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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS NINE RESOLUTIONS AND TWO DECISIONS
Calls on Sri Lanka to Conduct Investigation into Alleged Violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Extends Mandates on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism and Right to Food
21 March 2013

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted two decisions and nine resolutions.  It called upon Sri Lanka to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law; and extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism and of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. 

Other texts dealt with the Human Rights Council’s webcast; the composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities; the realization of economic, social and cultural rights; the situation of human rights defenders; and birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition as a person before the law.

At the beginning of the meeting, Remigiusz A. Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, said that no case had been referred to the Council for action under its Complaint Procedure.  The President appointed two new members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mr. Albert Deterville from Saint Lucia for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States and Mr. Alexey Tsykarev from the Russian Federation, for the Eastern European Group.

In its resolution on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, adopted by 25 votes in favour, 13 votes against and 8 abstentions, the Council welcomed the report of the High Commissioner on this issue and encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations contained therein.  The Council also called upon the Government to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism for a period of three years; and requested all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur in the performance his mandate.

The Council also extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food for a period of three years; and requested the Special Rapporteur to continue to monitor the evolution of the world food crisis and to keep the Council informed of the impact of the crisis on the enjoyment of the right to food.

Concerning the composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a resolution adopted by 31 votes in favour, 15 votes against and 1 abstention, the Council requested the Joint Inspection Unit to undertake a follow-up review of the management and administration of the Office and to submit a report containing concrete proposals for the implementation of the present resolution to the Council at its twenty-seventh session.
The Council adopted a decision by the President on the Human Rights Council’s webcast in which it recommended that the General Assembly consider ways to ensure sustainable live webcasting and subsequent storage of Council meetings held in the framework of its sessions and the Universal Periodic Review Working Group.

In a resolution regarding the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decided to examine this question at its twenty-third session under the same agenda item.

The Council also decided to focus its next annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities, to be held at its twenty-fifth session, on their right to education; and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a study on the right of persons with disabilities to education and to make it available prior to the twenty-fifth session of the Council.

The Council urged States to ensure that persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities were aware of and able to exercise their rights; and requested the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to continue to provide the assistance necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate of the Independent Expert on minority issues.

Concerning the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, the Council requested the Secretary-General to continue to prepare and submit to the Council an annual report on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, with a special focus on access to justice relating to violations of economic, social and cultural rights.

In a resolution on protecting human rights defenders, the Council called upon States to ensure that all legal provisions affecting human rights defenders were clearly defined, determinable and non-retroactive, in order to avoid potential abuse.  The Council urged States to acknowledge publicly the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, as an essential component of ensuring their protection.

Regarding birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on barriers to access to universal birth registration and possession of documentary proof of birth, as well as on good practices adopted by States in fulfilling their obligation to ensure birth registration.

Introducing resolutions and decisions were the President of the Human Rights Council and the delegations of United States, Cuba, Iran, Mexico, Austria, Portugal, Norway and Turkey.

Pakistan, India, Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Montenegro, Suisse, Sierra Leone, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Ethiopia and United States made general comments.

Indonesia, Thailand, Republic of Korea, Japan, United States and Maldives spoke in explanation of vote before or after the vote.

Sri Lanka 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.


Statement on Complaint Procedure and Appointment of Two New Members of Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

REMIGIUSZ A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, informed the delegations that the Council, in a closed meeting, had considered the report of the eleventh session of the Working Group on Situations under its Complaint Procedure, and that no case had been referred to it for action. 

The President also said that he had decided to appoint two new members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mr. Albert Deterville from Saint Lucia, for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, and Mr. Alexey Tsykarev from the Russian Federation, for the Eastern European Group.

Action on Decision Under Agenda Item on Organizational and Procedural Matters

In a decision (A/HRC/22/L.32) submitted by the President on the Human Rights Council’s webcast, adopted without a vote, the Council recommends that the General Assembly considers ways to ensure sustainable live webcasting and subsequent storage of Council meetings held in the framework of the sessions of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review Working Group.

REMIGIUSCZ. A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, introducing draft decision L.32, said that the text was short and to the point.  It recommended that the General Assembly consider ways to assure sustainable live webcasting and subsequent storage of meetings.  The preambular part recalled the basis for this decision, as well as the current ad hoc arrangements for financing the webcasts, and recalled the importance of webcasting.

Action on Resolutions Under Agenda Item on the Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Action on Resolution on Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.1/Rev1) on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, adopted by a vote of 25 in favour, 13 against and 8 abstentions, the Council welcomes the report of the High Commissioner on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka; encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations made in the report of the High Commissioner, and to cooperate with Special Procedures mandate holders and to respond formally to their outstanding requests, including by extending invitations and providing access.  The Council also calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as applicable; and requests the High Commissioner to present an oral update to the Council at its twenty-fourth session, and a comprehensive report followed by a discussion at the twenty-fifth session, on the implementation of the present resolution.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (25): Argentina, Austria, Benin, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Italy, Libya, Montenegro, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland and United States.

Against (13): Congo, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Abstentions (8): Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Malaysia.


United States, introducing resolution L.1, encouraged Sri Lanka to take the necessary steps to ensure accountability and lasting peace following almost three decades of civil war.  The resolution welcomed important progress made by Sri Lanka but also recognized that much remained to be done.  The resolution also highlighted the constructive role of the Office of the High Commissioner and of special procedures’ mandate holders in providing technical assistance and advice, and encouraged Sri Lanka to cooperate these actors. 
 
Pakistan, speaking in a general comment, said that the delegation of Sri Lanka had briefed several delegations bilaterally and in regional groups and had explained in detail why it found the resolution unacceptable despite several revisions.  In draft resolution 22/L.1, Pakistan observed that the parameters had been shifted with the introduction of substantive elements and this was of concern, given that Sri Lanka was being asked in effect to implement the recommendations of the Office of the High Commissioner’s report with disregard to the on-going domestic reconciliation process.  The substantive amendments proposed by Pakistan and other delegations during informal sessions, intended to bring some semblance of balance to the text, had been disregarded.  Pakistan then called for a vote on the resolution.

India, speaking in a general comment, said that the resolution on Sri Lanka provided an opportunity to forge a way forward through national and inclusive reconciliation.  India noted with concern that Sri Lanka had not kept its 2009 commitments and called on Sri Lanka to move forward on its public commitments and to take measures to ensure accountability.  India had always been of the view that the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka had presented an opportunity to achieve a lasting peace.  Sri Lanka’s elections scheduled for 2013 were an opportunity for its people to exercise their electoral right in a free environment. 

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in a general comment, said that the European Union fully supported all efforts to promote reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.  The European Union noted that the main sponsor had reached out to the country concerned and had sought to address a number of its concerns.  Genuine reconciliation was essential and required justice and accountability for past events.  The European Union urged Sri Lanka to carry out independent, credible investigations of alleged violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law.   The European Union urged the Government to cooperate with the special procedures’ mandate holders and to respond to all outstanding requests.

Montenegro, speaking in a general comment, fully aligned itself with the resolution on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, which it saw as a step towards achieving lasting peace.  Montenegro welcomed the improvements made by Sri Lanka and joined with other countries in encouraging the Sri Lankan Government to take additional steps towards the promotion of justice and the implementation of real reconciliation.  Justice would be essential if there was to be true reconciliation after a long and divisive civil war in the country. 

Switzerland, speaking in a general comment, welcomed the submission of the resolution on Sri Lanka and remained concerned about the human rights situation in the country.  Switzerland underlined the importance of dialogue and cooperation for the process of achieving reconciliation and encouraged Sri Lanka to enhance its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner and with special procedures’ mandate holders.
 
Sierra Leone, speaking in a general comment, said that as a country that had witnessed a bloody and destructive 10-year civil war and from which it that had bounced back through genuine reconciliation and accountability, was compelled to support this resolution.  Sierra Leone considered it to be fair, balanced and designed to bring about accountability and reconciliation.  Sierra Leone was aware of the glaring fact that the only way to bring meaningful and sustainable reconciliation was through an end to impunity and through meaningful accountability.  This resolution did just that in a fair way.  Sierra Leone supported it and called on other States to do the same.

Brazil, speaking in a general comment, said that it had followed with interest and concern the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and that it showed challenges and advancements since the end of the conflict in 2009.  The Sri Lankan Government had made significant progress in building infrastructure and resettling displaced persons.  Cooperation with the United Nations human rights’ mechanisms was a two-way street and Brazil encouraged the High Commissioner to act upon the invitation of the Government to visit the country.

Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, categorically rejected the selectivity and double standards which were increasingly used in the Council against the will of countries concerned, as had been the case with Sri Lanka.  The Council was turning a blind eye to the efforts that Sri Lanka was undertaking to improve the human rights situation.  Venezuela warned about the serious risks created by the interventionist approaches of certain Members of the Council and stated that would vote against the resolution.   

Ecuador, speaking in a general comment, said that it had always condemned violations of human rights anywhere in the world.  There should be no biased approach to specific countries nor should double standards be tolerated in the Council.  Sri Lanka was showing signs of political will to improve the human rights situation and, therefore, Ecuador would vote against the resolution on Sri Lanka.
 
Sri Lanka, speaking as the concerned country, said that the draft resolution before the Council was premised upon resolution 19/2 of 2012 which was not recognised by Sri Lanka.  Despite its dissociation with that initiative, Sri Lanka had shown clear progress towards comprehensive reconciliation including by the preparation and implementation of the action plan called for by the resolution.  The draft resolution before the Council today was unacceptable to Sri Lanka.  The present draft moved dramatically away from the ambit and scope of previous resolution 19/2 and the preambular part of the text was highly intrusive, replete with misrepresentations and, in its overall scope, accentuated the negative and eliminated or was dismissive of the positive.  The tone set for the rest of the document was overwhelmingly pessimistic.  The paragraph dealing with progress achieved ignored many areas of clear progress.  It also sought to allege continuing reports of discrimination on grounds of religion or belief when this was manifestly not the case.  Sri Lanka’s constructive engagement through the Universal Periodic Review process had unfortunately been ignored. 

The operative paragraphs of the text showed they were based on a political process.  Sri Lanka noted that the report introduced new elements such as an international inquiry, incidentally first proposed by the Council in May 2009.  The reference to the Panel of Experts’ report set the dangerous precedent of introducing unsubstantiated reports.  Sri Lanka totally rejected attempts by the Office of the High Commissioner and others to introduce elements of the Panel of Experts’ report, which attempted to legitimize its recommendations and seek to impose them on Sri Lanka.  Why this preoccupation with Sri Lanka? Why the inordinate and disproportionate attention, despite so much progress in a relatively short period of time?  Given the background and anomalous nature of the text, many countries would naturally have concerns as it could establish a bad precedent.  Stakeholders may be forewarned that if the current tendency towards politicization continued the Council may face the fate of its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights.  Rather than singled out, Sri Lanka should be encouraged in its current process of reconciliation.

Indonesia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it could not go along with the resolution on Sri Lanka because it believed that during this difficult transitional period Sri Lanka deserved support and assistance.  Sri Lanka should be allowed to spend its energy and resources on the implementation of its National Action Plan.  The adoption of Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Review last week demonstrated the country’s engagement with United Nations’ mechanisms. 

Thailand, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it remained concerned about the draft resolution on Sri Lanka and would vote against it.  The resolution did not take into account the continuing progress which Sri Lanka was making in the implementation of recommendations.  Thailand urged Sri Lanka to continue to ensure accountability and to combat impunity, but recognized that the process would take time.

Republic of Korea, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted with appreciation the efforts and the achievements made by Sri Lanka in rebuilding infrastructure, demining, and rehabilitating child soldiers.  Republic of Korea understood the importance of accountability for genuine reconciliation and the considerable difficulties faced in the process of ensuring it. The Republic of Korea would vote in favour of this resolution.

Japan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it attached utmost importance to the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Japan welcomed certain progress in rebuilding infrastructure and resettlement of internally displaced persons.  However many challenges remained.  Japan encouraged Sri Lanka to make the utmost efforts to continue to cooperate with the international community.  It would abstain from the vote on the resolution.
Action on Resolution on the Composition of the Staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
  
In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.17) regarding the composition of staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, 15 against and 1 abstention as orally revised, the Council expresses serious concern at the imbalance in the geographical representation of the composition of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The Council requests the Joint Inspection Unit to undertake a comprehensive follow-up review of the management and administration of the Office and to submit a report containing concrete proposals for the implementation of the present resolution to the Council at its twenty-seventh session.  The Council also requests the High Commissioner to submit a comprehensive and updated report to the Council at its twenty-seventh session with a special focus on further measures taken to correct the imbalance in the geographical composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (31): 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, 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 (1): Chile.


Cuba, introducing resolution L.17, said that the subject of the resolution was very important.  If adopted, the Council would be addressing the issue of the geographical imbalance which characterized the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The text of the resolution, which sought to ensure the independence and inclusiveness of the Office, had been put together after consultation with various delegations.  Cuba hoped that the resolution would be adopted by a majority vote, thus sending a clear message about the inclusive and universal character of the Office.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said that the General Assembly was the only competent body to address issues of administration, budget and human resources.  The European Union welcomed the High Commissioner’s efforts commitment to improved balance of geographical representation within her Office.  The European Union had concerns regarding operative paragraphs 4, 5, and 6, and the incorrect quote in operative paragraph 11, as circulated.  The Council did not have the competence to change the geographical range of the secretariat.  The current approach to the issue should be reconsidered.  The European Union could not support this draft resolution and called for a vote. 

Pakistan, speaking in a general comment, said arguments heard did not constitute any basis to challenge the validity of this resolution.  The Council was independent and had the mandate to express itself to the General Assembly and to the Secretary-General as well as to the High Commissioner.  The argument that the conditions should only be dictated by efficiency, competence and the like implied that people from developing countries did not have the requisite level of efficiency or competency which was completely incorrect.  Pakistan called upon all countries to vote in favour of the resolution.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Council was made up of Member States and the High Commissioner should not be instructed on staffing matters by the Council.  Of course, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would continue to recruit its staff on as broad a geographical basis as possible.  The United States would vote no to the proposed resolution.  

Maldives, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on L.1/Rev.1, said that Maldives was a close friend of Sri Lanka and its people and understood the challenges it faced in the promotion of reconciliation.  It understood that in order to rebuild there had to be accountability.  It was important to support Sri Lanka in this crucial time to promote reconciliation for all and to create a better, fairer and equitable society.  Maldives hoped that the High Commissioner could visit Sri Lanka.  It welcomed Sri Lanka’s constructive engagement with the Council and its mechanisms.

Action on Resolutions Under Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights

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

In a decision (A/HRC/22/L.2) regarding the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council acknowledges the holding of the seminar on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights on 15 February 2013 organized by the High Commissioner as requested by the Human Rights Council resolution 19/33 of 23 March 2012, and decides to examine this question at its twenty-third session under the same agenda item.

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, introducing resolution L.2, said that it had decided to table a decision deferring consideration of the annual resolution on Enhancement of International Cooperation in the field of Human Rights to the twenty-third session of the Human Rights Council.   

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said that in terms of procedures, it regretted that no informal consultations had been convened.  At the same time it reiterated that in accordance with the institutional framework, the Council’s work should be guided by principles of transparency and inclusiveness.  It considered international cooperation as an essential element.  The European Union stressed that the protection and promotion of human rights was the primary responsibility of States.  The European Union would join in consensus of this text. 

Action on Resolution on Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Work and Employment

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.4) regarding the work and employment of persons with disabilities, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to continue to integrate the rights of persons with disabilities into its work; that its next annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities will be held at its twenty-fifth session, and that it will focus on the right of persons with disabilities to education.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a study on the right of persons with disabilities to education, made available on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner prior to the twenty-fifth session of the Council.  The Council requests the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to continue the progressive implementation of standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services of the United Nations system, and underlines that the Human Rights Council, including its Internet resources, should be fully accessible to persons with disabilities.

Mexico, introducing resolution L.4, said that the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities was of major importance for sustaining an inclusive society.  Persons with disabilities represented 15 per cent of the world population, so it was necessary to include them in the workforce of all countries.  The initiative proposed specific measures for States to adopt in order to promote employment for persons with disabilities in equal conditions.  States should adopt such measures so that persons with disabilities have access to inclusive and competitive employment.   
 
Action on Resolution on Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.7) regarding the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council urges States to undertake initiatives to ensure that persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities are aware of and able to exercise their rights.  The Council also encourages regional intergovernmental bodies to promote greater attention to the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.  The Council requests the High Commissioner to present an annual report containing information on relevant developments of United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms; and requests the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to continue to provide all the assistance necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate of the Independent Expert and for the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner in this area.

Austria introducing draft resolution L.7, said that it had been traditionally the main sponsor of the resolution on the rights of persons belonging to minorities.  This one addressed in particular three issues.  Overall it would like to continue the strong engagement of the Council in this important topic.  The draft text focused on the implementation of the Declaration on Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious or Linguistic Minorities.  Some references were added regarding the recent establishment of the United Nations network on racial discrimination and the protection of minorities.  Austria had held open and transparent discussions with all delegations through informal consultations as well as bilaterally.  Oral revisions were made. 

Action on Resolution on the Question of the Realization in all Countries of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.8) on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, adopted without a vote, the Council encourages States parties to make maximum use of the framework of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to pursue further substantive gender equality; and reiterates that respect for and the promotion and protection of human rights are an integral part of effective work towards achieving the internationally agreed development goals.  The Council requests the Secretary-General to continue to prepare and submit to the Council an annual report on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, with a special focus on access to justice relating to violations of economic, social and cultural rights.

Portugal, introducing resolution L.8, said that the draft resolution welcomed the upcoming entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, recognizing that it would represent a step forward in the promotion and protection of those rights.  The focus of the resolution was the realization of women’s rights in particular, and the draft underlined the need for the adoption of an integrated approach in that respect.  It also encouraged States to pursue gender equality. 

United States, speaking in a general comment, said it appreciated the tremendous efforts the lead sponsor had made to draft this text and it was pleased to join in the consensus.  The United States understood the promotion of human dignity and the protection of individual liberties which compelled the renewal of commitment to all human rights.  It welcomed the opportunity to engage with resolutions such as these, to further the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.

Action on Resolution on Protecting Human Rights Defenders

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.13) regarding protecting human rights defenders, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council urges States to create a safe and enabling environment in which human rights defenders can operate free from hindrance and insecurity; stresses that legislation affecting the activities of human rights defenders, and it application, must be consistent with international human rights law.  The Council calls upon States to ensure that legislation designed to guarantee public safety and public order contains clearly defined provisions consistent with international human rights law, and to ensure that all legal provisions and their application affecting human rights defenders are clearly defined, determinable and non-retroactive, in order to avoid potential abuse.  The Council urges States to acknowledge publicly the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, as an essential component of ensuring their protection.

Norway, introducing resolution L.13, said that the Council had to respond to reports about threats, attacks and acts of intimidation facing human rights defenders.  Effect should be given to the principle of non-discrimination and legal provisions should not be abused to impede or restrict the exercise of any human right.  A safe environment for the work of human rights defenders without stigmatization or threats was essential.  Norway then introduced oral amendments to the draft resolution and invited the Council to adopt the resolution by consensus.     

Russia, speaking in a general comment, thanked Norway for the constructive approach used and for taking into account some of its concerns.  Russia withdrew its amendments and said it would support the amendments proposed by Norway.

United States, speaking in a general comment, thanked the Norwegian delegation for tabling this text, which it supported.  The United States said the resolution recognised the responsibility of Governments and the international community in supporting and protecting human rights defenders and that this was of continuing importance. 

Ethiopia, speaking in a general comment, said that it did not ask to put the resolution to a vote because it supported the general tenure of the resolution, but it stressed that the text of the resolution did not reflect the freedom of association and related rights.

Action on Resolution on Birth Registration and the Right of Everyone to Recognition Everywhere as a Person before the Law

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.14/Rev.1) regarding birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law, adopted without the vote, the Council expresses concern at the high number of persons throughout the world whose birth is not registered and urges States to identify and remove barriers that impede access to registration; and encourages States to request technical assistance, if required, from relevant United Nations bodies, agencies, funds and programmes.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on legal, administrative, economic, physical, and any other barriers to access to universal birth registration and possession of documentary proof of birth, as well as on good practices adopted by states in fulfilling their obligation to ensure birth registration, to be submitted to the Council at its 27th session. 

Turkey introducing L.14/Rev.1, said that birth registration paved the way to all other human rights.  Despite legal obligations on States, every year 51 million children were still not registered at birth.  This deprived individuals of proper access to services and enjoyment of human rights.  It was of utmost importance to determine and lift the barriers to birth registration, which this text aimed to do.  This year it made its best to strengthen the previous resolution in many aspects.  Turkey hoped the draft text would enjoy consensus.

Mexico, also introducing L.14/Rev.1, said that the right of everyone to recognition before the law was essential to ensuring all other rights.  One of the most effective ways for a State to promote and ensure recognition of legal personality was birth registration.  This initiative reaffirmed the importance of birth registration as an official mechanism for the recognition of a person’s existence and reminded States of their obligation to carry out birth registration without discrimination, regardless of the status of the parents, whether they were undocumented migrants, single mothers, or living in other circumstances.  It also asked the High Commissioner to draw up a report so as to shed more light on its effect or lack thereof on the enjoyment of human rights. 

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights While Countering Terrorism

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.15) regarding protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism: mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, adopted without the a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism for a period of three years in the same terms as provided for by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 15/15.  The Council requests all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur in the performance of the tasks and duties mandated, and requests the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all the necessary assistance to the Special Rapporteur for the effective fulfilment of his/her mandate. 

Mexico, introducing resolution L.15, said that, because there was ongoing need to protect human rights and to address the question of terrorism, the co-sponsors of the draft resolution were convinced that it was necessary to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, which was based on previous resolutions of the Council, for an additional three years.  With the renewal of the mandate the United Nations would have greater capacity to protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms in every circumstance, time, and place. 

Action on a Resolution on the Right to Food

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.16) regarding the right to food, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council reaffirms that hunger constitutes an outrage and a violation of human dignity and therefore requires the adoption of urgent measures at the national, regional and international levels for its elimination.  The Council stresses that the primary responsibility of States is to promote and protect the right to food and that the international community should provide international cooperation in support for national and regional efforts.  The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food for a period of three years and requests the Special Rapporteur to continue to monitor the evolution of the world food crisis and to keep the Human Rights Council informed of the impact of the crisis on the enjoyment of the right to food.  The Council also requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Council at its twenty-fifth session.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.16 said that the draft had 40 new co-sponsors added to the original 29.  It was the outcome of a broad process of consultation in which all stakeholders were able to participate and contribute.  The draft resolution followed up on the right to food and how it had been dealt with in the Human Rights Council by reiterating the firm positions of the majority of the international community against the scourge of hunger.  Cuba hoped the draft resolution would be adopted with the support of all Members of the Council, thus confirming the historic unity around the right to food and its full implementation.

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that it supported the draft resolution because it recognized the importance of maintaining the world community’s focus on the right to food.  However, it had several reservations about the text of the draft resolution.  More specifically, issues of trade and trade negotiations were inappropriate for the Council to address, since they were beyond it scope, and therefore should not have been included in the resolution.  The United States did not agree that States had enforceable extraterritorial obligations to ensure the right of other nations to food, even if the United States actively engaged in activities which contributed significantly to promoting food and security worldwide.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, speaking in a general comment, said that establishing effective monitoring mechanisms was important but expressed reservations about paragraph 17 of the draft resolution, which it regarded as an inappropriate simplification.  Statements about trade and trade negotiations were beyond the scope of the Council and were dealt with by the World Trade Organization.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/045E