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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS SIX RESOLUTIONS, INCLUDING ON SYRIA, EXTENDS MANDATES ON BELARUS AND ON ERITREA

Requests Two-Day Global Consultation on Business and Human Rights
6 July 2018

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted six resolutions, including on Syria.  It extended for one year the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on Belarus and on Eritrea.  It also requested the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises to convene a two-day global consultation on the role of national human rights institutions in facilitating access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses.

The Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus for a period of one year, with a vote of 19 in favour, six against and 21 abstentions, and requested the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the situation of human rights in Belarus to the Council at its forty-first session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea was extended for a period of one year, without a vote.  The Council requested the Special Rapporteur to submit and present a written report at its forty-first session, and to engage in an interactive dialogue with the General Assembly on her report at its seventy-third session.

On business and human rights, the Council requested the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises to convene a two-day global consultation on the role of national human rights institutions in facilitating access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses, open to all stakeholders, and to inform the Council by its forty-fourth session as appropriate. 

Turning to the human rights situation in Syria, the Council decided by a vote of 26 in favour, five against and 15 abstentions, to urge all parties to the conflict to comply with their respective obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  The Council also demanded that all parties refrain from carrying out attacks against the civilian population and civilian objects and that all parties work towards a genuine political transition based on relevant United Nations resolutions.

In a resolution adopted on the matter of peaceful protests, the Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a thematic report on new technologies and their impact on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests, and to submit it at its forty-fourth session.

Through the terms of a resolution on civil society space, the Council decided by a vote of 35 in favour, none against and 11 abstentions to request the High Commissioner to prepare a report on progress made in improving civil society engagement with international and regional organizations and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its forty-fourth session.

Speaking in introduction of draft texts were Switzerland, Russian Federation, Ireland, Tunisia, China, Norway, Austria on behalf of the European Union, Djibouti, Somalia, and United Kingdom.

Belarus, Eritrea and Syria took the floor as concerned countries.

Switzerland, Slovakia on behalf of the European Union, Egypt, Pakistan, Panama, Belgium, China, Chile, Ecuador, South Africa, United Kingdom, Australia and Venezuela spoke in general comments.

Australia, Georgia, Switzerland, Germany, Peru, Chile, Tunisia, Belgium, China, United Kingdom, Panama, Egypt, Iraq, Slovakia, Brazil, Senegal, Cuba, Venezuela, Pakistan, Qatar, Slovakia on behalf of the European Union, Ecuador and Mexico spoke in explanation of the vote before or after the vote.


The Council will next continue taking action on resolutions and decisions before closing its thirty-eighth session.


Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development

Action on Resolution on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protests

In a resolution (A/HRC/38/L.16) on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon States to promote a safe and enabling environment for individuals and groups to exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of association; encourages all States to give due consideration to the compilation of practical recommendations for the proper management of assemblies based on best practices and lessons learned; urges all States to avoid using force during peaceful protests, to ensure that, where force is absolutely necessary, no one is subject to excessive or indiscriminate use of force.  The Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a thematic report on new technologies, including information and communications technology, and their impact on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests, and to submit it to the Human Rights Council prior to its forty-fourth session; and … in preparing the thematic report, to draw from the experience of treaty bodies and to seek the views of States and relevant partners. 

Switzerland, introducing draft resolution L.16 as orally revised, said that the draft resolution benefited from trans-regional support.  It concerned a very topical issue in view of the increasing number of peaceful protests, which perhaps reflected a global crisis of representative democracy.  Everything had to be done to protect human rights during peaceful protests.  The main goal was to review the obligations of States in that respect.  The draft text contributed to the better understanding of the obligations of States to protect human rights in the context of peaceful protests.  In its operative parts, the draft resolution requested a report from the High Commissioner for Human Rights on new technologies and their impact on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of assemblies and protests.  The draft text also included operative parts on the use of force and non-lethal weapons during peaceful demonstrations.

Russia, introducing amendment L.26, said that peaceful protests were seen as a realization of the constitutional right of freedom of expression.  Individual and collective labour disputes were recognized by the Russian Constitution.  While agreeing with the spirit of the resolution, the right to freedom of assembly was not an absolute right.  The State had to provide limits, as did international conventions which envisaged possible derogations from the right to protest.  Peaceful protests should not be followed by attempts to violate the law.  For that reason, Russia was introducing amendment L.26.

Switzerland, expressing the position of sponsor States, said they were against the amendment so they would ask for a vote on amendment L.26.

Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said the ability to protest peacefully was a cornerstone of a free and democratic society.  The ability to freely assemble was crucial to creating a pluralistic society.  Draft resolution L.16 built on resolution 25/38 and 31/37 and was based on the joint report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.  This joint report represented a compilation of practical recommendations for the proper management of assemblies.  The implementation of the resolution would require deliberate steps of States to facilitate peaceful assemblies.

Egypt, in a general comment, noted the importance of peaceful protests as one of the most important human rights.  Egypt recognized its role, value and relevant safeguards, and was conscious of challenges of managing assemblies everywhere.  It agreed with most tenets of the draft resolution.  However, a number of its concerns remained unattended, particularly the responsibilities of protesters, imprecise and unilateral interpretation of the right to peaceful assembly, and an unbalanced approach to ensuring accountability for all abuses perpetrated by protesters and law enforcement personnel.  Egypt regretted that those concerns had not been addressed, but it was ready to continue discussions with the co-sponsors accordingly.

Pakistan, in a general comment, joined the consensus in favour of the draft resolution.  As a functioning democracy with a vibrant civil society, Pakistan deeply valued the freedom of opinion, expression and assembly.  In the same spirit, Pakistan had constructively and positively participated in the negotiations leading up to the draft resolution.  Disability caused by the use of force during peaceful protests was an important element of the draft text, and Pakistan referred to injuries incurred in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where the security forces had not given any warning before firing pellets.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had made clear recommendations with respect to Jammu and Kashmir, namely an immediate end to the use of pellet firing.  The passing of the draft resolution by consensus would send a message of hope to all victims. 

Panama, speaking in a general comment, thanked the delegations of Switzerland and Costa Rica for their leadership during the drafting process.  As a co-sponsor of the text, Panama recognized that peaceful protests could assist in building more responsible societies.  Many protests were being held worldwide.  There were still many abuses of the right to protest and the text illustrated efforts that States had to undertake to protect and manage peaceful protests, building on the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.  The orally revised text reflected the consensus obtained from constructive dialogue and the sponsors had made a huge effort to accommodate everyone’s concerns.

Belgium, speaking in a general comment, strongly supported the resolution.  The right to freedom of peaceful assembly allowed for the ability to participate in political democratic processes and signalized active citizenship.  Belgium joined the consensus in adopting this resolution.

China, in a general comment, said that vandalism and violence were increasingly seen during protests.  Peaceful protests should take place within States’ legal frameworks, and protesters should not destroy public property and endanger other citizens’ rights.  Freedom of opinion and expression could not take precedence over other rights.  The draft resolution was still not balanced as it failed to explain that peaceful protests should take place within legal frameworks, and because it failed to strike a balance between the rights and responsibilities of protesters.  Accordingly, China would disassociate itself from the draft resolution.

Action on Amendment L.26

Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it could not support the inclusion of the proposed amendment.  States had responsibilities to manage protests and any shift to the responsibility of organizers should be rejected.  Such a development had to be rejected so that peaceful protests could continue to play a critical role in the development of just societies.  Organizers were key stakeholders with which States should engage to ensure the proper management of assemblies.  Australia called on all Member States to vote against the amendment.

Georgia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that amendment L.26 aimed to shift the responsibility from the State to the organizers of protests and it went against the principle of individual liability.  Organizers could not be held accountable for other people and it would justify practices that were against international law.  Georgia strongly opposed amendment L.26 as it would serve to restrict the right to peaceful assembly.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that smooth gathering during protests depended on the overall management, including the behaviour of law enforcement actors but also protesters.  It was up to the State to manage this in line with human rights standards.  Organizers could not be held responsible for illicit behaviour of other people, as that would go against individual criminal responsibility.  Amendment L.26 stood against what could be expected in peaceful protests so States were called to vote against.

The Council then rejected amendment L.26, by a vote of 14 in favour, 23 against and eight abstentions.

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.16, as orally revised, without a vote.

Action on Resolution on Civil Society Space: Engagement with International and Regional Organizations

In a resolution (A/HRC/38/L.17/Rev.1) on civil society space: engagement with international and regional organizations, adopted by a vote of 35 in favour, none against and 11 abstentions as orally revised, the Council urges States to fulfil their obligation to respect and fully protect the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all individuals, online and offline as applicable; to take all steps necessary to prevent threats, attacks, discrimination, arbitrary arrests and detention or other forms of harassment, reprisals and acts of intimidation against civil society actors, to investigate any such alleged acts, to ensure access to justice and accountability; notes the intention of a group of States to undertake a stocktaking exercise in the run-up to the forty-first session of the Human Rights Council, to examine the progress made to date in improving civil society engagement in international and regional organizations … and invites States and other stakeholders, including the Office of the High Commissioner and civil society, to participate in this exercise.  The Council requests the High Commissioner to prepare a report on progress made in improving civil society engagement with international and regional organizations and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its forty-fourth session.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (35): Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Against (0)

Abstentions (11): Burundi, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Ireland, introducing draft resolution L.17/Rev.1 as orally revised, stated that globally the space for civil society was challenged and was shrinking.  Civil society actors continued to face threats, attacks, reprisals and acts of intimidation.  The issue of civil society space was vital in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and it was clear that it must be addressed as a human rights concern.  The draft text was a carefully balanced one.  It took a practical and constructive approach to the operative outcomes.  It captured the challenges faced by civil society and the value and importance of their contribution, with a particular focus on regional and international organizations. 

Tunisia, also introducing draft resolution L.17/Rev.1 as orally revised, noted that the role of civil society was paramount in promoting and protecting human rights.  To do so, civil society needed an enabling and safe environment.  The draft resolution was based on the previous Council resolutions on the subject.  Civil society must occupy a special position in order to be able to participate with national and international organizations to positively and effectively protect human rights.  The diversity of participation of civil society would reflect the position of the voiceless and would bring forward their concerns.  Those were important aspects of the draft resolution.  Tunisia urged all Member States of the Council to adopt the draft text by consensus. 

China, introducing amendments L.37, L.38, L.39, on behalf of a group of countries, including Russia and Pakistan, said it believed that civil society organizations had to fulfil their responsibilities and facilitate their participation.  Orally revised L.17/Rev.1 resolution shill had shortcomings.  Seeing how the concerns of the group of countries were not incorporated, these States were submitting amendments.  The group of States had withdrawn L.36, which suggested including social and economic rights as well as the right to development in the paragraph that concerned political rights.  Concerning amendment L.37, civil society had to ensure that the channelling of their financing was transparent.  Amendment L.38 said that civil society organizations had to avoid political motives when participating in regional or international organizations and they had to abide by the United Nations Charter.  The main consideration of L.39 was concerning a controversial report on civil society participation and it was suggested to delete reference to it.

Chile, in a general comment on behalf of the sponsors, noted that the proposed amendments ran against the heart and purpose of the draft resolution.  They would undermine the very essence of the draft text and would also water down legal frameworks.  Chile regretted the submission of those amendments, despite all efforts of the sponsors to accommodate different views.  On behalf of the sponsors, Chile rejected those amendments and asked for a vote on each amendment. 

Slovakia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said that it remained a staunch supporter of civil society, which played a crucial role at local, national, regional and international levels to achieve the goals of the United Nations.  Civil society ensured that international discussions and decisions were informed by what was happening on the ground, and that a full range of perspectives were heard and that expertise was provided to the decision-making processes.  The draft resolution was the result of a transparent, open and engaging negotiation process by the main sponsors.  The European Union was thus pleased to support the draft resolution, and it would vote against any amendments and called on others to do the same.

Pakistan, in a general comment, thanked the Core Group.  Pakistan’s flourishing civil society contributed to global efforts, working in different sectors.  Civil society had to adhere to international legal frameworks.  Also, when participating in regional or international organizations, civil society had to abide by the United Nations Charter.  The amendments contributed to this and States were urged to support the amendments.  Pakistan would vote in favour of the amendments.

Switzerland, in a general comment, thanked the delegations for the draft resolution and commended open negotiation, making it possible to discuss the text in detail.  Regret was voiced that amendments had to be presented, as the text was already balanced.  Switzerland supported the resolution as it was presented as civil society played a key role and the amendments would only weaken the text, so Switzerland would vote against all amendments. 

Action on Amendment L.37

Germany, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly supported the draft text as orally revised and opposed amendment L.37.  The draft resolution addressed some of the key challenges that civil society faced in its work with regional and international organizations.  Germany reminded that the draft resolution proposed non-discriminatory measures to assist and support a pluralistic civil society.  The proposed amendment, on the other hand, suggested that funding for civil society could be illegal, which was unacceptable.  What was criteria for “transparent” funding of civil society?  That language was unnecessary and dangerous.  Germany would, therefore, vote against amendment L.37 and urged all others to do likewise. 

Peru, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stressed that amendment L.37 wished to do away with what was legal and transparent.  That insertion was absolutely unnecessary.  The draft resolution was very clear that civil society would work in line with international law, and that their funding should be regulated accordingly.  The draft resolution called on non-State actors to respect all human rights, and the draft text was based on agreed language.  The amendment was unclear and could be interpreted in a subjective fashion.  Peru would thus vote against amendment L.37 and called on all others to do likewise. 

The Council then rejected amendment L.37 by a vote of 14 in favour, 22 against, and 10 abstentions. 

Action on Amendment L.38

Chile, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the group of countries submitting resolution L.17 was against L.38.  Surprise was voiced at the insistence of keeping this amendment because the introductory part already mentioned the United Nations Charter and relevant international legislation.  Introducing additional language of sovereignty was counterproductive.  The amendment sought to undermine the universality of human rights with continuous references to territorial integrity.

Australia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, joined the Core Group in rejecting the amendment.  The Core Group had already undertaken efforts to draft a balanced text, but this amendment would jeopardize that balance.  In essence, amendment L.38 provided a possibility to violate human rights in certain national circumstances.  Furthermore, there was a risk of undermining the universality of human rights and the work of the Council.  Introducing extra language on sovereignty would upset the balance of the text.  All members of the Council were called on to vote no.

The Council then rejected amendment L.38, by a vote of 15 in favour, 21 against and 10 abstentions.
Action on Amendment L.39

Tunisia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed the proposed amendment.  First, the draft text was carefully crafted and balanced.  It did not make demands on States, but encouraged and noted.  The core group had held extensive negotiations, had taken on board many concerns, and had undertaken many revisions.  The reference to the High Commissioner’s reports was a standard practice in the Council’s resolutions, Tunisia noted and called on everyone to vote against amendment L.39.

Belgium, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed the amendment and called on all to vote against it.  Both reports of the High Commissioner contained many very valuable recommendations and they should be mentioned in the draft resolution.  International law obliged States to respect civil society’s right to exercise the freedom of opinion and expression, and to protect human rights activists from threats and attacks.  Belgium underlined the importance of civil society for building democratic societies.  It reminded that the Core Group had maintained a transparent, inclusive and very open negotiation process.  Further changes to the draft resolution could not be accepted. 

The Council then rejected amendment L.39 by a vote of 12 in favour, 24 against, and 10 abstentions. 

Action on Draft Resolution L.17/Rev.1

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that civil society was important in all countries to promote socio-economic development.  By 2017 China had registered 700,000 civil society organizations working in different sectors.  However, civil society organizations also had to be responsible to the State, sovereignty and territorial integrity.  China had actively participated in consultations on the draft resolution and together with many other countries had made constructive proposals.  The Core Group was commended for their inclusive process.  Regrettably, the draft resolution left much room for improvement.  It did not mention that civil society organizations had to work under the legal framework.  It did not mention that channels for financing of the civil society organizations had to be transparent.  It referred to an inappropriate report.   Regrettably, the co-sponsors had not taken China’s suggestions on board, so it was now not a balanced text.  China could not support such text and requested for vote on the resolution.  China would abstain.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution deserved the support of all members of the Council.  It was a benefit to all.  Civil society worked on a whole range of issues important for all.  Human rights defenders made great personal sacrifices to advance the human rights of others.  The resolution addressed many important points.  Providing space to civil society was not optional.  All main sponsors were thanked for their open approach.  Some delegations had sought to frustrate this important resolution and it was pleasing that the amendments were defeated.

Panama, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, recognized that a safe and enabling environment for civil society was a major task of States, and also to guarantee accountability and the rule of law.  The draft resolution was thus of key importance because it would allow that the least represented members of society would be heard.  There was a broad participation of stakeholders in the negotiations, and the main sponsors had made a huge effort to accommodate different views.  Panama thus regretted that the draft resolution would be voted on.  Panama would vote in favour of the draft text and it encouraged others to do the same.

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, emphasised that it attached great importance to the role of civil society organizations and their significant contribution to the elaboration and implementation of national development plans and strategies.  It also attached great importance to civil society engagement with international and regional organizations, while ensuring that they exercised their work in transparent, legal and sustainable manner, and in full respect of laws and regulations arranging their engagement and activities.  Egypt had requested the Core Group to respect the official name of the United Nations Declaration on the “Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,” and to refrain from using any controversial or terminology that was not universally accepted.  Accordingly, Egypt would abstain from voting on the draft resolution.  It wished to register its reservation to any reference to the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on procedures and practices with respect to civil society engagement with international and regional organizations. 

Iraq, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, thanked all countries working on the resolution.  Iraq supported most of what was stated in the text, recognizing the importance of civil society efforts, and Iraq would be voting in favour of the resolution.  However, some parts of text were not acceptable.  Funding had to be transparent.  Iraq was also against some of the practical recommendations on a conducive environment.  Given the exceptional conditions facing some countries and given the decision of the United Nations Economic and Social Council on non-governmental organizations, reservations were made on some operative paragraphs.

The Council then adopted the draft resolution L.17/Rev.1, by a vote of 35 in favour, none against, and 11 abstentions.

Action on Resolution on Business and Human Rights: Improving Accountability and Access to Remedy

In a resolution (A/HRC/38/L.18) on business and human rights: improving accountability and access to remedy, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Working Group [on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises], mindful of the guidance provided by the Accountability and Remedy Project of the Office of the High Commissioner, to analyse further the role of national human rights institutions in facilitating access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses, and to convene a two-day global consultation on these issues, open to all stakeholders, and to inform the Council by its forty-fourth session as appropriate.  The Council requests the High Commissioner to continue his work in this area, including the dissemination of parts I and II of the Accountability and Remedy Project, and to identify and analyse challenges, opportunities, best practices and lessons learned with regard to non-State-based grievance mechanisms that are relevant to the respect by business enterprises for human rights, to convene two consultations, involving representatives of States and other stakeholders … and to submit a report thereon to the Human Rights Council for consideration at its forty-fourth session.

Norway, introducing draft resolution L.18, also on behalf of Argentina, Ghana and Russian Federation, reminded that the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights had been endorsed by the Council by consensus in 2011 in resolution 17/4.  It had established an authoritative framework to prevent and address adverse human rights impact from business activities.  The draft resolution recognized that the implementation of the Guiding Principles included the implementation of the access to a remedy pillar, and it encouraged States to take appropriate steps to improve and encourage corporate accountability and assess remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuses.  It asked for the continuation of the Accountability and Remedy Project of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to focus on non-State grievance mechanisms and deliver a report thereon at the forty-fourth session of the Council.  It also asked the Working Group on business and human rights to analyse the role of national human rights institutions in facilitating access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses.

Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, thanked the sponsors for the important resolution as a follow up of the High Commissioner’s report presented to the Council.  The European Union fully trusted that the Office of the High Commissioner would work on the dissemination of parts one and two of the Accountability and Remedy Project.  The work of the Office of the High Commissioner was an important contribution to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  The European Union had made other proposals and hoped they could be integrated in the future.  They suggested to insert language from the commentary to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  The European Union supported the role of human rights defenders and believed that States had an obligation to ensure a safe environment for their work.

Ecuador, speaking in a general comment, noted that it was a very important resolution, particularly for Ecuador.  The draft resolution was based on the work of the Working Group on transnational corporations and human rights as well as the Accountability and Remedy Project.  It was strange that the proposal was not incorporated to work jointly with the Working Group on transnational corporations and human rights.  Moreover, Ecuador regretted that the final text did not incorporate non-State remedy mechanisms.  The resolution had large programme budget implications.  Companies had to comply with human rights obligations and it was reiterated that only a binding framework would succeed in providing reparations to victims.

South Africa, in a general comment, firmly believed that a global standard for preventing human rights abuses would set clear and unambiguous responsibilities for businesses.  It would close a huge gap for legal uncertainty for victims.  The draft resolution was but the beginning and was not an end in itself in moving to global legal certainty.  South Africa was of the view that the Guiding Principles should be strengthened for indigenous women and girls, and women and girls in developing countries in the context of business and human rights.  Most significantly, South Africa noted that in the framework of the Accountability and Remedy Project, any work by the Office of the High Commissioner must be undertaken in tandem with the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations.  South Africa noted that the work of the Working Group would be key to any project in the area in line with their mandate.  It was further concerned about the large programme budgetary implications arising from the Office’s project.

United Kingdom, in a general comment, welcomed the draft resolution and reaffirmed the importance of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  The resolution continued earlier efforts to provide remedy to victims of business-related human rights abuses, and would provide stakeholders with much needed guidance.  Accordingly, the draft resolution deserved the full backing of all Member States of the Council. 

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.18 without a vote. 

Explanations of the Vote after the Vote after the Council Concluded Taking
Action on Resolutions under Item 3

Slovakia, speaking in its national capacity in an explanation of the vote after the vote, commenting on resolution L1 on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls, said Slovakia was fully committed to fighting all forms of gender-based discrimination against women and girls.  The focus was on the empowerment of girls through education, which was a real success story in Slovakia.  In the population of 30 to 34 years old, women with diplomas outnumbered men by 40 per cent.  Slovakia was also succeeding in the reduction of gender pay gap and in raising the employment of women.  However, the issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights were still sensitive, particularly when it came to girls and parental rights.  Any recommendation made under this resolution on this issue should not create any obligation on any party to abandon the responsibility of the parents or the guardian of adolescent girls.  Slovakia had decided to join others in co-sponsoring the resolution.

Australia, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it was committed to the Sustainable Development Goals.  Through development assistance, they were working across the Indo-Pacific region.  Australia took a human rights approach to development, asking countries to respect international human rights law.  The diversity of views to the right to development was noted.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, referring to L.4 on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, said Brazil attached utmost priority to the enhancement to international cooperation in the field of human rights, including through technical assistance, capacity building as well as South-South cooperation.  Brazil had been included in the consultations.   Nevertheless, it had abstained during the adoption of L.4.  It was regrettable that there was a lack of spirit of compromise during the consultations.  It was deeply concerned by the automatic reproduction of language agreed by some States outside the framework of the United Nations.  Many of the resolutions introduced were already addressed in a more comprehensive and balanced manner in other United Nations bodies.  Examples were present in L. 4 when it addressed cultural diversity and counter terrorism.  Brazil recalled the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action that while the significance of national particularities must be borne in mind, it was the duty of States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.  It also recalled that in its last regular session, the Human Rights Council had adopted a resolution on terrorism and human rights by which it renewed its commitment to strengthen counterterrorism as in accordance to human rights and international humanitarian law.  The Human Rights Council should not undermine the balance struck.

Senegal, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that due to an error in interpretation, Senegal had not been able to speak during the adoption of L.35 on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls.  It thanked the countries, which initiated this draft resolution, noting in particular paragraph 19, which did not conform to certain social and cultural norms.  That was why Senegal would disassociate itself from this paragraph, and asked that this be taken into account in the written statements of the Human Rights Council

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

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus

In a resolution (A/HRC/38/L.7) on the situation of human rights in Belarus, adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, six against and 21 abstained, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus for a period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the situation of human rights in Belarus to the Human Rights Council at its forty first session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session; urges the Government of Belarus to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur, including by providing him access to visit the country in his official capacity in order to assist the Government in fulfilling its international human rights obligations and by considering implementation of his recommendations, and also urges the Government to extend full cooperation to thematic special procedures; and requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the Special Rapporteur with the assistance and resources necessary to allow the fulfilment of his mandate, and requests the latter to continue to monitor developments and make recommendations.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (19): Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Against (6): Burundi, China, Cuba, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Abstentions (21): Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia.


Austria, introducing draft resolution L.7 on behalf of the European Union, noted that the resolution offered a balanced text, reflecting both positive steps taken by the Government of Belarus, but also pointing to persisting and serious shortcomings in the human rights record of the country concerned.  The resolution was based on the latest report of the Special Rapporteur, which described a “purposefully repressive legal framework” which was combined with cyclical crackdowns on the political opposition, civil society and trade unions.  The European Union firmly advocated for the abolition of the death penalty and strongly condemned its continuous application in Belarus.  It welcomed the engagement of the Government of Belarus in the discussion on the possible abolition of the death penalty, and it urged Belarus to join the global moratorium on the death penalty.  For those reasons, the European Union presented the draft resolution to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, and urged the Government of Belarus to start full cooperation with the mandate holder.

Switzerland, in a general comment, thanked the countries that drafted the resolution on the situation of human rights in Belarus.  However, in light of the report on two executions in 2018, it regretted that the wording of operative paragraph 6 was not categorical.  Switzerland was convinced that there should be no use of the death penalty, in line with States’ obligations under international law.  The death penalty was incompatible with the right to life and with the prohibition of torture or other inhuman treatment and punishment.

Australia, in a general comment, was particularly concerned by the refusal by the Government of Belarus to abolish the death penalty.  It reiterated the Special Rapporteur’s call for a moratorium to the death penalty.  It encouraged action on the part of Belarus to cooperate with the Human Rights Council and asked Belarus to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on Belarus.

Belarus, speaking as the concerned country, noted that the draft resolution was a politically motivated document that distorted the reality.  It rendered pressure on the leadership of a sovereign State.  Belarus maintained law and order, and stability, and in that endeavour it used legal means not different from those in other countries which claimed to be champions of human rights.  The continuation of the monitoring of human rights in Belarus was a clear example of political manipulation by the Council and by the United Nations.  The result of such policies would be most likely the collapse of the Council.  The selective punishment of governments by using the tools of the Council had shown itself to be ineffective.   There was no added value in the adoption of the draft resolution.  Belarus called on everyone to vote against the draft resolution.

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the international community should respect the sovereignty of Belarus and the rights set by the people themselves.  The Human Rights Council should do away with the practice of pressuring, polarization, and deconstructive dialogue on human rights.  Draft resolution L.7 did not recognize the efforts of Belarus.  It did not respect the principles of impartiality, non-selectivity and objectivity.  It was not conducive to human rights.  China did not agree with this special mechanism in the Human Rights Council, which was too costly and did not help the country.  Therefore, it called on the Human Rights Council to vote against this draft resolution. 
 
Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its rejection of resolutions under this agenda item that addressed certain countries aiming to create mechanisms that were not approved of.  Egypt stressed the importance of avoiding the politicization and polarization of the Human Rights Council, which overshadowed and defeated the spirit of cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights.  Draft resolution L.7 aimed at renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus, which had been rejected by the concerned State and which did not take into account the efforts made by the Government to promote and protect human rights.  Egypt rejected this draft resolution.

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected the imposition of politically motivated resolutions.  It was a sterile exercise.  Cuba reiterated solidarity with the people of Belarus, and encouraged them to keep defending their freedom and sovereignty.  Cuba did not support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, because it contributed very little to the Council’s legitimacy.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, restated its opposition to the selective practices against some countries in the Council.  Such initiatives did not have the support of the concerned countries and violated the principles of non-interference into internal affairs of sovereign States.  Some countries had committed serious human rights violations, yet there were no similar resolutions concerning them.  The mandate was borne out of political motivations, had no raison d’être, and had to be rejected by the Council. 

Pakistan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, called for the non-politicization of the Human Rights Council.

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.7 by a vote of 19 in favour, six against, and 21 abstentions.

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea

In a resolution (A/HRC/38/L.15/Rev.1) on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea for a period of one year; requests the Special Rapporteur to submit and present a written report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-first session, and to engage in an interactive dialogue with the General Assembly on her report at its seventy-third session; decides to hold an enhanced interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, at its fortieth session; invites the Special Rapporteur to assess and report on the situation of human rights [in Eritrea] … and, where feasible, to develop benchmarks for progress to improve the human rights situation and a time-bound action plan for their implementation; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session on progress made in the cooperation between Eritrea and the Office, and on its impact on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.

Djibouti, introducing draft resolution L.15/Rev.1, on behalf of Somalia and other co-sponsors, said that the main purpose of the resolution was the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one year.  The goal was also to carry out an update of resolution 35/35 to reflect the latest developments.  The Special Rapporteur had noted that she was not in a position to announce any improvements, and major violations of human rights were identified, including those mentioned by the Commission on Inquiry.  The resolution would give the Council an opportunity of engagement with the Special Rapporteur.  Somalia and Djibouti had led negotiations in a transparent manner and all delegations were thanked for their contributions to reach a streamlined, balanced and objective text.

Somalia, also introducing draft resolution L.15/Rev.1, welcomed the update of the Special Rapporteur and supported the extension of the mandate for one year under agenda item 4.  Somalia had continuously supported Eritrea’s people to live free from harm and was worried about the current human rights situation.  The promotion of economic and social rights was welcomed, but the voices of victims had to be heard.

Slovakia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, remained concerned about the situation in Eritrea, in particular with regard to accountability for past violations.  The situation required continuous monitoring and therefore, an extension of the mandate for another year was warranted.  It urged the Government to work swiftly towards the establishment of an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights office in Eritrea and looked forward to the progress of Eritrea, and its implementation of the recommendations of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review.

Eritrea, speaking as the concerned country, said the Human Rights Council had once again considered a politically motivated resolution against the people of Eritrea.  In the past six years, similar resolutions had failed to create any dividend in the promotion of human rights; and this was another unwarranted act that recapped this Council’s failed experience.  This year’s resolution came at a time when Eritrea and Ethiopia were engaged in advancing durable peace with an apparent positive implication for the Horn of Africa region.  The Council, instead of acting in tune with this positive regional development, had chosen to embolden Djibouti and Somalia to perpetuate their messenger duties for those who had no interest in the peace and security of the region.  The adoption of this resolution sent a clear message to the people of Eritrea that the Human Rights Council condoned the vilification of their history and their struggle for regional peace, justice and development.  Eritrea rejected the resolution and called on all members of the Council to reject L.15.  

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Horn of Africa was witnessing very important developments and that it would have preferred that the draft resolution built upon those events to help the region.  Egypt advocated for African solutions for African problems, and for reaching an optimal framework for dealing with political problems and challenges.  In that respect, Egypt underscored the importance of rejecting selective resolutions and mandates, which politicized the work of the Council and would not lead to positive engagement and constructive dialogue.  Egypt regretted that both Somalia and Djibouti had insisted on submitting the draft resolution.  The draft resolution did not enjoy the support of the concerned country, which was an additional reason for Egypt to oppose it.

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reminded that it consistently advocated that differences should be resolved through dialogue and cooperation.  The international community should acknowledge the progress and achievements of Eritrea in the field of human rights.  The draft resolution was not in conformity with that.  China called on the international community to address the situation in Eritrea in an objective and transparent manner.

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.15/Rev.1 without a vote.    

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/38/L.20) on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, five against and 15 abstentions, the Council deplores the fact that the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic continues in its eighth year with its devastating impact on the civilian population, and urges all parties to the conflict to abstain immediately from any actions that may contribute to the further deterioration of the human rights, security and humanitarian situations; urges all parties to the conflict to comply with their respective obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and demands that all parties, particularly the Syrian authorities and their allies, refrain from carrying out attacks against the civilian population and civilian objects; demands that all parties desist immediately from any use of chemical weapons; reaffirms the importance of establishing appropriate processes and mechanisms to achieve justice, reconciliation, truth and accountability for gross violations and abuses of international law, and reparations and effective remedies for victims; reaffirms that there can only be a political solution to the conflict … and demands that all parties work towards a genuine political transition based on the Geneva communiqué and Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), within the framework of the United Nations-led intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (26): Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.

Against (5): Burundi, China, Cuba, Iraq and Venezuela.

Abstentions (15): Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.

United Kingdom, introducing draft resolution L.20, on behalf of a group of States, said they took no pleasure in presenting this resolution once again.  It was done not in anger but sorrow.  A violent offensive was underway, carried out by the regime and its allies, including Russia, in the south of Syria.  Over 330,000 people had fled their homes and all parties were urged to cease the hostilities.  The conflict had to end and efforts of Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura were supported in making it happen.  The objective of the resolution was to emphasise the need for accountability and to strengthen prospects for peace.  The text contained stronger language on core issues such as arbitrary detention, sexual and gender-based violence, internally displaced persons, illicit arms transfers, as well as housing and property laws.  The resolution reflected the findings of the Commission of Inquiry.  Hope was expressed that the text would be adopted without the calling of a vote and enjoy the consensual support of all in the Council.  If a vote was called, all delegations were urged to support the text as drafted.

Russian Federation, introducing amendments L.28, L.29, L.30 and L.31, said it had repeatedly said that the initiative of the so-called Group of Friends of Syria was politicized and had nothing to do with the protection of civilians.  The armed groups in Syria were supported by some of the co-sponsors of the draft resolution.  The proposed amendments did not aim to make the draft resolution more balanced because that was impossible.  The Russian Federation called on all States not to support terrorists and not to sympathize with them.  Terrorists in Syria had used chemical weapons: where had they found components to produce those chemical weapons?  It was clear that the sponsors of the draft resolution did not want an independent and impartial investigation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Terrorists in Syria were financed from various parties, including private ones.  Some regional countries provided them with weapons, equipment and information technology.  It was not surprising that the sponsors of the draft resolution were opposed to Russia’s amendments.  The last amendment, L.31, addressed the draconian unilateral coercive measures against Syria, which had a heavy impact on civilians.  Russia called on all counties to vote in favour of its amendments. 

United Kingdom, in a general comment, requested a vote on the amendments.

Slovakia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said it was particularly concerned about the recent escalation of violence in the south west of Syria, including air strikes by the regime and its allies, which had already forced more than 330,000 civilians from their homes and destroyed critical infrastructure, including several health facilities.  The European Union called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, the respect of the de-escalation agreement, and full humanitarian access to all Syrian people in need.  It reiterated that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict.  Contrary to this, since last year, the Syrian regime, supported by its allies Russia and Iran, had intensified its military operations without regard for civilian casualties.  The European Union also expressed deep concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afrin following the Turkish military operation.  It reiterated its appreciation for the vital work that the Commission of Inquiry and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism continued to do.  It welcomed the strengthened language deploring national legislation such as “Syrian Law Number 10/2018” which would have a significant detrimental impact on the freedom of movement and the right of Syrians displaced by the conflict to return.  It therefore called for its repeal.  For all these reasons, the European Union would vote in favour of the draft resolution and urged all members of the Human Rights Council to do the same.   

Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, expressed its support to amendments presented by Russia, calling on members of the Council to vote for these amendments. 

Australia, speaking in a general comment, said that the Commission of Inquiry had documented crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Improved focus on sexual and gender based violence in the text was welcomed.  The stronger language of the resolution was also welcomed.  All sides, particularly the Government, were called on to cease hostilities and engage in a constructive dialogue.  All members were urged to oppose the amendments tabled by Russia.

Switzerland, speaking in a general comment, was extremely concerned about all the violations committed by all sides.  Switzerland had co-sponsored the resolution and could not support the amendments.  However, there were paragraphs weakening the applicability of the resolution.  The report of the Commission of Inquiry had documented all violations.  Justice had to be provided to all the victims, so it was essential for the Commission of Inquiry, civil society and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to cooperate.  The situation in Syria had to be referred to the International Criminal Court.  All parties to the conflict were called to re-establish the ceasefire.

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, stated that unrealistic resolutions submitted to the Council every session only aimed to dedicate the Council to serve political interests disconnected from human rights values.  The aim was to spread fabricated narratives to hide terrorism supported by sponsor countries.  The co-sponsors of the draft resolution continued to level accusations against the Syrian Government and to blackout its cooperation with human rights agencies.  Contrary to the allegations in the draft resolution, the Government of Syria had spared no efforts to engage in appeasement initiatives.  Syria reaffirmed its commitment to international humanitarian law, and emphasised that persons who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity required accountability.  However, those crimes were committed by the coalition led by the United States.  It was not surprising that terrorism-sponsoring States had violated the United Nations Charter and international law.  The Council was being compelled to consider issues for which it was technically not equipped.  The British draft resolution and the language used did not promote the aims of achieving peace in Syria. 

Action on Amendment L.28

Germany, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said amendment L.28 proposed by the Russian Federation was redundant.  Furthermore, it gave rise to ambiguity as to what was meant by a terrorist.  Germany therefore opposed the amendment and called for all others to do the same.

Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it strongly opposed all forms of terrorism.  Nevertheless, the language proposed by Russia did not promote the language used in this Human Rights Council, which was necessary for the striking of a balance between the fight against terrorism and fundamental rights and freedoms.  Any struggle against terrorism should be in strict compliance with international law, international humanitarian law, human rights and international refugee law.  Mexico would therefore vote against the amendment.

The Human Rights Council then rejected the amendment, with 10 votes in favour, 21 against, and 15 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.29

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that amendment L.29 was a distraction.  The resolution already contained strong language, condemning the use of chemical weapons and condemning terrorist acts and violence.  It was unconceivable that Russia was truly interested in the impartial investigation of chemical weapons.  Russia had used its veto in the Security Council six times to block investigations by the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism.  The amendment introduced broad reference to terrorist groups, as part of the Russian narrative to see whoever was not supportive of the Syrian regime as terrorists.  Russia’s amendment was clearly seeking to undermine the resolution.

Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported the intervention of the United Kingdom.  It was for expert bodies to determine the consequences of chemical weapons.  Last week, during the meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Russia and Syria had voted against and Russia also voted against in the Security Council.  The amendment was a distraction and States were urged to vote against it.

The Council then rejected amendment L.29, by a vote of seven in favour, 22 against and 16 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.30

Belgium, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed amendment L.30 and called on others to do the same.  It was unclear to which terrorism sponsoring actors the amendment referred to, and it thus opened up the possibility of punitive action against anyone who opposed the Syrian regime.  The draft resolution already contained strong language condemning terrorism by all parties. 

Qatar, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, concurred with Belgium and opposed the amendment because the draft resolution contained paragraphs which were exhaustive with respect to treating terrorist acts and groups.  The proposed amendment opened the possibility to the Syrian regime to target legitimate opposition groups, and did not mention groups that profited from the Syrian regime.  Qatar called on everyone to vote against amendment L.30.

The Council then rejected amendment L.30 by a vote of 10 in favour, 21 against, and 15 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.31

Slovakia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union Member States who were members of the Human Rights Council, spoke against amendment L.31, which they believed was inaccurate and politically motivated.  The primary responsibility for the atrocities in Syria rested with the Assad regime, including the use of chemical weapons and denial of humanitarian aid.  The Member States of the European Union had been the largest donors to Syria and the region.  The European Union restrictive measures were targeted, and carefully designed in order to avoid affecting delivery of humanitarian assistance and food.  There was no European Union trade embargo on Syria.  There were no financial restrictions on Syria.  The European Union restrictive measures were not indiscriminate.  They were targeted.  This amendment sought to mask the responsibility of the Syrian regime.  Therefore, the European Union would vote against this amendment, and called on all others to do the same.

Georgia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, believed that this amendment was factually incorrect.  The European Union sanctions were targeted and not indiscriminate.  The resolution sought to withdraw the responsibility of the Syrian regime for violations of human rights law and humanitarian law.  Georgia would vote against this amendment, and for the draft resolution, and called on all others to do the same.

The Council then rejected the amendment, with nine votes in favour, 21 against and 16 abstentions.

Action on Draft Resolution L.20

Ecuador, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed hope that those committing human rights violations, including those who provided weapons or funding, would be brought to justice, including in the International Criminal Court.  They were responsible for the death of thousands and the expulsion of millions.  The migration crisis was the result of what was happening in Syria.  Violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria included siege tactics, use of civilians as human shields, and starvation, which all constituted crimes against humanity.  Hope was expressed that investigations would be carried out soon.  Draft resolution L.20 did not reach a balance between condemnation and proposing actions.  Still, on the basis of its principles of promoting human rights, Ecuador had decided to vote in favour of the resolution.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it always condemned selectivity and double standards of initiatives in the Council that provided no benefit to victims.  Venezuela called for a true commitment to reach a political solution and dialogue that would establish a lasting peace.  Venezuela would vote against the resolution.

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its support for a peaceful solution in Syria with full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.  It reiterated its condemnation of the killing of all civilians and acts of terrorism.  However, attempts to exploit this tragic situation and fuel geopolitical interest from countries outside of the region were also condemned, as they incited aggression.  The draft did not contribute to a just and peaceful solution and Cuba asked for L.20 to be submitted to a vote.

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported the request for a vote on the draft resolution.  It had always maintained that a political solution to the Syrian conflict was the only way to promote human rights there.  Stressing the need to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, China noted that the draft resolution was not conducive to a political solution and that it would vote against the draft resolution.

Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed profound concern about the grave situation which Syria continued to go through and would thus vote in favour of the draft resolution.  It called on all parties to the conflict to show commitment to civilians and victims of human rights violations.  It was also essential to call on all countries to abstain from transferring weapons to any party to the conflict because it would only lead to the intensification of the conflict. 

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it remained deeply concerned about the rights of Syrian civilians.  It appreciated the efforts of the international community to address human rights, while noting the imbalanced nature of the text which was being voted today.  It regretted that violations perpetrated by armed groups in Syria ‘s eastern Ghouta had been omitted from the text.  It condemned any use of chemical weapons by any party.  Impartial investigations were needed by the competent authorities, with clear expertise in the field.  Brazil reminded the Human Rights Council that all had the right to enjoy peace.  There was no full human rights protection if people could not find peace.  In that sense, the Commission of Inquiry recommendation that the international community should refrain from providing support including arms, to any party to the conflict, should be respected. 

Iraq, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it had expressed its view against the practice of selectivity in the Human Rights Council, which was a deviation from achieving its work and its objectives.  The draft resolution in question had contained ideas that preceded the results of the Commission of Inquiry.  In addition, some parties had been described as terrorist parties, contrary to Security Council resolutions.  Furthermore, the draft resolution did not take into account recent developments on the ground.  It did not refer to international solidarity in terms of the reconstruction of Syria and the provision of a necessary environment for the return of the refugees.  Neither did it refer to the financial resources necessitated by the United Nations in order to provide relief for Syria.  Furthermore, it did not cover the besieged areas by terrorist groups.  The draft resolution was unbalanced and did not aim to reach an objective solution to the crisis.  In fact, it only served armed and terrorist groups which would perpetuate the situation.  It did not serve the people of Syria.  Therefore, Iraq would vote against it, and called on all others to do the same.

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it had a principled position regarding item 4 resolutions that did not receive the consent of the country in question.  In light of the humanitarian disaster that had entered its seventh year, and in view of the size of the crisis and the numbers involved, Egypt had decided to abstain from voting.  The resolution lacked balance and objectivity.  Sources for the resolution were unofficial sources, not the official United Nations sources.  The draft resolution welcomed investigation mechanisms which were set up by the General Assembly resolution to which Egypt abstained.  On those basis, Egypt would abstain.

The Council then adopted the draft resolution L.20, by a vote of 26 in favour, five against and 15 abstentions.

Explanations of the Vote after the Vote after the Council Concluded Taking Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 4

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it opposed selective initiatives against developing countries, such as resolution L.15/Rev.1 on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.  The Universal Periodic Review was an appropriate space for dialogue and as such it should be fostered.  Cuba reiterated that cooperation and respectful dialogue should characterize the Council. 

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it rejected selectivity, politicization and double standards of specific country mandates.  Genuine dialogue and cooperation should guide the work of the Council.  The country concerned should be involved in such cooperation and dialogue.  The Universal Periodic Review was the appropriate forum to conduct such dialogue.  For those reasons, Venezuela disassociated itself from resolution L.15/Rev.1 on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. 

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that it had voted in favour of resolution L.7 on the situation of human rights in Belarus, adding that it attached the utmost importance to the principles of non-selectivity based on dialogue and cooperation, which should be taken into consideration, especially when addressing country specific situations.  There was still room to improve cooperation and dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus.  Brazil commended Belarus for the implementation of recommendations during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and those issued by other human rights bodies.


For use of the information media; not an official record 

HRC18/116E