Action on Presidential Statement on Enhancing the Efficiency of the Human Rights Council
In a Presidential Statement (A/HRC/29/L.34) on enhancing the efficiency of the Human Rights Council, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to improve further the voluntary yearly calendar for thematic resolutions of the Human Rights Council; decides that the Bureau shall make recommendations and identify modalities to adjust the terms of mandate holders, on an exceptional one-time basis, in order to better spread the appointment process over time; also decides that candidates shortlisted by the Consultative Group may request to be interviewed in any official language of the United Nations; and requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to develop, manage and support, as soon as possible, and no later than the thirty-first session, a more distinguishable, accessible and user-friendly webpage for the Human Rights Council, its mechanisms and procedures, including a user-friendly extranet.
Russian Federation, in a general comment, welcomed the open and honest behaviour of the President of the Council in his work with delegations. The Council was still a young body, and a lot had already been done. The first review of the Council’s activities that was carried out in 2011 was adopted by consensus. The draft Presidential Statement was a one-time separate decision of the Council correcting some shortcomings in the Council’s activities. It would not be a first step towards starting new negotiations on the work of the Council.
United States, in a general comment, appreciated the President’s ideas, but was disappointed that certain suggestions by the United States, including on the process of tabling resolutions and amendments, were not reflected in the final version. Paragraph 2 of this statement regarding the appointment of mandate holders was a source of concern for the United States.
Japan, in a general comment, supported the initiative by the President, but called for a serious review of costs and budget implications. Japan would join consensus on this statement.
Estonia, in a general comment, expressed deep concern about the process of preparation of the Presidential Statement and said that more time was needed for its consideration. Estonia was in particular concerned about the paragraph on the election of mandate holders, which expanded the powers of the President.
Viet Nam, in a general comment, supported the Presidential Statement in the spirit of cooperation, and said it would continue to work with all members for the noble goals therein stated.
Algeria, in a general comment, said that the President had shown a great deal of transparency in the consultations carried out in the preparation of the Presidential Statement. The draft Statement that referred to a voluntary calendar for the election of the Special Procedures and the website enjoyed the support of Algeria.
Mexico, in a general comment, welcomed the President’s openness and flexibility, and the transparency of the process. Mexico fully joined the consensus, but regretted that the statement focused more on the effects than on the causes of the issue. The reflection on this could be furthered and taken beyond the “Geneva bubble”.
The Council then adopted the Presidential Statement without a vote.
Venezuela, in a general comment after the adoption of the Presidential Statement on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, said that the consultative process had been inclusive and stressed the importance of rectifying existing shortcomings in the work of the Human Rights Council in terms of substance and procedure. The effectiveness of the Council must be permanently monitored and discussed by its supervising body, i.e. the General Assembly, and this Statement should not be seen as a new path. It was regrettable that contrary to the practice of the Council, the need for broad consultation with regional groups had not been incorporated in the Statement. Venezuela was also concerned about financial implications of the Presidential Statement.
China, in a general comment after the adoption of the Presidential Statement, said it supported initiatives to improve the efficiency of the Human Rights Council and noted that the President had carefully listened to views of States in the consultation process, and had adjusted the Statement accordingly. China’s understanding of the Statement was that the adjustment to the mandates of the Special procedures mandate holders would be undertaken with broad consultation and would be approved by the Council.
Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on the Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the Office of the
High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation of Rohingya Muslims and Other Minorities in Myanmar
In a resolution (A/HRC/29/L.30) on the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns the systematic gross violations of human rights and abuses committed against all, including Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State; calls upon the Government of Myanmar to ensure the protection of human rights of all persons in Myanmar, including Rohingya Muslims; calls upon the Government of Myanmar to take the necessary measures to address the spread of discrimination and prejudice against Muslims; and urges the Government of Myanmar to protect places of worships belonging to all religions. The Council calls upon the Government of Myanmar to ensure the return of all refugees and persons displaced from their home; and urges it to grant full citizenship rights to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State. The Council requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present an oral update to the Council at its thirtieth Session and a report at its thirty-second Session on the human rights violations and abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar.
The Council started its consideration of this resolution on 2 July and a summary can be seen here.
Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, said this resolution went against the letter and spirit of agreed principles in the General Assembly, and against the principles defended by the Non-Aligned Movement against country-specific resolutions. This resolution was counter-protective. The notion of Muslims in Myanmar being subjected to human rights violations was totally wrong and baseless. The constitution guaranteed freedom of religion. Harmful and traditional practices never survived in Myanmar. Myanmar rejected the draft resolution as a whole.
Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the Universal Periodic Review was the ideal forum for genuine discussions, cooperation and respectful dialogue on human rights.
Venezuela , in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would not support this initiative without the consent of the country concerned. Myanmar had made efforts to combat poverty and provided the highest standards of welfare to its population.
The Council then adopted draft resolution L.30 without a vote.
Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development
Action on Resolution on the Protection of the Family
In a resolution (A/HRC/29/L.25) on the protection of the family: contribution of the family to the realization of the right to an adequate standard of living for its members, particularly through its role in poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development, adopted as orally revised by a vote of 29 in favour, 14 against and 4 abstentions, the Council reaffirms that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State; urges Member States to create a conducive environment to strengthen and support all families, recognizing equality between women and men; and resolves to pay particular attention to family units headed by women and children. The Council invites States to consider mainstreaming the promotion of family-oriented policies as a cross-cutting issue in national development plans and programmes. The Council also requests the High Commissioner to prepare a report on the impact of the implementation by States of their obligations under relevant provisions of international human rights law with regard to the protection of the family.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (29): Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.
Against (14): Albania, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Korea, South Africa, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.
Abstentions (4): Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Action on Amendment L.37
The Council decided to take a no-action on the L.37 amendment by a vote of 22 in favour, 21 against and 3 abstentions
Action on Amendment L.38
The Council rejected amendment L.38 by a vote of 18 in favour, 23 against, and 5 abstentions.
Action on Amendment L.39
Amendment L.39 was accepted by co-sponsors.
Action on Amendment L.40
The Council rejected amendment L.20 by a vote of 19 in favour, 23 against, and 4 abstentions.
Saudi Arabia, introducing draft resolution L.25, said that the family was the most important unit of society; if it was strengthened all society benefited and if it was weakened the whole society was harmed. Spouses were a shield to one another, and the family played a crucial role in preserving cultural and societal heritage. No State disagreed on the importance of the resolution, and Saudi Arabia appealed to all Members of the Council to support the resolution as presented.
Egypt, also introducing draft resolution L.25, said that the family was the natural and fundamental unit of the society, and as such was entitled to protection by the State and society. This obligation remained to be one of the most overlooked and least elaborated under international human rights law. The draft resolution presented several key elements, including the interrelationship between implementation of obligation on protection of the family on one hand, and the promotion and protection of family members with focus on women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons, on the other, and suggested specific measures for States to support implementation of human rights obligations vis-à-vis the protection of the family. The draft reaffirmed equality between women and men in the family, and highlighted the contribution of the family in addressing abuses and violations that could occur in a family setting, such as harmful practices, child abuse and domestic violence. The draft text continued to impose no one-size-fits-all definition and left this matter within discretion of each State and society.
South Africa, introducing draft amendment L.37, said this would add a new paragraph recognizing that various forms of families existed. This reality was a fundamental issue for South Africa, and it was of the view that various forms of families had to be recognized. South Africa regretted that the co-sponsors had adopted a narrow-minded approach on this.
Russian Federation, in response to South Africa, said this amendment carried no added value to the text and endangered its balance. There was no consensus on this proposal, which was being misused to promote controversial notions and concepts. The scope of this text, which had no definition and already recognized the diversity of challenges faced by families, meant this addition was unnecessary. Russian Federation requested a no-action motion on L.37.
China, speaking in favour of the no-action motion, said that China supported the request by the Russia.
Indonesia, speaking in favour of the no-action motion, said that Indonesia supported the request by Russia.
Brazil, speaking against the no-action motion, said that Brazil believed that the Council should consider on its merit all proposals put before it and was in principle opposed to no-action motions. The Council was the place for inclusive and democratic debate. It was regrettable that the request for a no-action motion sought to block the discussion.
United Kingdom, speaking against the no-action motion, said that the Council should consider on its merit all proposals put before it and said that the use of the no-action motion undercut the debate. The amendment stated the reality that in various societies and parts of the world, various forms of family existed. The United Kingdom called upon the States to vote against the no-action motion.
Norway, introducing draft amendment L.38, said this would delete language in the draft resolution that referred to morals and value systems, which were unclear references that could be used to justify harmful practices.
Russian Federation, in response to Norway, rejected amendment L.38 proposed by Norway.
Uruguay, introducing draft amendment L.39, said the resolution did not reflect the rights of the child as a whole, and put the rights of parents above the rights of the child. The concept of the best interest of the child was diluted in the draft text. A resolution on families should have a clear and balanced focus and take all rights of the child into consideration.
Russia, responding to the draft amendment L.39, said that the core group had studied the amendment and thought it was a good contribution to the text of the resolution. Sponsors accepted the proposed amendment L.39.
Norway, introducing draft amendment L.40, firmly agreed that families constituted natural parts of societies and said that the recognition of the inherent dignity of all members of the human family was the foundation for peace in the world. The primary responsibility of the State was towards the individual, and Norway introduced an amendment to ensure that the rights of individuals within the family were protected.
Russia said on behalf of the sponsors that they were not ready to accept the proposed L.40 amendment.
Pakistan, on draft amendment L.41, said that Pakistan had decided to withdraw the amendment and its co-sponsorship of the draft resolution L.25.
Qatar, in a general comment, said the draft resolution on the family was an added value to the resolution adopted by the Council last year, and reaffirmed the entitlement of the family to the full protection of the State. The core group had devoted considerable efforts to take all views into account. Qatar opposed the proposed amendments, and asked all countries to support the text as it was.
Estonia, in a general comment on behalf of a group of States, expressed concerns relating to the draft resolution. The group of States attached great importance to the family and its protection. Such protection should extend to all families and all their members. This resolution, however, adopted a narrower approach, and did not properly reflect the State’s obligations of protecting women and girls. Families had evolved, and the Council needed to take this into consideration in order to ensure that the rights of all were protected.
Russia, in a general comment, said that the Council’s 2014 resolution on the family had enjoyed the support of more than 80 States. The family was a very complex socio-cultural phenomenon and it brought together almost all aspects of human life. The task of the family was to continue humanity in the broadest sense of the word, as it acted as a link between generations. This approach to family made it possible to approach the development of society as a whole. Russia called upon all members of the Council to support the draft resolution and vote against the proposed amendments.
Bangladesh, in a general comment, said that the family laid down the foundation of human capital development and it installed in people their culture and heritage. The protection of the family through various measures by the State could ensure the enjoyment of fundamental human rights of its members. The draft resolution introduced essential elements to fill in the gaps to strengthen sustainable development efforts with an aim to create an environment for ensuring the enjoyment of much-needed family policies.
Algeria, in a general comment, said that the family, as a fundamental unit in society, must be strengthened and protected. The draft resolution was in line with the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the role of the family; it talked about the role of the family in sustainable development and recalled that respect for the family and its members was essential.
Ireland, in a general comment, said it attached great importance to the protection of families, and the need to develop inclusive policies to support their role. It would have appreciated a non-politicized discussion on this issue within the Council. Ireland however had several concerns on this draft text, which contained baseless concepts. It first recognized families as rights holders, which was inconsistent with international human rights law, which recognized only individuals as human rights holders. The text also included dangerous references to cultural traditions, which could be used to justify harmful practices, and failed to protect gender equality. Finally, the text failed to recognize the simple fact that families existed in various ways. Ireland was concerned that the no-action motion on this would be voted on, which contradicted the principle of dialogue. Ireland would vote against this resolution.
United Arab Emirates, in a general comment, said children should grow up in a family environment and in a balanced way. Attempts to impose other frameworks for the family were not balanced and did not meet consensus. Taking into account diversity, it was necessary to stop imposing trends. The Council was a place for discussions based on respect of religious and cultural diversity, not a place to impose one’s view.
Sierra Leone, in a general comment, said that regardless of the ever-changing world, the family retained its place as a nucleus of every society. Families sustained communities and Sierra Leone believed that the protection of the family remained a crucial issue to all States. To ensure that the family retained its key role, it was essential to ensure that individuals must be free and prosper in societies, particularly children. It was the right of every country to determine the definition of the family.
Morocco, in a general comment, said that the draft resolution drew on the principles of international law and international human rights law which stated that the family was the basic fundamental unit of society and as such had a right to protection by the society. The draft resolution highlighted that national measures to protect the family should be a part of national human rights strategies and that human rights of individuals were essential for the protection of the family.
Indonesia, in a general comment, said that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly stated that the family was the basic fundamental unit of society and as such had a right to protection by the society. The draft resolution sought to close existing gaps in that protection, and was clear that it went hand in hand with the protection of human rights.
United States, in a general comment on behalf of Canada and Australia, strongly supported the necessity to recognize that different forms of families existed. The text failed to recognize the diversity of families, and the primacy of the human rights of family members. United States was troubled that the text seemed to acknowledge the negative impact of harmful practices on the family unit, rather than to acknowledge their dramatic effects on individuals.
Pakistan, in a general comment, strongly supported the draft resolution, and said families played a crucial role in the preservation of moral heritage and values of the society. The family had the primary responsibility to protect and educate children in a stable environment. The draft resolution was flexible and allowed ample interpretations respectful of the diversity of cultural and religious particularisms.
Qatar, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the family played a crucial role in the education of generations to ensure that society flourished. The sponsors had inserted a specific statement in the draft resolution that guaranteed the respect for human rights of all individuals within family. Qatar rejected L.38 and called upon all to vote against it.
Netherlands, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the Netherlands gave equal attention to all families in its society, regardless of their composition, and that it would continue to respect its human rights obligations in this regard. Recognizing the particularities of each State, the Netherlands said that it was the duty of States to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Netherlands, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft amendment L.40, said this amendment sought to secure a reference to the fact that human rights violations could occur within the families and target family members.
Morocco, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said this amendment sought to denaturise the purpose of the resolution by focusing it on individuals rather than on the family unit, which was entitled to protection by the State. Protection and respect of family members was already mainstreamed throughout the text, and adopting this amendment would render the mandate allocated to the High Commissioner unclear and confusing.
The Council rejected draft amendment L.40.
Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L.25, restated its commitment to the development and protection of the family and said that the submission of divisive initiatives in this Council eroded its authority and had a negative impact on institutional legal structures that had been carefully built up. The draft resolution L.25 ignored different forms of the family which had been recognized in other fora of the United Nations. It was important to protect different types of families and their members and Mexico called on all members of the Council to promote constructive agendas and add to the momentum towards human rights. Mexico would abstain from the vote on L.25.
Latvia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L.25 as orally amended on behalf of the European Union, shared the view of many on the contribution that families made to societies and the need for the protection of the family. The European Union recognized the primary responsibility of States in the protection of human rights of individuals and said that it was clear that the decisions taken by the sponsors prevented the consensus. Issues of concern with regard to the draft resolution included the failure to recognize that in different systems, various forms of families existed. The recognition of diversity of family forms was the principal gap in the draft resolution.
South Africa, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said various forms of the family were found in all parts of the world, and was concerned that the co-sponsors refused to recognize this reality. South Africa urged the co-sponsors to reconsider this, and was concerned that a no-action motion was voted on, preventing discussion on the matter. The draft text failed to refer to previously agreed language. South Africa could not support this text, and would vote against it.
Paraguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said its constitution and legislation protected families and gender equality and non-discrimination, as well as the principle of the best interest of the child. Paraguay would support this resolution, and reiterated its support to the highest level of protection of human rights.
The Council then adopted draft resolution L.25 as orally revised.
Explanation of Vote before the Vote and General Comments on Resolutions Adopted under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of all Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with regard to L.18 on the regulation of civilian acquisition of arms, said that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia believed that this initiative did not fall under the mandate of the Council and did not believe that the text would help resolve the use of arms, which came from illegal trafficking and sale in arms. Concerning L.25 on the protection of the family, it was regrettable that the core group of sponsors was unable to build consensus; the results of the action on this resolution had confirmed that this issue continued to divide the Council and the tendency of bringing this kind of theme was not in the spirit of the relevant the General Assembly resolution and capacity building package.
Japan said the main sponsors of a number of resolutions calling for panel discussions needed to review the budgetary resources needed for the implementation of the resolutions.
United States said it strongly supported the resolution on the right to education, and said educational matters were the responsibility of States. It underscored the importance of education as a public good, but stressed the positive aspects private providers could have. Other resolutions under the agenda item should not imply that States should join international human rights treaties. Human rights belonged to individuals, not groups, and the State had the primary responsibility to protect them.
Sierra Leone, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said although human rights had to be respected while countering terrorism, these rights were not more important than the rights of the victims. Sierra Leone then said that only with collaborating with families could they combat harmful practices.
Cuba, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said the resolution on the family contained important dispositions, and encouraged families to make more substantive contribution to development. This resolution did not prejudge Cuba’s anti-discrimination legislation, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
South Africa said it had made an error in voting on L.27 and requested that the session record be amended to reflect its yes vote. With regard to L.2, South Africa welcomed the anniversary of the International Covenants and said that its Constitution had been drafted in accordance with the international Bill of Rights.
Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
Action on Resolution on Cooperation and Assistance to Ukraine in the Field of Human Rights
In a resolution (A/HRC/29/L.9) on cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 21 in favour, 6 against and 20 abstentions, the Council welcomes the technical assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights provided by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and acknowledging the further need for such assistance. The Council invites the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to present orally to the States Members of the Human Rights Council and observers the findings of each of the periodic reports of the Office of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Ukraine, as part of the interactive dialogues, until the thirty-second session of the Council.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (21): Albania, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.
Against (6): Bolivia, China, Cuba, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
Abstentions (20): Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and Viet Nam.
Ukraine, introducing draft resolution L.9, said this was a concise and procedural draft seeking improved international assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights. Ukraine was open to cooperation with the United Nations and attached great importance to the reports by the Office of the High Commissioner’s Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. The draft proposed the High Commissioner to present orally its findings to the Council. The resolution had the consent of the concerned country, and Ukraine hoped it would enjoy consensus.
Latvia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, strongly supported the draft resolution which represented a move by Ukraine to protect human rights in all of its territory. The latest report by the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine documented continued and persistent human rights violations in eastern Ukraine and in Crimea and Sevastopol, which had been illegally annexed by Russia. Ensuring accountability for all human rights violations and abuses was crucial and the European Union supported the idea of regular presentation by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Council of the findings of each periodic report as a legitimate and transparent way to inform the Council of the situation on the ground.
Russia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed concern about the human rights situation in Ukraine and said that it was important to discuss those problems and the reasons for which they existed. The draft resolution did not reflect the reality, did not observe principles of technical assistance, and ran counter to the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The mention of territorial and political issues in a resolution of the Human Rights Council was out of place. Russia asked for a vote on this text and called on all States which opposed politicization in the Council to vote against it.
Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would abstain because of its reference to the resolution 26/13 could be interpreted as a condemnation.
China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said China respected the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries, Ukraine included, and stressed that dialogue was the only way to resolve the crisis. China had noted the important progress in the implementation of the Minsk peace accords and called on parties to the conflict to meet each other half way and bring order and peace to Ukraine as soon as possible. Any action by the Council should contribute to the peaceful political settlement in Ukraine.
Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said item 10 was based on cooperation and capacity building in the field of human rights. This draft resolution did not meet these parameters, and was based on political considerations. This text provided no assistance to the victims. Venezuela would vote against this draft resolution.
Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said this draft contained controversial language, and that the draft could be used to advance a political agenda that had not been agreed upon in other fora. Cuba emphasized that Ukraine and Cuba had strong relations.
Paraguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said technical cooperation in the field of human rights was an important tool, and welcomed the close collaboration between Ukraine and the Office of the High Commissioner. It stated concern, however, regarding references to documents from other fora that had not been adopted by consensus.
Indonesia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed concern about some elements of the draft resolution and said it was unable to support this draft resolution.
Ireland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, confirmed Ireland’s commitment to technical assistance and capacity building and welcomed the initiative by Ukraine to extend this assistance. References to resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council of the General Assembly were a standard part of the Council’s established practice, irrespective of the manner in which those resolutions had been adopted.
United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, commended the cooperation of Ukraine with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The draft text was a procedural one which sought to build upon the reporting by the Office on human rights challenges. It was this Council’s duty to provide support to States requesting it.
Saudi Arabia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected this resolution because item 10 required the consent of the concerned country. It was an agenda item based on consensus and cooperation. Politicized resolutions had no place under this item.
The Council then adopted draft resolution L.9.
For use of the information media; not an official record
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