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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL APPOINTS EXPERT FOR CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, EXTENDS MANDATES FOR SUDAN, CAMBODIA AND SOMALIA
Adopts 15 Texts, including on Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, Impact of Arms Transfers on Human Rights and Civil Society
27 September 2013

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted 15 texts in which it appointed an Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, extended mandates for Sudan, Cambodia and Somalia, reaffirmed technical assistance for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Yemen, warned of the impact of arms transfers on human rights in armed conflicts, and urged States to prevent intimidation or reprisals against persons who cooperated with the United Nations.  The Council also concluded its twenty-fourth regular session.

On technical assistance to the Central African Republic in the field of human rights, the Council decided to appoint an independent expert, for a period of one year, to monitor the situation of human rights in the Central Africa Republic.

The Central African Republic, speaking as the concerned country, said that recent events it had faced deserved for the human rights situation in the country to be considered and for an Independent Expert to be created.  The draft text showed the determination of the country to reaffirm its strong determination to strengthen cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms.

On technical assistance for Sudan in the field of human rights, the Council decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan for a period of one year. 

Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, said the Government of Sudan had set up numerous institutions in line with the Universal Periodic Review recommendations accepted and this was mentioned in the Independent Expert’s report.  Sudan was still in a post-conflict setting and it called upon all partners to play a positive role by putting pressure on the armed groups to join the peace process.

On advisory services and technical assistance for Cambodia, the Council decided to extend by two years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia.

Cambodia, speaking as the concerned country, said Cambodia had demonstrated a record of good willingness to continue constructive engagement with the Council, among others, in the field of human rights.  Cambodia believed that the Special Rapporteur would continue to work cooperatively and constructively with Cambodia. 

Concerning assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the Council decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia for a period of two years. 

Somalia, speaking as the concerned country, said that despite tremendous challenges, Somalia had been engaging proactively with the Council since 2008.  Somalia was fully committed to promoting and protecting human rights.  Institutional capacity building was crucial.

The Council adopted a resolution on technical assistance and capacity-building for human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which it urged the Government to redouble its efforts to put an end to impunity, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to ensure that the victims received compensation and urged the international community to support the Office of the High Commissioner in increasing and enhancing its technical assistance programmes and activities to improve the human rights situation in the country.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking as the concerned country, said the war had the consequence of aggravating human rights violations and deplorable levels of gender-based violence; these were unfortunately amplified and attributed to the Government, totally leaving aside the responsibility of the true culprits.

In a resolution on technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights, the Council called upon all parties to release persons arbitrarily detained by them and to end any practice of unlawful detention of persons, and demanded that armed groups end the recruitment and use of children and release those who had already been recruited. 

Yemen, introducing the resolution on technical assistance to Yemen, said the Government had adopted a number of measures in order to improve the situation of human rights, including the establishment of a local office of the Office of the High Commissioner. 

Concerning cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, the Council urged States to take all appropriate measures to prevent the occurrence of intimidation or reprisals and requested the Secretary-General to designate a United Nations-wide senior focal point to engage with all stakeholders, in particular Member States, to promote the prevention of, protection against and accountability for reprisals and intimidation related to cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms, and to encourage a prompt and effective unified response to such act.

The Council adopted a resolution on the impact of arms transfers on human rights in armed conflicts in which it urged all States to refrain from transferring arms to those involved in armed conflicts when they assessed, in accordance with their applicable national procedures and international obligations and standards, that such arms were sufficiently likely to be used to commit or facilitate serious violations or abuses of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.

On strengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage: challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps, the Council decided to convene a panel discussion on preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage.

On the establishment of a Special Fund for the participation of civil society at various fora, the Council requested the Secretary-General to establish a Special Fund for the participation of civil society and other relevant stakeholders at the Social Forum, Forum on Minority Issues, and Forum on Business and Human Rights, to be administered by the Office of the High Commissioner.

A Presidential statement was adopted in which the Council took note of the reports of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on its tenth and eleventh sessions.  

In another resolution, the Council requested the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee to prepare a study on the situation of human rights of persons living with albinism.

In a resolution on from rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Council decided that the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action should convene its twelfth session from 6 to 17 October 2014 and requests the Secretary-General to resuscitate the work of the independent eminent experts. 

On the Social Forum, the Council decided that the Social Forum would meet for three working days in 2014 in Geneva and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to seek effective means of ensuring consultation and the broadest possible participation of representatives from every region and to provide all the support necessary to facilitate the convening and proceedings of the Forum.

On the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, the Council decided that the theme for the annual thematic panel discussion to be held during the twenty-sixth session of the Council would be “Technical cooperation and capacity-building in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities through legal and institutional frameworks, including public-private partnerships”, and that the discussion would be fully accessible to persons with disabilities.

Introducing texts were Sierra Leone, Austria, Cuba, Norway, Hungary, South Africa, Gabon, Japan, United Kingdom, Thailand, Yemen, Netherlands, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Peru.

Speaking in general comments, explanations of the vote before or after the vote and proposing amendments were India, Russian Federation, Venezuela, China, Pakistan, Ireland, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Maldives, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Gabon speaking on behalf of the African Group, Montenegro, United States, Estonia speaking on behalf of the European Union, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Bahrain on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Countries, United Kingdom, Singapore, Egypt and  Palestine on behalf of the Arab Group.


The International Service for Human Rights also spoke.

The Council also adopted the draft report of the twenty-fourth session of the Human Rights Council ad referendum after it was presented by the Vice President of the Council.

Remigiuscz A. Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, in concluding remarks, reiterated that any act of intimidation or reprisals against individuals and groups who cooperated or had cooperated with the United Nations and its representatives was unacceptable and must end.  He reiterated that the late submission of draft resolutions made it difficult for many delegations to keep up with the work pace and stay abreast of the developments.  Finally, the President encouraged all those who participated in the Council’s work to discuss issues with the appropriate level of dignity and respect.

This was the last meeting of the twenty-fourth regular session of the Human Rights Council. The twenty-fifth regular session of the Council will take place from 3 to 28 March 2014.

Action on Resolution 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 Strengthening Efforts to Prevent and Eliminate Child, Early and Forced Marriage

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.34/Rev.1) on strengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage: challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene, at its twenty-sixth session, a panel discussion on preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to liaise with States, relevant United Nations bodies, agencies, funds and programmes, relevant special procedures, civil society, with a view to ensuring their participation and also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a summary report on the panel discussion.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report with a particular focus on challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps, to be submitted to the Council prior to its twenty-sixth session, and to guide the panel discussion.

Sierra Leone, introducing draft resolution L.34/Rev.1 on the strengthening of efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriages: challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps, said that the practice of child, early and forced marriages was widespread and occurred all over the world.  This prevented individuals from living their lives free from all forms of violence and had adverse consequences on the enjoyment of human rights.  It was clear that efforts should be strengthened to address this breach of human rights of some of the most vulnerable groups.  The draft text decided to convene a panel discussion at the twenty-sixth session of the Council on strengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriages, including challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps.  It also requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report and to make it available to States prior to the panel discussion, in order to inform States’ engagement in the panel.

India, in a general comment, said that the prevalence of child, early and forced marriage was of deep concern.  The genesis of this lay in abject poverty and was further perpetuated by lack of awareness and education.  Any efforts to tackle this issue should address its complex root causes.  India hoped that the panel discussion would pay due attention to this. 

Draft resolution L.34/Rev.1 was adopted without a vote.
Action on Resolutions and Decisions under Agenda Item on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

Action on Decision on the Establishment of a Special Fund for the Participation of Civil Society at Various Fora

In a decision (A/HRC/24/L.16) on the establishment of a Special Fund for the participation of civil society at various fora, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Secretary-General to establish a Special Fund for the participation of civil society and other relevant stakeholders at the Social Forum, Forum on Minority Issues, and Forum on Business and Human Rights, to be administered by the Office of the High Commissioner.  The Council decides that the Special Fund should aim at facilitating the broadest possible participation of civil society representatives and other relevant stakeholders and to give priority to the participation of local and national level non-governmental organizations active in the relevant fields.  The Council calls upon States to support the participation of civil society and other relevant stakeholders and encourages intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and other private or public entities to make voluntary contributions to the Special Fund.

Austria, introducing the draft decision L.16 on the establishment of a special fund for the participation of civil society at the Social Forum, Forum on Minority Issues and Forum on Business and Human Rights, said that the decision aimed to set up a fund, within the Office of the High Commissioner and with little administrative effort, to support the participation of civil society representatives and other relevant stakeholders at the three United Nations forums on human rights issues.  It was the very purpose of the three forums to provide a broad range of civil society organizations with an opportunity to actively participate in the human rights related discussions held at the United Nations.  Austria thanked the main co-sponsors, Cuba and Norway, for their excellent cooperation and commended the Office of the High Commissioner for its valuable advice on the drafting of this decision.

Cuba, introducing the draft decision, said that the fund would make it possible to ensure the participation of all stakeholders in the human rights related discussions at the United Nations.  The Office of the High Commissioner would be in a position to support financially non-governmental organizations with limited resources.  The participation of small non-governmental organizations from developing countries was very important to the work of the Council.  Cuba associated itself with Austria in the appeal to all States to contribute to the fund.

Norway, also introducing the decision, was pleased to be a co-sponsor of the decision.  The set-up of the fund aimed to be as simple as possible.  It was hoped that the new fund would be perceived as an effective means for donors to strengthen participation by civil society and other stakeholders in the fora.

Draft decision L.16 was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on Cooperation with the United Nations, its Representatives and Mechanisms in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.17/Rev.1) on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, 1 against and 15 abstentions, as orally revised, the Council reaffirms the right of everyone to unhindered access to and communication with international bodies; and urges States to take all appropriate measures to prevent the occurrence of intimidation or reprisals.  The Council requests the Secretary-General to designate a United Nations-wide senior focal point to engage with all stakeholders, in particular Member States, to promote the prevention of, protection against and accountability for reprisals and intimidation related to cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms, and to encourage a prompt and effective unified response to such acts; requests all representatives and mechanisms of the United Nations to continue to include in their respective reports to the Council or to the General Assembly a reference to credible allegations of intimidation or reprisal, as well as an account of action they have taken in this regard.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (31): Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Libya, Maldives, Montenegro, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and United States.

Against (1): Gabon.

Abstentions (15): Angola, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.


Separate votes were held on amendments to the resolution – L.40, L.41, L.43, L.44, L.46, L.47 and L.48 and on a paragraph – and they were all rejected.

Hungary, introducing draft resolution L.17 on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, said the Council had to recognise that intimidation and reprisals against those who were cooperating with the United Nations could undermine the credibility and the well functioning of the organization as a whole.  Several delegations had suggested the appointment of a United Nations system wide senior focal point to address these issues in a systematic and coherent manner, to better prevent reprisals and to promote protection against and accountability for these acts.  Hungary appreciated the Secretary-General’s personal dedication to the matter.  The focal point would be an existing high-level person within the United Nations structure, responsible for providing a unified and coordinated response from the United Nations system to all alleged cases of intimidation and reprisals.  According to the Secretary-General’s reports, there were more and more cases and so it was clear that there was a need for continued dialogue on these issues.  The co-sponsors found it very important that States, apart from adopting specific legislation to combat reprisals and issuing guidance to national authorities in this regard, contributed to the better understanding by the international community of this detrimental phenomenon that threatened the very essence of the United Nations system.  Hungary made oral revisions to the text.

Russia, introducing amendments L.40, L.42 and L.49 to the resolution, expressed regret that an amendment had to be submitted to such an important draft resolution.  It was particularly difficult because Russia saw cooperation as the founding principle of the work of the United Nations and a gauge for the effectiveness of the work of the organization.  The main authors of the draft seemed unwilling to carry out an equal dialogue and a number of States remained unheard.  There had been no other choice than to submit a formal amendment to the text.  Amendment L.40 underscored that such cooperation was important in the work of the United Nations.  The proposal was the sole paragraph which referred to cooperation while the resolution itself talked about the cooperation with the United Nations and its mechanisms.  Russia withdrew amendments L.42 and L.49 from consideration of the Council. 

Venezuela, introducing amendment L.41, said that it considered that this could contribute to consensus on the draft resolution.  Cooperation with the United Nations system was crucial for the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world.  It was important that the amendments be supported to give greater equilibrium to the text and contribute to the institutional package which should be the hallmark of the Human Rights Council.

China, introducing amendments to L.17 on behalf of a group of countries, welcomed the participation of non-governmental organizations in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures of the United Nations to cooperate constructively and to promote human rights.  Cooperation with the United Nations should be based on the provision of reliable information.  If some organizations provided unsubstantiated information, this would only overburden the system.  Regrettably, the co-sponsors did not accept the amendments proposed by China in order to ensure that the text was balanced.  Civil society was only one part of all stakeholders.

India, introducing amendments to L.17 on behalf of a group of countries, thanked the co-sponsors for their flexibility and for having made changes to the draft resolution in line with comments of like-minded countries.  In a spirit of constructive cooperation, India made oral revisions.

Pakistan, introducing amendment L.47 to the resolution, said that it supported the spirit of the resolution in its entirety.  Governments had to take appropriate measures at the national level to address acts of intimation and reprisals against persons that had cooperated with the United Nations and its mechanisms.  The decision should be left with the respective Governments.  There was likelihood that countries already had such mechanisms in place to address the issue.  The amendment precisely addressed the issue.

Ireland, speaking as a sponsor on behalf of the main sponsor Hungary, said that the participation by civil society in the Human Rights Council was vital to the work of the Council and to the United Nations as a whole.  They all had an obligation to ensure that engagement took place without intimidation or reprisals.  It was clear that a pro-active and coherent approach was needed.  The Human Rights Council had a responsibility to address such cases of intimidations and reprisals.  With regards to L.40, following negotiations, this proposal would be acceptable with one modification.  On L.41, the President of the Council had the responsibility to ensure the proper functioning of the Council.  On L.43, the sponsors continued to believe that everyone had the right to unhindered access to and communication with sub-regional, regional and international bodies without fear, intimidation or reprisals.  A new right was not being created.  On L.44, they did not believe that the paragraph had a place in the resolution and had to be rejected.  The Council did have the responsibility to address human rights issues not just within the context of the Council but also throughout the entire United Nations system.  It was important to underscore that appointment of a focal point did not imply the creation of a new mechanism.  There was no need for the proposed amendment L.47.

Ethiopia, in a general comment, supported the amendments put forward by India, which would enable the resolution to take into consideration the concerns of many delegations.

Switzerland, in a general comment, said that civil society made it possible for the Council and other United Nations mechanisms to keep in touch with reality.  The protection of members of civil society needed to be a priority.  Therefore Switzerland fully supported the adoption of the draft resolution as put forward by Hungary.  The appointment of a Focal Point would be useful to monitor and prevent reprisals or intimidation directed against individuals who had cooperated with the United Nations.  Acts of intimidations and reprisals against civil society were unacceptable.  Civil society should be able to communicate freely with the United Nations.  Therefore, Switzerland would vote against the proposed amendments.

Germany, in a general comment, said that it was regrettable that traditional consensus was now seriously challenged and that such a resolution at the United Nations level was being met with such strong opposition.  The debate was being watched by civil societies all over the world.  Several of them made their position very clear and they were commended for their courageous stance.  Germany supported the resolution and opposed all amendments.

Austria, in a general comment, said that it found it sad that consensus on this topic might be seriously challenged.  Only a few days ago, the Secretary-General had re-emphasized that intimidation and reprisals against individuals cooperating with the United Nations was unacceptable.  Austria was firmly convinced that the Council had the responsibility to address human rights issues not just within the context of the Council but also throughout the entire United Nations system.  The focal point did not imply the creation of a new mechanism and it was recalled that the Secretary-General had himself said that it was time to go beyond reporting.

Maldives, in a general comment, said that last year’s panel on the issue of reprisals provided a number of insights.  The purpose of the resolution was not to establish new mechanisms but to ensure that the existing ones were effective and efficient.  The proper functioning of the Council required the participation of civil society.  The appointment of a focal point would be a step forward in the right direction to protect civil society from reprisals.  Maldives fully supported the original draft as proposed by Hungary and would vote against all amendments.

Costa Rica, in a general comment, said this issue was truly important to the Council.  The active participation of civil society in the activities of the Council had to be free and safe.  The Council gave a voice to people suffering from human rights violations.  The issue was crucial to the political message which the Council sent to civil society and States, especially those who committed acts of intimidation or reprisals against civil society delegates.  What was the point of the work carried out by the Council if it had no impact on the ground?  There were a significant number of amendments proposed and if one looked carefully at them, they completely watered down the resolution.  Costa Rica would vote against all of the amendments and appealed to the Council to adopt this important text as tabled by Hungary.

Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on amendment L.41, said the role of the President had frequently been discussed during informal consultations and it seemed that diverging views were irreconcilable.  Preventing intimidation and reprisals was an organizational and procedural matter.  Switzerland would vote against this amendment.

Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on amendment L.44, said that it may be evident that civil society had the responsibility of submitting credible information, but accepting this in the draft resolution would be sending the wrong signal.  Switzerland would vote against draft amendment L.44.

India, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it had earnestly engaged during the negotiation of this draft resolution.  Unfortunately, the main sponsors of the resolution could not accommodate India’s proposals.  India supported the theme of this resolution and firmly believed that reprisals against civil society were unacceptable and had to be addressed.  However, a United Nations wide mechanism such as the focal point was not necessary.  The Council should establish that the numerous existing human rights mechanisms were not able to address this question.  The focal point would have an overview of the United Nations system as a whole and this decision should be taken by the General Assembly.  The Human Rights Council was not the competent body to appoint a mechanism, which would deal with other United Nations bodies that did not deal with human rights.  Such an action of the Council would be violating the institution-building package.  The appointment would carry with it huge financial implications as a new senior post would be created.  The General Assembly, where all countries were represented, was the appropriate body that should take such decisions.  India requested a vote on operative paragraph 9 and would abstain.  India also requested a vote on paragraph 8 and would vote against it.

Indonesia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its firm position that human rights should be enjoyed by all.  Taking into consideration the nature of reprisals, the issue needed an unqualified response from the international community.  However, this issue needed more comprehensive discussions at the General Assembly, which would ensure a unified response to this issue.  Indonesia regretted the attitude adopted by the main sponsors, which was counter-productive and led to distrust among partners.  Indonesia could not support this draft resolution and would regretfully abstain on this resolution.

Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on amendment L.41, said the role of the President had frequently been discussed during informal consultations and it seemed that diverging views were irreconcilable.  Preventing intimidation and reprisals was an organizational and procedural matter.  Switzerland would vote against this amendment.

Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on amendment L.44, said that it may be evident that civil society had the responsibility of submitting credible information, but accepting this in the draft resolution would be sending the wrong signal.   It would vote against draft amendment L.44.

India, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it had earnestly engaged during the negotiation of this draft resolution.  Unfortunately, the main sponsors of the resolution could not accommodate India’s proposals.  India supported the theme of this resolution and firmly believed that reprisals against civil society were unacceptable and had to be addressed.  However, a United Nations wide mechanism such as the focal point was not necessary.  The Council should establish that the numerous existing human rights mechanisms were not able to address this question.  The focal point would have an overview of the United Nations system as a whole and this decision should be taken by the General Assembly.  The Human Rights Council was not the competent body to appoint a mechanism, which would deal with other United Nations bodies that did not deal with human rights.  Such an action of the Council would be violating the institution-building package.  The appointment would carry with it huge financial implications as a new senior post would be created.  The General Assembly, where all countries were represented, was the appropriate body that should take such decisions.  India requested a vote on operative paragraph 9 and would abstain.  India also requested a vote on paragraph 8 and would vote against.

Indonesia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its firm position that human rights should be enjoyed by all.  Taking into consideration the nature of reprisals, the issue needed an unqualified response by the international community.  However, this issue needed more comprehensive discussions at the General Assembly, which would ensure a unified response to this issue.  Indonesia regretted the attitude adopted by the main sponsors, which was counter-productive and led to distrust among partners.  Indonesia could not support this draft resolution and would regretfully abstain on this resolution.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it supported all the arguments set forth with regards to operative paragraph 8.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that most people would like a clarification as to whether the vote was for the amendment as proposed, rather than on the paragraph.

REMIGIUSCZ A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, said they were voting on operative paragraph 8.  Delegations in favour of the paragraph were voting yes, and those that were for its deletion could vote against.   

Operative paragraph 8 of L.17/Rev.1 was retained after a vote, upon the request for a separate vote by India, supported by Venezuela.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the situation was slightly complicated.  It requested a vote on the resolution in its totality.  It deplored that despite all efforts made, the main promoters of the initiative kept their intransigent position and did not take into account the various proposals made to find a balanced text which was acceptable to all.

Pakistan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it had constructively engaged with co-sponsors of the resolution.  Unfortunately, its concerns were not accepted.  Proliferation and duplication of mechanisms was not helpful, especially at a time when the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was facing funding issues.  Appointment of a focal person should have been further discussed with the broader United Nations membership.  Pakistan would abstain during the vote.    

Malaysia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the title of the draft resolution under consideration did not reflect accurately the content of the text.  Malaysia was supportive of the objective of the draft resolution; however it could have been improved by including alternative wordings.  This issue should be discussed by the General Assembly, especially with regard to the details of the mandate of the envisaged Focal Point.  Malaysia would abstain on draft resolution L.17.

Draft resolution L.17 was adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, 15 abstentions, 1 against.

Gabon said that it was keen on the protection of human rights and United Nations mechanisms and apologized to the Council.  There was a mistake in the vote.  The instructions given were to vote in favour of draft resolution L.17/Rev.1 and Gabon would like it to be recorded that it voted yes in the draft resolution.

Action on Presidential Statement on the Reports of the Advisory Committee

In a Presidential statement (A/HRC/24/L.57), on the reports of the Advisory Committee, adopted without a vote, the Council takes note of the reports of the Advisory Committee on its tenth and eleventh sessions (A/HRC/AC/10/3 and A/HRC/AC/11/2) and the recommendations contained in action 11/1, paragraph 4.

REMIGIUSCZ A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, introducing draft resolution L.57 on the draft President’s statement on the reports of the Advisory Committee, said that it was of a technical nature and prepared in consultation with all concerned.  It took note of the reports of the Advisory Committee on its tenth and eleventh sessions and the recommendations contained in document 11/1 of the Advisory Committee.  The President’s statement L.57 was adopted by consensus. 

Action on Resolution on the Social Forum

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.30) on the Social Forum, adopted without a vote, the Council decides that the Social Forum will meet for three working days in 2014, in Geneva; requests the President of the Council to appoint, as early as possible, the Chairperson-Rapporteur for the 2014 Social Forum.  The Council decides that the Social Forum will remain open to the participation of representatives of States Members of the United Nations and all other interested stakeholders.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to seek effective means of ensuring consultation and the broadest possible participation of representatives from every region and to provide all the support necessary to facilitate the convening and proceedings of the Forum; and requests the Secretary-General to take appropriate measures to disseminate information about the Social Forum and to provide the Social Forum with all the services and facilities necessary to fulfil its activities.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.30, said that the Social Forum was a unique forum within the United Nations providing for open dialogue and exchange of views between the most different actors of the international community.  It made it possible for the broadest range of organizations and sectors of civil society to be actively involved, including grass-roots organizations for which the Forum was an ideal stage for their voice to be heard on different matters that were of direct interest to them.  Sadly, their participation was not always possible, due to lack of required resources to send their representatives to Geneva.  Through this draft, an appeal was reiterated to strengthen participation of this sector and asked for facilitation of the participation of 10 experts from developing countries.  The text also proposed that the Social Forum set aside time to discuss matters regarding the elderly, which was of growing interest.

Venezuela, in a general comment, said the Social Forum was a unique arena to discuss important issues with the participation of relevant stakeholders.  The Council must provide all the facilities and resources for the Social Forum to operate in accordance with its mandate.  In 2014, the Social Forum should tackle the issue of the rights of older persons.

Estonia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said it had engaged constructively in the negotiation of the draft and welcomed the openness of Cuba to accommodate some concerns expressed.  However, additional discussions on the rights of older persons could be focused on more specific aspects of concern.  The determination of the Social Forum theme should be done following discussions.  Furthermore, the budgetary implication for a three-day forum was disproportionate.  The European Union noted that the resolution called on the Office of the High Commissioner to help with the participation of all stakeholders.  Funding non-governmental organizations participation did not fall in the Office of the High Commissioner duties.  The European Union dissociated itself from the consensus on L.30.

Montenegro, in a general comment, said it agreed with the concerns expressed by the European Union and put on record that it would be disassociating itself from consensus on draft resolution L.30.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it supported the engagement and participation of civil society organizations and the private sector in the work of the Human Rights Council.  However, it continued to have significant concerns about this resolution and therefore disassociated itself from the consensus.  The United States continued to believe that the Social Forum was a poor use of limited resources and that continued attempts to use the Forum to address issues covered in-depth by other bodies would only further decrease its relevance. 

Japan, in a general comment, supported the overall theme of the draft resolution.  However, the open-ended Working Group on ageing established in New York had been engaged in valuable discussions on this topic.  In addition, the Council had established a Special Procedure mandate on the human rights of older persons at this very session.  The Council should make the most of its limited resources and should not duplicate mandates that could overlap.  Japan dissociated itself from the consensus on the draft resolution.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote after the end of voting on agenda item 5 on human rights bodies and mechanisms, said that Venezuela’s Constitution expressly contained the freedom of assembly.  In Venezuela every person had the right to meet with anyone else.  Venezuela’s position on the resolution on freedom of assembly was taken in order to protect the fundamental rights of its people.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Action on Resolution on from Rhetoric to Reality: a Global Call for Concrete Action against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.25) concerning from rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 2 against and 13 abstentions, as orally revised, the Council welcomes the work of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; decides that the Intergovernmental Working Group should convene its twelfth session from 6 to 17 October 2014; requests the Secretary-General to resuscitate the work of the independent eminent experts.  The Council invites Member States, the United Nations system and all relevant stakeholders to intensify their efforts in building support for the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the necessary support from regular as well as extra budgetary resources for the effective performance of the Durban follow-up mechanisms.

The result of the vote was as follows:

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

Against (2): Czech Republic, and United States.

Abstentions (13): Austria, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, and Switzerland.

South Africa, introducing draft resolution L.25 on behalf of the African Group, expressed the appreciation of the African Group to those delegations that had participated in the consultation, which had been open and transparent, and said that oral revisions had been distributed.  The resolution urged States take concrete action in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance within their national jurisdictions.  To this end, the resolution aimed to resuscitate the work of the independent eminent experts appointed by the United Nations in 2003 and who had not been able to meet in this period of time, given the important role of mobilizing political will for the full implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  It was of concern that as incidents of racism continued to rise, the resolution sought to enhance momentum for the proclamation of the decade for people of African descent.  The Council had transmitted the aforementioned draft Programme of Action to the General Assembly through is resolution 21/33 in 2012.  The African Group trusted that the Council would adopt the resolution as orally revised by consensus.   

Venezuela, in a general comment, expressed its support for the draft resolution and shared the need for a political will to combat all forms of racial discrimination.  The Council had to develop mechanisms to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  Complementary measures were needed against new forms of racial discrimination.  Venezuela urged all to support the draft resolution and the Durban Declaration.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was firmly committed to combat all forms of intolerance and racial discrimination.  The United States remained deeply concerned about speech that advocated national, racial or religious hatred, particularly when it constituted incitement to violence, discrimination or hostility.  The best antidote to offensive speech was not bans and punishments but a combination of three key elements: robust legal protections against discrimination and hate crimes, proactive Government outreach to racial and religious groups, and the vigorous protection of freedom of expression.  The draft resolution served as a vehicle to prolong the divisions caused by the Durban Conference and its follow-up rather than providing a concrete approach for the international community to combat racism and racial discrimination.  The United States concerns about the Durban Declaration were well-known, including the unfair and unacceptable singling out of Israel and the endorsement of overly broad restrictions on freedom of expression that ran counter to the United States commitment to robust free speech.  Finally, the United States underscored its concerns about the additional costs this resolution would impose on the United Nations’ regular budget.  For these reasons, the United States could not support this resolution, called for a vote and said it would vote against.

Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, shared the concern that despite many efforts to eradicate racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance, this had not been achieved.  All European countries were members of the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and believed that this remained the main tool to address racial discrimination and related issues.  The European Union appreciated the efforts of the sponsors and the way in which the consultations had been conducted.  The amendments put forward by the European Union expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the many Durban follow-up mechanisms, such as the group of independent eminent experts.  While the European Union did not object to their work itself, Estonia stressed that the question of whether these resources could be better allocated in the struggle against racism deserved further consideration. 

Switzerland said that the fight against racial discrimination was fundamental.  The revival of the Expert meeting was not the best option to further the reflection on this issue.  Switzerland was committed to the implementation of the Durban Declaration and would have liked the addition of a paragraph on the primary responsibility of States to combat racism at the domestic level.  Despite the amendments brought to the text, Switzerland regretted that it was not in a position to vote in favour and would abstain.

Draft resolution L. 25 was adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 2 against and 13 abstentions.

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

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.9) on technical assistance and capacity-building for human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, adopted without a vote, the Council takes note of the political will of the national authorities to continue implementing the current measures within the framework of the reform of the army, the Congolese national police and the security services; and urges the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to redouble its efforts to put an end to impunity, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to ensure that the victims receive compensation.  The Council urges the international community to support the Office of the High Commissioner in increasing and enhancing its technical assistance programmes and activities to improve the human rights situation in the country and invites the Office to report thereon to the Council at its twenty-seventh regular session.

Gabon, introducing draft resolution L.9 on behalf of the African Group, said that the text was the logical follow-up to resolution 16/35 and 19/27, where an appeal was made to the international community to support efforts being made by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to improve the human rights situation and respond to its request for technical assistance.  Despite all that had been done to strengthen the rule of law and promote development and improve the human rights situation, there were concerns about the precarious security situation and the waves of violence, including sexual violence as a weapon of war, particularly in the east of the country.  There was also great concern about the humanitarian situation in the field and the direction of violence against women and children.  The restoration of security and peace and addressing of impunity were challenges that had to be addressed.  The draft text called on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to submit its national report as part of the Universal Periodic Review and encouraged the Government to ensure enhanced protection to human rights defenders and journalists.  It also called on the High Commissioner to continue to provide technical assistance and on the international community to continue to support the national reconstruction efforts.

Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment on draft resolution L.9, said that the European Union remained concerned about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In the eastern part of the country there had been a rise in the number of violations of international law which might constitute crimes against humanity.  The situation of the judicial institutions had made it possible for a climate of impunity to prevail and a number of violations, including acts of torture, had been reported; it was crucial that the Council remained appraised of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The European Union welcomed the constructive spirit displayed by the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which had made it possible to include some crucial measures, such as the interactive dialogue on lessons learnt in the fight against sexual violence.  The European Union had supported for a long time those initiatives taken by the Government to strengthen the rule of law throughout the territory and encouraged it to continue with its constructive dialogue with the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner.  

Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking as the concerned country, expressed gratitude to one and all for their tangible input into the production of the draft text.  The draft resolution took note of progress achieved and all of the efforts being made by the country in the search for peace, the burgeoning of democracy, and the promotion and protection of human rights.  The war had the consequence of aggravating human rights violations and deplorable levels of gender-based violence; these were unfortunately amplified and attributed to the Government, totally leaving aside the responsibility of the true culprits.  An end to the war would put an end to all human rights violations by getting rid of the evil at its roots.  Technical assistance was the necessary means to promote human rights in the country and it needed and requested this assistance.  Nonetheless, there was a lack of mobilization of both human and financial resources.  The results expected and hoped for were often compromised.  It dared hope that the resolution today, if adopted, would allow the international community to tackle the major human rights problems faced by the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Draft resolution L.9 was adopted without a vote. 

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance for Sudan in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.10/Rev.1) on technical assistance for Sudan in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council encourages Sudan to open an inclusive dialogue, pursue the constitutional and political process transparently and also to ensure an atmosphere of fair and peaceful political participation in the preparation for next elections; urges Member States, relevant United Nations agencies and other stakeholders to support the national efforts of the Government of Sudan and to respond to its request for technical assistance; requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide Sudan with the necessary technical support and training.  The Council decides to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan for a period of one year, requests the Independent Expert to continue his engagement with the Government of Sudan, considering a full range of information with a view to implementing the projects that will further help Sudan to fulfil its human rights obligations, and to submit a report to the Council for consideration at its twenty-seventh session; requests the Independent Expert to also assist the Government of Sudan in its strategy to implement the remaining accepted Universal Periodic Review recommendations.

Gabon, introducing draft resolution L.10/Rev.1 on behalf of the African Group, said that an oral revision had been distributed, and noted that the Council had previously adopted resolutions 18/16 and 21/27 on this issue, the latter creating the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan.  The African Group thanked all international partners who were helping Sudan to comply with its international commitments in relation to human rights.  The African Group remained concerned about the fragile security and humanitarian situation in South Kordofan, the Blue Nile, and Darfur, which were marked by violence and inter-communal violence which affected the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms and the establishment of a propitious environment for the promotion and protection of human rights.  The African Group thanked delegations and stakeholders for their constructive participation in informal consultations and expressed its gratitude to those delegations which co-sponsored the draft resolution; and hoped that the Council would adopt the draft by consensus.

Switzerland, in a general comment, said that it shared the concerns expressed by the High Commissioner as expressed in her press release today.  Switzerland was concerned at reports of a significant number of persons killed during demonstrations which had occurred in the country since Monday.  According to international law, use of lethal force was only allowed to protect one’s life.  The Government was urged to respect human rights in the context of peaceful assembly.  The draft text did not adequately reflect the human rights situation in Sudan.  However, Switzerland would not oppose the consensus.

United States, in a general comment, said it was unfortunate to affirm again this year that the people of Sudan continued to face enormous human rights challenges.  This resolution would renew the mandate of the Independent Expert for Sudan and the United States strongly urged the Government to continue working closely with the Independent Expert to address its deeply troubling human rights record.  That record remained one of persistent violations and abuse.  The Independent Expert was urged to continue reporting on these abuses and encouraged to strengthen reporting by including information gathered from non-governmental organizations and civil society, including refugees.

Estonia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, expressed concern about continued human rights violations in Sudan, committed by State agents and other armed groups.  Torture and bad treatment were committed by security forces.  Acts of excessive use of force and widespread violence against children and women were reported.  The European Union welcomed the cooperation of Sudan with the Independent Expert, who must be given unimpeded access to the country.  It was important for the Independent Expert to engage with all stakeholders and to reflect their testimony in his reports.  The Government of Sudan should address without delay the serious allegations of grave human rights violations.  In light of the developments since the beginning of this week, the European Union welcomed the willingness of Sudan to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms.

Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, said the resolution came as a follow-up to the previous one.  The resolution mentioned positive developments in Sudan and made reference to the challenges that Sudan continued to face.  The Government of Sudan had set up numerous institutions in line with the Universal Periodic Review recommendations accepted and this was mentioned in the Independent Expert’s report.  Sudan was still in a post-conflict setting and it called upon all partners to play a positive role by putting pressure on the armed groups to join the peace process.  With regard to the comments of Switzerland and United States, Sudan called upon them to verify the information on which their statements were based.  In reality, rogue groups were trying to destroy infrastructure in Sudan and were attacking civilians.  Sudan called upon the Council to approve the draft resolution by consensus.

Action on Resolution on Advisory Services and Technical Assistance for Cambodia

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.19) on advisory services and technical assistance for Cambodia, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend by two years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, and requests the Special Rapporteur to report on the implementation of his mandate to the Council at its twenty-seventh and thirtieth sessions, and to engage in a constructive manner with the Government of Cambodia for the further improvement of the situation of human rights in the country.  The Council requests the Secretary-General to report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh and thirtieth sessions on the role and achievements of the Office of the High Commissioner in assisting the Government and the people of Cambodia in the promotion and protection of human rights; and decides to continue its consideration of the situation of human rights in Cambodia at its thirtieth session.

Japan, introducing draft resolution L.19 on behalf of the co-sponsors, expressed appreciation for the progress made by Cambodia since the Paris Peace Agreement and noted, however, that many challenges remained.  The resolution extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for two years to continue to support the positive steps being taken by the Government of Cambodia to improve its human rights situation.  The resolution had been drafted on the basis of a constructive dialogue with the Government of Cambodia and its basic contents were based on previous resolutions.  While taking into account the progress made since the last resolution Japan hoped that the Cambodia would continue to work in constructive cooperation with the Special Rapporteur in the area of human rights.  Japan hoped that the Council would adopt the draft resolution by consensus.  

Cambodia, speaking as the concerned country, expressed appreciation to Japan as the main co-sponsor of the resolution, as well as all delegations and friends of Cambodia for their support during the whole process.  Cambodia had demonstrated a record of good willingness to continue constructive engagement with the Council, among others, in the field of human rights.  Cambodia believed that the Special Rapporteur would continue to work cooperatively and constructively with Cambodia.  Members States were called upon to adopt the resolution by consensus.

Draft resolution L.19 was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.20) on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, under agenda item 10, for a period of two years.  The resolution requests the Independent Expert to continue his engagement with the Government of Somalia at the national and sub-national levels, civil society and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia with a view to assist Somalia in the implementation of its domestic and international human rights obligations, Council resolutions, accepted Universal Periodic Review recommendations, and other human rights commitments.  The Council also requests the Independent Expert to report at its twenty-seventh session; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner and other relevant United Nations agencies to provide the Independent Expert with all the human, technical and financial assistance necessary to carry out his mandate.

United Kingdom, introducing draft resolution L.20 on technical assistance to Somalia on behalf of the Group of Geneva Friends of Somalia, was delighted that the resolution enjoyed such wide support and co-sponsorship.  This was a testimony to the commitment and desire of the international community to stand with and assist Somalia as it worked to promote and protect human rights.  The resolution suggested how to coordinate international human rights assistance to Somalia.  It found synergies with the work of human rights mechanisms, international actors like the United Nations and African Union Missions to Somalia, as well as the work of the Independent Expert.  The resolution built on the momentum and commitment created by the second London Conference on Somalia and the New Deal Compact agreed in Brussels.  It complemented Somalia’s own Post Transition Human Rights Road Map.  There were real challenges facing Somalia.  There were huge and widespread human rights concerns across the country.  But the international community had to recognise the commitment and courage shown by the Government of Somalia to rise up to this challenge with the coordinated support of the international community.  The United Kingdom made oral amendments.

Somalia, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the United Kingdom for introducing this important resolution on behalf of the Group of Geneva Friends of Somalia.  Somalia thanked the European Union for co-hosting the New Deal Compact Conference on Somalia held in Brussels on 24 September 2013 to help rebuild the country after two decades of civil war and lawlessness.  Despite tremendous challenges, Somalia had been engaging proactively with the Council since 2008.  Somalia was fully committed to promoting and protecting human rights.  Institutional capacity building was crucial.  A draft Post Transition Human Rights Road Map was adopted by the Government on 27 August 2013.  Somalia called upon all friendly countries to fully engage with it and support the implementation of the roadmap at national and sub-national levels in a timely and tangible manner.  The Government was fully committed to adopt as many as possible of the 151 accepted recommendations before the second Universal Periodic Review of Somalia in 2015.  Somalia kindly appealed to Member States to provide the Office of the High Commissioner with sufficient funds for a human rights officer dedicated exclusively to supporting the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia in fulfilling his important two-year mandate.  This two-year mandate was unique and reflected the extraordinary situation of Somalia.  In conclusion, Somalia asked the Council Member States to adopt this important decision by consensus.

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.26) 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 the annual thematic panel discussion under agenda item 10 to be held during the twenty-sixth session of the Council shall be “Technical cooperation and capacity-building in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities through legal and institutional frameworks, including public-private partnerships”, and that the discussion shall be fully accessible to persons with disabilities; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on the activities undertaken by the Office, other relevant United Nations agencies and, where applicable, regional organizations to support efforts by States to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities in their national legislation, policies and programmes; and requests that the report be made available in accessible, easy-to-read format on the website of the Office, for submission to the Council at its twenty-sixth session, to serve as a basis for the thematic panel discussion.

Thailand, introducing draft resolution L.26 on the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity building in the field of human rights, said that in addition to reiterating the importance of technical assistance and capacity-building, the text took note of important points raised during the panel discussion held last March on promoting technical cooperation for the strengthening of the judicial system and the administration of justice in order to ensure human rights and the rule of law.  It also proposed technical cooperation and capacity building in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities through a legal and institutional framework, including public-private partnership as the theme for next year’s panel discussion.  This theme was important as persons with disabilities made up 15 per cent of the global population, with 80 per cent of them living in developing countries. 

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.33, said that technical assistance was one of the most tangible forms of support that the Office of the High Commissioner could offer.  The United States congratulated governments that had sought assistance from the Office through resolutions adopted under item 10 for their willingness to seek solutions to the challenges they faced.  The United States underscored that while technical cooperation was a useful tool to promote the implementation of human rights, each State had the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights.

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.33) on technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all parties to release persons arbitrarily detained by them and to end any practice of unlawful detention of persons; and demands that armed groups end the recruitment and use of children and release those who have already been recruited.  The Council calls on the Government of Yemen to ensure fair trial guarantees and to ensure that the death penalty is not applied to minors; and requests the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance and to work with the Government of Yemen to identify additional areas of assistance to enable Yemen to fulfil its human rights obligations; and to present to the Council, at its twenty-seventh 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, 19/29 and 21/22.

Yemen, introducing draft resolution L.33 on technical assistance to Yemen, said the Government had adopted a number of measures in order to improve the situation of human rights, including the establishment of a local office of the Office of the High Commissioner.  As contained in the preamble of the draft resolution, the Government was currently implementing a set of measures to increase confidence and to safeguard equality, freedom and justice.  Informal consultations were held to discuss the draft resolution.  The draft resolution was a follow-up to the previous one, which was adopted last year.  Yemen thanked all the co-sponsors for their cooperation during the preparation of the text and hoped the Council would support vigorously this draft resolution.

Netherlands, introducing draft resolution L.33, said the text highlighted a number of observations and concerns reflected in the High Commissioner’s report.  The preambular paragraphs noted a number of positive developments in the transitional period in Yemen.  In the operative part, the cooperation of Yemen with the Office of the High Commissioner was welcomed.  It was good to hear that the Deputy High Commissioner was going to Yemen today to inaugurate the local office.  Other paragraphs identified areas that called for further progress, including the investigation of the 2011 events, the administration of justice and the elimination of the occurrence of child, early and forced marriages.  The speech of Minister Hooriah Mashoor in the Council last Wednesday confirmed that Yemen was well aware of these issues and was committed to make further progress.  The resolution also called for further assistance for the transitional process in Yemen, technical assistance and assistance for humanitarian needs.  The Netherlands trusted that the draft resolution could be adopted without a vote.

Draft resolution L.33 was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on Technical Cooperation for the Prevention of Attacks against Persons with Albinism

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.36) on technical cooperation for the prevention of attacks against persons with albinism, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee to prepare a study on the situation of human rights of persons living with albinism and to submit a report thereon to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-eighth session; and decides to continue its consideration of the matter under the same agenda item at its twenty-eighth session.

Gabon, introducing draft resolution L.36 on technical cooperation for the prevention of attacks against persons with albinism on behalf of the African Group, said that during its twenty-third session, the Council had adopted a resolution which was a precedent.  For the first time the Human Rights Council had dealt with this issue, which concerned all of humanity and affected several countries.  The draft text highlighted the need for strong action to combat the phenomenon and to adopt effective measures to protect and preserve the lives and security of persons with albinism.  It also appealed to all States to undertake impartial investigations of attacks against persons with albinism and to hold the perpetrators accountable.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, joined sponsors of the resolution in condemning all forms of violence against persons with albinism.  States must take effective measures to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons with disabilities, such as those with albinism, including the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one’s family and the right to education.  Future discussions on how to prevent attacks against persons with albinism could be greatly informed by examining the root causes of discrimination against persons with disabilities.

Draft resolution L.36 was adopted without a vote.  

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance to the Central African Republic in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.39) regarding technical assistance to the Central African Republic in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns all the serious human rights violations and acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population; requests the support of all stakeholders and all international partners to meet the need for significant financial, humanitarian and technical assistance and for measures identified as urgent priorities by the Central African Republic; and calls on the transitional authorities to take all necessary steps to put an immediate stop to all acts of violence against the civilian population; and to ensure respect for the rights and fundamental freedoms of all population groups.  The Council decides to appoint an independent expert, for a period of one year, to monitor the situation of human rights in the Central Africa Republic, to make recommendations concerning technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights; requests the Independent Expert to present a preliminary report to the Council at its twenty-sixth session; and requests the High Commissioner to provide the Independent Expert with the necessary resources to accomplish his/her mandate.

Gabon, introducing draft resolution L.39 on behalf of the African Group, said that oral revisions had been circulated in the room; and noted that the Council had considered the situation in the Central African Republic.  The African Group took the opportunity to express support for the High Commissioner, who had sent a fact-finding mission to the country and presented a report at the request of the Group.  The current draft resolution was motivated by the degradation of the situation on the ground.  The African Group was concerned by the deterioration of the human rights situation in the country, including security concerns and allegations of violations and acts of violence.  The African Group condemned the abuses and acts of violence carried out by those involved and welcomed the initiatives undertaken by the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States to seek a political solution.  The African Group thanked those stakeholders who participated in the drafting process and the co-sponsors of the resolution, urging the Council to adopt the resolution.

Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, welcomed the submission of this resolution and thanked the African Group for its efforts in this area and was pleased that the country itself was involved.  The human rights situation in the Central African Republic was a source of great concern as was the climate of insecurity throughout the country.  The European Union reiterated its call for an immediate end to all violations of human rights and acts of violence against the population.  It was hoped that the Expert would be able to establish a working relationship with all actors in the field.  It would have liked to have more time to consider the resolution.

Central African Republic, speaking as the concerned country, said that recent events it had faced deserved for the human rights situation in the country to be considered and for an Independent Expert to be created.  The draft text showed the determination of the country to reaffirm its strong determination to strengthen cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms.  The Central African Republic was going through a time when it required urgent action from the international community.  The Council was invited to adopt the draft resolution by consensus.

Draft resolution L.39 was adopted without a vote.

Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote after the vote on all resolutions under agenda item 10, regretted that important texts on technical assistance were submitted well after the deadline.  This way of proceeding had not allowed in-depth discussions on the draft resolutions. 

Sierra Leone, in an explanation of the vote after the vote on all resolutions under agenda item 10, said that people with albinism suffered from many human rights violations and atrocities.  The Council had to give the appropriate attention to people with albinism.

Action on Resolution 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 Impact of Arms Transfers on Human Rights in Armed Conflict

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.32/Rev.1) on the impact of arms transfers on human rights in armed conflicts, adopted by a vote of 42 in favour, 1 against and 4 abstentions, as orally revised, the Council expresses its deep concern at the fact that arms transfers to those involved in armed conflicts may seriously undermine the human rights of civilians; notes with alarm that such arms transfers can have a seriously negative impact on the human rights of women and girls; urges all States to refrain from transferring arms to those involved in armed conflicts when they assess, in accordance with their applicable national procedures and international obligations and standards, that such arms are sufficiently likely to be used to commit or facilitate serious violations or abuses of international human rights law or international humanitarian law; invites all relevant special procedures, commissions of inquiry and human rights treaty bodies to bear the present resolution in mind, within the framework of their respective mandates, when considering the situation of human rights in armed conflicts.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (42): Angola, Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Montenegro, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, and Venezuela.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (4): Kuwait, Mauritania, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates.

Ecuador, introducing draft resolution L.32/Rev.1 on behalf of the co-sponsors, said that the resolution had as an origin the shared ideal of peace and that, contrary to popular belief, it was not easy to speak about peace but it was important to cling to the idea in a world where armed conflict proliferated.  It was enough to look at the speech by the High Commissioner who had mentioned a number of pressing situations associated with armed conflict.  The draft resolution was a thematic resolution of principles that aimed at addressing arms transfers from a human rights perspective and the victims, rather than a calculating and cold perspective of those who traded, speculated and trafficked with these weapons.  Ecuador invited the Council to see arms transfers and armed conflict from the point of view of those who suffered the dehumanization, violence and silence.  The Council could send a strong message without even evaluating its impact in the human rights on the basis of the knowledge that these weapons could be used in order to violate human rights and to commit atrocities.

Costa Rica, also introducing the draft resolution, said that it was firmly convinced this was a topic that needed to be dealt with here in the Council.  Along with Peru and Ecuador, a transparent and inclusive process had been conducted to arrive at this text.  Its strength resided in the very wide support it had and it was hoped that the text would be adopted by consensus.

Peru, also introducing the draft resolution, said that the Member States of the United Nations without exception had the obligation to do their utmost to raise the international levels of human rights protection.  This was even more essential when it came to defenceless persons who were prisoners of armed conflict.  Not all here, however, thought the same way.  How was it possible to not be firm in condemning the transfer of these weapons that would probably be violating the rights that they were here to defend?  The text merely attempted to tackle an extremely sensitive issue.  The Council could not remain silent or even worse, ambiguous, on this issue.

Switzerland, in a general comment, thanked the main co-sponsors for submitting this important draft resolution.  Important concessions had been made in order to ensure a consensus.  Switzerland had signed and intended to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty.  The resolution amplified the message of the Arms Trade Treaty.  Switzerland encouraged all Council Members to support the draft resolution.

United States, in a general comment, regretted that it could not support the draft resolution and called for a vote.  The United States was deeply committed to preventing and eradicating the illicit trade in conventional arms.  The United States strongly supported the Arms Trade Treaty and had signed it recently.  Nonetheless, the resolution suffered from several shortcomings.  It was imperative that the international community spoke with one voice in addressing the illicit international trade in arms.  This resolution articulated a different standard that contradicted the Arms Trade Treaty regime.  More broadly, the United States was concerned that this resolution suggested the Human Rights Council should play a role in defining or revising the standard set by the Arms Trade Treaty.  The resolution appeared to suggest that exports of conventional arms to States affected by armed conflict were or should be governed in a different manner than exports of conventional arms to States that were not affected by armed conflict.  This contradicted the Arms Trade Treaty.  In addition, this resolution was not focused on universal human rights, which was the mandate of the Council.  The resolution also failed to make the essential distinction between a legitimate commercial activity that fostered and promoted international peace and security, and the illicit trade in conventional arms that could contribute to violence and insecurity.  The Human Rights Council was not an appropriate forum to build upon or otherwise revisit the discussions held during the multi-year negotiations that culminated in the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a general comment before the vote, indicated that, as a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty, the Republic of Korea attached importance to the regulation of arms trade and the principles of the treaty, which addressed the potential impact on human rights.  The Council should be careful before bringing a new issue into the Council and a more focused approach in this area, than that presented by the resolution, was needed.  Furthermore, the scope of the resolution could have been more specific.  The Republic of Korea expressed gratitude for the core group’s efforts and while it was not completely pleased with the resolution, it would support the resolution considering the serious nature of the issue and taking full account of the objectives and principles of the Arms Trade Treaty which the resolution recalled.    

Thailand, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it would vote in favour of the resolution.

Estonia on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that since the launch of the initiative to promote the adoption of an Arms Trade Treaty, the European Union had been fully committed to this far-reaching initiative.  The Arms Trade Treaty adopted by the General Assembly was balanced and robust and the international community could claim full ownership of this Treaty.  It set the global standard for the global transfer of arms.  Any resolution of the Council would not supersede this treaty.  The European Union understood the resolution as a strong message to encourage all States to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty. 

Japan, in a general comment, said it was not fully convinced that this issue should be dealt with by the Council.  After long and intensive negotiations, the Arms Trade Treaty had been adopted by the General Assembly with only three votes against it.  Thus there was already a legally binding text on the issue of illicit arms transfers.  During the course of the negotiations, other delegations had raised these concerns.  Although Japan was of view that shortcomings still existed in the draft resolution, it had decided to vote in favour, in a spirit of cooperation.

Pakistan, in a general comment, said it would support the resolution, which reflected the need to reduce the suffering caused by small arms.  States had to have access to conventional arms to ensure that their security needs were met.  As per the interpretation of Pakistan, this resolution aimed to ensure that no arms were provided to illegal armed groups.

Indonesia, speaking in a general comment, welcomed the noble intentions behind this draft resolution and the notion that armed conflict and armed transfers should be dealt with in parallel with efforts to protect human rights; however this should not undermine States’ sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the right to ensure security.  Indonesia stressed that the involvement of third parties in armed conflict could become fuel for exacerbating conflicts and acknowledged the potential of this draft resolution to support efforts to reduce human suffering and to protect human rights.  Indonesia would vote in favour of the draft resolution.  

Malaysia, in an explanation of the vote after the vote on resolution L.24 on civil society space, said that, having joined the consensus, it reaffirmed the importance that Malaysia attached to civil society and their contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights.  Malaysia was disappointed that the initiative had failed to take into consideration some concerns.  The resolution could have been further improved if these concerns had been taken on board.

Chile, in an explanation of the vote after the vote on L.23 on conscientious objection to military service, said that its military service was voluntary.  The law exempted those affiliated with a religion and those who were descendents of victims of violations of human rights or political violence.  This did not imply the recognition of conscientious objection in Chile.  

Comments by Observer States on Resolutions

Cuba reiterated its opposition to country-specific resolutions.  The resolution on Syria did not mention anything on cooperation and was a politicised instrument.

Colombia said that the resolution on the impact of the transfers of arms was laudable.  A comprehensive approach should acknowledge the right of all States to acquire arms to guarantee the security of their nationals and make a distinction between arms trade and illicit traffic, as well as a distinction between the legitimate interests of States and the interests of other actors.

China said that cooperation and dialogue were needed to promote and protect human rights and in order to avoid politicisation and double standards.  With regard to the resolution on Syria, the Council’s actions should help to resolve the situation through political means.  China had suggested the revision of the resolution on civil society for it to be more balanced.  China did not support the resolution.

Bahrain, on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, thanked the Netherlands for facilitating negotiations on the resolution on early marriage of children.  Gulf Cooperation Council countries reiterated their commitment to enhancing the role of women in general.  The regional, local and historical circumstances of these countries had to be taken into account. 

Russia, commenting on resolution L.38 on Syria, noted that the Russian Federation actively participated in the work on the text.  Unfortunately the resolution did not reflect a number of the proposals that Russia had made, which were also supported by other countries, including condemning terrorist acts, violence against religious minorities and firing on diplomatic buildings, among others.

United Kingdom responded to comments made yesterday by Argentina on resolution L.29.  The United Kingdom had no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falklands and the Sandwich islands, and said it respected the right to self-determination. 

Singapore did not recognise the universal applicability of the so-called right to conscientious objection to military service.  In this regard, Singapore noted that the resolution reiterated that the freedom of thought could be limited by law in case of necessity.  For small countries like Singapore, obligatory military service was the only way to uphold the independence of the country.  The Council should not be a politicised forum and should respect national differences.

Egypt commended the efforts of Costa Rica and Croatia to find consensus on the resolution on conscientious objection to military service.  Egypt, as an African and developing country, was very aware of the challenges posed by high child mortality rate.  However, unnecessary references were made in the resolution.

Palestine, on behalf of the Arab Group, appreciated the efforts made by all to ensure that the session was a success and thanked the President of the Council.

Report on the Twenty-fourth Session of the Council

LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA, Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, said that the draft report of the session was available on the extranet.  It contained a procedural description of work up until Wednesday afternoon.  The report would be finalized by the Secretariat.  Comments and corrections had to be sent in the following two weeks after the distribution of the report.  The draft report contained 10 chapters.  During these three weeks the Council heard an update by the High Commissioner on the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the reports of the investigative commissions and discussed a wide range of issues in panel discussions and interactive dialogues.  All were thanked and wished a well-deserved weekend.

The draft report of the session was adopted by consensus. 

Statement by a Non-governmental Organization

International Service for Human Rights said that several human rights defenders had been harassed during the Council’s session as a consequence of their cooperation with the United Nations.  The International Service for Human Rights welcomed the adoption of a resolution on reprisals against human rights defenders, and on civil society space.  The International Service for Human Rights urged all States to ensure that civil society could operate freely.  It was regrettable that the Council failed to address the grave human rights violations in Sudan.  Concrete steps to improve the situation on the ground in Somalia and Yemen were needed.  In Central African Republic, the Council had to do more to address a very grave human rights crisis.  The International Service for Human Rights regretted that no action was taken on Egypt.

Concluding Remarks by the President of the Council

REMIGIUSCZ A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, reiterated that any act of intimidation or reprisals against individuals and groups who cooperated or had cooperated with the United Nations and its representatives was unacceptable and must end.  Since assuming his current function, the President of the Council had made every effort to strengthen and preserve the credibility and universality of the Universal Periodic Review.  He stressed that by applying all existing practices and rules in a consistent manner to all States under review, this would contribute to strengthening the Universal Periodic Review’s credibility.  He reiterated that the late submission of draft resolutions made it difficult for many delegations to keep up with the work pace and stay abreast of the developments.  Finally, the President of the Council encouraged all those who participated in the Council’s work to discuss issues with the appropriate level of dignity and respect.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/129E


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