International Day Panel, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to hold, at its twenty-first session, a high-level panel discussion on how the values of reconciliation, peace, freedom and racial equality can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to take the measures necessary to observe Nelson Mandela International Day.

Agenda Item 10 on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L2.Rev1 currently only available in French) regarding assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council strongly condemns the grave and systematic human rights abuses perpetrated against the civilian population.  It decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia for one year in order to support the efforts of the Transitional Federal Government and Somali sub-national authorities to ensure respect for human rights in preparation for the end of the transitional period on 20 August 2012.

In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.21) on technical assistance to Côte d'Ivoire in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council strongly condemns the attacks on the civilian population and personnel of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, in particular the killing of seven United Nations peacekeepers on 8 June 2012.  The Council decides to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire for a period of one year.

Presidential Statement


In presidential statement (A/HRC/20/L.23) regarding the reports of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to increase the word limit for all reports of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on each State reviewed from 9, 630 words to 10,700 words.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC12/094E


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