14 December 2016
The Human Rights Council concluded this afternoon its special session on South Sudan after adopting a resolution in which it condemned the ongoing violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan and reaffirmed the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.
In the resolution on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, adopted without a vote, as orally revised, the Council placed renewed emphasis on the need of the Commission to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged violations and abuses of human rights, with a view to ensure that those responsible were held to account. The Government of South Sudan was urged to appoint a Special Representative on sexual and gender-based violence.
The United States and Albania took the floor to introduce the draft text.
South Sudan spoke as the concerned country.
Speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote were the Russian Federation, China and Venezuela. The United States spoke after the adoption of the resolution as an observer State.
The special session opened this morning and a summary of the morning meeting can be found here.
This was the Human Rights Council’s twenty-sixth special session. Documentation relating to the special session is available on the Human Rights Council webpage. The thirty-fourth regular session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 27 February to 24 March 2017.
Right of Reply
Ethiopia, speaking in a right of reply, said that the remarks made earlier by Eritrea were uncalled for. They revealed unchanged character and the intent of the regime to hide its aggressive character and widespread human rights violations against all its citizens. Eritreans represented 150,000 out of the 800,000 refugees that Ethiopia hosted. The Commission of Inquiry had confirmed that there were 400,000 people in slavery in Eritrea, where crimes against humanity had been committed since 1991. Eritrea was under sanctions by the United Nations for its sponsorship of terrorism and that was why it did not have a moral ground to present accusations against Ethiopia.
Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in South Sudan
In a resolution A/HRC/S-26/L.1 on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, adopted without vote, as orally revised, the Council condemns the ongoing violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan, including those involving alleged targeted killings, ethnically targeted violence, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, the widespread recruitment and use of children, arbitrary arrests and detention, alleged torture, arbitrary denial of humanitarian access and attacks on schools, places of worship, hospitals and United Nations and associated peacekeeping personnel, by all parties; decides to reaffirm the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, with renewed emphasis on the need to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged violations and abuses of human rights with a view to ensure that those responsible were held to account; requests the Commission to suggest priority recommendations for the Government of South Sudan on how to end sexual and gender-based violence; and urges the Government of South Sudan to appoint a Special Representative on sexual and gender-based violence. The Council also demands that all actors put a halt to all violations and abuses of human rights and all violations of international humanitarian law, and strongly calls upon the Government to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Council calls upon the Government to investigate all violations and abuses of human rights, and international humanitarian law and to hold those responsible to account.
United States, introducing the draft resolution S26.L.1 on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, said the oral revisions represented changes to the text resulting from consultations with many delegations, including South Sudan. The scale of rape of women and girls perpetuated by all armed groups in South Sudan was unacceptable, and it was a grave concern that the process of ethnic cleansing in some areas was already ongoing, as stated by the Commission on Human Rights. The international community must stop those atrocities and prevent future ones. There must be accountability and it was essential that all United Nations bodies and mechanisms remained engaged in South Sudan at this critical moment.
Albania, also introducing the draft resolution, noted that the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan had stated that further investigations into human rights abuses and violations and related crimes were needed, particularly in the areas where the United Nations had not had access. It was vitally important to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged violations and abuses with a view to ensuring the accountability of the perpetrators. The recent surge of refugees into Uganda could indicate that the conflict was worse than what the international community already knew. The Human Rights Council and the United Nations bodies and mechanisms should understood what was happening in South Sudan at this precarious time, and it was hoped that this special session would shine a spotlight on the situation that was developing in South Sudan. It was also hoped that the special session would condemn the violations and abuses of human rights that were taking place there, and work to prevent further violence and mass atrocities.
South Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the core group on the draft resolution on South Sudan for their genuine engagement. South Sudan expressed appreciation for the cooperative spirit on reaching a consensual text. Appreciation was also expressed for the support of the African Group, as well as for all countries which had shown their sympathy.
Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stated that holding accountable those guilty of human rights violations belonged to States. Russia underlined that it would be right for the Council to refrain from conclusions on targeted, discriminatory policies against certain ethnic groups. Russia was pleased that the main sponsors of the resolution had taken into consideration different comments, including Russia’s. Russia would join the consensus on the draft resolution.
China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it had consistently expressed the view that all parties in South Sudan should stick to a political process. The Human Rights Council ought to respect the sovereignty of South Sudan, in favour of the realization of peace and development for South Sudan. China would disassociate itself from the consensus.
Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution lacked impartial and depoliticized treatment which must be a hallmark of the Human Rights Council. It did not reflect the situation on the ground and it lacked the necessary cooperation by the community of nations. It did not reflect the commitments of the Government of South Sudan to cooperate with human rights mainstreaming. For this reason, Venezuela would not join the consensus.
The Council then adopted draft resolution L.1 without a vote as orally revised.
United States, speaking as an observer State, reiterated thanks to all delegations that had engaged constructively and was pleased that the negotiations had led to the enhancement of the Commission’s authority and renewed emphasis on the need to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged violations and abuses of human rights with a view to accountability. The United States thanked President Choi in leading this Council and the great contribution it had made to the cause of the promotion and protection of human rights.
The Council then adopted the report of the special session ad referendum.
For use of the information media; not an official record