HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ESTABLISHES WORKING GROUP TO NEGOTIATE A DRAFT DECLARATION ON THE RIGHT TO PEACE
Also Adopts Text on National Human Rights Institutions
5 July 2012
The Human Rights Council this afternoon decided to establish a working group to negotiate a draft declaration on the right to peace and adopted a resolution on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.
In a resolution adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, one against and 12 abstentions, the Council decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate of negotiating, finalizing and submitting to the Human Rights Council a draft United Nations declaration on the right to peace, on the basis of the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee. The resolution said the working group should hold its first session for five working days in 2013, before the twenty-second session of the Human Rights Council, and report to the Council at its twenty-third session.
Concerning national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, the Council adopted a resolution in which it recognized the role of independent national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights and encouraged Member States to establish effective, independent and pluralistic national institutions in accordance with the Paris Principles. The Council also commended the high priority given by the Office of the High Commissioner to work with national institutions and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-third session on the activities of the International Coordinating Committee.
Introducing resolutions were Australia and Cuba.
Speaking in general comments were Peru and China.
The United States, Austria and Italy spoke in explanation of the vote before the vote and explanation of the vote after the vote.
The Council will resume its work on Friday, 6 July at 10 a.m., when it will continue to take action on draft resolutions and decisions and appoint an Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a risk free environment, healthy and sustainable, before concluding its twentieth session.
Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Follow-up to and Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
Action on Resolution on National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.15) regarding national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Human Rights Council recognizes the role of independent national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights; encourages Member States to establish effective, independent and pluralistic national institutions in accordance with the Paris Principles; welcomes the endorsement by the General Assembly of the strengthening of opportunities for national human rights institutions; stresses the importance of financial and administrative independence of national human rights institutions for the promotion and protection of the human rights; commends the high priority given by the Office of the High Commissioner to work with national institutions; and requests the Secretary-General to report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-third session on the activities of the International Coordinating Committee.
Australia, introducing resolution A/HRC/20/L.15, said that the draft resolution reaffirmed the broad and strong recognition of the unique role and valuable work of national human rights institutions in building capacity and promoting and protecting human rights around the world. It would ensure the continued reporting by the Secretary-General to the Council on the achievements, challenges and priorities at the national level regarding the establishment, strengthening and accreditation of national institutions. The reports would also continue to update the Council about the activities carried out by the Sub-committee on Accreditation, in considering and reviewing applications for accreditation of national human rights institutions. The resolution would also welcome and encourage the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ continued support for national institutions, including supporting the work of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and its regional coordinating networks. It invited States to contribute voluntary funds to this end, and to this end Australia had contributed $ 300,000 in 2012 to the Office of the High Commissioner’s activities in support of national institutions.
Peru, in a general comment on resolution A/HRC/20/L.15, said that it was important to strengthen national institutions which promoted human rights. National institutions could contribute to the promotion of human rights at the international level too. The General Assembly therefore should examine the possibility that national institutions be allowed to participate in this forum.
Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
Action on Resolution on the Promotion of the Right to Peace
In a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.16) regarding the promotion of the right to peace, as orally revised and adopted by a vote of 34 votes in favour, one against and 12 abstentions, the Council decides to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate of negotiating, finalizing and submitting to the Human Rights Council a draft United Nations declaration on the right to peace, on the basis of the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee; also decides that the working group shall hold its first session for five working days in 2013, before the twenty-second session of the Human Rights Council; requests the President of the Human Rights Council to invite the Chairperson of the Advisory Committee drafting group to participate in the first session of the working group; invites Member States, civil society and all relevant stakeholders to contribute actively and constructively and requests the working group to submit a report on progress made to the Human Rights Council for consideration at its twenty-third session.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (34): Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Thailand, Uganda and Uruguay.
Against (1): United States of America.
Abstentions (12): Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Italy, Norway, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain and Switzerland.
Cuba, introducing resolution A/HRC/20/L.16, said that a change had been made to the heading, so the resolution now was called “the promotion of the right to peace”. The draft resolution aimed to establish an open-ended Working Group to negotiate a draft declaration on the right to peace. It highlighted the work done by civil society in promoting the right to peace. The text had a broad number of co-sponsors and support from various sectors of civil society. Cuba thanked those delegations that were actively involved in the negotiating process. A revised document had been circulated. Cuba hoped the draft resolution would be adopted with broad support, sending a very strong message on commitment in promoting this very important issue.
China, in a general comment on resolution A/HRC/20/L.16, said that the right to peace was an important collective right which China promoted. China appreciated Cuba’s adoption of proposals during the consultation process.
United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was deeply concerned whenever conflict erupted and human rights were violated. Any peace was unstable when citizens were denied the right to speak freely, worship, or assemble without fear. The United States appreciated the leadership of several Member States of the Council to build bridges and focus on issues in which there was space for productive engagement. However, the draft declaration covered many issues unrelated to the cause of peace, and was divisive to efforts to achieve it. The draft resolution sought to sow division and embroil in contentious negotiations. It should focus on the implementation of human rights obligations and commitments. Human rights were universal, held and exercised by individuals. No country wanted to be cast as voting against peace. The resolution and the Working Group would not contribute to peace and human rights, and would make no meaningful contribution to human rights on the ground. The United States asked other countries to vote against this divisive, time and resource-intensive resolution and working group.
Austria, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, expressed doubts concerning the concept of the right to peace and said that the group of countries did not recognise the existence of such a right. There was no sufficient international consensus to set up the intergovernmental negotiations established in the draft and which assumed that such a right existed. Furthermore, the group of countries was deeply concerned about the draft prepared by the Human Rights Advisory Committee concerning this topic. Many of the issues addressed by this resolution would be better addressed in other fora. Given the flaws of the alleged right to peace and its potentially negative effects on human rights law, the group of countries would abstain.
Italy, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the notion of the right to peace remained vague and flawed. What was the relationship between the responsibility to protect and the right to peace? The resolution was not a good basis for discussion on the matter. The intrinsic link between human rights and peace should have been recognized, since the promotion of human rights led to peace. While abstaining from the vote on the resolution, Italy remained committed to the promotion of peace around the world.
For use of the information media; not an official record