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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL EXTENDS THE MANDATES ON INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS AND ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Adopts Seven Other Texts, Including Condemning Measures to Prevent Access to Information on the Internet, Impact of Arms Transfers on Human Rights, and on Human Rights of Migrants in the context of Large Movements
1 July 2016

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted nine texts in which it extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on human rights of internally displaced persons and of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, for a period of three years. 

The Council also adopted resolutions condemning measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information on the Internet in violation of international human rights law, the impact of arms transfers on human rights, on access to medicines and on capacity building in public health, on mental health and human rights, and on the impact of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls.

The Council extended, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons to address the complex problem of internal displacement, strengthen the international response and engage in advocacy and action for improving protection and respect of the human rights of internally displaced persons. 

The Council also extended, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequence and called upon States to take effective action to respond to violence against women and girls, including indigenous women and girls.

It condemned unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law and called on States to refrain from and cease such measures, and condemned unequivocally all human rights violations and abuses committed against persons for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet.  The Council requested the High Commissioner to prepare a report on ways to bridge the gender digital divide from a human rights perspective, and to submit it to the Council at its thirty-fifth session. 

The Council decided to hold, at its thirty-fourth session, an enhanced interactive dialogue on the theme “The human rights of migrants in the context of large movements” and a panel discussion to exchange views on good practices and key challenges relevant to access to medicines as one of the fundamental elements of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.  It decided that a panel discussion on experiences and practices on realizing the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health through enhancing capacity-building in public health will take place at the Council’s thirty-fifth session.

In a resolution on the impact of arms transfers on the enjoyment of human rights, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, five against and 10 abstentions,  the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the impact of arms transfers on the enjoyment of human rights and present it to the Council at its thirty-fifth session. 

It also requested High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the integration of a human rights perspective in mental health and the realization of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with mental health conditions or psychosocial disabilities, and to report to the Council at its thirty-fourth session.

The Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls and decided to convene, at its thirty-sixth session, a panel discussion to discuss the findings of the report and examine possible recommendations.

Speaking in the introduction of draft resolutions were Austria, Uganda, Ecuador, Peru, Sweden, Russia, China, Mexico, Brazil, India, Portugal, and Canada.

Ecuador, Nigeria, Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Paraguay, and Panama, spoke in general comments.

Explaining the vote before or after the vote were Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Latvia, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, South Africa, Russia, Paraguay, Panama, Switzerland, Albania, Mexico, Georgia, Slovenia, and Togo.  

The Council will meet at 1.30 p.m. today to continue taking action on draft decisions and resolutions before it closes its thirty-second session.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.13) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons for a period of three years to address the complex problem of internal displacement, in particular by mainstreaming the human rights of the internally displaced into all relevant parts of the United Nations system, and to work towards strengthening the international response to the complex problem of situations of internal displacement and to engage in coordinated international advocacy and action for improving protection and respect of the human rights of the internally displaced.  The Council also calls upon all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, and international human rights law, as applicable, with a view to preventing forced displacement and promoting the protection of civilians.

Austria, introducing the draft resolution, explained that given the current number of displaced persons due to conflicts and disasters, the level of engagement of the international community was insufficient.  Many internally displaced persons struggled to survive in precarious conditions, and many of them were left with deep psychological scars due to their losses. 

Uganda, also introducing the draft resolution, noted that the aim of the draft resolution was to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for internally displaced persons for a period of three years, and to devise a new approach toward the needs of internally displaced persons and long-term development outcomes.  The resolution recalled that the Secretary-General had recently urged all stakeholders to commit to a comprehensive global plan to treat internally displaced persons in a dignified manner.  There was a need for the implementation of durable solutions for internally displaced persons, namely protection, humanitarian assistance and long-term development assistance for internally displaced persons and their affected host communities.  The resolution also called for the entry into force of the Kampala Convention of the African Union, and for regional and national frameworks for the effective protection of internally displaced persons.

Action on Resolution on the Impact of Arms Transfers on Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.14) on the impact of arms transfers on human rights, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 5 against and 10 abstentions as orally revised, the Council urges all States to refrain from transferring arms when they assess, in accordance with 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; and requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the impact of arms transfers on the enjoyment of human rights and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fifth session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32): Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam. 

Against (5): France, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Abstentions (10):Albania, Belgium, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.


Ecuador, introducing draft resolution L.14 on the impact of arms transfers on human rights, said it went back to 2014, when resolution 35 had been adopted on the human rights angle of arms transfers and its victims. The impact of arms transfers could be felt on peace, hence the resolution.  The draft resolution proposed to study the impact of arms transfers on human rights and assess whether these were compatible with human rights.  The impact of arms transfers led to the silence of families who had been deeply affected.  Their safety and integrity could not be threatened by war and silence.
 
Peru, also introducing draft proposal L.14 on the impact of arms transfers on human rights, said the Human Rights Council should give primacy to the protection of human rights and invited Member States to adopt the draft proposal by consensus.  The draft resolution called for a study by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to identify the impact of arms transfers on human rights and international humanitarian law.  It recognized the spirit of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development for which agencies had been established on trade development, disarmament, human rights and jobs.  Only with a holistic interdisciplinary and collaborative approach could problems with all stakeholders be resolved and peace and justice be achieved. 

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation on the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union played a major regional role in developing codes of conduct for arms export, in order to ensure that arms transfers did not contribute to the breaches of human rights.  The existing Arms Trade Treaty defined human rights standards and laws as the main principles for arms exports.  The European Union had engaged constructively in discussions of draft resolution L.14.  Unfortunately, its efforts were not successful and the current text was not acceptable as it could even undermine the internationally recognized norms of arms exports.  The European Union called on all States to consider becoming the party to the Arms Trade Treaty.  It reiterated that the draft resolution could not open new standards on that issue.  Any resolution of the Council should not supersede the legally binding standards of the Arms Trade Treaty.

France, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its commitment to upholding international human rights law.  However, it was regrettable that the resolution never referred to the Arms Trade Treaty, which had entered into force on 24 December 2014 and which had been signed by 130 States and ratified by 85.  Moreover, it only referred to the responsibilities of the exporting States, and not to the responsibilities of the importing States.  The approach proposed by the draft resolution was restrictive and would create asymmetrical obligations of States.  It also did not specify the illicit or non-authorized character of arms trade.  For those reasons France would vote against the draft resolution. 

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Council was not an appropriate forum to discuss arms transfers when the Arms Trade Treaty already existed.  The draft resolution had the potential to undermine the Treaty, which was intended to reduce the illicit flow of weapons.  The draft resolution could not supersede the Treaty and any interpretation of the Treaty would damage its universal application.  It was an unacceptable risk that the draft resolution could result in a parallel track.  The United Kingdom supported any discussion of the Council’s mandate.  However, it could not support any text which could undermine the Treaty and would thus vote against it.

Germany, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Human Rights Council was not the appropriate forum in which to discuss arms transfers because a robust Arms Trade Treaty existed and it had taken into consideration international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  The draft resolution remained completely silent on this historic treaty and would side-track this Treaty and the processes it had set forth.  Germany underlined that the place for the discussion on the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty was the Conference of the States parties, which was open not only to States parties, but to other States and members of civil society as well.

Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the sponsors in a general comment, said that it had been clear that greater clarity was needed on the Treaty and stressed that the draft resolution aimed to protect human rights and did not intend to encroach on disarmament or arms transfers.  The aim of the draft resolution was to study the relationship between arms transfers and human rights.

Action on Resolution on the Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.20) on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice; calls upon all States to promote and facilitate international cooperation aimed at the development of media and information and communication facilities and technologies in all countries; calls upon all States to address security concerns on the Internet in accordance with their international human rights obligations to ensure protection of freedom of expression, freedom of association, privacy and other human rights online; condemns unequivocally all human rights violations and abuses, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, expulsion, intimidation and harassment, as well as gender based violence, committed against persons for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet, and calls on all States to ensure accountability in this regard; condemns unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law and calls on States to refrain from and cease such measures; and calls upon all States to consider formulating, through transparent and inclusive processes with all stakeholders, and adopting national Internet-related public policies that have the objective of universal access and enjoyment of human rights at their core.  The Council also requests the High Commissioner to prepare a report on ways to bridge the gender digital divide from a human rights perspective, and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fifth session.

Sweden, introducing draft resolution L.20 on the promotion protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet on behalf Brazil, Nigeria, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States, said it built upon resolutions 20/8 and 26/13 from 2012 and 2014, which were both adopted by consensus, and which emphasized that all human rights applied online as well as offline.  The resolution also recognized the global and open nature of the Internet as a factor for accelerating development in its various forms, including in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Furthermore the resolution highlighted the rights of persons with disabilities and the importance of taking measures to promote their access to new information and communication technologies.  It addressed the gender digital divide which persisted in women’s and girls’ access to and use of information and communications technologies.  The draft resolution called on States to bridge this divide and enhance the use of enabling technology to promote the empowerment of all women and girls.


Action on amendments L.85, L.86, L. 87 and L.88

Russian Federation, introducing amendments to draft resolution L.20, requested to add a reference to the protection of children against sexual exploitation.  It regretted that the consultations were carried out too late and it withdrew amendment L.85.   As for amendment L.86, it aimed to correct the imbalance with respect to the right to privacy.  The recent events had clearly shown that the right to privacy was endangered.  Actions of courageous whistle blowers, such as Edward Snowden, and a number of investigations had clearly shown the unlawful scale of such breaches.  Surveillance and unlawful wiretapping put at risk the right to privacy.  It was not clear why the sponsors of the draft resolution had not given that right the importance it deserved.  Perhaps some countries would like to divert attention from breaches of the right to privacy.  It urged all Member States to support amendment L.86.  As for amendment L.88, it referred to the dissemination of hate speech, xenophobia and racial intolerance through the Internet.  The international community had unanimously agreed that the promotion of such speech was unacceptable.  

China, also introducing the amendments on behalf of a group of countries,  requested that the text of the draft resolution referred to a “comprehensive and integrated approach” to the protection of human rights on the Internet.  It was understandable that in order to expand digital communication it was necessary to take into account factors protecting human rights, but also security concerns, national legislation, political and economic factors, and benefits that could be shared by all.  It urged all Member States to support the amendments.

Nigeria, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in a general comment, said the core group would not be able to adopt amendment L. 86 as it attempted to dilute the focus of the draft resolution.  The aim of the draft resolution was to bridge the gender digital divide and increase participation by persons with disabilities.  Moreover, the right to privacy was already addressed in several places within the draft resolution.  Nigeria drew Member States’ attention to the new preambular paragraph 9 which was added to the text this year to specifically address the importance of privacy in relation to the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet. 

The core group of sponsors called on all Member States not to adopt the amendment.  They also did not support amendment L.88 and called on Member States not to adopt it.  The core group had balanced the way in which human rights was protected on the Internet and had reached consensus on this.  The right to privacy was already addressed in preambular paragraphs 3, 8, 8, 14 and 18 of the resolution and in operative paragraph 8 of the text.  The core group of sponsors of the draft resolution did not accept amendment L.87.  The amendment would replace the words “human rights based approach” in the resolution  with the words “comprehensive and integrated approach.”  However, in an effort  to find compromise on acceptable language, the oral revisions to the draft resolution had added the word “comprehensive” to the paragraphs addressed by this amendment.  As a result, the paragraphs now talked about a “comprehensive human rights based approach”.  The core group did not accept L.86 which would delete from the draft resolution the words “human rights based approach”.  It was precisely the duty of the Human Rights Council to advocate for a human rights based approach.  It was worth noting that this was consensus agreed language from the Council’s’ child mortality resolution.  More importantly it was the core mandate and the role for the Human Rights Council to urge respect for human rights. 

France, speaking in a general comment, noted that it opposed amendment L.87 because it aimed to delete the human right-based approach of the draft resolution, which was approved language.  It was up to the Council to advocate for the protection of human rights.  For those reasons, France would vote against the amendment.

Latvia, speaking in a general comment, said it opposed amendment L.86, which was unnecessary and aimed to dilute the focus of the draft resolution.  Moreover, there was a separate resolution on the right to privacy.  It thus urged all Members of the Council to oppose that amendment.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a general comment, attached great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights in cyber space.  Bridging the gender digital divide and the facilitation of the empowerment of women and girls would contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Development Agenda.  It took note of the reference in operative paragraph 11, which focused on violence and discrimination on the Internet.   The Republic of Korea would thus oppose all amendments that would weaken the draft text.

Paraguay, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed amendment L.88 and said that the draft resolution was clearly focused on how the Internet could be used as a vehicle for inclusiveness and non-discrimination.  Its theme this year was to bridge the gender digital divide and increase the participation online by persons with disabilities.  The text included adequate language on combatting hate speech and appropriately advocated using the Internet to combat discrimination and to focus on promoting tolerance and dialogue.  Paraguay would vote against the amendment.

Saudi Arabia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.20 on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said they had participated in the negotiations because their national measures reinforced the protection of human rights in line with international standards.  They worked tirelessly to protect privacy in all fields related to information and communications technology, in conformity with international humanitarian law and human rights, in order to ensure that all people had the right to freedom of expression.   All duties and responsibilities were stipulated by a law adopted by all Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and these included the respect  of public order and national security.  The law covered 39 articles contributing to limiting Internet crimes and categorising them in a way that guaranteed rights for the legitimate use of computers and the Internet.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported the promotion and protection of human rights on the Internet.  It also believed that all human rights should be given equal attention.  Particular attention should be paid to hate speech, racism and xenophobia communicated through Internet.  It regretted that the draft resolution failed to take on board the proposed amendments.  It would, thus, disassociate itself from certain paragraphs of the draft resolution.

South Africa, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, explained that its Constitution protected freedom of speech.  However, incitement to hatred could not be accepted.  Freedom of speech carried certain duties and could not be used as an excuse to condone hate speech.  The exercise of freedom of expression online which was not subject to limitations was a false notion.  It implored the main sponsors to align their draft resolution with international law.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted that the amendments had not found sufficient support among the Council Members. It was concerned that some States were trying to introduce a hierarchy in human rights.  It stressed the inviolability of the right to privacy and the use of intellectual property.  The Internet should not be used to disseminate hate speech, incitement to terrorism and child abuse.  All those elements should be taken into consideration in future.  Propaganda of racism had no place on the Internet or elsewhere.  The Russian Federation urged the main sponsors to adopt a more responsible approach and avoid double standards.  It would join the consensus on the draft resolution with the understanding that its objections would be reflected. 

Draft amendment L.85 was withdrawn by the sponsors.

The Council rejected draft amendment L.86 by a vote of 15 in favour, 23 against and 9 abstentions.

The Council rejected draft amendment L.87 by a vote of 17 in favour, 25 against and 5 abstentions.

The Council rejected draft amendment L.88 by a vote of 18 in favour, 24 against and 5 abstentions.

Action on Resolution on the Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants – Strengthening the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants including in Large Movements

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.22) on the protection of the human rights of migrants - strengthening the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants including in large movements, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States to reaffirm the fundamental importance of respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of all migrants who leave their countries, regardless of their migratory status; and also calls upon States that have not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families as a matter of priority.  The Council also decides to hold an enhanced interactive dialogue on the theme, “The human rights of migrants in the context of large movement” at its thirty-fourth session; and requests the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants to continue to report on solutions.

Mexico, introducing draft resolution L.22 on the protection of the human rights of migrants, including in large movements, said it had sought to integrate international views relevant to migrants, who were a vulnerable group that needed specific treatment in order to enjoy their rights.  This was a timely and holistic approach for all countries and regions.  The draft resolution placed the Human Rights Council and the Special Rapporteur in a position to contribute to the ongoing international discussions on migration.  It encouraged an interactive debate on migrants during the thirty-fourth session on migrants in large movements, asked the Human Rights Council to produce a report, and called on the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants to continue discussions on the promotion and protection of migrants in large movements.  The Mexican delegation had held numerous consultations in a constructive and inclusive negotiation process.  The draft proposal had 34 sponsors.  Mexico called on Member States to adopt the draft resolution by consensus.

Netherlands, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, expressed deep appreciation for the transparent manner in which negotiations had been held on this draft resolution.  The world was facing major challenges by unprecedented movements of migrants, who often fell in the dangerous hands of traffickers and smugglers.  The European Union remained fully committed to the protection of the rights of migrants in countries of origin, transit and destination.  It was crucial to step up cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination in a geographically balanced way.  The European Union was committed to addressing the root causes of migration, which included political instability, human rights violations, poverty, fragility and climate change.  It looked forward to work with Mexico and hoped that these elements would be reflected in a future resolution.  The European Union  would join the consensus in favour of draft resolution L.22.

Action on Resolution on Access to Medicines in the Context of the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.23/Rev.1) on access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon States to promote access to medicines for all, including through the use, to the full, of the provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights which provides flexibility for that purpose; and urges all States, United Nations agencies and programmes and stakeholders to promote innovative research and development to address health needs in developing countries, including access to quality, safe, efficacious and affordable medicines.  The Council  decides to convene, at its thirty-fourth session, a panel discussion to exchange views on good practices and key challenges relevant to access to medicines as one of the fundamental elements of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and requests the High Commissioner to prepare a summary report on the panel discussion to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-sixth session.

Brazil, introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the core group of countries, noted that for millions of people throughout the world the full enjoyment of the human right to health still remained an elusive goal.  The draft resolution aimed at reaffirming access to medicines as a fundamental element in the realization of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.  It requested a panel discussion to exchange views on good practices and key challenges relevant to access to medicines to take place during the next March session of the Human Rights Council.  Brazil expressed hope that the constructive approach of the main sponsors would allow the Council to adopt the draft resolution by consensus. 

India, also introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the core group of countries, reminded that one third of the global population had no access to medicines.  That remained the major barrier in the realization of the right to health.   The high cost of life-saving medicines and discriminatory access to medicines increased medical costs and pushed more people into poverty.  In addition, the research and development needs of developing countries had been neglected, whereas intellectual property rights and financial interests superseded the rights of individuals to access affordable life-saving medicines.  The draft resolution proposed a panel discussion at the next March session to exchange good practices and discuss major challenges.  It would be a timely opportunity for the Council to take into account recent developments and how Member States could overcome barriers to access to medicines, and to reaffirm human rights in that respect.  India therefore urged Members of the Council to support the draft resolution.  

United Kingdom, speaking in a general comment on L.23/Rev.1 on access to medicines, thanked the core group of sponsors for their efforts in drafting the resolution and incorporating the amendments.  Nevertheless, the United Kingdom regretted that the draft resolution lacked certain elements, including the language used by the World Health Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.  Some of the paragraphs were out of context and took the resolution well beyond the mandate of the Human Rights Council.  The United Kingdom could not support the draft resolution, which called for elements unfounded in international law.  Regrettably the draft resolution called for a second panel, thus duplicating the work.  It regretted that compromise could not be reached.

Switzerland, speaking in a general comment, thanked the members of the core group for their commitment to this draft, and for incorporating some proposals including that of Switzerland.  Nevertheless, Switzerland had reservations.  The aim of the draft resolution was the full attainment of a higher standard of physical and mental health for all.  Switzerland reminded that the framework conditions for research and development were essential to this attainment and thus a defining element in access to medicines.  In this respect, Switzerland would have wished for a more balanced resolution.  Switzerland regretted that the High Level Panel on Access to Medicines was not mandated by States.  Switzerland would have wished for more transparency in this Panel, including publishing its report.  In addition, the draft resolution failed to strike a balance between patents and intellectual property, and trade related properties of intellectual rights.  Patents and prices were not directly linked.  Prices depended on a number of factors, including import taxes, intermediaries, and suppliers.  Regrettably, a direct reference to the Plan of Action of the World Health Organization on this matter had not been mentioned in the draft resolution.  For all these reasons, Switzerland would not support the draft resolution.

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that it was extremely important to adopt all measures on economic, social and cultural rights in order to allow everyone to access the highest attainable health services.  However, it was possible to achieve that without interference on the trade front.  It was essential to take into account the views of all involved stakeholders.  It was unacceptable to include references to trade aspects and intellectual property rights.  The Council could not be used to establish precedents regarding human rights and international trade and intellectual property instruments.  Mexico would not oppose the text, but it appealed that its concerns be taken into account.

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said it was strongly committed to the full realization of everyone to access to quality, safe and affordable medicines.  The European Union addressed it in all of its policy approaches and it was the major contributor of health aid.  The assumption that the right of inventors blocked access to medicines was erroneous.  It was rarely due to one element.  Regulatory capacity building, transparent public procurement, and measures to root out corruption could also enhance access to medicines.  Therefore, the Council lacked the necessary expertise to address  the issue comprehensively.  That issue had been adequately addressed by the Council through previous resolutions so there was risk of duplication.   The European Union would join consensus on the draft resolution, noting that some changes and interpretation of language should be included. 

Action on Resolution on Promoting the Rights of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health through Enhancing Capacity Building in Public Health

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.24/Rev.1) on promoting the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health through enhancing capacity-building in public health, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council urges Member States and the international community to increase investment, building on existing mechanisms and through partnership, to improve health systems in developing countries and countries with economies in transition with the aim of providing sufficient health workers, infrastructures, management systems and supplies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030; and decides to convene, at its thirty-fifth session, a panel discussion with the objective of exchanging experiences and practices on realizing the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health through enhancing capacity-building in public health, and that the discussion shall be fully accessible to persons with disabilities.

China, introducing draft resolution L.24/Rev.1, said health was a fundamental human right indispensable for the exercise of other human rights.  Every human being was entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health conducive to living a life in dignity.  Nevertheless, the world was experiencing the continued deleterious impact of infectious diseases, epidemics and health emergencies, as well as non-communicable diseases.  Global health threats reversed much of the development progress made in recent decades.   L.24/Rev.1 aimed to raise awareness of the importance of public health, urged Member States to increase investment to improve health systems and called upon the international community to promote cooperation in strengthening the public health system of all countries, in particular developing countries, and their capacity to prevent, detect and respond to national and global health risks. 

China proposed the following oral revision to operative paragraph 3 that would be replaced by a new paragraph that read as follows:  “Encourage States to promote access to medicines for all, including through the use, to the full, of the provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights which provide flexibility for that purpose, recognizing that the protection of intellectual property is important for the development of new medicines, as well as the concerns about its effect on prices.”  With this revision, provided in good faith, China called on all members adopt the draft resolution.

Netherlands, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, reiterated that it was committed to the realization of the highest standards of health.  It would therefore support the draft resolution, despite some problems in the text.  Medicines for children were not the only part of the broad spectrum of issues in public health.  There was also undue emphasis on the access to medicines.  The European Union failed to understand why some vital references to public health were removed from the text.  The language should have been quoted exactly and not rephrased.  It was concerned that the current Human Rights Council session would create two panels: one on access to medicines and another on public health.  Any duplication of the Council’s work should be avoided. 

The Council then adopted the draft resolution L.24/Rev.1 as orally revised without a vote. 

Action on Resolution on Addressing the Impact of Multiple and Intersecting Forms of Discrimination and Violence in the Context of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance on the Full Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Women and Girls

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.25) on addressing the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls, adopted without a vote, the Council  requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls; and decides to convene, at its thirty-sixth session, a panel discussion in order to discuss, inter alia, the findings of the report and examine possible recommendations.

Brazil, introducing draft resolution L.25, recalled that women and girls continued to face discrimination in the context of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, and said that the text called upon States to develop and strengthen gender-responsive, multi-sectorial programmes and policies.  The draft also requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination in the context of racism, and decided to convene, at the thirty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council, a panel discussion on this issue.  Brazil welcomed the constructive participation of all delegations in the negotiations on this draft, and hoped it would be adopted by consensus. 

Paraguay, speaking in a general comment, said that combatting violence and discrimination against women and girls continued to be one of its priorities, and underlined the need to ensure that policies addressing this issue were multi-sectorial.  It supported this resolution, which was balanced and sought to benefit the largest number of women from all countries.  It hoped that the panel would constitute a step forward in combatting inequality between men and women and in ensuring that women could fully participate in decision-making processes. 

The Human Rights Council then adopted draft resolution L.25 without a vote. 

Action on Resolution on Mental Health and Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.26) on mental health and human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council reaffirms the obligation of States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms and to ensure that policies and services related to mental health comply with international human rights norms; and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the integration of a human rights perspective in mental health and the realization of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with mental health conditions or psychosocial disabilities, including persons using mental health and community services, and to submit the report to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fourth session.

Portugal, introducing the draft resolution on behalf of a core group of countries, explained that it aimed at addressing in a syncretic way all human rights issues in the context of mental health.  That was an issue that concerned everyone and where everyone had much to learn and share.  The question of mental health and human rights seemed to be one of the most neglected ones.  For a long time mental health had been covered by layers of stigma, prejudice, segregation, exclusion and abuses and human rights violations.  The draft resolution was an opportunity to shed light on a much needed topic, and to prompt States to understand what their obligations were and to share experiences on how to better implement them.  The draft resolution requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the integration of a human rights perspective in mental health and the realization of the human rights of persons with mental health conditions, and to submit the report to the Council at its thirty-fourth session.

Brazil, also introducing the draft resolution on behalf of a core group of countries, explained that the draft resolution was the result of three rounds of formal consultations, and that it was co-sponsored by a wide range of regional countries of diverse social and economic backgrounds.  Brazil expressed gratitude to the World Health Organization, Special Rapporteurs on the right to health and on the right of persons with mental disabilities, and civil society for their support throughout the negotiations.  The draft resolution aimed to fight abuses and human rights violations in the context of mental health.  Brazil expressed hope that it would be adopted by consensus and with the widest possible support. 

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed its commitment to ensuring the right to health, but expressed doubts about the link the resolution made between the right to health and civil liberties.  Furthermore, the choice of treatment was a decision to be made by a professional doctor or body only, and regretted that the draft made recommendations with regard to solitary confinement of persons with mental health.  The draft required considerable further work by the medical community, and the Russian Federation would therefore disassociate itself from the consensus. 

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.26 without a vote. 
 
Action on Resolution on Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate Violence against Women: Preventing and Responding to Violence against Women and Girls, Including Indigenous Women and Girls

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.28/Rev.1) on accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women: Preventing and responding to violence against women and girls, including indigenous women and girls, adopted without a vote as orally revised the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequence, for a period of three years; requests  the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, to hold consultations or participate in the work, as appropriate, and by the invitation of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in order to accelerate the implementation of the Special Rapporteur’s goals on the prevention and response to violence against women; and calls upon States to take effective action to respond to violence against women and girls, including indigenous women and girls, and protect all victims and survivors.

Canada, introducing draft resolution L.28/Rev.1, said that this annual resolution, for the first time, addressed violence against indigenous women and girls.  Canada underlined the specific vulnerability of indigenous women and girls to violence, including sexual and domestic violence.  It referred to the situation in Canada, where efforts had been made to investigate and prosecute such cases.  It was important to create a safe environment for women and girls to report such violence and to end impunity.  It was also important to include men and boys in these efforts, and to strengthen education in this field.  Canada had organized broad consultations for this text, which reflected the needs of women and girls all over the world.  Canada then made oral revisions to the text.  It hoped that the Council would adopt this resolution, once again, by consensus.

Action on amendments L. 36, L.37, L.40, L.42, L.43, L.44

Russian Federation, introducing the amendments, said that fighting violence against women and girls, including indigenous women and girls, crimes against them, sexual abuse and exploitation was one of the priorities of the Russian Federation.  Putting an end to those offences could only be achieved together with civil society, and by bringing perpetrators to justice.  It welcomed the theme selected by the main sponsors.  However, certain approaches needed to be corrected.  The Russian Federation withdrew amendments L.40 and L.44.   Amendment L.36 proposed withdrawal of the reference to the Security Council because fighting violence against women and girls was not a direct mandate of the Security Council.  Amendment L.37 proposed more precise ways to fight violence against women and girls, and suggested deletion of the term “partner violence,” which replaced the well-established “domestic violence.”  Amendment L.42 referred to the deletion of the term “human rights defenders” which did not exist in international law.  Comprehensive sexual education was still ongoing discussion.  The Russian Federation was seriously concerned about the scope of such type of education.  Governments should continue to discuss that matter without imposing their views on others.  As for amendment L.43, it removed reference to “comprehensive sexual education” from the draft. 

Panama, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the main sponsors, noted that this was the first time that the Council was presented with such a resolution and thus it was important to have the widest consensus.  Over 77 cross-regional States had co-sponsored the draft resolution demonstrating incredible support.  The amendments undermined the draft resolution and the credibility of the Human Rights Council.  They proposed deletion of the most common form of violence against women, namely partner violence.  The draft resolution was a balanced text and the sponsors called for a vote on the amendments.  The sponsors would vote against the amendments and asked all other States to do the same. 

France, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft amendments L.36, L.37, L.42 and L.43, reiterated its commitment against all forms of violence against women, and supported the draft resolution, which underlined the multiple types of violence faced by indigenous women and girls.  France opposed any weakening of the text, and supported references in it to Security Council and Human Rights Council resolutions.  France also underlined the importance that the draft resolution addressed the challenges faced by women human rights defenders, as well as sexual and reproductive health.  France called on all States to vote against the amendments.

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft amendments L.36, L.37, L.42 and L.43 on behalf of the European Union, said that the resolution before the Council addressed the root causes of violence against women, and underlined the responsibility of States to promote and protect human rights.  Netherlands thanked Canada for the open and transparent negotiations on this resolution, and said that the European Union would join the consensus, and vote against the proposed amendments. 

Republic of Korea, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said eliminating violence against women and girls was a high priority, as it was still perpetuated around the world with impunity.  The current year’s resolution had special credit, as it drew attention to indigenous society and intimate space.  Violence against women was universal but the international community’s responsibility to fight it must also be universal.  Republic of Korea lent its strong support to the present resolution, and expressed hope it would be adopted without any amendment.

Latvia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the amendment sought to eliminate a crucial element of the resolution before consideration.  According to the World Health Organization, one third of women had experienced violence by an intimate partner.  The proposal in the amendment to replace a specific reference to intimate partner violence with a broader notion changed the focus of the resolution.  Latvia believed it was important to acknowledge the specific issue, and would vote no to the proposed amendment, calling on other Council members to do the same.
 
Paraguay, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on the draft amendments, stressed the need for balance and incorporating the views of many countries.  The Human Rights Council should zealously guard its mandate of the promotion and protection of human rights in general, while national authorities would take action as they deemed fit.  Indigenous women and girls suffered different types of violence, stressed Paraguay and called upon the Council to take into account the many different views by its Members.  The Human Rights Council condemned the death penalty and female genital mutilation and could not with the same voice adopt a method that led to the disappearance of a human life, such as abortion.  This was a difficult path and Paraguay aimed to ensure that its people could take informed decisions, but this path should not be started with the violence of abortion.

Draft amendments L.40 and L.44 were withdrawn by the sponsors.

Action on L.36

Panama, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft amendment L.36, rejected the draft text and said that it excluded the resolutions by the United Nations Security Council which addressed the issues of violence against women in conflict situations.  Situations of conflict and post-conflict compounded violence against women and children or compounded the already existing violence against vulnerable populations.

France, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft amendment L.36, was opposed to the proposed text because it denied the link with the United Nations Security Council resolutions which recognized that women and girls were disproportionately affected by conflicts; they were often targeted by the violence which was often used as a strategy aimed at breaking down the social fabric of the society.  France called for a vote and urged all to vote against.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft amendment L.36, firmly opposed this proposal.  The deletion of the reference to Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security, including landmark resolution 1325, would weaken the text as it would exclude references to the needs of women in conflict and post-conflict situations.  These Security Council resolutions were fundamental, and referring to them was highly relevant and essential to this draft resolution.  Switzerland called upon all Members of the Council to vote against this draft amendment. 

The Council then rejected draft amendment L.36 by a vote of 12 in favour, 22 against, with 13 abstentions.

Action on L.37

Albania, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on amendment L.37, said that the amendment sought to remove a crucial element of the resolution.  Intimate partner violence was the most prevalent form of violence against women.  The words “domestic violence” was too broad; it was imperative for the resolution to acknowledge the persistence of intimate partner violence against women and girls.  Albania called for a vote on the amendment and it would vote against it.

Germany, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on amendment L.37, said that Germany opposed the amendment which sought to remove a crucial element of the resolution.  The first step in eliminating violence against women and girls was to acknowledge the violence that occurred between intimate partners.  Germany would vote no and asked other Council members to also vote no.

The Council then voted on the amendment, which was rejected by a vote of 15 in favour with 22 against and 9 abstentions. 


Action on L.42

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft amendment L.42, said that indigenous women suffered dual discrimination.  In this context, female human rights defenders faced a greater risk of violence, both offline and online.  The proposed amendment seemed to deny this reality.  The term “human rights defender” could not be replaced by anything else.  Mexico opposed this amendment. 

Georgia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft amendment L.42, opposed this amendment, which undermined the importance of the role played by women rights defenders.  The term “human rights defenders” was well-established in the United Nations system, as well as regional organizations mechanisms.  Deleting it would send a very negative signal to defenders worldwide.  Georgia urged all Members of the Council to vote against this draft amendment. 

The Council then rejected draft amendment L.42, with a vote of 14 in favour, 23 against, with 10 abstentions. 

Action on L.43

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it did not support the amendment contained in draft L.43.  Information and education that went beyond the basics was necessary.  Comprehensive sexual education was a term used throughout the United Nations system.  The reason the concept was not defined in detail in the resolution was to give Member States flexibility.  The United Kingdom would vote no, and asked others to do likewise.

Slovenia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that comprehensive sexual education was critical for women’s empowerment.  The phrase was a technical term used by United Nations agencies to describe a holistic approach to teaching about sexuality.  While the World Health Organization, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization and others had detailed guidance on sexual education, it was up to each State to include it in its own way.  Studies showed that comprehensive sexual education contributed to the prevention of gender-based violence.  It was about teaching people about their bodies and health, and thus it could only ever be beneficial.  Slovenia would vote against the amendment and urged other Council Members to do the same.

The Council then voted on the amendment, which was rejected by a vote of 10 in favour to 24 against, with 12 abstentions.  

Action on Draft Resolution L.28/Rev.1 as a Whole as Orally Revised

Saudi Arabia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.28/Rev.1 as a whole as orally revised, on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, thanked the delegation of Canada for having submitted this resolution, and reiterated its commitment against violence against women, including through legislations enacted for the protection of women.  The draft, however, still contained provisions that were contrary to the culture and religion of the Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.  They would therefore disassociate from paragraphs 8, 7c and 9.

Togo, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.28/Rev.1 as a whole as orally revised, regretted the inclusion of controversial ideas and concepts in the text, including the reference to “intimate partners”. 

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.28/Rev.1 as a whole as orally revised, said that there was no clear and uniform definition of “human rights defenders” negotiated by Governments.  This concept was controversial, and no one should pretend to have a specific legal status.  It was regrettable that the co-sponsors did not include China’s constructive proposals, and therefore China would disassociate from the consensus on references to “human rights defenders”.  

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.28/Rev.1 without a vote, as orally revised.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC16/105E