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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DEBATE ON IMPLEMENTATION OF THE VIENNA DECLARATION AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION

2 July 2018

The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting held a general debate on the follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

During the debate, speakers underlined that the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was an opportunity to reflect on it in the context of the current challenging landscape.  They expressed concern about the gap between the vision and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, noting a rise in racist and xenophobic discourse in many countries.  Some speakers regretted that United Nations human rights mechanisms were moving away from the principles of universality, objectivity, non-selectivity and non-politicization, and regretted that certain powers were trying to impose their own designs on countries of the south.  By implementing the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, States had a chance turn the tide against chauvinist nationalism and populism.  A people centred-approach was essential in the promotion of human rights.  Such an approach required States to respect people’s rights and dignity.  To achieve it, countries needed to improve people’s wellbeing, ensure more equitable distribution of economic benefits, promote social justice, and foster multilateral relations among countries.

Speaking were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, China on behalf of a group of countries, Togo on behalf of the African Group, Mexico on behalf of a group of countries, Austria on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan, Iraq, Australia, Venezuela, South Africa, Tunisia, Netherlands on behalf of a group of countries, Iceland on behalf of a group of countries, Libya, Namibia, Iran, Greece, Albania, Bahrain, India, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Ireland. 

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Action Canada for Population and Development; Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco; Africa Culture International; Organisation internationale pour les pays les moins avancés (OIPMA); Victorious Youths Movement; Global Welfare Association; Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee; Liberation; Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA; International Humanist and Ethical Union; Prahar; Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia; European Union of Jewish Students; Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; International Service for Human Rights ; Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development; Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi; Ius Primi Viri International Association; Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR); Indian Council of South America (CISA); World Barua Organization; International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Association culturelle des Tamouls en France; New Human Rigths Cameroon; Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme; Iraqi Development Organization; Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc; Alsalam Foundation; Organization for Defending Victims of Violence; Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture; International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations; Association of World Citizens; United Nations Watch; Alliance Creative Community Project; World Muslim Congress; Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme; Association des étudiants tamouls de France; Action of Human Movement (AHM); European Humanist Federation; Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul; L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie; Society for Development and Community Empowerment; International Solidarity for Africa; ABC Tamil Oli; Tamil Uzhagam; Association Thendral; "Coup de Pousse" Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud ( C.D.P-C.E.N.S); Institute for NGO Research; Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs and International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD).
 
Iraq and Pakistan spoke in a right of reply. 


The Council will next hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on his reports on racial discrimination in the context of laws, policies and practices concerning citizenship, nationality and immigration, and on shifts in ideologies and support for Nazism and neo-Nazism and their glorification. This will be followed by a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance.


General Debate on the Follow-up to and Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stressed that all human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and had to be accorded equal importance.  The right to development was an inalienable part of basic human rights.  By implementing the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, States could turn the tide against chauvinist nationalism and dangerous populism espoused by mainstream politicians and political parties in certain established democracies. 

China, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, stated that a people centred-approach was essential in the promotion of human rights.  No one should be left behind and everyone’s freedoms and rights should be respected.  A people-centred approach required States to respect people’s rights and dignity.  To achieve that, States needed to improve people’s wellbeing, ensure more equitable distribution of economic benefits, promote social justice, and foster multilateral relations among countries.

Togo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed profound concern about the gap between the vision and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, reminding that there was a rise in racist and xenophobic discourse in many countries.  In order to foster the sustainable promotion and protection of human rights, it was important to work towards the exercise of economic, social and cultural rights, as a driver for the enjoyment of many other rights.  The African Group called on all countries to work towards the implementation of the Vienna Declaration.

Mexico, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, underlined that the rule of law was a fundamental principle of the rules-based international order.  It meant that law applied equally to everyone.  At the level of governance, it ensured that the executive and legislature were not above law, that laws were justiciable, and that the rulings of the judiciary were enforced.  The rule of law helped ensure access to justice for women and girls, and ensured that all parts of the legal system were informed by gender perspectives. 

Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted that as the High Commissioner and human rights advocates kept reminding, this was not the time for complacency or self-congratulatory statements.  Many things had been achieved over the past 25 years, including through the highly important work of the independent Office of the High Commissioner, the groundwork for which had been laid out at the World Conference in Vienna.  The Council needed to oppose ongoing attempts around the world to shrink the space for human rights defenders, journalists and civil society.

Pakistan said that the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action marked the adherence of all States towards human rights.  States bore the main responsibility in promoting and protecting human rights.  Selectivity and double standards eroded the credibility of the human rights agenda.  Effective implementation required a favourable environment, including for the right to development which was at the core for the realization of human dignity.

Iraq said that promoting and protecting human rights was the main objective of the international community and in Iraq it was considered a cornerstone of democracy.  Fundamental freedoms were guaranteed and numerous policies were implemented to support the exercise of different socio-economic and cultural rights.  Iraq was committed to dignity for all and promoted development in spite of the challenges and accumulated legacy of the past.

Australia congratulated Malaysia, Timor Leste and Armenia for their peaceful transitions of power.  Fraud allegations in Iraq’s recent elections had to be investigated.  Afghanistan and Zimbabwe were called upon to ensure free elections this year.  Thailand was encouraged to return to democracy and Bangladesh and Pakistan to respect due democratic processes.  Non-state actors were urged to respect democratic processes.  The narrowing of democratic space in Cambodia and the Maldives was concerning.

Venezuela regretted that the United Nations human rights mechanisms were moving away from the principles of universality, objectivity, non-selectivity and non-politicization, noting that certain powers tried to impose their own designs on countries of the south.  Venezuela condemned the imposition of unilateral coercive measures by certain powers, which disrupted the regular distribution of food and medicines and obstructed the functioning of the system of basic health and education in developing countries.   

South Africa noted that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action provided a framework for changing the lives of ordinary people around the world.  Values fundamental to the freedom and wellbeing of humanity should be upheld, including the elimination of racism and xenophobia, poverty, and obstacles to development.  The 2030 Agenda, which embodied the right to development, presented an opportunity to re-commit to the principles of the Vienna Declaration.  All Governments should take immediate measures and develop policies to combat all forms of discrimination.

Tunisia said that the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was an opportunity to reflect on it in the context of the current challenging landscape.  Human rights were universal, inalienable and interdependent.  Many shortcomings and flaws prevented the effective implementation of the Vienna Declaration.  The international community should work together to settle current conflicts, and to realize the equitable development of all countries.  In that respect, Tunisia stressed the importance of technical assistance and capacity-building. 

Netherlands, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, thanked the outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, for his leadership in addressing human rights issues and his strong dedication to his mandate.  The role of the High Commissioner remained as crucial as ever, and the appointment of a new High Commissioner came at a critical moment for the United Nations and for the international community.  The incoming High Commissioner would likely have to tackle violations of human rights norms and of fundamental freedoms around the world.  He or she had to be objective and independent, and capable of building partnerships with all parties.  
 
Iceland, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that women’s rights were enshrined in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  Nordic Baltic countries attached great importance to gender equality but still had a way to go in ensuring that no discrimination took place.  There should be zero tolerance towards discrimination in the economic, social and political sphere.  The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action reinforced principles such as the universality of human principles and the responsibility to protect them. 

Libya said that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had established fundamental principles and mechanisms for the promotion of human rights within the United Nations.   All human rights had to be afforded the same importance.  There had to be a fair and equal treatment of each right.  The promotion of international cooperation in the area of human rights was essential for human rights advancement.

Namibia noted that a high-level panel was held in commemoration of the anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  Although the right to self-determination was enshrined in articles 1 and 2, Sahrawi people in West Sahara people were still unable to exercise that right.  Enhanced cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner was needed as well as a need to put a technical programme in West Sahara.  The Council had been silent on West Sahara.

Iran said that the High Commissioner had expressed alarm about the increase of chauvinistic nationalism and negative impacts of populism supported by mainstream politicians and political parties in certain countries.  The continuation of such trends indicated that the international community had a long way ahead to achieve the objectives and principles enshrined in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  Unfortunately, some countries were resorting to unilateral coercive measures to advance their agenda.

Greece said the commemorations of both the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had provided a great opportunity to reflect on what had been achieved thus far, but also on what lay ahead.  However, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the whole body of human rights laws that had followed it were under attack from many sides that questioned the importance and relevance of human rights.

Albania said anniversaries were a time of celebration and reflection.  At twenty-five, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action remained a key human rights document, as the first articulation of human rights as universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.  At a time when “the legitimacy of human rights principles was under attack,” to use the words of High Commissioner Zeid, this anniversary was also a reminder for all to stand up for human rights.

Bahrain reaffirmed its commitment to all instruments for human rights, including the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which was an important and historic step for putting all rights on an equal footing.  The Declaration had launched the dialogue and cooperation of all States seeking to promote the rights of women, children, and indigenous peoples.  This instrument had been ratified by all States but one.  Bahrain condemned all efforts to use the Human Rights Council as an instrument to promote the interests of certain States.

India said that while recognizing the important role of national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations in the promotion of human rights, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action supported the right of each State to choose the framework best suited for it.  Any attempt to establish more external and intrusive mechanisms without the express will or confidence of the concerned States would be counterproductive.  The full objectives of the Declaration could only be achieved through constructive dialogue.

Mozambique regretted that the right to self-determination continued to be a mirage for the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara.  It appealed to Morocco, the occupying power, to positively cooperate with the personal envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Western Sahara, and expressed concern about the situation in Guerguerat, recalling the importance of maintaining the status quo.  It welcomed the readiness of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake as soon as possible a follow-up technical mission to Western Sahara. 

Tanzania fully endorsed the emphasis of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on civil and political rights, adding that it had taken legislative measures to ensure those rights.  There was media pluralism in Tanzania, both in terms of types of media outlets and diversity of voices and opinions.  There had been no arbitrary suspension or deregistering of non-governmental organizations, no arbitrary shutting down or suspension of media outlets, and no harassment of human rights defenders.

Ireland remained committed to recognizing and facilitating the critical role played by a strong and unhindered civil society in the full realization of all human rights.  It was deeply concerned about the increasing reports of discrimination, violence, reprisals and death experienced by civil society actors across the world, and it called for a collective and collaborative approach to ensure that such instances were never tolerated.  Ireland was one of the core group members that had presented a resolution on civil society space during the current Council session and it encouraged all States to support it.

Action Canada for Population and Development, in a joint statement, reminded that sex work was directly or indirectly criminalized in the vast majority of countries.  Sex workers had repeatedly highlighted that criminalization, social marginalization, and stigma from State and non-State actors fuelled mistrust of police, social services and other authorities.  The organization urged States and United Nations bodies to consult with sex workers before regulating and deciding for them. 

Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausaliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco stressed the importance of youth participation in decision making at the national and international levels.  Universality could not be achieved without the politics of inclusion and engagement for all.  Young people possessed a fresh vision and capacities that could help Governments to analyse problems, find solutions and protect human rights with new strategies in order to face new challenges.

Africa Culture Internationale said that African countries had a bad track record in terms of environmental rights.  According to the research, around 70 per cent of people in Africa were still largely dependent on the land.  The inclusion of human rights considerations into environmental issues was a sign that the international community had to do more.  The international community had to provide adequate tools and mechanisms.

Organisation internationale pour les pays les moins avancés (OIPMA) said that all peoples of the world had the right to self-determination.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights took into account the specific context of colonialization.  People of south Yemen had been occupied by the north since the 1994 war and were now struggling for their autonomy so the international community was asked to assist them.

Victorious Youths Movement said that the recently published report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry to investigate civilian massacres in Kasai province did not mention mass graves or the perpetrators who had committed serious crimes against humanity.  The report was incomplete, particularly taking into account that the mandate of the Commission was to investigate such crimes.  Serious credibility issues were emerging from the elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Global Welfare Association said article 29 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action explained the law in times of armed conflict.  When the LTTE terrorists controlled over one third of the territory of Sri Lanka, and nearly 300,000 civilians were forcefully taken as hostages and used as human shields, The Government of Sri Lanka had had an inherent right to use legitimate means to maintain law and order.  The former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka did not have the mandate to co-sponsor the resolution on Sri Lanka.  This resolution should therefore be withdrawn.

Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee said the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action in part 1, article 20, reaffirmed that States should recognize the value and diversity of distinct identities of indigenous people and should protect them.  However, some States were least bothered by it.  The Committee asked the Council to communicate with India to stand by the Vienna Declaration by protecting the human rights of indigenous populations.

Liberation said after 25 years there was still a long way to go in terms of prevention against and protection from racial discrimination.  In India, caste-based discrimination was open and all pervasive.  Racial discrimination in India was not being targeted as it should be under the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  On the contrary, it kept growing every day. 

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA said India was becoming a major example of how minorities were far away from enjoying the rights claimed in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  In India, religious minorities were compelled to follow the religious majority.  The Government even decided on who could eat what and on which days.
 
International Humanist and Ethical Union said that the recent vote of the Irish people to liberalize abortion laws was a long overdue decision.  However, the implementation and respect for human rights should not be subject to democratic consensus or popular opinion.  The criminalization of abortion and failure to ensure access to quality abortion services was a human rights issue, and it could constitute a violation of the right to be free from torture or inhumane and degrading treatment.

Prahar expressed deep concern about the continuing reports of discrimination, threats and violence faced by civil society worldwide.  In India, marginalized sections were still far away from having their rights protected.  Civil society and human rights defenders, especially Dalits, were under attack of not only fanatic non-governmental forces but were also harassed by the current Government.  The organization called on the Council to convince India to honour its commitments under the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia urged the Association of South-East Asian Nations’ Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights to start taking substantive steps to address serious human rights situations and shrinking democratic space in the region, including the curtailment of civic space in Cambodia; increased risks faced by human rights defenders in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand; and gross human rights violations in Myanmar.

European Union of Jewish Students spoke of the normalization of the far right in Europe, eerily similar to the 1930s, and of Italy’s new Interior Minister calling for a census based on ethnicity.  The organization asked the Human Rights Council to stand up not only against anti-Semitism, but racism and discrimination in all its forms, and to recognize anti-Gypsism as a growing sickness of society.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said Ms. Narges Mohammadi, human rights defender, Vice President and Speaker of Defenders of Human Rights Centre, had participated in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action +15 conference in Vienna 10 years ago.  A year after the conference, she had been arrested and sentenced to six years of imprisonment, and then, while in prison, to another 16 years in prison.

International Service for Human Rights affirmed that the human rights of women were an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.  Yet, by way of example, 25 years later, women in Saudi Arabia were still denied their basic rights.  Women human rights defenders who challenged the structural discrimination in the country were now imprisoned and called “traitors” for campaigning for gender equality.

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said the first line countries had a responsibility to save asylum seekers and migrants.  The European Union had to oblige by its international obligations in this respect.  It reaffirmed international efforts against trafficking of individuals.

Association pour l’Integration et le Development Durable au Burundi said India had failed to live up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, in terms of the respect for and protection of its indigenous populations.  Indigenous populations faced rampant violations.  Their identity was under constant attack. 

IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association reminded that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action discussed effective remedy and redress.  In Yemen various forms of human rights violations continued, such as enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, summary and extrajudicial killings, and torture.  Under the current situation in Yemen, women suffered from violence, arrests, harassment and starvation.  What could the Council do to put an end to those violations and end impunity?

Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) reminded that women in occupied Kashmir suffered from a number of physical and psychological problems due to the occupation by India, such as infertility.  Millions of people in Kashmir were affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.  The organization called on the Human Rights Council to appoint a special representative for the situation of human rights in Kashmir. 

Indian Council of South America reminded of the denial of self-determination for the peoples of Hawaii.  The State of Hawaii and the United States denied private land title rights for indigenous peoples.  Both in Alaska and Hawaii they ignored the free political institutions of indigenous peoples as opposed to the puppet Governments imposed by the United States. 

World Barua Organization drew attention to India’s falling behind in the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  The human rights of vulnerable populations in India, including of indigenous peoples, minorities, Dalits, and women, were under growing attack.  It urged the Council to ask India to expedite the process of 1,528 extrajudicial killings in the state of Manipur.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation said United Nations resolutions stipulated the inalienable right to self-determination.  The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action also recognized that right.  The denial of the right was a violation of human rights.  Morocco continued to violate the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and the Human Rights Council must act in the best interests of those people.

Associaiton Culturelle des Tamouls en France said the conflict in Sri Lanka was based on the quest for self-determination of the Tamil people.  The conflict was between the “so-called” Sri Lankan State and the Tamil people who had never been granted sovereignty.  Tamils had been subjected to continued colonial rule and were fighting for the creation of their own independent State.

New Human Rigths Cameroon stressed that countless human beings were falling victim to racism and other forms of racial discrimination.  In Baluchistan, extrajudicial killings and disappearances of the Baluch people were commonplace at the hand of Muslim forces.  The region was an open wound where human rights were being violated with impunity.

Rencontre Africaine pour la defense de droits de l‘homme said the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was being continually weakened due to a lack of financial support and increasing polarisation from some States.  The current situation would not allow for the attainment of the objectives outlined in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

Iraqi Development Organisation raised its concerns over States’ violations to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action relating to the right to be free from torture, abuse and ill-treatment.  It called on all States, including the United Arab Emirates, to end the torture of detainees and to prosecute the officials responsible for the torture and hold them accountable, in line with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc said on 31 March 2012, Bahraini officials had killed a journalist, and a year later, his father had been killed during a commemoration for his son.  In 2017, the security forces had attacked a peaceful gathering, killing an 18-year-old boy.  Despite all these violations, the Bahraini authorities refused to prosecute the violators.

Alsalam Foundation raised concerns over violations by States of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action relating to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and torture.  It raised in particular concern over women activists detained in Bahrain’s Isa town Women’s Prison.  Bahraini authorities had arbitrarily arrested Fawziya Mashallah and Zakiya Albarbori and held them in pre-trial detention.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said cultural diversity was rooted in the human expression and was a crucial factor for the survival of human life.  Human cultures had to be recognized.  This was stressed in article 1 of the UNESCO Declaration and articles 5 and 10 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  Cultural diversity and universality should not be used as tools against others and should be considered as two pillars of human dignity. 

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture said that human rights defenders in the Gulf countries were crushed mercilessly.  It called on Member States of the United Nations Economic and Social Council to review the process of granting consultative status to some non-governmental organizations.  In Bahrain, human rights defenders continued to be prevented from participating in the Human Rights Council.  In the United Arab Emirates, they were imprisoned for documenting human rights violations. 

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations reminded of the importance of the effective realization of the right to self-determination.  In Western Sahara, a referendum on independence kept being refused by the authorities of Morocco.  The Human Rights Council should be re-engaged on the right to self-determination and a proper monitoring mechanism for Western Sahara should be established.

Association of World Citizens noted that children had rights and the right to be a person and not the property of parents, doctors or society; they had the right to dream and use their imagination, to play, to know the truth regarding their condition, and the right to receive truthful answers, to receive help from parents, the right to feel anger and frustration, and the right to refuse treatment. 

United Nations Watch reminded that June 2018 marked 15 years since the arrest of Alexei Pichugin, an executive at Russia’s Yukos oil company.  His arrest had launched the campaign by Vladimir Putin’s Government against Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky who had dared to speak out against corruption.  Yukos had been destroyed and its assets had been transferred to a State-owned company.  Would the Council raise its voice in support of Russia’s political prisoners?

Alliance Creative Community Project said the Office of Missing Persons in Sri Lanka was yet to build the trust of family members of missing persons.  Family members were calling for justice as the Government was not being held accountable.  The domestic legal system was incapable of addressing the issue without international cooperation.  The Tamil people must be granted their right to self-determination.

World Muslim Congress said the denial of the right to self-determination was a human rights violation.  The right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir was recognised by the United Nations and protected under international law.  The people of the region were resisting Indian occupation.  There was a heavy military presence with total impunity for human rights violations.

Le conseil international de Soutien à des procès equitables et aux Droits de l’Homme asserted that Morocco was trying to justify its illegitimate occupation of Western Sahara.  A European Union Court ruling stated that Western Sahara and Morocco were separate territories.  The Human Rights Council must give due attention to the issue and address the grave human rights violations unfolding in the region.

Association de étudiants tamouls de France said Tamils in Sri Lanka lived in fear of the Government.  Recently, a child had been raped and murdered, showing that Tamils were not safe under military rule.  Large tracts of land remained under military occupation, denying Tamils their ancestral lands and negatively affecting the local economy.  The United Nations must refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court.

Action of Human Movement said the World Conference on Human Rights unambiguously reaffirmed that “All peoples had the right to self-determination” and “considered the denial of the right to self-determination as a violation of human rights.”  In May 2009, Sri Lankan military forces carried out a genocide war against Tamils by killing more than 146,000 people in a short period of six months, from December 2008 to May 2009.

European Humanist Federation said the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action made it clear that all States should intensify their efforts in order to prevent and fight violence and discrimination against women, in both private and public spheres.  The Federation was particularly concerned to see that progress had been very slow in several countries in Europe.  In Europe, 1 in 10 women had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15, and one in five from a partner.

Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said the Tamil victim communities who suffered the brutal war continued to be hit by poverty, occupation forces and land grabbing, especially due to the dominating military in the north and east.  They had been denied the enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights just as they were denied the exercise of their civil and political rights.

L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et la Démocratie referred to the longstanding occupation of the Tamils Homeland by Cingalais State of Sri Lanka.  It denounced the contradictory external policy of the European Union, which developed an enhanced commercial and political relationship with the occupying powers, while presenting themselves as “leaders” in the protection and promotion of human rights. 

Society for Development and Community Empowerment drew attention to the case of the Tamil territories illegally occupied by the Sri Lankan military, noting that the Tamil people were still waiting for justice.  The Government of Sri Lanka had failed to implement the principles of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and it violated international law.  The organization requested the Council to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to respect its international obligations. 

International Solidarity for Africa called attention to the peculiar case of the occupation of Eelam Tamil territory by Sri Lankan security forces.  In May 2009 Sri Lankan military forces had perpetrated a genocidal war against Tamils, killing more than 146,000.  The organization called on the Council to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to allow the Eelam Tamil people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.

ABC Tamil Oli reminded that the international community had failed to protect 146,000 Tamils from genocide.  Tamils had never received sovereignty in the territories they inhabited, namely in the north-east of Sri Lanka.  The right to self-determination was a fundamental human right.  The Council should appoint an independent rapporteur to assess the human rights situation in the Tamil territories in Sri Lanka.

Tamil Uzhagam said that the Tamil people in Sri Lanka were still awaiting justice for the genocide perpetrated against them in 2009.  It called on the Council to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to allow the Eelam Tamil people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, and urged for the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action for the sake of lasting peace on the island.

Association Thendral said the new Office of Missing Persons operating in Sri Lanka was not heeding the concerns of affected families.  The State was not taking measures to provide families with the truth regarding the disappearance of family members.  The domestic legal system was unable to address matters.  The Human Rights Council must assert the inalienable right to self-determination of the Tamil people.

“Coupe de Pousse” Chaine de l’Espoir Nord-Sud noted a number of Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action violations in Algeria.  Extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances were common for human rights activists in the country.  Algeria had not ratified the Rome Statute nor investigated grave human rights violations committed in its territory.  In certain parts of Algeria there was no respect for human rights.  

Institute for NGO Research said the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action afforded protections to children.  Still, a number of States were silent in the face of violations to the rights of children perpetrated by Hamas.  The Palestinian Authority was supportive of the use of children as cannon fodder.  Certain actors would rather promote radical agendas than embrace peace.  The Human Rights Council must stand up for the rights of Palestinians.

Action international pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs asserted that human rights violations were violations of international humanitarian law.  There were a large number of human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo as civilians were being killed.  Human rights defenders were among the targets of such violence. 

International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) said unfortunately, States seemed to misunderstand the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  They seemed to participate less in the Human Rights Council and even withdraw from it.  Civil society reflected the plurality of voices and was the bedrock of human rights. The Organization was therefore concerned about the shrinking space for civil society in the Human Rights Council.

Right of Reply

Iraq, speaking in a right of reply, in reference to the Australian comments on the latest elections held in Iraq, said that four parliamentary elections had been held in Iraq since 2013.  Despite the challenges that the Iraqi people faced, they had participated in these elections.  The allegations and challenges to the elections in Iraq had been reviewed by the competent bodies.

Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, said the reference by Australia to Pakistan’s upcoming elections was condescending and amounted to interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan.  Elections in Pakistan were inclusive, with wide participation, and corresponded to international standards.  Australia’s observation shrank the constructive space in the Human Rights Council forum and raised questions as to its own selectivity.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC/18/105E