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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADVISORY COMMITTEE OPENS TENTH SESSION
Elects Wolfgang Stefan Heinz as Chairperson
18 February 2013

The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee this morning opened its tenth session, electing Wolfgang Stefan Heinz as Chairperson as well as a new bureau and adopting its agenda and programme of work. 

Remigiusz Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, said that at the last session of the Human Rights Council in September 2012, an interactive dialogue had been held for the first time with the Advisory Committee.  This had been an important opportunity for an exchange of views between the two bodies and to generate new requests from the Council.  During this tenth session, the Advisory Committee would work to finalise the study on human rights and issues related to terrorist hostage taking, mandated by the Council.  Mr. Henczel strongly encouraged the active participation of observers and delegations in discussions related to this important matter in order to ensure that the body worked to its fullest potential.

Bacre Ndiaye, Director of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, noted that the Committee had undertaken and finalised a number of studies on poverty and the right to food.  In relation to the issue of human rights and terrorist hostage-taking that would be discussed at this session of the Committee, he called on experts to take into account the recommendations of the Independent Expert on human rights and the fight against terrorism.   The Committee should also address issues of access to justice, corruption, and the fight against discrimination. 

Wolfgang Stefan Heinz was elected as the new Chairperson of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee and the following Experts were elected as Vice-Chairpersons: Saeed Mohamed Al Faihani, Anantonia Reyes Prado, and Latif Hüseynov.  Obiora Chinedu Okafor was elected as Rapporteur.

Mr. Heinz said the Committee was at an important moment, a juncture of transition.  So far the Committee had one existing mandate, and had made a proposal for five others not yet adopted by the Human Rights Council.  One important point would be to contact Member States and convince them to take an active role on new mandates, especially in view of the next session in August.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Advisory Committee observed a minute of silence for all victims of human rights violations around the world. 


The Advisory Committee will meet again this afternoon at 3 p.m., when it will hold discussions on human rights and terrorist hostage taking.

Opening Statements



REMIGIUSZ HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, congratulated the new members of the Committee, Saeed Mohamed A Faihani, Mario L. Coriolano, Katharina Pabel and Imeru Tamrat Yigezu.  At the last session of the Human Rights Council in September 2012, an interactive dialogue had been held for the first time with the Advisory Committee.  This had been an important opportunity for an exchange of views between the two bodies and to generate new requests from the Council.  Other issues had been discussed at that session of the Council which had also been the subject of discussions and studies of the Advisory Committee, including intimidation and reprisals against individuals who had cooperated in the field of human rights.  Mr. Henczel also referred to the declaration on the right to peace and international solidarity which was being drafted, as well as the creation of a Working Group to finalise the drafting of a declaration on the rights of peasants - women and men - also building on the work of the Committee.  The Working Group on the right to peace was currently holding its first session.

Mr. Henczel noted that during this tenth session, the Advisory Committee would work to finalise the study on human rights and issues related to terrorist hostage-taking, mandated by the Council.   Mr. Henczel strongly encouraged the active participation of observers and delegations in discussions related to this important matter in order to ensure that the body worked to its fullest potential.

BACRE NDIAYE, Director of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, also welcomed the new members of the Committee and said that they would surely bring some new blood and spirit into the Committee.  Mr. Ndaye then went on to share some perspectives from the Office of the High Commissioner on thematic human rights issues.  Last Friday the Office of the High Commissioner had organized a seminar on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights at the request of the Human Rights Council, by way of follow up to the work of the Committee.  Experience and good practices were shared and challenges identified and discussed.  The General Assembly had declared 20 December as International Human Rights Solidarity Day in order to encourage debate on ways to promote solidarity and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  The Secretary-General had called for intensified efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals before 2015.  This process also intended to set the groundwork for post 2015 and aimed to be participatory, seeking the views of development experts and ordinary citizens from around the world.

On poverty and the right to food, Mr. Ndiaye noted that the Committee had undertaken and finalised a number of studies.  At the next session of Council, the final study on rural women and the right to food would be considered as well as the study on urban poor and their enjoyment of the right to food.  In that context, the Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights were adopted by concensus by the Human Rights Council in September 2012.  They were the first global policy guidelines that focused especially on the human rights of people living in poverty and constituted a practical tool for policy makers.

Mr. Ndaye, in relation to the issue of human rights and terrorist hostage-taking that would be discussed at this session of the Committee, called on experts to take into account the recommendations of the Independent Expert on human rights and the fight against terrorism.   The Committee should also address issues of access to justice, corruption, and the fight against discrimination.  Initiatives had been launched by the Office of the High Commissioner in the area of equality and non-discrimination, which were a priority, and it had adopted a strategic plan of action on the fight against gender discrimination. 

WOLFGANG STEFAN HEINZ, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee, hoped the current session would be a success.  No doubt all members and participants would make contributions to achieve this.  The Committee was at an important moment, a juncture of transition.  As noted, so far the Committee had one existing mandate, and had made a proposal for five others not yet adopted by the Human Rights Council.  One important point would be to contact Member States and convince them to take an active role on new mandates, especially in view of the next session in August.


For use of the information media; not an official record

AC13/002E