Deputy High Commissioner Presents 14 Thematic Reports by the Secretary-General, and by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and his Office
25 June 2018
The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting heard United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore present thematic reports by the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. It then held a general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.
Ms. Gilmore presented 14 reports and updates covering thematic issues. Three reports provided summaries of Council panel discussions. There was the oral update of the High Commissioner on the report on child, early and forced marriage with a focus on humanitarian settings which showed that out of 20 countries in which the rates of child marriage were highest, seven were currently facing humanitarian crises. There were reports addressing the engagement of men and boys in promoting and achieving gender equality; the activities of the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women; protection gaps in the context of migration and displacement of persons across international borders; contributions of the right to health framework to the effective implementation and achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals; civil society engagement with international and regional organizations; respect by business enterprises for human rights; the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Council; and two reports concerning the Voluntary Fund for Participation in the Universal Periodic Review and the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review.
Speakers in the general debate on all human rights, including the right to development, noted that the notion of selectivity among human rights and regional preferences was damaging to the lofty ideals that the Council stood for. Speakers expressed concern about the poor treatment of migrants, the status of media freedoms both offline and online, the rise in hatred and intolerance, continuing discrimination against women and girls, reflected also in education across the world, discrimination on the basis of religion or belief in educational settings, promoting women’s sexual and reproductive rights, and the negative impact of extractive industries on human rights. They noted that a selective focus and approach towards certain aspects of human rights could only lead to a fragmented implementation of human rights, which was contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Participating in the general debate were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Brazil on behalf of the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative, Venezuela on behalf on Non-Aligned Movement, Australia on behalf of the Freedom Online Coalition Geneva Network, Togo on behalf of the African Group, United Kingdom on behalf of a group of countries, Côte d'Ivoire, on behalf of a group of countries, Bulgaria on behalf of the European Union, Portugal on behalf of a group of countries, Turkmenistan on behalf of a group of countries, Austria on behalf of a group of countries, Kuwait on behalf of Gulf Cooperation Council, Russia on behalf of a group of countries, Australia on behalf of a group of countries, Pakistan, Belgium, Togo, Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Georgia, Japan, Qatar, Libya, Holy See, Netherlands, Iran, Greece, Indonesia, Singapore, Russian Federation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tanzania, Ireland, Argentina, Tonga, Norway, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Morocco, and Maldives.
Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions; Conectas Direitos Humanos; Sikh Human Rights Group; World Evangelical Alliance; Union of Arab Jurists; Christian Solidarity Worldwide; Franciscans International (in a joint statement with VIVAT International); Human Rights Law Centre; China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS); International Save the Children Alliance; Association for Progressive Communications; International-Lawyers.Org; Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale - OCAPROCE Internationale; Center of Action for Rural Development; Liberation; Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee; FIAN International; Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA; International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Prahar; Graduate Women International (GWI); United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation; International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic & Other Minorities; Human Security Initiative Organization; Europe-Third World Centre; Guinea Medical Mutual Association; Organization for Defending Victims of Violence; Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development; Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture; International Muslim Women's Union; Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; Association of World Citizens; Ius Primi Viri International Association; Indian Council of South America (CISA); African Development Association; France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand; World Barua Organization; Association Dunenyo; International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD); World Muslim Congress; Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters; American Association of Jurists; Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme; Iraqi Development Organization; Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc; Alsalam Foundation; European Coordination for Association and Individues for the Freddom of Conscience; United Villages; World Jewish Congress; Il Cenacolo; International Service for Human Rights; International Commission of Jurists (in a joint statement with Dominicans for Justice and Peace Order of Preachers and International alliance of Catholic development agencies); Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi; United Nations Watch; International Educational Development; Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII (in a joint statement with several NGOs1); Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation; European Centre for Law and Justice; Make Mothers Matter; Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme; Global Welfare Association; Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR); Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea; Action of Human Movement (AHM); Society for Threatened Peoples; International Environmental Law Research Centre; Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul; L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie; International Solidarity for Africa; Tamil Uzhagam; Association Thendral; Tourner la page; "Coup de Pousse" Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud (C.D.P-C.E.N.S); Victorious Youths Movement; Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy; Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP); Stichting International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service; Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms "MADA"; International Career Support Association; International Humanist and Ethical Union; Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”.
Brazil, Tanzania, Thailand, India, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Pakistan, Japan, and Qatar spoke in a right of reply.
The Council will next open its agenda item on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, and will hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus Miklos Haraszti, after hearing the presentation of his report.
The Council has before it the Report of UN Women on the activities of the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women - Note by the Secretary-General (A/HRC/38/3–E/CN.6/2018/9).
The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on procedures and practices in respect of civil society engagement with international and regional organizations (A/HRC/38/18).
The Council has before it the Summary of the high-level panel discussion dedicated to the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/38/19).
The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the effectiveness of State-based non-judicial mechanisms that are relevant for the respect by business enterprises for human rights, including in a cross-border context (A/HRC/38/20).
The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the effectiveness of State-based non-judicial mechanisms that are relevant for the respect by business enterprises for human rights, including in a cross-border context - Improving accountability and access to remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuse through State-based non-judicial mechanisms: explanatory notes to final report - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - Note by the Secretariat (A/HRC/38/20/Add.1)
The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the effectiveness of State-based non-judicial mechanisms that are relevant for the respect by business enterprises for human rights, including in a cross-border context - Improving accountability and access to remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuse: The relevance of human rights due diligence to determinations of corporate liability - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/38/20/Add.2).
The Council has before it the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on addressing human rights protection gaps in the context of migration and displacement of persons across international borders resulting from the adverse effects of climate change (A/HRC/38/21).
The Council has before it the Summary of the intersessional panel discussion on the role of local government in the promotion and protection of human rights - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/38/22).
The Council has before it the Summary report on the annual half-day panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples - Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/38/23).
The Council has before it the Review of promising practices and lessons learned, existing strategies and United Nations and other initiatives to engage men and boys in promoting and achieving gender equality, in the context of eliminating violence against women - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/38/24).
The Council has before it a corrigendum to the Review of promising practices and lessons learned, existing strategies and United Nations and other initiatives to engage men and boys in promoting and achieving gender equality, in the context of eliminating violence against women - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/38/24/Corr.1).
The Council has before it the Contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/38/25).
The Council has before it the Operations of the Voluntary Trust Fund for Participation in the Universal Periodic Review - Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/38/26).
The Council has before it the Operations of the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review - Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/38/27).
The Council has before it the Report on How United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms, country teams and agencies can, through effective, coherent and coordinated technical assistance and capacity-building in the promotion and protection of human rights support States in the realization of the 2030 Agenda - Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/38/28).
The Council has before it the Summary report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the high-level panel discussion on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic (A/HRC/38/29).
The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on contributions of the right to health framework to the effective implementation and achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (A/HRC/38/37).
The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus (A/HRC/38/51).
Presentation of Reports
KATE GILMORE, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented 14 reports and updates of the Secretary-General and of the High Commissioner and his Office covering thematic issues under agenda items 2,3,5 and 6. Three reports provided summaries of Council panel discussions on the role of local governments in protecting human rights, on the rights of indigenous people, and on the seventieth anniversary of the United Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action.
Concerning the oral update of the High Commissioner on the report on child, early and forced marriage with a focus on humanitarian settings, Ms. Gilmore said that out of 20 countries in which the rates of child marriage were highest, seven were currently facing humanitarian crises. In conflict settings, such as those affecting the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria, armed groups targeted unmarried women and girls for abduction, captivity, torture, enslavement, sexual and gender-based violence, including sexual slavery, often under the guise of “marriage”. In Kurdistan region of Iraq, marriage was deployed to protect girls from sexual violence perpetrated by Daesh. In Yemen, the onset of the conflict saw at least a 15 per cent increase in rates of child marriage. Marriage was used to afford greater protection in displacement, as shown in case of Rhoyinga girls fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh. In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Uganda, poverty had reportedly led to increased rates of early marriage. In India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami, or in Somaliland and Mozambique during droughts, families resorted to child marriage as a “survival strategy”. To counter such practices, Member States and the United Nations had to provide girls and adolescents with safe spaces, psychosocial and medical services, legal support, and incoming-generating opportunities; engage men, community leaders and family members in awareness raising that marriage in such circumstances was neither acceptable or effective; promote women’s and girls’ access to appropriate protection and accountability mechanisms; and enhance coordination of such programming in humanitarian settings.
A report addressing the engagement of men and boys in promoting and achieving gender equality had set out a number of lessons learned from the experience of the United Nations. United Nations Women had prepared a report covering the activities of the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women. Moreover, there was a report addressing protection gaps in the context of migration and displacement of persons across international borders, resulting from the adverse effects of climate change. Another report on contributions of the right to health framework to the effective implementation and achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals underlined that health was a right itself, essential for the realisation of all other rights in all settings. The report on civil society engagement with international and regional organizations showed that effective functioning of international and regional organizations was inexorably linked with civil society participation.
The report relevant to economic actors addressed the effectiveness of State-based non-judicial mechanisms that were relevant for the respect by business enterprises for human rights, including in a cross-border context. It clarified the ways in which States could strengthen their implementation of Pillar III of the Guiding Principles, which was access to remedy. A report focused on the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Council, including its Universal Periodic Review. It included an update of the Office of the High Commissioner related to capacity building and awareness-raising activities carried out with the Inter-Parliamentary Union. In close cooperation with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Office also conducted a study of that potential. The final two reports concerned two trust funds. First, the Voluntary Fund for Participation in the Universal Periodic Review noted that the participation of States in the process had been universal in no small way thanks to the Voluntary Trust Fund. In complement, the operations of the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review had supported the roll out of the third Universal Periodic Review with an emphasis on the follow up and implementation of recommendations made by international human rights mechanisms. In 2017, nine States had received support from the Voluntary Fund and the Council was seeking to expand the donor base.
General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, noted that all human rights were equal and should be treated with similar focus and attention. The notion of selectivity among human rights and regional preferences was damaging to the lofty ideals that the Council stood for. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called for the equal representation of all regions in the decision-making posts in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretariat, and it expressed serious concern about the rising levels of fascism masquerading as comfortable euphemisms like populism and chauvinistic nationalism.
Brazil, speaking on behalf of the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative, said that food security and nutrition should be understood and analysed through a human rights perspective. The right to adequate food and the right to the highest attainable standard of health were interdependent and mutually reinforcing, and had to be promoted, protected and fulfilled. The Initiative invited all delegations and stakeholders to engage with it to raise awareness, mobilise political support and stimulate other countries to advance in that area.
Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reminded that States had a duty to genuinely cooperate with each other on the basis of constructive dialogue, tolerance and respect for cultural diversity. There existed a delicate balance between civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights. The focus on and a selective approach towards certain aspects of human rights would lead to a fragmented implementation of those rights which was contrary to the United Nations Charter. The realization of all human rights had to take into account the respect for State sovereignty.
Australia, speaking on behalf of the Freedom Online Coalition Geneva Network, expressed concern about the growing trend of State-sponsored Internet censorship, including when conducted in the name of security. Individuals had to be free to communicate and choose freely the means to do so. State sponsored Internet censorship had a significant impact on women and girls and other individuals who may face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. It could deprive those individuals of the core platforms where they accessed educational resources, expressed themselves, and interacted with each other.
Togo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed concern over the poor treatment of migrants, including the refusal of some countries to provide temporary safe haven, even on humanitarian grounds. Human rights had to be extended to all and not just those considered worthy. The African Union was working on a migration framework policy in Africa, tackling certain national and regional challenges. The right to development was underscored by the African Group, as it was essential in breaking the cycle of poverty.
United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that although education was a right for all, enshrined as a core part of the Sustainable Development Goals, 264 million children were out of school and 15 million girls would never have the opportunity to read and write in school, compared to 10 million boys. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults were women. States were called on to place enhanced emphasis on quality education for girls.
Côte d'Ivoire, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that the family was a social, cultural, moral and religious value that had to be celebrated and that had a vital place in society. The family was essential for providing protection, education and full development of a child’s personality. In the context of migration or armed conflict, the family was in danger. There was strong potential to be tapped in the family in poverty eradication efforts and Sustainable Development Goals.
Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, commended the report on procedures and practices in respect of civil society engagement with international and regional organizations, welcoming recommendations to foster effective civil society engagement. The European Union was committed to the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through a rights-based approach. The implementation of the Paris Agreement and the integration of human rights into policy was an imperative.
Portugal, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, recalled that evidence showed that the promotion and protection of health-enabling rights improved health outcomes. Special attention should be given to women and girls, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and persons with mental health conditions. Healthcare services and policies had to meet peoples’ needs and respect their autonomy, dignity, will, and preferences. The need to guarantee universal health coverage and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and vaccines for all was also recognized as a key element for the fulfilment of the right to health.
Turkmenistan, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said the protection of cultural heritage along the Great Silk Road was an important component of the promotion and protection of human rights, including the right of everyone to take part in culture, and the ability to access and enjoy cultural heritage. The Great Silk Road as an ancient network connecting cultures had played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of countries laying along that historical route, opening far-sighted political, economic, and cultural relations between civilizations. The group of countries proposed to add that topic to a two-day workshop to be held in Geneva on the eve of the Council’s forty-fourth session.
Austria, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, expressed concern about the freedom of media and expression both offline and online around the world. Journalists and media workers were being jailed or even killed for doing their work. Shutting down independent media and blocking the Internet were unacceptable practices. Each State had the responsibility to build an environment to enable journalists to perform their work independently. The group of countries welcomed the establishment of a network of points by the United Nations Secretary-General to promote the safety of journalists.
Kuwait, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, reiterated the commitment and support of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Human Rights Council. The Gulf Cooperation Council drew attention to the difficult situation around the world, including the rise in hatred and intolerance, and it recognized the importance of confidence building among States. It also underlined the role of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action in promoting human rights, and it called on all to overcome the obstacles to development, and to cooperate.
Russia, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that incidents of deprivation of nationality, especially discriminatory ones, had been a source of widespread suffering and large-scale statelessness in the past. Unfortunately, the issue remained unresolved to this day. Ongoing efforts made in the field of the reduction of statelessness and combatting arbitrary deprivation of nationality by States were welcomed.
Australia, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, acknowledged that the family was an integral unit of the society and was entitled to protection by the State. Families could be structured in different forms, however, they had to be offered protection by the State in all of their forms. The obligation of the State was to promote and protect the human rights of all individuals, with no discrimination.
Pakistan said that the report on Kashmir highlighted violations of civil, political, economic and cultural rights in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. At the heart of that situation was the negation of the right to self-determination promised not only by the Security Council but also by the first Prime Minister of India. India also endeavoured to subsume the Kashmir struggle for the right to determination as terrorism. Thousands of protestors had been blinded by pallet guns.
Belgium underlined the great importance of women’s human rights. Today, 189 countries had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which could be considered a success. However, no country in the world had successfully eliminated discrimination against women nor achieved full equality. Part of the implementation of the Convention was to timely submit periodic reports to the Committee, unforgettably a considerable number of countries had not done so.
Togo stated that a human rights-based approach in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals could bring a two-fold advantage to States: it could help them better meet their international standards, and it could achieve coherence in State actions across different administrations. Togo invited the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to assist countries in achieving gender equality and eliminate sexist stereotypes.
Republic of Korea welcomed the report on the panel discussion on the role of local governments, which were enablers at the forefront of safeguarding human rights, and were key in making democracy resilient. It further noted that sexual violence in conflict remained persistent and prevalent in many conflict areas around the world. Lessons should be drawn from the question of comfort women as an example of sexual violence in conflict. The Korean Government had officially designated 14 August as the day of comfort women.
Venezuela stressed that the commitment to development necessitated the creation of an international environment favourable to its full realization. The realization of the right to development required coherent policies and measures which respected fundamental rights, peace and human dignity. Venezuela condemned the imposition of unilateral measures against developing countries, in a manner that flagrantly undermined the United Nations Charter and the right to self-determination of peoples.
Cuba said that while it recognized the importance of the participation of civil society organizations in regional and international organizations, it considered that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights did not have the mandate to make recommendations on how States should interact with non-governmental organizations. Each State had its own characteristics and different modalities of cooperation with civil society. The report was a report of the Office and not of some other entity.
Georgia underlined the dire human rights situation worldwide. Human rights defenders and civil society representatives were subjected to repression, intimidation and attacks in physical and online forms, as reported by the High Commissioner. All States were called on to put an end to all forms of reprisals and enable a safe environment for civil society. The situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia remained alarming and the international community was called to be more vocal on that matter.
Japan considered violence against women as a serious violation of human rights. In the international context, under the Development Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Japan had been providing technical cooperation in many fields, including for education for women and girls in developing countries. Through UN Women, Japan had been implementing projects in Africa.
Qatar stressed the long list of suffering brought by the unilateral coercive measures against it. The National Human Rights Commission had recorded 4,000 claims and the Office of the High Commissioner also had a long list of incidents of violations emanating from families. As the pilgrimage to Mecca was approaching, obstacles were being put against all individuals wanting to make their trip to Mecca. The unilateral coercive measures against Qatar were having a profound impact on the social fabric of society.
Libya thanked the High Commissioner for the report and took note of the right to health as well as the right to development within the Sustainable Development Goals. Libya also took note of efforts made for the promotion of gender equality and women’s access to the United Nations mechanisms. Libya was seeking to protect and promote human rights, in line with international human rights standards.
Holy See said it was high time to stop violence against women facilitated by insufficiently protected social networks and various online applications. Increased digitalization had become an instrument to perpetrate new forms of violence and abuse against women, which had resulted in strongly compromising their fundamental human rights. Authentic dialogue was needed to advance the rights of women.
Netherlands said freedom of expression was a vital prerequisite for the functioning of democracy and free societies. Around the world, journalists were exposed to acts of intimidation and violence. The Netherlands remained a fierce supporter of press freedom around the world. Eradicating the practice of early and forced child marriage also remained a priority.
Iran said that developing countries were struggling to achieve welfare and prosperity. While relevant United Nations resolutions mandated the work of the Human Rights Council in an unselective manner, the Council was doing otherwise. Iran called on the Council to accord the right to development the attention it deserved. Iran remained concerned over the negative effects of unilateral coercive interventions.
Greece said that interdependence and indivisibility were the main principles of human rights. Holistic approaches to human rights remained as relevant as ever, including as regards to sustainable development. Greece would continue to work to mitigate the world drug problem and would continue to promote the Olympic spirit. Greece would promote and protect human rights at the domestic and international levels.
Indonesia noted that a selective focus and approach towards certain aspects of human rights could only lead to a fragmented implementation of human rights, which was contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights should be treated on an equal footing with equal attention. Indonesia would continue to advocate for the non-politicization of the Human Rights Council. Discussions about human rights should take place in a constructive, non-confrontationist, objective and non-selective manner.
Singapore reminded that the Organization Management Plan 2018-2021 of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had identified social and economic inequality as a “frontier issue” that needed to be addressed to better protect and promote human rights. Singapore had wrestled with the problem of inequality since its independence in 1965. Inequality remained a key concern and challenge for the Government, which tackled it through a series of policies and programmes, such as a progressive tax system.
Russian Federation reminded that the recent events and allegations made against the Human Rights Council had shown how important it was to uphold mutually respectful dialogue. The Council’s agenda should pay equal attention to all human rights issues, without ranking them. The Russian Federation was worried about the creation of some new human rights, which would create new dividing lines. The Council should strike a balance between reasonably limiting human rights, and ensuring and protecting them.
Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed the High Commissioner’s report on engaging men and boys in promoting and achieving gender equality, and eliminating violence against women and girls. International obligations recognizing the inclusion of men and boys into combatting gender-based violence had been reflected in the policies of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those policies treated men and boys as key allies in the combat against gender-based violence, even though the main work remained, especially in the area of education and promotion of gender sensitivity.
Tanzania said that during the first and second cycle of its Universal Periodic Review, Tanzania had rejected all recommendations on same sex marriage. The laws of Tanzania did not recognize same sex marriage. Homosexuality remained against the laws of the land.
Ireland remained concerned about challenges to civil society engagement, including reprisals and accreditation processes around the world. Ireland appreciated recommendations that States reach out proactively to underrepresented parts of civil society with a view to ensuring the diversity of society. Ireland would continue to highlight the relevance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Argentina said increasing attacks against journalists were associated with authoritarian leaders and were radicalising discourse and polarising societies. The work of journalists must be safeguarded and those who violated those rights must be brought to justice. Freedom of expression was essential in empowering people to participate in the democratic process. The Council must not be silent on the matter.
Tonga said climate change posed an existential threat to small island developing States in the Pacific region. The effects of climate change were worsening and eroding the capacities of States like Tonga to protect their citizens. These effects would hamper such States efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. If unchecked, climate change would lead to the demise of small island States.
Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, in a joint statement, said the mandate and role of national human rights institutions was identified explicitly in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The framework also helped frame the relationship of human rights institutions with national institutions, including domestic courts. There were concerns over the failure of some States to respond to concerns over actions related to business and human rights.
Conectas Dereitos Humanos said 1.6 million Venezuelans had migrated to neighbouring countries. The organization drew attention to the militarization of Brazilian responses to the migration crisis and the imposition of new visa requirements in Chile. States were called on to receive Venezuelan migrants and not to resort to deporting them. Venezuela was called on to provide proper documentation to its citizens.
Sikh Human Rights Group said the highest number of human rights violations were caused by global non-state actors. United Nations bodies must look into the matter. The organization urged the Human Rights Council to look into the use of political eugenics in Canada. Canada had denied entry to Sikhs who had no legal issues in their countries of origin.
World Evangelical Alliance was concerned over the rights of minorities around the world. The restriction of minority rights was being used as a political tool to secure majority support. Approaches seeking to divide populations would not yield positive results. Calling attention to minority issues in India, Nepal and Mauritania, the Alliance said negative perceptions of minorities would hinder the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Union of Arab Jurists reminded that after the entry into force of the two International Covenants on civil and political rights, and on economic, social and cultural rights, some countries had avoided the substance of those two texts and considered themselves above them, taking unilateral measures and financing terrorism. Syria had suffered violations and attempts to starve it and ruin its economy; it fought savage terrorism.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide voiced concern about discrimination on the basis of religion or belief in educational settings, including the psychological and physical abuse of students, and the inclusion of biased content in school textbooks, which left students from minority religious communities isolated and reviled. The organization cited cases from Pakistan and Nigeria.
Franciscans International in a joint statement with VIVAT International, drew attention to the impact of extractive industries, namely palm oil plantations in Indonesia, on human rights. It called on the Government of Indonesia to implement agrarian reforms to ensure protection, respect and fulfilment of the land rights of indigenous peoples.
Human Rights Law Centre noted that as a wealthy nation committed to eliminating discrimination against women, and a Council member, Australia should be a leader in promoting women’s sexual and reproductive rights. It called on the Australian Government to decriminalize abortion and respect women’s right to choose what happened to their bodies and their lives.
China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS) said China had formed a series of laws and regulations to guarantee the rights of women and children of all ethnic groups. Women from ethnic minorities were becoming important forces in the promotion of social development. In Xinjiang, education funding was increasing and so was the number of girls enrolled in schools in the province.
International Save the Children Alliance said girls were often pushed into early marriage in exchange for payments to ease household financial burdens. Save the Children welcomed the African Union decision to establish monitoring mechanisms regarding child marriage. Member States were urged to develop an international database on child marriage in humanitarian settings.
Association for Progressive Communications voiced concern over increasing threats to freedom of expression in online spaces. In Uganda, social media taxes were in place that would stifle freedom of expression and association online, especially among lower-income sectors of society. In Latin America, there was a trend to regulate online expression critical of dominant political actors.
International-Lawyers.Org said migrants often found themselves outside of their own countries in order to flee persecution. Migrants deserved to be protected. Failure to provide such protections constituted a failure of international law. Member States benefited from the work of migrants, including those who arrived at a country forcefully. States must support the human rights of migrants.
L’Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale - OCAPROCE Internationale stressed that development should be understood as the right to exercise civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the absence of any type of discrimination. It voiced concern about the Saharawis in the Tindouf camps who had been living in extreme poverty for 40 years, stripped of all their rights.
Center of Action for Rural Development highlighted the importance of affirming international law, which allowed for debate within and outside countries. Freedom of expression in Morocco was upheld, as exemplified in the growing number of users of social media and networks. At the same time, people in the Tindouf camps were stripped of that right and subjected to persecution.
Liberation drew attention to the fact that India was not interested in hearing expert opinions and that it was ignoring civil society organizations. In the State of Maharashtra, civil society organizations had demanded an official inquiry into corruption in four village councils, to which the Government had not responded.
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee reminded that as early as 1826, the indigenous peoples of Assam had not had any land ownership. It had been estimated that as of 2017, a staggering 90 per cent of the natives did not possess permanent land ownership certificates. In the district of Nagoan in Assam, 70 per cent of the land was owned by non-natives.
FIAN International recognized that non-judicial remedy mechanisms could sometimes regress judicial processes. Collective redress could contribute to the reduction of financial barriers to access such mechanisms. Still, non-judicial remedies could fall short of addressing cross-border issues. Legally binding instruments would help consolidate cooperation in cross-border cases.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA agreed that indigenous communities held great potential. In north-eastern India, issues faced by indigenous communities would be exacerbated by legislation being discussed that would grant citizenship to people from neighbouring states. Indigenous populations in the region had been reduced to a minority as illegal migrants continued infringing on their lands.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation said every State must be aware of the diversion of a migrant rescue vessel from Italy to Spain. Such action would mislead the public over the true nature of humanitarian assistance. All migrants were entitled to the full range of human rights. The international community must not overlook the rights of those prepared to embark on risky journeys in search of safer lives.
Prahar informed the Human Rights Council of discrimination against indigenous people in north-eastern India in Assam and other states. Migration from neighbouring states was greatly affecting indigenous populations in the region. The influx of migrants had resulted in the economic instability of indigenous populations. The organization urged the Council to protect the rights of indigenous populations.
Graduate Women International said that education was one of the greatest losses incurred by child marriage, yet one of its most promising resources. If child marriage continued, over 150 million girls worldwide would be married by 2030. States were invited to address the lingering dissonance between child marriage policies and girls’ secondary education as a means to end child marriage.
United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation reminded that the Council’s resolution from 2015 addressed the adverse impact that corruption had on human rights worldwide. The effects of corruption were a serious violation of human rights, undermining fundamental freedoms. Corruption decreased investment and encouraged fraud. The international community was called on to support efforts to combat corruption.
International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities drew attention to the extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Turkish State forces and its paramilitary forces against the majority Kurdish people in the south-east of Turkey. In 2015, 320 and in 2016, 594 Kurds were victims of extrajudicial executions. The lack of any investigations showed that the Turkish State had promised impunity for such killings.
Human Security Initiative Organization was dealing with the negative effects of climate change and violations of human rights. The Council and States were called on to establish headquarters which would investigate human rights violations and reach peaceful solutions, as well as empower communities in order to prevent military conflicts.
Europe-Third World Centre said that despite good intentions, the report of the High Commissioner on the responsibility of companies to uphold human rights had missed its mark. It had attributed too much importance to non-judicial mechanisms, and it had not attributed specific responsibility for human rights abuses to transnational corporations.
Guinea Medical Mutual Association highlighted the wish of the Sri Lankan people to live in peace and harmony with all peoples, including the Tamils. There were high-ranking Tamil officials in the political and military ranks of Sri Lanka.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence drew attention to the massive onslaught against the population of the Hodeida province by the Saudi-led coalition, displacing thousands of civilians. Yemeni and African migrants travelled dangerous routes in the Hodeida province, whereas the Red Cross had been expelled.
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development noted that all human beings had a responsibility for individual and communal development, and should create an appropriate environment for development, such as respect for international law and cooperation among States in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture said Bahrain continued violating human rights, with restrictions being imposed on freedom of expression. Many people had been deprived of their nationality while detainees were subjected to sexual violence. People remained under detention without being presented with charges. The group called on the Human Rights Council to pressure Bahrain to respect human rights.
International Muslim Women’s Union said the people of Jammu and Kashmir continued to be the victims of rape at the hands of Indian forces. Sexual violence was used to silence dissidents in the region. Recently, an eight-year-old girl was raped and dismembered after being kidnapped by special security forces. Rape and murder were persistently used by the occupying power.
Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that recent peaceful protests in Iran had been met with attacks by police forces. Several protesters had been killed or sentenced to long jail terms. In Iran, defence lawyers were arrested and sentenced to imprisonment as a result of defending their clients and exercising the right to freedom of expression. The independence of judges was also gravely violated in Iran.
Association of World Citizens said that an Imam in Iran had brought several cases of rape to the attention of local authorities. The country’s Attorney General said such cases were not possible. City authorities also dismissed the allegations, saying the incidents were not really rape.
Ius Primi Viri International Association drew the Council’s attention to the situation in Yemen where flagrant gender-based discrimination continued. Legislation granted total hegemony to men. The international community had to provide assistance and political solution to end horrific conditions in Yemen.
Indian Council of South America (CISA) noted that human rights defenders were branded as terrorists simply for protesting against colonial governments, transnational corporations and business enterprises. In Bolivia, protests continued as indigenous people were subjected to exploitation. Alaska and Hawaii continued to protest against illegal occupations as they existed as sovereign territories.
African Development Association said that the Tindouf camps had become a theatre of sweeping operations of torture, leading to systematic and grave violations of human rights. Crimes were committed in the presence of Algerian authorities and on its territory, although they were supposed to be defending civilians, in line with international agreements. The decision of Algerian authorities to surround camps with militia to ensure that no one left had resulted in suffering in silence and enforced disappearances.
France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand had called the attention of several Special Rapporteurs over the years to systematic violations of the human rights of Sahrawi people in Western Sahara, occupied by Morocco. Illegal Moroccan colonisation was denounced, as well as the persisting violation of the right to development of Sahrawi people and the illegal exploitation of resources which had been done in complicity with the European Union.
World Barua Organization drew attention to the lack of investigation of extrajudicial killings in the State of Manipur in India. The local governments had also failed in the State of Assam. The organization urged the Human Rights Council to demand swift action from India, and a visit by Special Procedures to that country.
Association Dunenyo drew attention to the suffering of thousands of Saharawis, who could not live forever on humanitarian aid, without full right of movement and the right to return home to Sahara. Morocco and Algeria had been disputing over that territory since 1975. The organization called for parties to the dispute to guarantee those refugees dignity in housing, healthcare and education, and the right to freedom of expression and movement.
International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) reminded that the Yemeni population had been living in an ongoing civil war for more than four years. A large number of children were not going to school and did not have access to clean water or adequate sanitation. Establishing a ceasefire agreement until a political solution was reached was essential to protect and save the lives of many innocent children.
World Muslim Congress requested that all Member States support the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate the human rights situation of Jammu and Kashmir in India. It also requested the Council to declare all human rights defenders from Jammu and Kashmir as internationally protected persons.
Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters drew attention to recent United Nations reports on Jammu and Kashmir. Authorities in the region were using rape as a tool to silence the population. The Indian Government continued to protect the perpetrators of sexual abuses and all attempts to seek justice had been denied. The Council was urged to establish a commission of inquiry on the matter.
American Association of Jurists said the International Monetary Fund’s policy to cut State spending and disregard the lives of vulnerable populations was contributing to increased migration. The social protection floor initiative could mitigate vulnerability and as a result reduce migration. However, financial institutions lacked the will to put human beings at the centre of their policy making.
Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme had been delighted to see the Human Rights Council adopt a resolution on the Rohingya crisis. Minorities across the world were forced to flee their homes as a result of religious persecution. States were urged to uphold the rights of persons from minority groups, including through the adoption of legislation to protect such groups.
Iraqi Development Organization said the authorities in Bahrain continued to deny detainees access to health services. Prisons were crowded and violent. Prisoners were denied access to medical care and medication. Human rights defenders under detention were also being denied medical care. A detainee in a woman’s prison was recently threatened for requesting the care she required.
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc warned about the situation in Bahrain concerning freedom of expression, both online and in print media. The authorities had declared that harsher punishments would be exercised against those using the Internet to exercise their freedom of expression. Newspapers had been closed, including the last few independent ones, and security forces had arrested a photographer who was working on a story about the situation in Bahrain.
Alsalam Foundation raised concerns over the human rights situation and freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia. In September 2017, the authorities had arrested several clerics for calling for reconciliation with Qatar. Bloggers, journalists and writers were also repeatedly arrested. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had to release detainees.
European Coordination for Association and Individuals for the Freedom of Conscience shared deep concern over violations of freedom of religion in the Russian Federation. There was an increasingly dangerous atmosphere of religious intolerance regarding minority faiths, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, members of the Church of Scientology, Hindus, Evangelical Christians, Muslims, followers of Said Nursi, Falun Gong practitioners and others.
United Villages said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had been continuously promised the right to self-determination but were repeatedly denied this right. Instead, the response came in the form of extra-judicial killings, arson, use of pellet bullets, and rape and torture of women. The report of the High Commissioner observed that the right to self-determination had to be upheld. A commission of inquiry on Jammu and Kashmir had to be formed.
World Jewish Congress reminded that in June, hundreds of thousands of persons around the world had mobilized to celebrate the right to be different. Yet many minorities continued to be persecuted, such as the Rohingyas in Myanmar and the Christians in the Middle East. The international community should redouble efforts to guarantee a better future for all minorities.
Il Cenacolo stated that women had become vital stakeholders in Morocco. On the other hand, Saharawi women in the Tindouf camps in the south of Algeria suffered from the harshest physical and psychological abuse, perpetrated by a handful of leaders. Saharawi women were victims of sexual abuse and early marriage.
International Service for Human Rights noted that affording space to civil society was not optional; it was a right. Reprisals against civil society were counterproductive and they undermined the effectiveness of the United Nations system. The organization called on the President of the Human Rights Council to ensure the full cooperation of countries with the United Nations Special Procedures.
International Commission of Jurists in a joint statement with Dominicans for Justice and Peace Order of Preachers and International alliance of Catholic development agencies urged all States to participate actively in the process of ensuring that business enterprises respected human rights. The next stage was to step up the international community’s response. Many individuals and communities continued to see their rights abused without any real avenue for remedies.
Associaiton pour l’intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi said that the Government of Assam in India had for years granted citizenship to illegal immigrants in the region. Such efforts were unconstitutional attempts to undermine the current National Register of Citizens process and were further marginalizing the indigenous populations of the region.
United Nations Watch said the withdrawal of the United States from the Human Rights Council had sparked the debate of whether the Council was fulfilling its duties. While the Council had recently been presented with first hand stories of rights abuses in many countries, some Council members, it had failed to enact a single resolution or call a single urgent debate on such abuses.
International Educational Development echoed calls for the people of Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination. The organization raised concerns over the plight of minorities in Sri Lanka and in Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic. After decades of rights abuses at the hands of Government forces, exercising the right to self-determination was the only viable option for the Hmong people of Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic.
Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII in a joint statement with several NGOs1 said it was crucial to develop the principle of solidarity. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action asserted the universality of human rights. There was a need to combat selectivity being exercised by certain countries in the field of human rights. The right to development was a universal and inalienable human right.
Pasaumai Thaayagam Foundation expressed great concern regarding Sri Lanka’s failure to respect human rights, despite resolution 30/1. Sri Lanka had denied non-Sinhalese individuals their right to truth and justice. For nearly 500 days, hundreds of Tamil women had been protesting and demanding to know the truth about their family members who had been taken by the Government.
European Centre for Law and Justice drew the Council’s attention to the blasphemy laws in Iran. Since the introduction of these laws, there had been over 1,000 cases of blasphemy registered, over 50 people had been extra-judicially killed by angry mobs, and 40 people were serving life sentences or were waiting for the carrying out of a death penalty. The Council had to investigate blasphemy laws in Iran.
Make Mothers Matter wanted to highlight the role of mothers in changing social norms regarding masculinity. The elimination of discrimination against women started at home, in the family. Social cohesion and gender equality started with the transmission of fundamental values upon which human beings constructed themselves. The educational role of parents was crucial, including as role models.
Conseil International de Soutien à des Procès Equitables et aux Droits de l'Homme noted that there were still hundreds of persons detained in Western Sahara by Morocco for political reasons. Sahrawi activists and people calling for self-determination, journalists covering protests and students were all locked up. Fair trial did not exist so the Council was asked to exert pressure on Morocco to free these political prisoners.
Global Welfare Association said that safeguarding human rights was the most complex task nowadays. It was difficult to discern who the perpetrators were and who the victims were. Citizens of Sri Lanka had been targeted brutally by terrorists for years. Some members of the Human Rights Council had encouraged separatism in Sri Lanka by supported several resolutions. Either Sri Lanka should withdraw from the Council, or fight for justice.
Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) reminded that the United Nations Security Council had passed various resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir that had called for a free and impartial plebiscite to allow the Kashmiris to determine their future by themselves. But India had continued to dodge the implementation of those resolutions, resulting in massive human rights abuses.
Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea noted that the Sri Lankan authorities had rehabilitated thousands of former members of the Liberation Tigers Tamil Eelam, thus demonstrating the effectiveness of the peace and reconciliation process. The people of Sri Lanka refused any proposal for new constitutional reforms.
Action of Human Movement (AHM) drew attention to enforced disappearances in the north and east of Sri Lanka taking place at the very end of the civil war. A United Nations working group had confirmed that there was torture in secret camps across Sri Lanka, but it had failed to ask where the victims had been transferred to.
Society for Threatened People said it had been over a year since the Chinese Government had started forcing Uyghur people into political indoctrination camps, which represented an attempt to socially re-engineer an entire segment of society. Over the last year, only Canada had raised the issue in the Human Rights Council, said the organization, stressing a moral responsibility of States to address the matter.
International Environmental Law Research Centre welcomed the attention given to gender and human rights defenders in relation to the work of transnational corporations, and drew attention to threats against human rights defenders who voiced concern over the activities of Canadian companies abroad. States must provide a safe environment for women human rights defenders, and all States must engage in active negotiations on this issue.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said the Tamil people in Sri Lanka were awaiting their access to justice in the wake of the military campaigns by the Government which had been characterized by human rights violations. Their right to self-determination had been recognized internationally, and had also been endorsed by the International Court of Justice.
L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie said evidence of torture against the Tamils had been uncovered by United Nations representatives, and said that the Government of Sri Lanka was denying the Tamils their fundamental right to self-determination through occupation, land grabs and torture. L’Observatoire demanded an international investigation into the genocide of the Tamils.
International Solidarity for Africa said that the Tamils in north-east Sri Lanka still faced many threats by the Sri Lankan occupying army, including widespread enforced disappearances which, when conducted systematically, were considered a crime against humanity under international law and the Rome Statute. Such practices were indicators of an ongoing genocide against the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Tamil Uzhagam drew the Council’s attention to brutal discrimination, injustice and repression of the Tamils by the Government of Sri Lanka, including the 2009 genocide. The Human Rights Council should undertake an independent investigation into the genocide and atrocities unleashed against the Tamils in Sri Lanka, and render justice to the Tamil victims of genocide.
Association Thendral said that the Indian Government had unleashed violence on the people of Thoothukudi City in Tamil Nadu State. The people had been protesting against the pollution by a United Kingdom-based multinational corporation for over two decades. In 2018, fresh protests broke out after a proposal for the expansion of a plant, to which the police responded by opening fire using live ammunition without any prior warning, killing 13 people and injuring over 100 protesters.
Tourner la page said that over 11,000 citizens of the Republic of Macedonia had sent an urgent appeal to all mandate holders as well as to the Council, calling for an immediate end of the heinous agreement signed on 17 June between Greece and “Macedonia”. The agreement aimed to change the name, language, history and the ethnic and national identity of the “Macedonians”. It violated basic cultural rights and the right to self-determination of 15 million “Macedonians” across the world, representing a crime against humanity, and a genocide in the making.
"Coup de Pousse" Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud ( C.D.P-C.E.N.S) said that Morocco had launched inclusive development models in the seven provinces of the country with the aim to create 1.2 million jobs by 2021 and more than 20,000 small economic units. However, young people in the Tindouf refugee camps continued to suffer rights violations, exclusion and marginalization, and had become targets of drug and human traffickers, and were also easy recruits for armed groups.
Victorious Youth Movement drew attention to the fact that 100 per cent of Moroccan youth enjoyed access to primary education. Health indicators were comparable to global averages. Fundamental rights in the country were a reality, including in the Sahara region where women were represented in political bodies.
Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said Cameroon had blatantly refused to implement the recommendations made to it by the Human Rights Council. As a result, the human rights situation was deteriorating on a daily basis. The military was killing unarmed civilians and had destroyed a number of villages. This had resulted in forced migrations to neighbouring countries.
Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP) expressed deep concern regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in Tunisia. The organization drew attention to present obstacles to transitional justice. Government entities continued to impede the development of justice mechanisms. The Council was urged to closely monitor transitional justice mechanisms in Tunisia in order to guarantee their success.
Stichting International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service said that ancestral medicine was protected under articles 24 and 31 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Proper implementation of the duty to consult was particularly relevant for the protection of traditional medicine. States and indigenous people were invited to join the activities during the next session of the organization in July.
Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” said that Israel had adopted a policy of misinformation which represented a great threat for journalists in Palestine. Journalists were recently targeted in Gaza while Israeli soldiers were not prosecuted for crimes against humanity which they had committed. Civilians who did not constitute any threat were targeted by snipers.
International Career Support Association said that parental child abductions were becoming a serious human rights violation in Japan. Japanese courts tended to grant parental custody to the parent, who kept the child, even if the parent forcefully removed the child away from the other parent. This system was abused by many divorce lawyers for their own monetary benefit, promoting divorce at all costs.
International Humanist and Ethnical Union said that sexual and gender minorities were often a common target and a scapegoat for populist leaders and governments. Populist leaders were further backed up by religious lobbies. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were represented as a danger to public health and the traditional family. Such rhetoric had been also used by some of the members of the Council.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” called for the protection of the freedom of expression and movement of Julian Assange who faced a defamation campaign led by the Government of the United States. Washington and the United Kingdom called for freedom of expression in certain countries yet failed to grant those freedoms to Mr. Assange.
Right of Reply
Brazil, speaking in a right of reply, said that Brazil had welcomed the visit by the Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations in 2015 and acknowledged the significant challenges resulting from the Fundão dam collapse. Legal proceedings were underway, with people charged on criminal and environmental grounds to ensure accountability. On migration, the Brazilian military was offering logistical and administrative support, under the guidance of the federal committee, while international agencies praise policies that Brazil had adopted in this regard.
Tanzania, speaking in a right of reply, reassured the Human Rights Council that Tanzania was governed by the rule of law and in compliance with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Freedom of expression and the right to seek, receive and disseminate information were clearly guaranteed by article 18 of the Constitution. Tanzania explained that restrictions could be exercised only when media freedoms impinged on the rights of others, and when their activities were in contravention of the laws of the land.
Thailand, speaking in a right of reply, responded to a misleading statement made by a civil society organization on an issue pertaining to business and human rights, and reiterated its firm commitment to the protection of the rights of migrant workers and the elimination of all forms of labour exploitation and forced labour. Thailand had firmly demonstrated that commitment by ratifying in June the International Labour Organization’s Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, and by taking steps to register and regularize the status of more than 1.6 million undocumented migrant workers. Finally, Thailand had invited the Working Group on business and human rights for a visit, which reflected the Government’s openness and willingness to engage with the United Nations mechanisms.
India, speaking in a right of reply, rejected Pakistan’s statement as a fallacious and tendentious piece of disinformation and said that Pakistan sounded like a broken record in its attempt to deflect attention from its own dismal situation and human rights problems. It should be a matter of deep concern to the Council that the report undermined the United Nations-led consensus on terrorism and in fact legitimized terrorism by referring to the United Nations-designated terrorist entities as “armed groups” and calling terrorists as “leaders”. The Council could not be oblivious of this attempt to legitimize terrorism. What was portrayed as the right to self-determination in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, was actually State-sponsored cross-border terrorism. The right to life was constantly violated from constant cross-border incursions from the territory of Pakistan, which also financed a number of terrorist groups.
Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, said that it was a common understanding that the comfort women were victims of sexual violence in the armed conflict. This issue was beyond the bilateral nature between the two countries. The Republic of Korea, together with the international community, would do everything to restore the dignity and honour of victims.
Saudi Arabia, speaking in a right of reply, said that Qatar had tried to trigger international reaction during the political crisis, and reiterated that the blockade had been adopted by four countries, since Qatar was assisting terrorists threatening the stability of Saudi Arabia and these other countries. The blockade would end once Qatar stopped sponsoring terrorists. Saudi Arabia urged Qatar to look within itself and find reason. Concerning the pilgrimage, there was a coordination meeting where all parties were asked to participate. Qatari pilgrims would go to the pilgrimage and would be able to use Qatari airway flights.
China, speaking in a right of reply, said that the achievements of its human rights development had been recognized by everyone. China had adopted a host of policies to promote the stability, development, harmony and well-being of its people, while countering secessionist efforts, and protecting national security and the integrity of lives. As a result, people felt much safer and were more satisfied with the current level of social stability. Ill-grounded statements made by some non-governmental organizations were “but mere lies” and sought to undermine social stability, said China.
Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, said that India’s baseless accusations could not hide its crimes against humanity in Kashmir or prevent Pakistan from voicing its support for Kashmiri people. India could not unilaterally alter the status of Jammu and Kashmir, recognized as a disputed territory by the Security Council resolutions and the international community. Raising the issue of India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir and its human rights violations did not represent an interference in India’s affairs or an infringement of its national sovereignty. India could not hide behind global concerns of terrorism each time the issue of human rights violations in Kashmir was raised, said Pakistan, noting that at the heart of instability there were India’s own policies which had converted the entire occupied territory into a large prison. Pakistan called for strengthening of the United Nations military observer group to monitor the line of control, whose mandate India objected to, and for the creation of a commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Kashmir.
Japan, speaking in a right of reply, responded to the statement made by the Republic of Korea, noting that Japan had been making serious efforts to settle the issue of comfort women. Japan reminded that both Governments had come to an agreement, and that the issue had been irreversibly resolved.
Qatar, speaking in a right of reply, noted that the measures taken against Qatar went against peaceful relations among countries and said that the blockade had led to numerous human rights violations of the Qataris. The measures targeted people based on their links with Qatar, and as such were discriminatory and inhumane. No conclusive proof had been found of Qatar’s support for terrorism. Violating human rights while fighting terrorism was in itself illegal. Many Qatari people had been unable to go to Saudi Arabia to perform their pilgrimage.
India, speaking in a second right of reply, rejected the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as fallacious and tendentious. Pakistan was in illegal occupation of part of India, and it supported terrorist networks. India said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed ample democracy, while in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, they suffered killings, enforced disappearance, persistent persecution and harassment.
Pakistan, speaking in a second right of reply, said that regrettably India continued to follow the expected path, and stressed that the High Commissioner’s report on the human rights situation in Kashmir deserved serious attention. India had to objectively look at its failure in Kashmir, consider the report’s recommendations, and accept the Commission of Inquiry.
1Joint statement on behalf of: Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII; International Educational Development; Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco; International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development VIDES; Congregation of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations
For use of the information media; not an official record