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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON EXTREME POVERTY AND ON COUNTER-TERRORISM

Concludes Interactive Dialogue on Extrajudicial Killings and on Discrimination against Women
22 June 2015

The Human Rights Council today held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.  The Council also concluded its clustered interactive discussion with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, and the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice.

Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said it was a shame that the wealth of the world’s 80 richest people was roughly the same as that of the poorest 3.5 billion people.  To address the trend of rising poverty, the Council should recognize that the concern was not solely with income inequality, but with a range of extreme inequalities in relation to access to education, health care, housing and other rights.  The Council had to do more than just adopt fine words, and all States had to question why the gaps between the rhetorical embrace of economic and social rights and the reality on the ground existed.  The latest draft of the post-2015 development agenda was a significant step forward in making a reference to human rights, but none of the 17 goals was expressed in explicit human rights terms.  The Council should recognize explicitly that there were limits to the levels of inequality that could be considered to be compatible with respect for human rights.  Mr. Alston also presented mission reports to Guinea-Bissau and Chile.

Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, said that all States should formally recognize that human rights violations could be committed by non-State armed groups.  Presenting his report on gross violations committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant and the pressing need for accountability, Mr. Emmerson highlighted the abject failure by the Security Council to take appropriate action to protect civilians in affected areas and stressed the need for the international coalition of States currently engaged in military actions against ISIL to ensure that effective steps were taken to minimize civilian casualties.  The report also offered an assessment of the sheer scale of the international law violations by ISIL, which included genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of human rights law.  The face of terrorism had considerably changed recently; the Security Council had an obligation to act, and its members had a responsibility to refrain from using their veto powers to block action aimed at ending atrocity crimes. 

In the ensuing discussion, speakers agreed that social and economic inequalities interacted and that the root cause of social inequalities was deeply embedded in economic issues.  Speakers shared the concern about economic and social inequalities that continued to grow in the world, which gave rise to exclusion and marginalization, and said that the eradication of poverty and sustainable development were global challenges which needed efforts at all levels.  Delegations asked about priority action in the implementation of the recommendation to establish social protection floors, how it could be financed nationally and internationally and how to ensure that policies of social protection floors were a basic standard commitment without interfering in the right of States to decide on their own policy mix.

Speakers also shared the concern about the threat Daesh posed to international peace and security, and said that ensuring accountability for grave abuses was essential in the fight against violent extremist and terrorism.  The metamorphosis of terrorism in recent years required stepping up international cooperation with the view of ensuring that terrorist groups had no refuge.  The predominant focus on tactical security and military solutions to defeating terrorist organizations had proven an abject failure; breaking ISIL’s trans-border extremist ideology would only occur by forging strategies that could meet the needs and provide hope and dignity to the people in the region, a speaker noted.  There was a need to exercise caution on the important legal distinction between State and non-State actors; ISIL could not be associated with the notion of Statehood.  Terrorists were criminals and should be treated as such.  The Special Rapporteur was asked to comment on duties of States regarding prevention and investigation of alleged violations and the scope of the ad hoc tribunal he proposed States should establish.

European Union, Algeria on behalf of the African Group, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Tunisia on behalf of the Arab Group, Ecuador on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Cuba, Kuwait, Egypt, Republic of Korea, China, Belgium, Switzerland, Chile, Council of Europe, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Mexico, Qatar, United States, Norway, Syria, Burkina Faso, Russia, Ecuador, Greece, Namibia, Togo, Venezuela, Paraguay, Iran, Bahrein, United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, Mali, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Algeria, Benin, Niger, Turkey, Indonesia, France, Iraq, Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, Libya, Lebanon, Angola, Viet Nam, Haiti, Djibouti, Jordan, Mauritania and Sudan spoke in the discussion.

Also taking the floor was the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, and the following non-governmental organizations: European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, International Buddhist Relief Organisation, Indian Law Resource Centre (joint statement), Franciscans International, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, African Development Association, Arab Commission for Human Rights, Liberation, World Barua Organization, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Organization, Indian Council of South America, and Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and with Emna Aouij, Chair of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, which started on 19 June.  The summary of the first part of the dialogue can be read here.

Speakers said that empowering women was crucial to dismantling patriarchal structures in society and stressed that it was not possible to achieve gender equality without eradicating violence against women and girls.  Adopting the legislation alone was not sufficient unless measures were taken to address the situation in families and communities, where violence and discrimination against women occurred.  Delegations shared the Working Group’s concern that notions of “culture”, “religion” and “traditional values” were commonly used as justifications for discrimination against women, but stressed that customs were not frozen in time, they could be modified and governments had to ensure that customs did not harm women and girls.  Several speakers shared the concern over the criminalization of abortion, which was discriminatory and limited the right to health.

Delegations welcomed the innovative approach of the Special Rapporteur to explore the use of information and communication technologies in protecting human rights defenders and agreed that human rights could better be protected by using such technologies.  Information and communication technologies could also support investigations, but there were also risks they could engender, and speakers stressed the importance of effective accountability based on solid evidence in the investigation of arbitrary and summary executions. 

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were Algeria, Venezuela, Finland, Australia, Gabon, Republic of Korea, Iran, Morocco, Estonia, Colombia, Sudan, China, Fiji, Denmark, Ghana, France, Cuba, Uruguay, State of Palestine, India, Georgia, Sierra Leone, and Indonesia.

Also speaking were Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Genero (joint statement), COC Netherlands (joint statement), International Humanist and Ethical Union, World Muslim Congress, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Amnesty International, Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos Asociacion Civil,  Centre for Reproductive Rights, Al Salam Foundation (joint statement), Article 19,  Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, Defence for Children International, Franciscans International (joint statement), Agence Internationale pour le Developpement, and Alliance for Citizen Participation Civicus.

The Human Rights Council is holding a full day of meetings today.  At 2:30 p.m., it will hear the presentation of thematic reports by the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General and then hold a general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial and Summary Executions and the Working Group on Discrimination against Women

Algeria said that women and men in Algeria enjoyed equality, but there were still gaps which the Government sought to address in cooperation with civil society and trade unions, and it had developed a Charter of Working Women.  Human rights organisms and mechanisms which made use of information and communication technologies in the implementation of their mandates had to ensure that information so received was treated objectively and impartially.  Venezuela stated that empowering women was crucial to dismantling patriarchal structures in society and that issue needed to be addressed in the post-2015 agenda.  The Special Rapporteur had echoed complaints on terrorist violence expressed by Venezuela in 2014.  Finland said that discrimination against women should not be allowed in any aspect of life and special attention had to be given to women belonging to minorities who suffered from multiple forms of discrimination.  It was not possible to achieve gender equality without eradicating violence against women and girls. 

Australia supported the efforts to legalize the principle of gender equality and the calls to criminalize marital rape, and recognized the diversity of families.  Surveillance tools should not be used to unlawfully target any individual, including those engaged in defending human rights.  Australia shared strong commitment with its partners on resettling refugees in the region and said that the operation of the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre in Papua New Guinea was a sovereign matter.  Gabon enshrined the principle of gender equality in its Constitution, while the Civil Code and the Social Code were being revised to provide greater protection to widows.  Gabon had set up a Commission to consider the criminalization of customary marriage.  Republic of Korea welcomed the innovative approach of the Special Rapporteur in exploring the use of information and communication technologies in protecting human rights defenders and drew his attention to the rapid response mechanism in the country which allowed the rapid deployment of police forces.   Republic of Korea asked the Working Group about the harmonization of the principle of women equality with the ingrained traditional customs in societies.  Iran said that discrimination against women was not restricted to geographical or cultural contexts, and many women suffered from it, including in modern systems with market economies and secularism.  Iran was concerned about the parts of the Working Group’s report which used highly controversial notions of family.

Morocco said that human rights could better be protected using information and communication technologies, and such technologies could support investigations, but warned against the risks which they could engender at the same time.  Morocco had recently withdrawn its reservations to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  Estonia said that addressing gender stereotypes was among its top priorities, and underlined its domestic reforms to ensure equality in relation to marriage, sexual health and assistance to victims of sexual violence.  Colombia was deeply committed to the promotion and protection of women and girls, and had been taking action to mainstream gender equality, including in different forms of families.  Colombia underlined the importance of empowering women and combatting domestic violence.  The State was duty-bound to combat impunity for perpetrators of gender-based violence. 

Sudan expressed reservations regarding recommendations made by the Working Group which went beyond internationally agreed standards, and asked the Working Group to respect all cultures and religions.  There was no single criterion fitting to all when it came to combatting discrimination.  China said that more powerful information and communication technologies gave more and more tools to the population for protecting human rights.  China regretted that women did not fully enjoy equality with men.  China would host an event on the follow-up of the Beijing Declaration and Plan of Action.  Fiji appreciated the Working Group’s recognition that customs were not frozen in time and had evolved throughout history.  If customs had been modified before, they could be modified again, and Governments had to make efforts to ensure customs did not harm women and girls. 

Denmark welcomed the focus of the Working Group on violence against women in the family and cultural life.  It was noted that the obligation not to discriminate against women was absolute, and it was high time to implement the recommendations of the Working Group.  As for arbitrary and summary executions, Denmark asked the Special Rapporteur about the revised manual.  Ghana said that every suspect had the right to a fair trial and due process.  It encouraged the introduction of new technologies in order to modernize the judicial process.  It upheld its obligations under the relevant international conventions regarding violence against women.  France stressed the importance of effective accountability based on solid evidence in the investigation of arbitrary and summary executions.  It warned against the risk and misuse of the usage of new technologies.  It noted that each State had to guarantee equal education for boys and girls.  Cuba noted that women in Cuba enjoyed equal rights with men.  However, it held that it was not up to the Working Group or Special Rapporteur to evaluate the relevance of adopted resolutions.  The use of new technologies could have an effect on the protection of the right to life, but they could also be misused and misinterpreted.  Uruguay said that discrimination of women in family and marriage negatively affected women’s social life.   Adopting an approach that reflected family perspective required the participation of both women and men, as well as different forms of families.    

State of Palestine said that digital technology was increasingly popular among the Palestinians to document human rights violations they were experiencing and to expose the brutality of the Israeli occupation.  What measures could be taken to protect human rights defenders and civilian witnesses of human rights violations from attacks?  India welcomed the acknowledgement by the Special Rapporteur of the high level of human rights protection in India and the procedures put in place to ensure police investigations.  India also expressed concerns about the follow-up report, including regarding comments on the disproportional use of force, and the way India addressed crimes of violence against women.  Georgia had made great advances in developing its legislation and had adopted, inter alia, the Law on Gender Equality and the Anti-Discrimination Law.  Georgia shared concern about serious violations of women’s rights in the occupied regions of Georgia.  Sierra Leone said that information and communication technologies could be used to track and arrest criminals, but the use of this method needed to be regulated.  Adoption of legislation on violence against women was not sufficient unless measures were taken to address the situation in families and communities.  Indonesia noted the importance of information and communication technologies for the protection of human rights, underlined the importance of education on the use of such technologies, and pointed at the role of communication companies.  Indonesia welcomed the report by the Working Group on discrimination against women. 

Sudwind asked how the Working Group would address the situation of women in countries that officially declared they did not believe in gender equality, such as Iran.  Sudwind pointed at public executions in Iran, which were used as propaganda for pure violence. Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Genero, in a joint statement with Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) asociación Civil,  referred to cases of police violence against journalists and human rights defenders in Latin America, including in Chile and Brazil, and underlined the importance of banning firearms. 

Federatie van Nederlandse Verenigingen tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - COC Nederland, in a joint statement with The Swedish Federation of lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights and International Lesbian and Gay Association, said that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons were specifically vulnerable to gender violence, and underlined the importance for States to adopt legislations that protected all forms of family without discrimination, in accordance with the already existing international human rights standards. 

International Humanist and Ethical Union shared the Working Group’s concern that notions of “culture”, “religion” and “traditional values” were commonly used as justifications for discrimination against women.  The argument for preserving such culture, religion and tradition were used by some States to justify reservations to articles of several human rights conventions. World Muslim Congress welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s report on the use of new technologies in the judicial process.  It condemned of Indian Government’s use of “terrorists to kill terrorists” and warned of the excessive force in the Kashmir region.  Asian Legal Resource Centre called attention to frequent arbitrary and extrajudicial executions of individuals in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, noting that the fight against terrorism could not be used as an excuse for impunity and human rights violations.  Domestic laws in those countries were not capable of protecting individual human rights.  Amnesty International welcomed the Working Group’s concern over the criminalization of abortion, which was discriminatory and limited access to proper health services.  It warned that women and girls from marginalized groups were particularly vulnerable, as they underwent illegal and clandestine abortion, which led to frequent deaths.

Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos Asociacion Civil shared concerns of the Special Rapporteur about the level of violence and deaths in Mexico, where militarisation in the context of the war on drugs had caused 100,000 homicides.  Effective measures to investigate extra-judicial executions and summary killings perpetuated by the army were lacking.  Centre for Reproductive Rights said that discrimination against women, especially within family and marriage, remained one of the principal barriers to the full participation of women in political and public life and asked the views of the Working Group about gender stereotypes, particularly those related to parenting which placed burden of childcare on women.  Al Salam Foundation said that arbitrary executions, torture and enforced disappearances in Bahrain were a reaction of authorities to exercise of freedom of expression and opinion.  It was a growing concern that hundreds of death sentences had been issued, most of which were through the use of arbitrary courts.  Article 19 shared the findings of the Special Rapporteur that state-led violence in Gambia was part of a broad apparatus of repression that made the exercise of free expression nearly impossible.  The systematic targeting of human rights defenders, civil society and journalists, including extra-judicial killings, sustained the climate of fear.

Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture referred to women detained, tortured and deprived of their basic human rights in Bahrain for expressing support for human rights and exercising their right to peaceful assembly.  Women were detained in poor conditions, often with their children, and lacked access to healthcare.  Defence for Children International welcomed the Working Group’s work relating to girls’ access to education, and welcomed progressive policies developed although more needed to be done worldwide.  Providing equal opportunity would lead to better human rights protection for girls.  Franciscans International, in a joint statement, expressed concerns about the use of the death penalty for drug-related crimes in Indonesia, in violation of international human rights law, and urged Indonesia to immediately implement a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.  Agence Internationale pour le Developpement said summary executions and extrajudicial killings continued, especially in regions of conflict, including in Indian-occupied Kashmir, where Indian forces continued to violate its international obligations with impunity.  The Council should give due consideration to the situation there.  Alliance for Citizen Participation Civicus noted that 90 per cent of girls in Egypt underwent female genital mutilation in spite of the ban in 2008.  Many women suffered under legalized polygamy and discriminatory laws and practices for Christian and Muslim women on issues of marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance.  At the same time, human rights defenders were under tremendous pressure and under investigation by the authorities. 

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (A/HRC/29/31)

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights on the Mission to Guinea-Bissau (A/HRC/29/31/Add.1)

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights – comments by Guinea-Bissau (A/HRC/29/31/Add.2)

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism A/HRC/29/51.

Presentation of Reports by the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and the Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism

PHILIP ALSTON, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said it was cause for shame that the wealth of the world’s 80 richest people was roughly the same as that of the poorest 3.5 billion people.  The resulting extreme inequality was denounced by most of the major international economic policy organizations, although in many respects their consistent policy prescriptions over the past decades had facilitated precisely those outcomes.  Their statements rarely ever mentioned human rights specifically and their analyses never led to the suggestion that greater respect for human rights could be a crucial part of the solution.  The Human Rights Council could do the following in order to fight the trend of rising poverty: first, recognize that the concern was not solely with income inequality, but with a range of extreme inequalities in relation to wealth, access to education, health care, housing and other rights.  Second, the Council’s response should be motivated not only by deep threats to economic, social and cultural rights, but also by the fact that the enjoyment of the full range of civil and political rights was undermined by extreme inequality.  Third, while a great many steps would need to be taken if extreme inequality was to be stopped, the Council had to do more than just adopt fine words, such as affirming a normative commitment to limiting the consequences of extreme poverty to guarantee a minimum level of respect for economic and social rights for every person. 

All States had to question why the gaps between the rhetorical embrace of economic and social rights and the reality on the ground existed.  It would be revealing to undertake a systematic stocktaking of the real status of economic and social rights at the national level.  The World Bank steadfastly refused to use the language of economic and social rights, and it avoided references to the right to education or the human rights of women.  The International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, for all their enlightened concern about the consequences of inequality, were every bit as resistant as the World Bank to taking any account of human rights in their work.  The latest draft of the post-2015 development agenda was a significant step forward in making a reference to human rights.  However, none of the 17 goals was expressed in explicit human rights terms.  Mr. Alston thus called on the Council to recognize explicitly that there were limits to the levels of inequality that could be considered to be compatible with respect for human rights. 

Offering a briefing on his predecessor’s visit to Guinea-Bissau, Mr. Alston said that the climate of instability in that country, coupled with rampant corruption and impunity, prevented that resource-rich country from realizing its enormous potential.  Speaking of his visit to Chile, he noted that Chile had managed to turn itself from a widely condemned authoritarian State into a much admired model for other States in terms of its economic growth and consolidation of its democracy.  However, troubling rates of poverty and extreme poverty persisted, and inequality levels were high.

BEN EMMERSON, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, regretted that no single international agreement focused on addressing counter-terrorism and focused on the rights of the victims.  He regretted that a number of States and non-governmental organizations continued to refuse to recognize that terrorist acts could amount to human rights violations.  This position was dangerous from a victim-centred perspective, and all States should formally recognize that human rights violations could be committed by non-State armed groups.  The report presented today addressed gross violations by ISIL and the pressing need for accountability, and highlighted the abject failure by the Security Council to take appropriate action to protect civilians in affected areas.  The report stressed the need for the international coalition of States currently engaged in military actions against ISIL to ensure that effective steps were taken to minimize civilian casualties. 

The report gave an assessment of the sheer scale of the international law violations by ISIL, which included genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of human rights law.  These included summary executions, public beheadings, stoning, amputations, systematic gender-based violence, rape, sexual slavery, arbitrary detention and torture on an industrial scale.  Mr. Emmerson underlined the failure to either authorize military action or to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.  The face of terrorism had considerably changed recently.  Terrorist groups had now formed effective military force, taking control over great territories, committing widespread atrocities and setting up quasi-governmental infrastructures.  The Security Council had an obligation to act, and its members had a responsibility to refrain from using their veto powers to block action aimed at ending atrocity crimes. 

Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and Special Rapporteur on protection of human rights while countering terrorism

European Union asked what priority action should be taken by States to implement the recommendations concerning the establishment of social protection floors.  ISIL could not be associated with the notion of Statehood and the European Union could not subscribe to the notion that terrorist acts constituted human rights violations; a distinction must be made between individual criminal acts and the obligations that could only lie with States.  Terrorists were criminals and should be treated as such.  Algeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, shared the concern about the threat that Daech represented to international peace and security, and said that the international community must pursue accountability for systematic violations perpetuated by Daech.  The African Group was concerned about economic and social inequalities that continued to grow in the world, which gave rise to exclusion and marginalization.  Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, agreed that social and economic inequalities interacted and that the root cause of social inequalities was deeply embedded in economic issues.  Human rights could not be addressed without addressing human needs and it was important to give economic, social and cultural rights prominence and priority equal to that of civil and political rights.  It was crucial to ensure that counter-terrorism measures were applied equitably and fully respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.  Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that it was a human and legal obligation to eliminate poverty, which was an essential mean to exercise human rights.  States had a duty to provide international cooperation and assistance and to take necessary measures to create an appropriate climate to reduce poverty.  There was a need to adopt a global strategy and a plan of action to eliminate poverty.

Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, stated that reducing poverty was a particularly daunting task when it came to reducing inequalities.  Sustainable consumption and production processes were necessary in order to address poverty, for which active planning and participation of States were needed.  Cuba agreed that extreme inequality was incompatible with the respect of human rights.  States should do what they could to decrease the existing gap between the rich and the poor.  One could not combat terrorism by addressing only certain terrorist acts while ignoring other such acts.  A broad legal framework for combatting terrorism was necessary.  Kuwait stated that the Arab world was facing groups which did not represent the real face of Islam, but were terrorizing local populations and the region.  Kuwait had adopted a number of measures to address that issue, including ways to stop the finance of terrorist activities.  A number of conferences had been organized to raise funds for anti-terrorism missions.  Egypt stressed the need to respect international rules when combatting terrorism.  States had the prior responsibility to protect their citizens.  The metamorphosis of terrorism in recent years required stepping up international cooperation with the view of ensuring that terrorist groups had no refuge.  Extreme inequality between the rich and the poor had repercussions on affected societies and international peace and security.

Republic of Korea appreciated the Special Rapporteur’s focus on the relationship between extreme poverty and extreme inequality, as well as his efforts to shed light on the need for greater engagement of a human rights framework in addressing that issue.  As for counter-terrorism, it shared the Special Rapporteur’s view that States were obliged to protect civilian populations from widespread and systemic acts of violence and terrorism.  China noted that the elimination of poverty was one of the most important global causes, to which China had greatly contributed.  Terrorism was a common enemy to mankind and was increasingly harmful to international stability and safety.  Efforts had to be made to bring about a balance between counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights.  Belgium said that it was committed to the Special Rapporteur’s multidimensional approach towards the elimination of extreme poverty, and enquired about the role of municipalities in that respect.  As for counter-terrorism, the Belgian Government had taken a number of measures to limit the number of foreign combatants joining various terrorist groups.  Switzerland appreciated the Special Rapporteur’s focus on impunity in combatting all forms of human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law.  Switzerland asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on the monitoring of the acts committed by non-state actors across various state borders.

Chile said that economic, social and cultural rights were at the heart of the solution to reverse inequalities and asked how to ensure that policies of social protection floors were basic standard of commitment without interfering in the right of States to decide on their own policy mix, and how those measures could be financed.  Chile rejected the acts committed by ISIL and asked how the Council could support the collecting and preserving of evidence of crimes.  Council of Europe said that the recent acts of terrorism and the increasing number of individuals travelling to conflict zones posed a challenge and that was why the Committee of Ministers had adopted in May 2015 an Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism which gave the first set of legally-binding international standards on foreign terrorist fighters.  Saudi Arabia aimed to keep all its citizens in a safe environment and to ensure that they were guaranteed minimum revenue; a range of social programmes was in place, including on combatting poverty.  The violations committed by Daech were most serious, terrorism did not have a religion or nation, the whole world was the target and reaction must be adopted jointly.  Ireland welcomed the valuable analysis of the correlation of extreme poverty and extreme inequality in the report of Special Rapporteur and asked what more could be done to ensure that findings emerging from the United Nations efforts were used to influence the global inequality debate.  Ireland asked Mr. Emmerson about duties of States regarding prevention and investigation of alleged violations and the scope of the ad hoc tribunal he proposed that States should establish.

Mexico recognized that the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq, with the rise of the so-called Islamic State, had negative repercussions globally.  Actions taken by States to combat ISIL needed to be reviewed.  How far did military measures taken to combat ISIL comply with international law?  ISIL had clearly violated international humanitarian law and might have committed crimes against humanity and genocide.  Qatar stated that a terrorist phenomenon was spreading across the Arab world, presenting an ever greater challenge to international security.  The causes had not been fully addressed in the report.  The Islamic State had profited from situations of instability, which was one of the factors creating fertile ground for its rise.  There had to be full accountability for all perpetrators.  United States continued to support the military operations to purge ISIL from the areas under its control in order to stop further abuses from occurring.  States could help prevent violent extremism by fulfilling their responsibility to promote and protect human rights.  Did the Rapporteur have any other recommendations on steps which could be taken to immediately protect individuals residing in ISIL-controlled territories?  Norway asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on the impact of civil and political rights when tackling poverty.  It was imperative to include human rights perspective when addressing poverty and development issues.  A large geographical shift of poverty between 1990 and 2010 could indicate that there were structural reasons for the poverty, which had to do with distribution of power and lack of empowerment of poor people.

Syria thanked the Special Rapporteur for having shed light on massacres committed by ISIS, and expressed hope that he would also note the crimes committed by the Al Nusra Front.  Those States who supported terrorist groups in Syria had to be held responsible.  Syria was surprised by the illogical accusations by the United States and Qatar, noting that there was a political bias in recommending that the situation in Syria should be reviewed by the International Criminal Court.  Burkina Faso said that extreme poverty was one of the key causes of the inability to uphold human rights.  Due to the increasing gap between the rich and poor, the development goal of reducing extreme poverty was in peril.  The Government of Burkina Faso was currently working to create jobs and improve overall economic conditions in the country.  Russian Federation shared the concern over the mass human rights violations committed by ISIS, but noted that those crimes were the result of the military interventions in Syria and Iraq, and the destruction of State institutions.  Unilateral actions by the international community was not effective in combatting terrorism.  The fight against extreme poverty necessitated that economic, social and cultural rights were given the same status as civil and political rights.  Ecuador said that the eradication of poverty and inequality was a priority.  Every individual had the right to quality education, a decent job, clean and safe water, and health services.  The Government therefore put the doctrine of “good living” at the centre of all its policies, and in 2013 it launched its National Strategy for Equality and the Eradication of Poverty.

Greece was pleased that the intensification of the efforts of the European Union to promote economic, social and cultural rights was included in its human rights priorities for 2015 and asked the Special Rapporteur on which instances had the international financial institutions argued that the human rights dimensions of their policies of programmes should be dealt with by the Human Rights Council.  Which non legislative measures could States take to protect civilians from widespread and systematic acts of violence and terrorism?  Namibia said that despite its being a middle income country, it had one of the worst levels of inequality in the world which could be attributed to a combination of factors including colonialism and apartheid rule.  A comprehensive social protection structure had been drafted and a new Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare had been established.  Gender inequality drove poverty and undermined economic growth.  Togo had established a new strategic framework to accelerate the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and the national financial inclusion strategies had made it possible to support more than 300,000 families in 2014.  More needed to be done and Togo emphasized the important role to be played by the international community to support Government efforts in combatting poverty and inequality.  Venezuela had active participation of people, including the poor and marginalized, at heart of its social policies and used its social programmes to halve extreme poverty in less than 10 years, while the Gini coefficient was among the lowest in the region.  It was important to remember that those who were perpetuating terrorist violence in Iraq had been armed by the United States and others and the Council must promote a peace plan that would put a need to terrorism.

Paraguay said the absolute priority of the current Government was fighting poverty.  While poverty had decreased in Paraguay, inequality continued to be an issue in the country.  The “Tekopora” programme provided for cash transfers to those in need and this reached some 130,000 families.  Paraguay would continue with efforts to provide decent life to all of its citizens.          Iran said ISIL had committed serious violations of international law and Iran was seriously disturbed at ISIL’s attacks against civilians and cultural sites.  Acts of terrorism in Iraq and Syria were not targeted at one group, they were a threat to the entire region.  Iran invited the Special Rapporteur on human rights while countering terrorism to present his findings on the basis of reliable information.  Bahrain said it took very great care about fighting poverty and encouraging the active participation and involvement of the civilian population in  development policies.  Bahrain said extreme ideology caused serious crimes against civilians in Syria, regardless of their religion.  United Kingdom condemned with the strongest term the acts by ISIL, but disagreed that ISIL had the characteristic of a State and therefore believed that they did not have human rights obligations as such.  The United Kingdom supported the recommendation that Iraq and Syria become party to the Rome Statute.  Sierra Leone underlined the necessity to guarantee equal opportunity, and to address the challenges of inequality in human development.  Overall development was essential to address poverty.  Sierra Leone said strong and decisive measures were required to combat ISIL, and asked the Special Rapporteur for his view regarding restrictions on freedom of movement to prevent ISIL’s supporters from joining them in Iraq or Syria. 

Mali said that actions against terrorism carried out in Mali were in line with the law.  A set of measures aimed at adapting the legal and security framework were introduced, and their full implementation exhibited the determination of the authorities to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in the fight against terrorism. 
Luxembourg said that despite some notable advances in the fight against poverty, the results achieved were not sufficient.  The major reason was the inability of the international community to reach the objectives in development aid.  Each State had to provide basic social services to its citizens.  New Zealand said that accountability was an essential component of the rule of law and was one of the mechanisms through which stability and peace could be pursued.  The response to violence against civilian populations had to be grounded in respect for applicable international humanitarian law, international human rights law and refugee law.  Algeria noted that economic and social inequality fed the cycle of poverty.  Extreme poverty not only undermined human dignity, but also represented an obstacle to the full enjoyment of human rights.  States had to take necessary measures to meet the security needs of their populations, but in line with international laws and standards.

Benin shared the concerns related to the threats posed by terrorism to  international security.  In the fight against terrorism, combatting extreme poverty and deprivation was crucial.  Benin had developed a strategy for growth 2011-2015, with the view of addressing inequalities and extreme poverty.  Niger said that income distribution and inequality between the rich and poor could only cause extreme poverty and affect certain rights, such as the right to housing and education.  The post-2015 agenda should provide an impetus in fighting poverty.  The terrorist group Boko Haram violated human rights in the same way as the so-called Islamic State.  Turkey  stressed that all terrorist groups had to be countered with a shared determination and robust international cooperation.  The situation in Syria had become a clear threat for regional stability and international peace.  Turkey was determined to fight Daech while protecting civilians on the ground.  One should not forget the circumstances which had given rise to Daech.  Indonesia strongly believed that every human being was entitled to equal opportunity.  How could the international cooperation aspects in addressing extreme economic inequality among countries be improved?  Indonesia conveyed its continued support to the international community’s concerted efforts in confronting ISIL, in line with human rights law and United Nations principles in general. 

France said the cross-border nature of terrorism required a coordinated response that should be in strict conformity with international human rights and humanitarian law.  What recommendations could the Special Rapporteur make to the Syrian regime?  France supported equal access to economic opportunities, and supported that financial institutions took this issue into consideration.  Iraq said some people were profiting from violations by ISIL, and said it disagreed with the Special Rapporteur’s view that the rise of ISIL had root causes in Iraq’s situation.  This was an over-simplification and did not take into account the fact that foreign combatants were joining ISIL on a daily basis.  Morocco said ISIL was a threat to international peace and security, and strongly condemned the targeting by ISIL of religious or ethnic groups, as well as attacks against monuments, which demonstrated ISIL’s attempt to change the identity of Iraq and Syria.  Morocco insisted on the fact that the fight against terrorism and groups like ISIL should be carried out in full respect with international human rights law.  Ghana said it had implemented a series of measures to ensure access to education, combat corruption and fight poverty, and said international financial institutions should take human rights into account as a development issue.  Ghana warned that focusing too much on the root causes of terrorism led to justifying such acts.  

South Africa stated that a serious commitment to tackle extreme inequality was only possible in the context of policies that took the concept of economic, social and cultural rights seriously.  Poverty and marginalization were an affront to human dignity and equality.  States had a duty to ensure that strong international solidarity and co-operation were implemented as means of eradicating poverty.  Brazil said that the current trend of increasing inequality and exclusion showed that the issue was one of the most important challenges facing the international community in the coming years.  The reduction of inequalities had to rank as one of the central themes in the post-2015 development agenda.  More attention ought to be given to the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.  Bangladesh believed that wealth and income distribution was an important aspect which was prevalent within and among States and needed further clarification.  Bangladesh requested the Special Rapporteur’s reflection on the inequality among States.  An open, equitable, rule-based, predicable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading and financial system would be of crucial significance.  Botswana believed that economic, social and cultural rights should be given the same prominence and priority as accorded to civil and political rights.  Botswana was dedicated to eradicating abject poverty by 2017 through its Poverty Eradication Programme.  Botswana strongly supported calls for the Security Council to refer the situations in Iraq and Syria to the International Criminal Court, as a matter of priority. 

Libya strongly condemned terrorist attacks, especially those committed by ISIL, and urged everyone to take measures to combat impunity, stop access to funding and restrict their use of social networks.  Libya demanded that the embargo on arms be lifted so that it could effectively combat terrorism.  Lebanon said the threat to the Middle East was directly related to activities by ISIL and atrocities in Syria and Iraq.  Lebanon asked how to work towards accountability for members of ISIL and other groups.  Angola said poverty reduction and the promotion of human development was a major international goal, and explained that measures taken by Angola had led to the reduction of illiteracy and child mortality.  Viet Nam shared the view that extreme poverty was linked to inequality and constituted a human rights violation.  Viet Nam strongly urged States to establish more robust measures on the ground, including national action plans to combat extreme poverty.  Viet Nam called for cooperation among States in order to further promote and protect the rights of victims.  

Haiti stated that the situation of people living in extreme poverty remained a major concern for the international community.  Haiti agreed that inequalities continued to grow in societies, including in Haiti, where more than 50 per cent of the population lived in extreme poverty.  Djibouti said that disproportionate vulnerability of certain groups stood in the way of promoting and protecting human rights.  Djibouti had put in place a large infrastructure project in the domain of logistics, which should attract foreign investment and sustainably fight unemployment and poverty, which would, in turn, improve the respect of fundamental human rights of the population.  Jordan strongly condemned all the crimes committed by ISIL against all innocent civilians. All incitement to terrorism was also rejected.  Jordan was seriously concerned by the threat posed by foreign combatants in the ranks of ISIL.  Jordan’s position was firmly based on the rejection of any and all forms of terrorism, regardless of their origin.  Mauritania said it had made the eradication of extreme poverty a priority.  Within that framework, Mauritania had established a precise time frame.  Extreme poverty and inequality had a negative impact on the respect of human rights and often provided a fertile breeding ground for terrorism.  The fight against terrorism and respect for all human rights were compatible notions.  Sudan believed that it was very important to fight poverty; that notion was enshrined in Sudan’s transitional Constitution.  Sudan had a strategy and structures in place to combat poverty.  There was a strategic plan in place to boost the economy.  The strategies in place supported the most vulnerable, as well as hospitals and schools.

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, in a joint video message, noted that the United Kingdom had increased its power for the refoulement of persons accused or suspected of terrorism, and insisted that such powers respected human rights and were subjected to judicial safeguards to ensure individuals were not arbitrarily deprived of the right to leave and return to their own country.  The Commission also called for a parliamentary investigation into allegation of violations of international humanitarian law by the United Kingdom during its overseas’ counterterrorism activities.  European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation underlined the vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons to income and social inequalities.  All States should prohibit all forms of discrimination and ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons were included in development policies.  Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights said economic, social and cultural rights remained marginalized in the Human Rights Council, and discussions on the economic sphere, including on taxation and its human rights aspects, were needed.  It underlined the gender aspect of income inequality.  Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy expressed great concern over discrimination against women in the Indian society, and particularly in Kashmir, where women and girls suffered sexual exploitation and slavery, lack of population planning and malnutrition. 

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan stressed that appropriate redistributive measures through budgetary allocation and taxation had to be seen as an integral part of a commitment to ensuring full respect for human rights across the entire society.  That was, regrettably, not a case in many countries, including Pakistan.  International Buddhist Relief Organization said that terrorism had no place in the modern world.  State counter-terrorism squads in India had arrested several singers for their alleged support of Maoist militants.  Nonetheless, Indian courts repeatedly ruled that sympathy for certain ideas did not equal membership in prohibited organizations.  Indian Law Resource Centre, in a joint statement, said that poverty could not be eradicated without full respect for human rights.  Which countries sitting on the board of the World Bank were taking steps to adequately address human rights issues and violations?  Franciscans International said that international efforts to mitigate extreme inequality had largely ignored the existing international human rights framework.  Economic inequalities had a huge impact on the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation.  The zero draft of the post-2015 development agenda had to take that into consideration.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said that ensuring accountability for grave abuses was essential in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism.  The predominant focus on tactical security and military solutions to defeating terrorist organizations had proven to be an abject failure; breaking ISIL’s trans-border extremist ideology would only occur by forging strategies that could meet the needs and provide hope and dignity to the people in the region.  African Development Association said that nobody could deny that since Morocco had recovered its southern provinces, they had been transformed into emergent zones with tarmac roads, electricity, and two international airports.  The international community should free the population that was living in inhumane conditions in Tinduf camp.  Arab Commission for Human Rights said that there were double standards in the fight against terrorism, and some only focused on freedoms without focusing on the right of others to life or freedom.  Liberation said that illegal occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco was a violation of human rights.  Human rights defenders were suffering severe and cruel human rights violations and were subjected to trials by military courts and sentenced to life in prison and hard labour.

World Barua Organization noted with concern that special laws enacted to combat terrorism were sometimes abused, and referred to abuses of innocent civilians in Jammu and Kashmir.  The Council should persuade India to stop abuses against civilians.  Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association said terrorism was a threat against the international community, and expressed concern about the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in the northeast of India on the basis of terrorism prevention.  Indian Council of South America said the new police code in Colombia would allow the entry of police officers into households without needing any warrant, and would provide extensive powers to the police force in contradiction with Colombia’s international obligations and commitments.  Sudwind said although terrorist acts were a violation of human rights, the legal responsibility of States was not comparable with that of non-States actors.  It was concerned about the spread of the regional war to Iran and condemned the harsh treatment suffered by those belonging to the Sunni minorities in Kurdistan and Baluchistan. 

Concluding Remarks

PHILIP ALSTON, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, on the challenge of giving more effective implementation to economic, social and cultural rights at the national level, said that there remained a huge amount to do to ensure that poverty alleviation was linked in a meaningful way to economic, social and cultural rights, let alone to civil and political rights.  It also flagged an important question of why economic, social and cultural rights as a legal notion was so poorly understood by Governments; the discussion moved quickly from rights-based to a discussion on providing goods and services.  This was a challenge.  Several speakers stressed the relevance of an international economic environment and Mr. Alston stressed the importance of international efforts in the fight against corruption, and in stemming illicit financial flows.  The Human Rights Council could not operate in isolation and the Special Rapporteur congratulated it for inviting the co-facilitator of the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda to brief it on the process.  The Council should also invite the International Labour Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the World Bank, and engage them in a specific dialogue on how its concerns related to what they were doing.

Mr. Alston congratulated the many States which were already engaged in the establishment of social protection floors and said that the International Labour Organization had done ground-breaking work on how to resource them, and also said that there was a suggestion for the creation of a Global Fund for Social Protection Floors to close the funding gap and provide a form of insurance.  This proposal should be carefully examined, also in the context of the upcoming discussions on financing for development in Addis Ababa next month.  It was up to each State to set the targets for social protection floors in light of international standards, but more importantly in the light of national circumstances.  The Special Rapporteur said that as long as some groups maintained that the discussion on resource re-distribution was not a human rights issue, but part of the global political agenda, they endorsed the status quo that was deeply unfair, deeply hostile to economic, social and cultural rights and fostering inequalities.  Until resource redistribution was seen as a part of the human rights agenda, progress on those issues would not be made.

BEN EMMERSON, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, said the Security Council had failed to promote and secure accountability in Iraq and Syria because of the use of veto rights by Permanent Members.  A fundamental reform requiring Permanent Members not to use their veto in cases of the most serious crimes was needed.  A duty to provide a public reason by those who used veto rights would also be an idea.  He regretted the European Union’s restrictive views that only States could violate human rights, and that terrorist activities were crimes but not human rights violations.  ISIL was a party that had obligations under international humanitarian law.  Human rights law continued to apply in time and space of armed conflict.  The effectiveness of human rights law depended on the international community’s ability to adapt it to new challenges.  


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC15/079E