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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATES ON FREEDOM OF OPINION AND EXPRESSION, MINORITY ISSUES, TORTURE AND FOREIGN DEBT
Adopts 16 Texts, Including on International Cooperation, Justice for Children, Countering Terrorism, and Privacy in the Digital Age
27 March 2014

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted 16 texts in which it extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Independent Expert on minority issues whose title became Special Rapporteur on minority issues, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.

The Council also adopted texts on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; the integrity of the judicial system; access to justice for children; the protection of human rights while countering terrorism; the promotion and protection of the right to privacy in the digital age; the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights; the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to the countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights; ending violence against children; the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights; freedom of religion and belief; the right to food and the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

In a resolution on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further period of three years.  It also adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the Independent Expert on minority issues for a period of three years as Special Rapporteur on minority issues. 

The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for a further period of three years.  It also decided to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, for a period of three years.

In a resolution on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, the Council requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a study on the ways and means to enhance international cooperation in the field of human rights.  A resolution on the integrity of the judicial system requested the High Commissioner to convene an expert consultation for an exchange of views on the issue of the administration of justice through military tribunals and the role of the integral judicial system in combating human rights violations. 

Concerning access to justice for children, the Council decided to focus its next full-day meeting on the theme of "Towards better investment in the rights of the child".  It decided to convene at its twenty-seventh session a panel discussion on the promotion and protection of the right to privacy in the digital age in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance, with a view to identifying challenges and best practices.

A resolution on the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights requested the High Commissioner to organize a panel discussion on a human rights-based approach to good governance in the public service.  On violence against children, the Council decided to convene a panel discussion on ways and means of accelerating global efforts to end this, with a particular focus on how to better prevent violence and protect children as a global priority and a cross cutting concern. 

Texts were also adopted on the protection of human rights while countering terrorism; the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to the countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief; the right to food; and the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

Introducing texts were the United States, Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Russian Federation, Austria, Greece on behalf of the European Union and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, Poland, Ethiopia on behalf of the African Group, Tunisia, Algeria, Portugal, Denmark and Cuba.

Speaking in general comments were Italy on behalf of the European Union, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Speaking in explanations of vote were Italy on behalf of the European Union, the United States, Japan and Costa Rica.

The Council will resume its work at 9 a.m. on Friday, 28 March to continue to take action on draft resolutions and decisions before closing its twenty-fifth session.

Action on Resolutions and a Decision 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 Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.2/Rev.1) on freedom of opinion and expression: mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further period of three years; urges all States to cooperate fully with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his or her tasks; requests the Special Rapporteur to submit an annual report to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly covering all activities relating to his or her mandate, with a view to maximizing the benefits of the reporting process .

United States, introducing draft resolution L.2 Rev.1 on freedom of opinion and expression, said that this would extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for another period of three years.  Given the importance of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the resolution recognized that the effective exercise of this right was a critical component for the enjoyment of other human rights and fundamental freedoms, and constituted a fundamental pillar of any democratic society.  The resolution also urged all States to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in carrying out this important mandate. 

Italy, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, commended the United States for its transparent negotiations on this very important resolution.  Freedom of opinion and expression represented one of the European Union’s priorities and was indispensable for individuals’ dignity and fulfilment.  It also constituted a pillar of democracy, rule of law, and peace and stability, and States had the obligation to protect and promote freedom of opinion and expression as a prerequisite for the enjoyment of other human rights.  The European Union fully supported the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and fully supported its renewal. 


Action on Resolution on Enhancement of International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.3) on enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council urges all actors on the international scene to build an international order based on inclusion, justice, equality and equity, human dignity, mutual understanding and promotion of and respect for cultural diversity and universal human rights, and to reject all doctrines of exclusion based on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to seek to enhance dialogue with representatives from non-traditional donor countries with a view to broaden the donor base and replenish the resources available to both funds; and re-emphasizes its request to the Advisory Committee to prepare, in consultation with States, a more focused and in-depth study on the ways and means to enhance international cooperation in the field of human rights and to submit a progressive report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-sixth session.

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement introducing draft resolution L. 3 on enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, said that the draft resolution was a reflection of the joint commitment to promoting international cooperation as set forth in the United Nations Charter and Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, for enhancing genuine cooperation among Member States in the field of human rights which should be based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue in all relevant forums, including in the context of the Universal Periodic Review, as a mechanism based on cooperation and constructive dialogue with the objective, inter alia, of improving the situation of human rights on the ground.  It reaffirmed that the promotion, protection and full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms should be guided by the principles of universality, non-selectivity, objectivity and transparency and enhancement of international cooperation, in a manner consistent with the purposes and principles set out in the Charter.  It urged all actors on the international scene to build an international order based on inclusion, justice, equality and equity, human dignity and universal human rights.

Venezuela, in a general comment, expressed full support for the draft resolution.  In the context of the current economic crisis as a result of neoliberal policies and wanton capitalism, there was a need to act today through the strengthening of international cooperation, which was crucial to achieve the aims of the United Nations and properly promote and protect human rights.  Genuine cooperation in all the relevant fora such as the Universal Periodic Review had to strengthen the ability of States to abide by their obligations as far as human rights were concerned.  Venezuela had made international cooperation and solidarity one of its prevailing priorities in its legal machinery. 

Italy, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, expressed appreciation for the transparent process and open discussions led by Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement on the draft resolution.  The European Union was pleased to engage actively and constructively in the process.  It considered international cooperation as an essential element of its external relations.  At the same time, other principles governing its relations had to be fully respected. The primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights lay within the State.  International cooperation had to be viewed in conjunction with those of the State.  It should neither substitute national efforts in promoting and protecting human rights, nor be a condition for guaranteeing human rights.  The European Union was not convinced that the Advisory Committee’s study was the appropriate format for these issues; Member States should transfer this responsibility to the relevant expert body. 

Action on Resolution on the Integrity of the Judicial System
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.5) on integrity of the judicial system, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 1 against and 19 abstentions as orally revised, the Council calls upon States to ensure that the principles of equality before the courts and before the law are respected within their judicial systems; requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene prior to the twenty-eighth session of the Human Rights Council an expert consultation with the participation of representatives of States, the special procedures,  as well as non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions for an exchange of views on human rights considerations relating to the issues of administration of justice through military tribunals and the role of the integral judicial system in combating human rights violations;  and further requests the High Commissioner to present a summary of the discussions held during the expert consultation to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-eighth session.


The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (27): Algeria, Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

Against (1): United States of America.

Abstentions (19): Austria, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Maldives, Montenegro, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and United Kingdom.


Russian Federation, presenting draft resolution L.5 on the integrity of the judicial system, underlined the necessity for States to ensure the integrity of the judicial system as a condition for guaranteeing its independence and impartiality.  The integrity of the legal system was of particular importance to ensure a proper investigation on cases of torture and enforced disappearances.  The Russian Federation hoped that this draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.  This would send a clear message that all States had to ensure due access to justice to all their citizens. 

Venezuela, in a general comment, welcomed the draft resolution, which recognized the right to effective remedies and access of everyone to justice without any discrimination.  Venezuela had become a State where the rule of law prevailed and whose supreme values proclaimed life, justice, solidarity and social responsibility, and the pre-eminence of human rights over everything.

Cuba, in a general comment, said the aim of the resolution was to promote the principles of the integrity of the justice system as reaffirmed by many resolutions.  Cuba supported the resolution’s request for a consultation between experts to be convened, pertaining to the administration of justice through military courts.  Cuba urged all delegations to support the draft resolution and to ensure that it be adopted with the support of all members of the Council.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it remained fully committed to the goal of strengthening the judicial system and referred to the different mechanisms through which judicial independence was guaranteed in the United States.  The delegation, however, highlighted a number of concerns with the resolution and said it would vote against it.

Italy, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of European Union Members of the Council, said that a competent, independent and impartial judiciary was essential for the protection of human rights.  While European Union Members of the Council had participated in the negotiations in good faith and presented proposals, they regretted that most of their proposals had been ignored.  There were also concerns regarding the budgetary implications raised by many States, which were not answered.  Apart from the aim and content of the resolution, the European Union was concerned by the fact that the main sponsor was, at present, showing disregard for the rule of law and international law.  For these reasons, European Union Members of the Council would abstain.


Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Independent Expert on Minority Issues

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.8) on the mandate of the Independent Expert on minority issues, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the current mandate holder as a Special Rapporteur on minority issues for a period of three years, and requests the Special Rapporteur to, amongst others, submit an annual report on his/her activities to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly, including recommendations for effective strategies for the better implementation of the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities; and calls upon all States to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of the tasks and duties mandated to him/her and to seriously consider responding promptly and favourably to the request of the Special Rapporteur to visit their countries in order to enable him/her to fulfil his/her duties effectively.

Austria, introducing draft resolution L.8, on the mandate of the Independent Expert on Minority Issues, said that it had traditionally been the main sponsor of the resolution on the rights of persons belonging to minorities.  This session a resolution had been tabled to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on minority issue for another period of three years as Special Rapporteur.  With the present draft, Austria wished to continue the strong engagement of the Council on this important topic as well as the consensual approach able to be taken so far.  The draft text focused mainly on the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert.  It reflected recent developments with regard to the work of the mandate holder.  It also referred to the necessity of giving due consideration to the rights and situation of persons belonging to minorities in the elaboration of post-2015 development agenda and in future development goals.

Action on Resolution on Access to Justice for Children

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.10) on access to justice for children, adopted without a vote, the Council calls on States to take steps to remove any possible barriers to children's access to justice and to strengthen child rights monitoring, reporting, complaint and accountability systems; urges States to systematically integrate children's access to justice; decides to focus its next full-day meeting on the theme of "towards better investment in the rights of the child"; invites the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on that issue, to present it to the Council at its twenty-eight session, to inform the annual day of discussion on the rights of the child; and requests the High Commissioner to circulate a summary report on the next full-day meeting on the rights of the child.

Greece, introducing draft resolution L.10 on behalf of the European Union and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, said that children and adults must enjoy an equal level of judicial protection.  The right to an effective remedy for rights violations must not be denied to anyone, and certainly not to the most vulnerable.  It was therefore crucial that children, too, enjoyed access to justice, and that they were protected from any further hardship when seeking remedies.  The draft resolution called for measures to be taken by States to protect children from abuse and potential secondary victimization in their access to justice.

Uruguay, also introducing the draft resolution, said that the best interest of the child had been one of the motivations of this resolution to advance in the effective promotion of rights within the framework of existing legal standards.  Uruguay recognised the contribution of the mandate holders, as well as the Office of the High Commissioner, other United Nations bodies and non-governmental organizations.  The draft resolution spoke about the need to establish sensitive mechanisms under international standards.

Japan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported efforts to promote and protect the human rights of children.  Japan was a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  However, it was difficult to accept operative paragraph 8 (g) of the draft resolution.  At the same time, Japan supported the overall intent of the resolution.


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

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.11) on protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, adopted without a vote, the Council urges States to ensure that measures taken to counter terrorism are not discriminatory, and to not resort to profiling based on stereotypes founded on ethnic, racial, religious or any other ground of discrimination prohibited by international law; calls upon States to safeguard the right to privacy in accordance with international law; calls upon States to ensure that any measure taken or means employed to counter terrorism, including the use of remotely piloted aircrafts, comply with their obligations under international law; and urges States to undertake prompt and impartial fact-finding inquiries whenever there are plausible indications of breaches of their obligations under international human rights law and to ensure accountability.

Mexico, introducing draft resolution L.11, said that this text contained actions and concrete tasks to make progress in the protection of human rights while countering terrorism, and preserved the balance achieved by previous resolutions.  The draft addressed the rights of victims of terrorism as an organic part of policies to counter terrorism that protect and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Due process should not be exclusively adhered to at home and the resolution requested the Special Rapporteur and the High Commissioner to assess, in the context of the United Nations, the proceeding for the creation of lists and entities in the combat of terrorism and the basic guarantees that must be respected.  In this context, Mexico emphasised the need for fair proceedings and due process in the context of the Security Council’s consolidated list.  The resolution also addressed three key topics, the right to privacy, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, and accountability and the rights of victims.

Action on Decision on Panel on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age

In a decision (A/HRC/25/L.12) on a panel on the right to privacy in the digital age, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene, at its twenty-seventh session, a panel discussion on the promotion and protection of the right to privacy in the digital age in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance, with a view to identifying challenges and best practices; requests the High Commissioner to organize the panel discussion ensuring multi-stakeholder participation, and to prepare and submit a summary report on the panel discussion to the Council at its twenty-eighth session.

Brazil, introducing draft decision L.12 on a panel on the right to privacy in the digital era, said that the text had received 63 co-sponsors from different regions.  The draft decision represented a step further in a process that started with the organization of a side event in the margins of the twenty-fourth session of the Council and the adoption of resolution 68/167 by the General Assembly, followed by an expert seminar that took place in Geneva last February.  Through this draft text the Council decided to convene a panel at its twenty-seventh session on the right to privacy in the digital age with a view to identifying challenges and best practices and to discuss the report that would be prepared by the High Commissioner at its twenty-eighth session.  It was imperative to examine how international human rights law could be effectively implemented to ensure the protection of privacy in the context of digital communication.  It was also important to assess the extent to which domestic and extraterritorial surveillance, interception of communications and data collection could infringe on an individual’s right to privacy.

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.13) on the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the High Commissioner to organize at the thirtieth session of the Human Rights Council a panel discussion on a human rights-based approach to good governance in the public service; to prepare a report on the panel discussion in the format of summary report and to present to the Council at its thirty-first session; and invites the Secretary-General to ensure the upholding of the integrity of the United Nations system in its service of humanity, and improve coordination between United Nations agencies, programmes and funds.

Poland, introducing draft resolution L.13, said that good governance was a broad concept and was related to various aspects of life.  The core group believe that there was a strong link between good governance and the improvement of the human rights situation, and that the existence of food governance positively affected peoples’ lives by strengthening the promotion and protection of their rights.  This draft was a follow-up to the corresponding resolution at the Council’s nineteenth session and was based on its consensus language.  It envisaged a sequence of steps, including a panel discussion at the Council’s thirtieth session, and the preparation of a report by the Office of the High Commissioner, which would be presented to the Council at its thirty-first session.
 
Action on Resolution on the Negative Impact of the Non-Repatriation of Funds of Illicit Origin to the Countries of Origin on the Enjoyment of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.14) on the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to the countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights, and the importance of improving international cooperation, adopted by a vote of 33 votes in favour, 2 votes against, and 12 abstentions, the Council urges States to consider establishing an intergovernmental working group on the negative impact of illicit financial flows on the enjoyment of human rights, to further explore policy responses to the phenomenon, and to consider the possibility of elaborating a comprehensive international treaty on tax evasion, profit sharing by multinational companies, and limiting the ability of secrecy jurisdictions to facilitate illicit financial flows.  The resolution requests the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt to undertake a further study analysis on the negative impact of illicit financial flows on the enjoyment of human rights in the context of post-2015 development agenda, and to present the study to the Council at its twenty-eighth session.
 

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (33): Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Against (2): Japan, and United States of America.

Abstentions (12): Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Republic of Korea, Romania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and United Kingdom.
The results of the vote were as follows:


Ethiopia, introducing draft resolution L.14 on the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to the countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights and the importance of improving international cooperation on behalf of the African Group, said the resolution underlined the central role of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in facilitating the repatriation of the proceeds of corruption-related crimes and stressed the need for universal adherence to the Convention and for its full implementation.  It expressed alarm at cases involving the proceeds of corruption-related crimes that involved vast quantities of assets, which may constitute a substantial proportion of the resources of States, the deprivation of which threatened the political stability and sustainable development of those States and had a negative impact on the application by States of the maximum available resources to the full realization of all human rights for all.  It also recognized that domestic legal systems were essential in preventing and combating corrupt practices and the transfer of assets of illicit origin and in returning such assets, and asserted the urgent need to repatriate illicit funds to countries of origin without conditions. 

Tunisia, also presenting the resolution, welcomed the openness of the main sponsors of this resolution.  Tunisia attached great importance to the repatriation of illicit funds, which were a factor of economic and social stability.  The decision by the European Parliament of May 2013 on the repatriation of illicit funds had had a negative impact on the recovery of funds by Tunisia.  Tunisia believed that the Council could discuss this matter as it was indeed a human rights issue.  The non-repatriation of funds prevented people from truly enjoying their own wealth and property.  It deprived people of their chance to establish transitional justice and national reconciliation.  Tunisia expected that members would vote in favour of this text.  

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this resolution addressed a matter that was outside the scope of the Council.  The resolution failed to include reference to the conclusions of the Open-Ended Working Group on Asset Recovery and other international mechanisms.  It also failed to take into account the complexity of the issue.  The United States would therefore call for a vote and vote against this draft resolution. 

Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, appreciated the fact that a number of proposals had been accommodated in the text by the main sponsors.  On substance, the European Union reiterated its principled view that the resolution under consideration covered issues that exceeded the mandate and expertise of the Human Rights Council.  While corruption undoubtedly affected the enjoyment of human rights, its effective elimination lay rather in the sphere of criminal law, including at the international level.  The European Union did not agree that a human rights approach to these issues should always be the primary objective.  The fight against corruption was an end in itself.  There was preference for a clearer recognition of the fact that the United Nations Convention against Corruption was the legal framework governing asset recovery.  The European Union could not support the resolution and its Member States that were Members of the Council would abstain on the text. 

Action on Resolution on Ending Violence against Children

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.15/Rev.1) on ending violence against children - a global call to make the invisible visible, adopted without a vote, the Council strongly condemns all forms of violence against children and reaffirms that they are unjustifiable and preventable; urges States to protect children from all forms of violence or abuse in all settings, to give priority to prevention and to raise awareness on the negative effects of violence against children; decides to convene at its twenty-seventh session a panel discussion on ways and means of accelerating global efforts to end violence against children, with a particular focus on how to better prevent violence and protect children as a global priority and a cross cutting concern, and to share best practices in this regard; and requests the High Commissioner to organize the panel discussion and to prepare a  summary of the discussions for presentation to the Council at its twenty-eight session.

Algeria, introducing draft resolution L.15/Rev.1, said that the resolution dealt with the important issue of violence against children, none of which could be justified but all of which could be prevented.  Eliminating violence against children required resolute action.  It was a matter of strengthening the work of the Council, as an intergovernmental organ, to contribute to different United Nations bodies.  The draft resolution provided for a debate in the context of the Council’s twenty-seventh session to offer a space to address these questions, including means for preventing and combating violence against children as a transversal and global question, and sharing good practices and national experiences in this field.
 
Costa Rica, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, appealed to the non-fragmentation of issues and to non-duplication.  This was an ad-hoc initiative, therefore Costa Rica would support it.  Any follow-up to the panel would have a consequence on what the Committee on the Rights of the Child would do in the future. 


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

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.16) on the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon all States that have not yet signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to consider doing so; and requests the Secretary-General to continue to prepare and submit to the Human Rights Council an annual report on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights under Agenda Item 3, with a special focus on the importance of social protection floors for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.

Portugal, introducing the draft resolution L.16, said that this omnibus resolution reflected the latest developments in the area of economic, social and cultural rights and underlined the importance of an effective remedy for their violations.  The draft resolution also called on the United Nations Secretary-General to focus his 2015 report on the importance of social protection floors for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.  It also welcomed the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in May 2013 as a step forward to strengthening the promotion and protection of those rights worldwide.  Portugal then introduced oral revisions to this draft resolution.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, was pleased to join consensus on this resolution and had engaged to work constructively  with other delegations in this important area.  The United States, however, was concerned about certain points.  As the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights provided, each State party undertook to take steps set out in Article 2.1  The United States interpreted this resolution’s references to the obligations of States as applicable only to the extent that they had assumed such obligations, and with respect to States parties to the Covenant, in light of its Article 2(1).  The United States was not a party to the Covenant and the rights contained therein were not justiciable as such in the United States.  The United States regretted the introduction of language on the right to development in this resolution and stressed that the Council itself was not the agreed venue for the international community to reach consensus on the post-2015 development agenda and nothing in this resolution should be construed as pre-determining it. 

Action on Resolution of Freedom of Religion or Belief

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.19) on freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns all forms of violence, intolerance and discrimination in the name of religion or belief as well as any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence; also condemns violence and acts of terrorism, which are increasing in number; urges States to ensure that their constitutional and legislative systems provide adequate and effective guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief; to make use of the potential of education for the eradication of prejudices against and stereotypes of individuals on their religion or belief; and requests the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to report annually to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

Greece, introducing on behalf of the European Union draft resolution L.19, said that acts of violence and discrimination against persons based on their religious beliefs continued to be perpetuated in different parts of the world.  The text urged States to step up efforts to protect and promote freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, and made clear that every individual had the right to have and to adopt a religion of his or her choice, as well as to not have a religion.  The draft resolution deliberately did not single out neither adherents of a specific religion or belief, or people of a specific region, as there could be no hierarchy of religions or beliefs, or of victims of violence, discrimination and violence.


Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Torture

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.25) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for a further period of three years; and urges States to respond favourably to the Special Rapporteur’s requests to visit their countries; to adopt a victim-centered and gender-sensitive approach in the fight against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and to become parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as a matter of priority.

Denmark, introducing draft resolution L.25, said that the resolution renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture for a period of three years on the basis of a robust mandate.  The mandate holder could conduct country visits, study trends, and make recommendations and observations, identifying and promoting best practices to combat torture and related practices.  States were requested to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur.  The resolution addressed the question of reprisals and updates had been made to ensure a strong text as well as coherence between the Council and the General Assembly.  Finally the resolution also urged the Special Rapporteur to adopt a victims approach on his or her work towards the prevention of torture. 

Action on Resolution on the Right to Food

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.26) on the right to food, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council expresses deep concern that the number of hungry people in the world remains unacceptably high and that the world food crisis continues to have serious consequences for the poorest and most vulnerable people; the Council calls for 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; calls upon all States and, if appropriate, relevant international organizations to combat the different forms of malnutrition as a means to realize the right to adequate food and to take measures to combat the irreversible effects of chronic under-nutrition in early childhood; urges States to give adequate priority in their development strategies and expenditures to the realization of the right to food; and requests the Special Rapporteur on the right to food to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution during the Council’s twenty-eighth session. 

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.26 on the right to food, said that the draft was the outcome of a broad-based process of consultations.  It gave continuity to the treatment of this right within the Human Rights Council and reaffirmed the firm position of the majority of the international community against the scourge of hunger.  Cuba had held two rounds of open and informal consultation with all interested parties, as well as bilateral consultations with interested parties.  It was hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted with the support of all members of the Council.

Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, acknowledged the constructive spirit in which Cuba had led the consultation process on the resolution on the right to food and appreciated the efforts of the main sponsor to take into account some of the concerns that were raised.  However, as in the previous year, concerns remained regarding the content of the now preambular paragraph 15, which it continued to consider as being inaccurate.  The causal linkage proposed in the paragraph was a simplification, which did not live up to the underlying claim of the resolution as well as the ambitious standard of the right to food and its realization, which required appropriate consideration of the complexity of all issues concerning food security.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that hunger and malnutrition had devastating consequences.  Maintaining a focus on global food and nutrition security was essential to realize a vision of a world free of hunger and malnutrition.  In joining the consensus on the resolution, the United States reiterated its consensus to address a variety of ways of addressing the issue.  However the United States reiterated that States were responsible for implementing their human rights obligations.  It did not concur with any reading of the resolution that would suggest that States had any extraterritorial responsibilities with regards to the right to food.   

Action on Resolution on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.27) on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, adopted by a vote of 30 in favour, 14 against and 3 abstentions as orally revised, the Council urges all actors of the international scene to build an international order based on inclusion, justice, equality and equity, human dignity, mutual understanding and promotion and respect for cultural diversity and universal human rights; and requests the  Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the twenty-seventh session of the Council.


The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (30): Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

Against (14): Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Republic of Korea, Romania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, and United States of America.

Abstentions (3): Chile, Mexico, and Peru.


Cuba, presenting draft resolution L.27 on the promotion of a democratic and equitable order as amended, said that this issue was increasingly important in a world with so much unfairness in trade, markets and economies.  Countries of the south continued to suffer from exclusion of the global economic order.  This resolution benefitted great support from developing countries.  A just, democratic and equitable democratic order was a fundamental condition for the realization of all human rights, including the right to development. 

Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, welcomed this draft resolution and fully agreed with its humanist content.  The international community had to change the way it was thinking and seeing things in order to achieve a democratic and equitable order.  Venezuela deplored foreign domination and neo-colonialism that were currently happening in the world and were in opposition with the ideal of a world of peace and equality. 

Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it was necessary to continue to work towards a democratic and equitable order.  However, as expressed previously before the Council, the European Union considered that many elements in the text moved far beyond the scope of the Human Rights Council, and were not dealt with in a consistent manner.  Furthermore, aspects related to the protection and promotion of human rights at the national level were overlooked by the resolution.  Also, the European Union did not see a real will to change the text during negotiations.  Therefore, the European Union could not support the resolution and European Union Member States who were members of the Council would call for a vote and would vote against it. 

Action on Resolution on the Independent Expert on the Effects of Foreign Debt on the Full Enjoyment of all Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.28) on the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, adopted by a vote of 30 in favour, 14 against and 3 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert for a period of three years.  It calls upon governments and urges international organizations, international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to cooperate fully with the Independent Expert and requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all necessary resources for the fulfilment of his mandate.  The resolution requests the independent Expert to report regularly to the Council and the General Assembly in accordance with their respective programmes of work, and decides that the Council will continue its consideration of this matter during its twenty-eighth session. 


The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (30): Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

Against (14): Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Republic of Korea, Romania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, and United States of America. 

Abstentions (3): Chile, Mexico, and Peru.


Cuba, presenting draft resolution L.28 on the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, said that indebted people’s economic, social and cultural rights were affected by foreign debt.  Cuba regretted that developed countries did not recognize the impact of foreign debt on human rights and did not support the mandate of the Independent Expert.  The Human Rights Council was clearly an appropriate forum to discuss this issue. 

Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, welcomed this draft resolution and said that foreign debt should not become an obstacle for people to enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights.  Guiding principles on foreign debt and human rights had to be created to ensure that all fully enjoyed their fundamental freedoms.  Venezuela would vote in favour of this resolution. 

Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that they continued to believe that it was important for the Human Rights Council to maintain a focused approach in carrying out its mandate to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights and address situations of human rights violations.  In its view, the Council was not the correct forum for discussion of government resources for the realization of human rights obligations by States.  The European Union appreciated the issue of unsustainable foreign debt and would actively pursue continued discussion of such issues in the appropriate fora.  However, it believed that this resolution fell outside the mandate of the Council and duplicated work done in other international organizations.  Therefore, it could not support the resolution, and its Member States that were Members of the Council called for a vote and would vote against this initiative. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC14/054E