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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ESTABLISHES COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN SOUTH SUDAN

23 March 2016

The Human Rights Council this evening adopted 22 texts, establishing a Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan; extending mandates on human rights and countering terrorism, freedom of religion or belief, Syria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran; and setting up future commemorations of the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council and the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development, among others.

Other resolutions related to the composition of staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; the integrity of the judicial system; economic, social and cultural rights; rights of persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies; rights of the child - information and communications technologies and child sexual exploitation; human rights and the environment; adequate housing; the right to food; the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights; the promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity; the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities; the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights; the right to work; and the commencement of the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. 

In a resolution on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, adopted without a vote, the Council decided to establish a Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, composed of three members for a period of one year, with the mandate to, inter alia, monitor and report on the situation of human rights in South Sudan and make recommendations for its improvement, and requested the Commission to present a comprehensive written report, in an interactive dialogue, to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fourth session. 

In a resolution on the human rights situation in Syria, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, six against, and 14 abstentions, the Council decided to extend for one year the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, demanded that all parties take all appropriate steps to protect civilians and facilitate access of the United Nations and humanitarian actors; and recommended that the General Assembly submit all reports of the Commission of Inquiry to the Security Council for appropriate action.

In a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, adopted without a vote, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for a period of one year, and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to designate, for a period of six months, a maximum of two existing independent experts in support of the work of the Special Rapporteur to focus on issues of accountability.

In a resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran, adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 15 against and 11 abstentions, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran for a further period of one year, and called upon the Government of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit access to visit the country.

In a resolution on freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further period of three years and urged all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur. 

The Council decided without a vote to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism for a period of three years, and requested all Governments to cooperate fully with this mandate.

The Council decided in a resolution adopted without a vote to convene, on the first day of its thirty-second session, a high-level panel discussion on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council, focusing on its achievements and challenges.  

In a resolution adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, none against and 13 abstentions, the Council decided to convene, at its thirty-second session, a panel discussion on the promotion and protection of the right to development as part of the celebrations of the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development.

Introducing draft texts were Cuba, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Mexico, Iran, Portugal, New Zealand, Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, Uruguay on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, Slovenia, Costa Rica, Maldives, Finland, Austria, Poland,  Bolivia, Egypt, Greece, United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden,  Albania, and Paraguay.

Speaking in general comments were Venezuela, Russian Federation on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Countries, South Africa, Bolivia, United Kingdom, Bolivia, Mexico, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, Switzerland, Ecuador, China and Venezuela.

Speaking in explanation of the vote before or after the vote were Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, Mexico, United Kingdom, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Algeria, Viet Nam, China, Russian Federation, Bangladesh, Ecuador and Paraguay.

Syria, Iran and South Sudan spoke as concerned countries.  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not present in the room to speak as a concerned country. 

The Human Rights Council will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 24 March to continue taking action on draft resolutions and decisions before it concludes its thirty-first session. 

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on the Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

Action on Resolution on the Composition of the Staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.15) on the composition of the staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, 13 against and one abstention, the Council requests the High Commissioner, within his administrative responsibilities, to redouble his efforts with a view to having redressed the current imbalance in the geographical composition of the staff of the Office; also requests the High Commissioner to work on attaining the broadest geographical diversity of his staff by strengthening the measures aimed at achieving a better representation of countries and regions that are unrepresented or underrepresented, particularly from the developing world; requests the High Commissioner to continue to improve his interaction with Member States,  and to submit a comprehensive and updated report to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-sixth session with a special focus on further measures taken to correct the imbalance in the geographical composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (33): Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Against (13): Albania, Belgium, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Abstentions (1): Mexico.


Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.15 on the composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, explained that the draft resolution sought to strike a regional balance in the representation of the Office, and that it sought to change favouring one group of countries.  The Office should not reflect only one school of thought on economics and politics.  In line with the spirit of dialogue, cooperation and transparency, and given the importance of the topic, the sponsors had hoped that the adoption of the draft resolution would be a good show to rectify the current geographic imbalance in the Office.  However, a number of countries again alleged that the Council should not be dealing with this topic.    

Venezuela, in a general comment, reiterated its traditional support for the resolution by Cuba and expressed agreement that the imbalance could diminish the efficiency of the Office of the High Commissioner.  Venezuela therefore supported the resolution because the international community needed to redouble efforts which were necessary to correct the imbalance.

Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the resolution was part of a long cycle of resolutions, adding that the European Union had always said the Council had no competence on personnel policy of the Office of the High Commissioner.  Decisions on recruitment were attributed to the central New York machinery.  The Fifth Committee had exclusive competence on administrative and budgetary issues.  The European Union also expressed surprised at the request for another report when a report was in the pipeline for September.  The European Union could not support the resolution and called for a vote, and would vote no.

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the Office of the High Commissioner should make efforts to increase the geographic diversity of its staff.  However, Mexico had abstained from voting on resolution L.15 on the composition of staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights because such budgetary aspects went beyond the scope of the Council.  The management of human resources, budgets and other administrative issues should only be dealt with in the bodies competent to deal with these issues.

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 Integrity of the Judicial System

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.1) on the integrity of the judicial system, adopted without a vote, the Council urges States to guarantee that all persons brought to trial before courts or tribunals under their authority have the right to be tried in their presence, to defend themselves in person or through legal assistance; calls upon States to ensure that the principles of equality before the courts and before the law are respected within their judicial systems; urges States concerned to promptly close down all secret detention facilities under their jurisdiction or control situated on their territories or abroad; and calls upon States to promptly and impartially investigate all alleged cases of extraordinary renditions, secret detention, torture and practices tantamount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.  The Council also calls upon States to provide access to an effective remedy to all those who have been subject to prolonged arbitrary arrest and/or physical and mental suffering due to the lack of access to the general judicial system; and stresses the importance of developing cooperation between national judicial systems with a view to, inter alia, strengthening the protection of persons deprived of their liberty.

Russian Federation, introducing draft resolution L.1 on the integrity of the judicial system, explained that the draft resolution aimed to strengthen a number of human rights nationally and internationally, and to guarantee access to justice and a fair and independent trial.  It contained reference to the Convention against Torture and Ill-Treatment, and to the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.  The fragmentation of the judicial system was for some countries a convenient excuse not to uphold their human rights obligations.  In some countries secret detention facilities continued to exist under the guise of countering terrorism.  It was regrettable that such countries continued to enjoy impunity.  The Russian Federation called on the Council to ensure the disclosure of all information during the global war on terror.

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said that the role of a competent judiciary system was essential in implementing human rights.  The European Union had negotiated in good faith on the resolution before the Council.  The European Union would join consensus on the text, on the understanding that those principles would be adhered to.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the United Kingdom dissociated itself from the consensus because of two fundamental principles reflected in the country’s constitution, namely the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.  There were two aspects of the resolution to which the United Kingdom did not subscribe, the first a matter related to civilian courts and the second that the resolution did not reflect precisely and faithfully the wording of the Convention against Torture.

Action on Resolution on the High-Level Panel on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the Human Rights Council

In a decision (A/HRC/31/L.2) on the high-level panel on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene, on the first day of its thirty-second session, a high-level panel discussion on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council, focused on its achievements and challenges; encourages on the occasion of the tenth anniversary the participation of all Member States, including Member States that do not have a mission in Geneva, in the work of the Human Rights Council, including in the high-level panel discussion; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to organize the panel discussion, and to liaise with States and other stakeholders with a view to ensuring their participation in it.

Switzerland, introducing draft decision (A/HRC/31/L.2) on the high-level panel on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council on behalf of a group of countries, said the Human Rights Council had achieved a lot in the last 10 years and this required some acknowledgement.  Likewise, the Human Rights Council had some challenges that needed to be reflected on.  The high-level panel would be one of these opportunities to look backwards and forwards.  It would take place on the first day of the thirty-second session, and all former presidents of the Human Rights Council, as well as the current one, would be involved in the panel discussion.  Switzerland hoped that small island and developing States that did not yet have representation in Geneva would be able to attend the thirty-second session in whole or in part, and take part in the high-level panel discussion.

Russian Federation, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Countries, stated that the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council was a good opportunity to take stock of the advancements in the promotion of human rights.  However, double standards and politicization should be avoided, as well as manipulation of developing countries and civil society organizations.  Indivisibility and interrelatedness of all human rights should be upheld, while technical assistance and capacity building should be prioritized.  It was emphasized that the celebration of the tenth anniversary was solely for commemoration and that it should not be used to pass any decisions, but rather should only be used for discussion and the exchange of ideas.  The Council had concluded its one and only review of work in 2011, and the upcoming reviews had a purpose to determine its status vis-a-vis the United Nations system. 

Action on Resolution on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.3) on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism for a period of three years, on the same terms as provided for by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 22/8; requests all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur in the performance of the tasks and duties mandated;        and calls upon all Governments to give serious consideration to responding favourably to the requests of the Special Rapporteur to visit their countries.

Mexico, introducing draft resolution L.3, said the resolution would extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of the fight against terrorism. 

Action on Resolution on the Commemoration of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.6) on the commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development, adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, none against and 13 abstentions, the Council decides to convene, at its thirty-second session, a panel discussion on the promotion and protection of the right to development as part of the celebrations of the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development; invites the High Commissioner to liaise with States and all stakeholders, with a view to ensuring their participation in the panel discussion; and requests the High Commissioner to prepare a summary report on the panel discussion and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-third session; and decides to bring the report to the attention of the General Assembly ahead of the high-level segment to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (34):Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Abstentions (13):Albania, Belgium, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Against (0):


Iran, introducing draft resolution (A/HRC/31/L.6) on the commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, China and Brazil, said the United Nations General Assembly had adopted the Declaration on the Right to Development in 1986, which underscored this right as an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples were entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, civil  and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms could be fully realized.  The Council would adopt the draft resolution on the eve of the thirtieth Anniversary of the Declaration.  Iran was confident that all members of the Council would send a clear message showing how the Council exercised its responsibility along with the constituency as well as long standing aspirations of the international community towards the realization of the right to development.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the right to development required the fulfilment of political and civil, and economic, social and cultural rights, including good governance, and it was the primary responsibility of States.  There was no need to hold a panel discussion given that it had already been addressed in New York.  Increased focus on the right to development would take away attention from more important human rights issues.  The United Kingdom thus called for a vote on draft resolution L.6.

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, reiterated its support for the right to development, which required the full realization of political and civil rights, and economic, social and cultural rights.  The realization of all human rights, including the right to development was the primary responsibility of States.  The high-level panel in New York had already addressed the right to development and holding another high-level panel would not make any added contribution, which was why the European Union would abstain.

Action on Resolution on the Question of the Realization in All Countries of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.7/Rev.1) on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States to give full effect to economic, social and cultural rights by, inter alia, taking all appropriate measures to implement the Human Rights Council resolutions on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights; also calls upon all States that have not yet signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to consider doing so as a matter of priority; and urges States to consider adopting, or further developing, procedures for information gathering and measurement which may serve as national indicators for State decision-making processes, and are transparent, participatory and allow for accountability.  The Council also encourages enhanced cooperation and increased coordination between the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and United Nations bodies, specialized agencies and programmes, mechanisms of the Human Rights Council and other human rights treaty bodies.

Portugal, introducing resolution L.7/Rev.1 on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, said the draft focused on the methodologies used at the national level to measure the realization of economic, social, and cultural rights.  The draft resolution welcomed the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the initiatives undertaken to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  Portugal hoped that the resolution could be adopted by consensus.

South Africa, speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.7/Rev.1 on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, said it was concerned with the method of selectivity on the language used when addressing issues of economic, social and cultural rights and delinking them from the right to development.  More importantly, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action recognized the right to development, as defined and enshrined in the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development as an inalienable and fundamental human right which placed the individual at the centre and as a beneficiary of development.  Though the resolution underlined the importance of effective remedy for violations of these rights, the notion of justiciability of these rights when determining the best way to give domestic legal effect to the Covenant rights was omitted.  

Action on Resolution on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Situations of Risk and Humanitarian Emergencies

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.8) on the rights of persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States that are not yet party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to take all measures necessary to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters; urges all parties to armed conflicts to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, with regard to the respect and protection of persons with disabilities; calls upon States and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that all international cooperation is inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities; and decides that its next annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities will be held at its thirty-fourth session.  The Council also urges States to consider further integrating and mainstreaming the perspective and rights of persons with disabilities into the work of the Human Rights Council; and requests the Secretary-General to continue the progressive implementation of standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services of the United Nations System.

Mexico, introducing draft resolution L.8 on behalf of Mexico and New Zealand, explained that the resolution recognized that persons with disabilities were often disproportionately affected in situations of risk, including armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters.  It also provided a set of actions, following the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in such situations.

New Zealand, also introducing draft resolution L.8, noted that persons with disabilities were often the first to be left behind in situations of risks.  The resolution took into account matters of international humanitarian law and it was important to recognize them in protecting persons with disabilities in situations of risk and emergencies.  The text was well balanced and contained an appropriate level of prudence.  The draft resolution encouraged a human rights approach to the protection and safety of persons with disabilities. 

Cuba, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed gratitude for the introduction of the initiative which Cuba had traditionally supported.  Cuba’s priority was an inclusive society.  Persons with disabilities had benefited from methodologies from Cuba.  This time, Cuba would not support the text because of paragraphs which upset the balance of the comprehensive approach.  The paragraphs exaggerated a human rights-based approach without balancing them with a social rights approach.  Cuba dissociated itself from certain paragraphs.

Action on Resolution on the Rights of the Child - Information and Communications Technologies and Child Sexual Exploitation

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.9/Rev.1) on the rights of the child - information and communications technologies and child sexual exploitation, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council urges States to take all necessary steps to ensure full, equal, inclusive and safe access, without discrimination of any kind, to information and communications technologies by all children, and safeguard their protection online and offline through an integrated and multifaceted approach based on the rights and wellbeing of children; calls upon States to ensure the legal protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation online and legally define and criminalize all relevant conducts related to the sexual exploitation of children online and offline; and calls upon States to provide fast and effective procedures for the removal or blocking of child sexual abuse or pornographic materials involving children.  The Council urges States to strengthen their international and regional cooperation, among law enforcement services; calls on States to develop a comprehensive, safe, inclusive and empowering approach for children’s online protection in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and also calls on States to adopt and implement sustained and inclusive child-empowering education programmes, providing children, parents, caregivers, teachers and other professionals working with children with basic skills relating to media and information literacy.

Netherlands, introducing draft resolution L.9/Rev.1 on behalf of the European Union, together with the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, noted that protecting children from sexual exploitation, online and offline, was important in order to ensure that children remained safe while at the same time fully benefiting from all that the online world had to offer.  The draft resolution called for States and the private sector to work together to ensure a holistic approach to the enjoyment of the rights of the child through information and communications technologies.  There was a need not only to protect children from potential risks online, but also to enable them to contribute actively to their own protection, notably through the implementation of reporting mechanisms.  

Uruguay, also introducing draft resolution L.9/Rev.1 on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, said that information and communications technologies provided an opportunity for the development of children, but also carried certain threats with them.  The rapid development of such technologies presented a challenge to States, which had the primary responsibility to protect children from sexual exploitation.  After numerous discussions, Uruguay believed that a balanced text had been reached.  There were 85 co-sponsors of the draft resolution. 

South Africa, speaking in general comment, stated that the draft resolution raised key issues of relevance.  South Africa believed that it had to be taken into consideration that not all countries were at the same level of development when it came to information and communications technologies, which should have been reflected in the draft text.  South Africa was concerned that several paragraphs denied the need for a legally binding instrument, which could establish an international standard that would provide legal remedies.  

Action on Resolution on Human Rights and the Environment

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.10) on human rights and the environment, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to adopt and implement environmental and other laws ensuring, among other things, the rights to information, participation and access to justice; to provide for effective remedies for human rights violations and abuses, including those related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; and to take into account human rights obligations and commitments relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment in the implementation and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Council also encourages States to adopt an effective normative framework for the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; and to promote environmental and climate action that is gender-responsive and takes into consideration the vulnerability of ecosystems and the needs of persons and communities in vulnerable situations.

Slovenia, introducing draft resolution L.10, explained that the draft resolution highlighted some of the key substantive elements of the latest reports of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, in particular with respect to possible methods of implementation of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and regarding human rights in the context of climate change.  Taking human rights obligations into account in environmental and climate action would result in both better solutions to environmental challenges, and in improved overall protection of human rights.

Costa Rica, also introducing draft resolution L.10, noted that the resolution took into account the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and sought to contribute to its full implementation.  The argument that the protection of the environment, climate action and the promotion and protection of human rights limited development and economic growth was a myth.  The experience showed the contrary.  Guaranteeing a people-centred approach to development would also result in economic prosperity.  The advancement of the agenda of human rights and environment was not only correct but also more efficient.

Maldives, also introducing resolution L.10, said that as a small island developing State, Maldives faced greater risks from natural disasters and was very vulnerable to the growing threats of the ever changing environment.  The resolution took into account human rights obligations in the context of the environment. 

Bolivia, speaking in a general comment, expressed thanks for the resolution and welcomed the efforts of the co-sponsors, expressing pleasure at the participation of indigenous people and their knowledge and practices.  Capitalist patterns of consumption were the reason the problems under discussion existed.

United Kingdom, speaking in a general comment, said that with the exception of the right to self-determination, the United Kingdom did not accept the concept of collective human rights. 

Action on Resolution on Adequate Housing as a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living, and the Right to Non-Discrimination in this Context

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.11) on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to non-discrimination in this context, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including target 11.1, which outlines the objective of ensuring access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrading slums; and calls upon States to take all necessary measures to eliminate legislation that criminalizes homelessness and to ensure an effective remedy and the right to access to justice for all for violations in the context of the realization of the right to adequate housing.  The Council also calls upon States to take positive measures with a view to preventing and eliminating homelessness by adopting and implementing cross-sectoral strategies that are gender-responsive and based on international human rights law, and calls upon States to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing.

Finland, introducing draft resolution L.11 on behalf of the core group of countries, informed that over 60 countries had co-sponsored the draft resolution.  All human rights were interdependent and mutually reinforcing.  It was too often the case that a person could not enjoy his or her political and civil rights if he or she lacked a home.  The draft resolution called upon States to implement the 2030 Agenda, including target 11.1, which outlined the objective of ensuring access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing.  Finland appreciated the broad support of the Council for this traditionally consensual resolution.  

South Africa, speaking in a general comment, expressed satisfaction that the resolution covered both the aspects of the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to non-discrimination.  The issue of the enjoyment of rights, however, should not be restricted to the responsibility of States parties only.  It was underlined that general rules of  international law were binding for all States.  Non-discrimination and progressive realization were among those universally accepted principles, of which no country should be absolved.  

Action on Resolution on the Right to Food

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.14) on the right to food, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon States, relevant multilateral institutions and other relevant stakeholders, to take all the measures necessary to ensure the realization of the right to food as an essential human rights objective; requests all States and private actors, and international organizations and agencies within their respective mandates, to take fully into account the need to promote the effective realization of the right to food for all; and calls for the conclusion to and a successful, development-oriented outcome of the Doha Round of trade negotiations of the World Trade Organization as a contribution to creating international conditions permitting the full realization of the right to food.  The Council also calls on the private sector, including transnational corporations, to support investment and innovation to help, inter alia, increase small-scale farmers’ participation in markets and agriculture food chains; underlines the importance of effective remedies for violations of the right to food; and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fourth session.

Cuba, introducing resolution L.14, said that the resolution’s title was “The Right to Food”.  Among the topics it tackled was the relation between climate change and food, and the role of women.  In order to have the broadest possible support, an oral revision had been circulated which included adjustments to paragraphs in an effort to cover the wishes of all delegations.

Bolivia, speaking in a general comment, said that rural populations suffered when the right to food was violated, and they were the ones who produced the food in the world.  In a world which could feed more than its population, the draft resolution gave important continuity to the way the issue was dealt with.

Action on Resolution on the Effects of Foreign Debt and Other Related International Financial Obligations of States on the Full Enjoyment of All Human Rights, Particularly Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.16) on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, adopted with a vote of 33 in favour, 12 against and two abstentions, the Council urges States, international organizations and financial institutions to urgently implement financial market reforms in order to combat and prevent financial instability, excessive debt and financial crises; stresses the need for the economic reform programmes arising from foreign debt to be country-driven and for any negotiations and conclusion of debt relief and new loan agreements to be formulated with public knowledge and transparency; and calls upon creditors and debtors alike to consider the preparation of human rights impact assessments with regard to development projects, loan agreements or poverty reduction strategy papers.  The Council also urges States, international financial institutions and the private sector to take urgent measures to alleviate the debt problem of those developing countries particularly affected by HIV/AIDS; and encourages States to explore further avenues for reforming parts of their legal systems with a view to a more equitable taxation system.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (33): Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Against (12): Albania, Belgium, France, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Abstentions (2): Georgia, and Mexico.


Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.16, explained that the draft resolution covered the impact of the economic and financial crisis, and the effects of the austerity measures on human rights.  Inequality could contribute to the occurrence of financial crises.  Cuba regretted that there were still some developed countries that did not recognize a clear relationship between external debt and the enjoyment of human rights.  Other international fora that effectively dealt with the issue of external debt did not have in their mandates the protection of human rights.  It was thus false to argue that the Human Rights Council was not the rights venue to deal with that issue. 

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of vote before the vote, believed that the Human Rights Council should keep a focused approach in its work.  The United Kingdom did not believe that the Human Rights Council was the right forum to discuss foreign debt, and such deliberations duplicated discussions in other fora.

Action on Resolution on the Promotion of the Enjoyment of the Cultural Rights of Everyone and Respect for Cultural Diversity

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.17) on the promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity, adopted without a vote, the Council reaffirms that cultural rights are an integral part of human rights, which are universal, indivisible, interrelated and interdependent; reaffirms that States have the responsibility to promote and protect cultural rights, and that these rights should be guaranteed for all, without discrimination; and calls upon all Governments to cooperate with and to assist the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in the discharge of the mandate.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.17, said it was on the enjoyment of cultural rights for all and thanked the delegations that co-sponsored the draft, which followed up on the work of the Council on the same topic.  Diversity was a key factor of enrichment and strength.  Hopes were expressed that the draft resolution would be adopted, as was tradition, without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.18) on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to undertake initiatives to ensure that persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities are aware of and able to exercise their rights as set out in the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; urges States to review any legislation, policy or practice that has a discriminatory or disproportionately negative effect on persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, with a view to considering its amendment; and also urges States to take adequate measures to address the overrepresentation of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in pre-trial detention or prison.  The Council invites national human rights institutions, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders to regularly engage with Governments to contribute to the eradication of discriminatory practices by law enforcement agencies and/or the judiciary.

Austria, introducing draft resolution L.18 on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities on behalf of a group of countries, said that this year’s draft focused on minorities in the criminal justice system.  In all parts of the world, persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities faced increased exposure to violations of their rights when in contact with the criminal justice systems.  The draft resolution addressed such challenges during all stages of the criminal justice process, from before the arrest through the execution of sentence. 

Action on Resolution on the Role of Good Governance in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.19) on the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council underlines that the primary responsibility lies with States at the national level, including through their constitutional provisions and other enabling legislation to ensure that professional public services uphold the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, and are predicated on good governance principles; invites the Secretary-General to ensure the upholding of the integrity of the United Nations System in its service of humanity, and improved coordination between United Nations agencies, programmes and funds, with a view to ensuring that the United Nations System continues to improve the quality of its work at all levels; and requests the High Commissioner to prepare a compilation of the activities and programmes of the United Nations system that contribute to the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Poland, introducing draft resolution L.19 on the role of good governance in the protection and promotion of human rights on behalf of a group of countries, said the resolution requested the High Commissioner to prepare a compilation of the activities and programmes of the United Nations system that contribute to the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights, including the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.  Poland hoped the Council would adopt this draft resolution by consensus. 

Action on Resolution on the Right to Work

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.32) on the right to work, adopted without a vote, the Council reaffirms  the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his or her living by work which he or she freely chooses or accepts, and that States should take steps to achieve the full realization of that right; further reaffirms that States have the primary responsibility to ensure the full realization of all human rights; and  stresses that the freedom to work, which is included in the right to work, entails the right to pursue professional options under equal conditions without unjustified barriers.  The Council stresses that States should take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment and to tackle any structural barrier to employment opportunities; calls upon States to put in place comprehensive policies and to take measures necessary for the full realization of the right to work; and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare an analytical report on the relationship between the realization of the right to work and the enjoyment of all human rights by women.

Egypt, introducing L.32, said the draft resolution was on the right to work and was a substantive follow-up to a previous resolution.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights had established that everyone had the right to work and to protection against unemployment, among other rights enumerated.  Unemployment still remained a major problem in the world.  The resolution expanded on the challenges facing young people as regards the right to work.  The role of the private sector and protection against discrimination was noted, among other aspects.  Full and productive employment should always respect all agreed standards.  The work of the International Labour Organization was lauded.

Greece, also introducing L.32, expressed gratitude for the contributions from diverse groups of countries.  Despite the accumulated expertise of the International Labour Organization, it was still important that the Human Rights Council was seized of the matter.  The next report would relate to the right to work from a gender perspective. 

Mexico, speaking in a general comment, recognized the right of all persons to have a productive work with dignity and security.  The right to work was not merely understood as the right to a job, but rather as the obligation to protect dignity of people.  The right to work was closely linked to other rights, pursuant to a number of international instruments.  Non-discrimination was crucial in that regard.  Mexico was convinced that creating jobs, especially for those from vulnerable groups, brought numerous benefits in terms of their empowerment.

Indonesia, speaking in a general comment, said that States had the primary responsibility to ensure the full realization of human rights, including progressive realization of the right to work.  The draft resolution stressed that States should take appropriate steps to eliminate structural barriers to women in the labour market.   Productive employment of young people played an important role in preventing the right of violent extremism. 

Action on Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.35) on freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns all forms of violence, intolerance and discrimination based on or in the name of religion or belief; strongly encourages government representatives and leaders in all sectors of society and respective communities to speak out against acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief; and urges States to step up their efforts to promote and protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.   The Council calls upon States to make use of the potential of education for the eradication of prejudices against and stereotypes of individuals on the basis of their religion or belief; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further period of three years; and urges all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur.

Netherlands, introducing draft resolution L.35 on the right to freedom of religion and belief, deplored violence that was perpetrated based on religious belief.  The international community had to be united to promote freedom of thought and conscience.  The resolution strongly encouraged leaders to speak up when these rights were violated.  This resolution extended the mandate for the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for a further three years. 

Russia, speaking in a general comment,  said the draft resolution seemed to refer to the Code of Conduct of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.  It hoped this did not mean that the Special Procedures could interpret the Code of Conduct.

Saudi Arabia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said paragraphs 1 and 13 of the draft resolution were in contradiction with the principles of Islam.  Saudi Arabia Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait had tried to introduce amendments.  They would not support paragraphs 1 and 13 and would communicate a declaration to this effect.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.5) on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, six against, and 14 abstentions, the Council welcomes the cessation of hostilities in Syria and demands that all parties to the cessation of hostilities fulfil their commitments; demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Human Rights Council and the Commission of Inquiry and decides to extend for one year the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry; and calls on the Syrian authorities and all other parties to the conflict to ensure the effective implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014) and 2254 (2015), which strongly condemned the arbitrary detention and torture of civilians in Syria.  The Council also demands that all parties take all appropriate steps to protect civilians, including members of ethnic, religious and confessional communities; demands that the Syrian authorities facilitate, and all other parties to the conflict do not hinder, the full, immediate and safe access of the United Nations and humanitarian actors; and decides to transmit all reports and oral updates of the Commission of Inquiry to all relevant bodies of the United Nations, and recommends that the General Assembly submit the reports to the Security Council for appropriate action.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (27): Albania, Belgium, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Against (6): Algeria, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Russian Federation, and Venezuela.

Abstentions (14): Bangladesh, Burundi, Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Namibia, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, and Viet Nam. 


United Kingdom, introducing draft resolution L.5 on the human rights situation in Syria, said it was essential that the Commission of Inquiry continued its work to document violations and abuses of human rights committed by all parties.  The resolution would extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry for a further 12 months and Syrian authorities were called on to allow full access to the Commission.   The resolution further called for the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to all those in need.  If the resolution was not adopted by consensus, the Human Rights Council would be letting down the very people it was duty bound to protect.

Russian Federation, speaking in a general comment, noted that the political dialogue had begun in Geneva with the mediation of the United Nations Special Envoy and there was a real chance of stopping the bloodshed in Syria.  Unfortunately, the sponsors of the draft resolution L.5 had not noticed that or had been deliberately ignoring it.  They raised accusations and politicized criticism against Damascus.  The draft resolution did not mention the support for the terrorists from the outside.  Despite the fact that the Commission of Inquiry had called for an end to one-sided accusations against the Syrian Government, certain countries had continued to refer to information from biased and unreliable sources.  For those reasons the Russian Federation was categorically against the adoption of the draft resolution L.5.

Netherlands, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, noted that civilians in Syria continued to suffer on a daily basis.  The acts of Syrian Government forces and terrorist groups amounted to crimes against humanity.  The European Union condemned the widespread acts of terror committed by Da’esh.  The Syrian regime remained responsible for wide scale violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.  The European Union called on the regime to release all detainees, especially children and women, and to allow access to humanitarian aid.  It called for the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Switzerland, speaking in a general comment, remained concerned about the grave human rights violations committed by all parties in Syria.  It supported the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry.  However, it regretted the designation of specific actors in the draft resolution L.5.  It recalled that the term “foreign terrorist fighters” in no way defined their status under international law.

Ecuador, speaking in a general comment, said Ecuador invariably condemned human rights violations in any part of the world, regardless of the perpetrators.  It expressed its deep concern over the serious human rights violations in Syria, including torture, killings, abuse of women, and destruction of civilian infrastructure and world heritage.  It condemned these events and expressed solidarity for all victims.  It condemned all actors in the conflict and said impunity was unacceptable.  Ecuador would abstain from the draft resolution. 

China, speaking in a general comment, said its position was clear.  Constructive dialogue had to be held in the field of human rights.  China was not in favour of external inquires.  The Council had to uphold objectivity.  The draft resolution L.5 placed pressure on only one party to the conflict, and its content was out of balance.  It did not help safeguard regional stability.  Therefore China would vote against the resolution.

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said the rhetoric used by the draft resolution about the responsibility of the Syrian Government was a petty broken record of distorted facts, and attempted to cover the sabotage of the United States, France and other involved countries, namely Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel.  The resolution ignored the financing and arming by these States of thousands of terrorists coming from all over the world, and their presentation as a moderate Syrian opposition.  The draft resolution was contradictory to United Nations values.  There should be political solution on the basis of dialogue.  The extension of the mandate made it a victim of politicization of the sponsors of the draft resolution.  Continuing to deny Syria the possibility to protect its citizens as a means to interfere in the internal affairs of Syria did not serve the purpose of human rights.  The draft resolution also neglected all ramifications.  From these reasons, Syria rejected the selective draft resolution and called on all participants to reject it, as it was an example of political motives. 

Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution lacked the most basic balance.  It was an instrument created to maintain territorial advances in Syria.  The draft showed selectivity and double standards, which was typical for country-specific resolutions in the Council.  A peaceful solution needed to be negotiated with respect for Syrian sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

Cuba, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its condemnation of the deaths of civilians in Syria.  Cuba believed that the interventionist agenda should be set aside and serious efforts ought to be put in place to find a solution.  The principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the domestic affairs of States ought to be upheld.  The role of the international community should be to help provide peace and security. 

Algeria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution lacked objectivity and balance.  For those reasons, and other reasons mentioned earlier, Algeria would vote against the draft resolution. 


Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.25) on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns in the strongest terms the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and other human rights abuses committed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; urges the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to acknowledge the human rights violations in the country and to take immediate steps to end all such violations and abuses; and requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to designate, for a period of six months, a maximum of two existing independent experts in support of the work of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to focus on issues of accountability for human rights violations in the country.  The Council also decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 28/22 for a period of one year; and requests the Special Rapporteur to include the report of the group of independent experts on accountability as an annex to his/her report to the Council at its thirty-fourth session.

Netherlands, introducing draft resolution L.25 on behalf of the European Union,  regretted the lack of any constructive cooperation by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with any human rights mechanisms.  The European Union remained deeply concerned by the findings of the Commission of Inquiry on ongoing, systematic and widespread gross human rights violations, which could amount to crimes against humanity.  It was the common responsibility of the international community and of Member States of the Council to ensure that that precarious situation of human rights continued to receive the attention it deserved.

Japan, also introducing draft resolution L.25, reminded that the Human Rights Committee since 2003, and the Council since 2008, adopted every year the resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Japan once again urged the  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage in constructive dialogue with the international community and to take immediate measures to end all human rights violations, including by resolving the issue of international abductions. 

Indonesia, speaking in a general comment, noted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had not extended its cooperation to issues at hand.  It was concerned about the impact of this in the peninsula and reiterated the importance of genuine dialogue.   The silence demonstrated by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its refusal to communicate would potentially lead to a situation that would threaten peace in the region. 

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not present in the room to speak as a concerned country.

Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution was far from the principle of cooperation and instead it promoted hostility towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The country itself should be included so that it could contribute to the improvement of the situation on the ground.  Neutrality and objectivity should be the principles of the Council.

Viet Nam, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stated that the work of the Council should be guided by the principles of objectivity and non-selectivity.  Any balanced measure should be based on a constructive consultation process, while any resolution which did not enjoy the support of all countries concerned could not be supported.  Viet Nam was concerned about the vague nature of some parts of the resolution, especially on the mandate of Independent Experts. 

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, always believed that country-specific issues should be addressed through the Universal Periodic Review.  China was opposed to the principle of naming and shaming.  Instead, cooperation and constructive dialogue ought to be promoted so that the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could be improved.  China disassociated itself from the consensus on the resolution. 

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it could not support the draft resolution since it was not in line with the principles of cooperation between countries.  The Universal Periodic Review was the right format for the discussion of such issues.  It advocated for the establishment of equitable dialogue with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Given the above, the Russian Federation disassociated itself from the draft resolution.

Bangladesh, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its principled opposition against the creation of country specific mandates without the consent of the concerned country.  That position, however, did not reflect its position on the issue of abductions of Japanese nationals, and Bangladesh expressed hope that the issue would solved.

Ecuador, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed its defence of the principles of international dialogue, impartiality and non-selectivity, and disassociated itself from the draft resolution L.25.

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.27) on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 15 against and 11 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a further period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of his mandate to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fourth session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-first session; and also calls upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit access to visit the country, as well as all information necessary to allow the fulfilment of the mandate.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (20): Albania, Belgium, Botswana, El Salvador, France, Germany, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Against (15): Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, South Africa, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Abstentions (11): Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Maldives, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Philippines, and Togo.


The Council rejected a no action motion on L.27 by a vote of 14 in favour, 23 against with nine abstentions. 

Sweden, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, introducing draft resolution L.27, said that the resolution was a short procedural text, aimed at extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, and only technical updates had been made in the text compared to the text adopted in 2015.  The group of countries noted the increased engagement of the Government with the Special Rapporteur, but also urged the Government to facilitate the request from the Special Rapporteur for visits to the country.  Cooperation with the Special Rapporteur offered an opportunity for the Government of Iran to engage with the Human Rights Council on the deep concerns which persisted about the human rights situation. 

Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, said draft resolution L.27 was not constructive and presented at a time when Iran had promoted historic successes and had opened up its diplomacy.  The Islamic Republic of Iran had organised free parliamentary and democratic elections.  One of the most salient items was that women had been elected as Members of Parliament.  Iran was actively committed to the process of the Universal Periodic Review as the mechanism that had been the most effective tool in the promotion of human rights.  Venezuela stressed the need to abandon political motivations that were maintained by the authors of the draft resolution.  These should be substituted by greater awareness of violence and a global coalition against the scourge of terrorism.  Venezuela was opposed to draft resolution L.27 and requested a no action motion for it.  It called on members of the Human Rights Council to support this request.

Netherlands, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, expressed continued concern about the situation of human rights in Iran.  The European Union supported the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, adding that the European Union took note of the increased engagement of the Government of Iran with the Special Rapporteur, and called on the Government to facilitate his country visits.  Draft resolution L.27 was a short procedural text with the purpose of extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one year, and all were invited to join consensus on the text.

Iran, speaking as the concerned country, firmly believed in the need to respect and promote human rights and had adopted a constructive approach, internally and externally.  Iran was actively engaged with the process of the Universal Periodic Review and had fulfilled its obligations because it believed that mechanism was the most appropriate and universal tool for the promotion and protection of human rights for all.  The draft resolution was well cognizant that the draft resolution was not about human rights aims, but an abuse of the integrity and procedures of the Council for narrow political purposes.  The issue of human rights should not be politicized, but should be discussed seriously in an impartial and non-objective approach.

Cuba, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution was a clear example of double standards in line with the now gone Human Rights Commission.  Cuba reaffirmed its clear position against country mandates for countries of the South.  Human rights were not the true motivation for addressing Iran in the Council.  Cooperation and dialogue were the only ways to move forward, and the process had to be owned by the country in question.  Cuba requested that the draft resolution be put to vote and would vote against it.

Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, insisted that the grounds for L.27 did not allow for genuine dialogue or cooperation.  This was an instrument for politicization by powers that insisted on these venues to maintain their aggression and hostility against certain countries.  Venezuela opposed such resolutions which interfered in the domestic affairs of states, even more so when they did not have the approval of the concerned country.
                                                                                           
China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said human rights issues should be discussed in dialogue.  China was against the politicisation of human rights issues, and their use for geopolitical purposes.  It asked participants to recognize the efforts by Iran in the promotion of human rights, and to promote dialogue.  Resolution L.27 ran counter to the aforementioned principles.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it did not support the draft resolution, which was politicized and did not meet the true objectives of international cooperation on human rights.  The existing Universal Periodic Review was the correct mechanism where these issues should be discussed.  Russian Federation welcomed the constructive attitude of Iran to cooperate with the mechanisms of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran was costly and not necessary.  Russia would vote against this draft resolution and called on all States interested in a depoliticized nature of the Human Rights Council to do the same.

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that despite the ongoing challenges in human rights, Iran had found a way to reach an understanding with the international community in order to bring about improvements in human rights. Technical cooperation would have a greater impact, and therefore Mexico would vote in favour of the L.27 with a procedural focus seeking to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. 

Algeria, speaking in an explanation of the vote, said that the resolution was more proof of the instrumentalization of the Council to attack certain countries.  Algeria would vote against the resolution.

Paraguay, speaking in an explanation of the vote, said Paraguay supported the extension of the mandate for the Special Rapporteur, noting Iran’s execution of minors when they were used in trafficking drugs.  Paraguay’s hope was that Iran would broaden its growing openness and continue a frank dialogue.

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in South Sudan

In a resolution (A/HRC/31/L.33) on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns the ongoing human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan;  calls upon all local, regional and international partners to collaborate with and support the processes aimed at achieving the implementation of a sustainable peace; urges the speedy formation of an inclusive transitional Government of national unity to ensure full implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan; and calls upon the Government of South Sudan, as well as the transitional Government of national unity, once formed, to investigate all human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, and to hold those responsible to account.  The Council decides to establish a Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, composed of three members for a period of one year, with the mandate to, inter alia, monitor and report on the situation of human rights in South Sudan and make recommendations for its improvement, and requests the Commission to present a comprehensive written report, in an interactive dialogue, to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fourth session. 

Albania, introducing draft resolution L.33 on behalf of the core group, recognized the efforts made by South Sudan during the negotiations.  The report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights showed that the situation of human rights in South Sudan was horrific and deteriorating, and the scale of sexual violence taking place there was unprecedented.  The draft resolution addressed grave concerned of the core group.  The Council had to create a mechanism that focused on the victims.  The mechanism foreseen in the resolution was an appropriate way to maintain that focus. 

Paraguay, also introducing draft resolution L.33 on behalf of the core group, said that the last report of the High Commissioner on South Sudan proved that the conflict in that country was full of human rights violations.  When the report indicated that there were reasonable indications that those violations and abuses could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, the members of the Council had an obligation to act.  The draft resolution created a human rights commission in charge of verifying human rights violations and helping establish a transitional justice and reconciliation system. 

United States, also introducing draft resolution L.33 on behalf of the core group, stated that the human rights situation in South Sudan was one of the gravest situations that the Human Rights Council was facing.  There was a broad concern at the prevailing violence, widespread sexual and gender based violence and indiscriminate targeting of civilians.  The draft resolution would establish a commission to monitor and report on human rights, which would also engage with other international and regional mechanisms.  

Algeria, speaking in a general comment, said that consultations had been frank and constructive, adding that the draft resolution was perfectly adapted to efforts made internally in the African continent by the African Union and its mechanisms.

Netherlands, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, expressed alarm at abuses committed by all sides which might amount to crimes against humanity.  Not only had there been no progress, but State actors themselves carried responsibility; robust action by the Council was urgently needed.  The resolution reflected the dire situation on the ground.  The Commission would also cooperate with other stakeholders including regional partners.  All parties were called on to cooperate with the Commission and provide unhindered access to the country.

South Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, drew the attention of the Council to the fact that South Sudan had taken positive steps to implement resolution 29/13 and that it had fully cooperated with the Assessment Mission to Improve Human Rights, Accountability, Reconciliation and Capacity in South Sudan.  It assured the Council that the Government would take its primary responsibility to address accountability and reconciliation.  Furthermore, it acknowledged the role played by IGAD, the African Union, IGAD Plus, regional and international partners and friends of South Sudan in bringing the conflict to an end.  It welcomed the adopted resolution and pledged it would cooperate with the Commission of Human Rights for South Sudan in order to undertake its mandate to monitor and assess human rights challenges in the country.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it would disassociate itself from the consensus because it had a consistent position regarding country-specific resolutions.  China supported African solutions for African problems.  China was hoping that a national unity Government would be established as soon as possible.  China would continue to work with the international community on the prosperity and well-being of South Sudan.

Cuba, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, fully trusted in the capacity of African leaders when it came to resolving issues on that continent.  Currently there were more powers joining forces to lend their support to South Sudan in the process of rebuilding the country, which,  as such, should be supported by the Human Rights Council.  South Sudan should be helped with tackling the challenges.  As requested on numerous occasions by South Sudan, an opportunity should be provided for peace efforts and technical cooperation. 

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, as a matter of principle, voiced its opposition to country-specific resolutions and disassociated itself from the consensus. 

Ecuador, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that bearing in mind the position of Ecuador, the country disassociated itself from the consensus of the Council.

Action on Decision on the Commencement of the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review

In a decision (A/HRC/31/L.4) on the commencement of the third cycle of the universal periodic review, adopted without a vote, the Council decides that the third cycle of the universal periodic review shall commence in April/May 2017, once the outcome documents of the last States considered during the second cycle have been adopted by the Council at its thirty-fourth session.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC16/053E