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Human Rights Council holds a general debate on the follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

Human Rights Council
MIDDAY 

20 March 2017

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.

In the general debate, delegates reaffirmed that the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family was the foundation of freedom, justice and peace, and called for a full recognition and realization of economic, social and cultural rights at all levels.  Concerted efforts were needed to ensure the realization of the right to development in many areas of the world, for which it was necessary to reform human rights governance and establish a fair and democratic international order based on the principles of the United Nations Charter. 

Some speakers said that with the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, States had assumed the duty to protect, respect and fulfil human rights, which meant the duty of all States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their own political, economic and cultural systems.  The universal nature of those rights and freedoms was beyond question.  A speaker objected to the more frequent use of human rights as a pretext to interfere into the internal affairs of other States, and said that attempts by some States, or groups of States, to impose their views of democracy and human rights as universal was unacceptable.

Speaking in the general debate were China on behalf of a cross-regional group of 36 countries, Canada on behalf of a group of 80 States, Algeria on behalf of the Geneva Group for Support to Western Sahara, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Malta on behalf of the European Union, Italy on behalf of a cross-regional group of 76 States, Chile on behalf of a group of countries, Belgium on behalf of a group of States, Netherlands, Venezuela, South Africa, United States, India, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Russia, Israel, Greece, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan and Morocco. 

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Liberation, Friends World Committee for Consultation, Advocates for Human Rights, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, International Service for Human Rights, Victorious Youth Movement, Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l’homme, Conseil international pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, African Regional Credit Association, World Environment and Resources Council, United Schools International, International Association for Democracy in Africa, American Association of Jurists (joint statement), Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association,  Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Association pour l’integration et le développement durable au Burundi, Prahar, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace,  European Union of Public Relations, Canners International Permanent Committee, Center for Environmental and Management Studies, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, World Barua Organization, Organization Internationale pour le Développement Intégral de la Femme, Center for Inquiry, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Alsalam Foundation, Iraqi Development Organization, Indian Council of South America, International-Lawyers.Org, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Violence,  CIRID (Centre Independent de Recherches et d’Initiatives pour le Dialogue), Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Economique Internationale, United Nations Watch, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development, Amuta for NGO Responsibility, World Muslim Congress, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Inc., International Buddhist Relief Organisation, Centre for Organization Research and Education, Conectas Direitos Humanos,  Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Genero, International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service, Association for Protection of Women and Children’s Rights, Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique, ANAJA (L’Eternel a repondu), Tourner la page, Association des étudiands tamouls de France, L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie, Alliance Creative Community Project, and Association Mauritanienne pour Latin America promotion du droit.

Brazil spoke in right of reply.

At 4 p.m., the Council will hold its general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

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

China, speaking on behalf of a cross-regional group of 36 countries, said that in many parts of the world the right to development was still not achieved.  It was a high time to adjust human rights governance.  The international community must remain committed to the principle of sovereignty and the right of the State to independently choose its own development path.  The international community should also remain committed to multiculturalism and promote human rights in an objective, non-selective and impartial manner.  The international community must come together to combat racial discrimination.

Canada, speaking on behalf of a group of 80 States, reaffirmed that the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family was the foundation of freedom, justice and peace.  Today, the patterns of migration, urbanization and other forces created unprecedented opportunities to benefit from diversity, but deliberate action was required: inclusion was a conscious choice to respect diversity and maximize its economic, social, cultural, civil and political benefits.

Algeria, speaking on behalf of the Geneva Group for Support to Western Sahara, stressed that the right to self-determination was enshrined in the United Nations Charter and was a crucial prerequisite to effectively protect, preserve and promote human rights.  It was of concern that the people of Western Sahara were still not allowed to freely exercise their right to self-determination.  The Geneva Group called for the immediate implementation of the recommendations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and of the Human Rights Committee.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reminded that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was a historic document which drew a programme of action for the realization of basic human rights.  Setting aside political divides and differences and working on commonalities was needed more than ever.  Together, the international community could beat the hate mongers and pave the way for a better future for all on the basis of equality, justice, inclusivity and transparency.  The focus should be on the right to development.

Malta, speaking on behalf of the European Union, fully endorsed the emphasis of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on the importance of the rule of law and freedom of expression, and thus the indispensable role of a free and independent media to inform the public and to hold Governments to account.  It was of great concern that freedom of expression and media was increasingly under threat around the world, online and offline.  Journalists were subject to many types of repression for conducting their mission. 

Italy, speaking on behalf of a cross-regional group of countries, reminded that equality, equity and non-discrimination were among the basic elements of the rule of law.  The rule of law was a cross-cutting theme across all the Sustainable Development Goals, and it was a base for the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, cultural and environmental development.  Human rights were not only to be found on paper, but in content. 

Chile, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, stated that one of the main lessons to be drawn from 2016 was that too many people had been left behind by globalization and excluded from the benefits of socio-economic development.  The acute and rising inequalities had to give Governments urgent pause for thought and immediate cause for collective action.  It was imperative for the Council to give careful consideration of how the United Nations human rights pillar could best support and contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Belgium, speaking on behalf of a group of States, recalled that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action clearly established that there must be concerted efforts for the recognition and realization of economic, social and cultural rights at all levels.  This session of the Council was fertile in initiatives connected to economic, social and cultural rights, which could contribute to the development of a shared understanding of those human rights.

Netherlands noted that with the adoption of the Vienna Declaration, States had underlined that human rights were not solely a concern of individual States, but a priority for the international community.  States had assumed the duty to protect, respect and fulfil human rights, and this applied to the duty of all States to promote all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their own political, economic and cultural systems.  The universal nature of those rights and freedoms was beyond question.

Venezuela said that the pillars of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were precisely based on human rights, and there were calls for the inclusion of equality and the fight against global poverty.  The global capitalist agenda and armed conflicts had led millions to live in situations of dire poverty, fleeing for their life and in search of better living conditions, which required the urgent attention of the international community.  There must be a fully equal system with fair wages, and a fair and democratic international order based on the principles of the United Nations Charter.

South Africa warned of the continued resistance to the elaboration of legally-binding norms and standards within the rubric of economic, social and cultural rights, and the right to development.  Given the influence of multinationals as owners of global wealth and key drivers of globalization, it was important that transnational corporations and private military and security companies did not escape legal accountability with respect to human rights law.

United States noted that civil society reflected the plurality of voices that was the foundation for any open and democratic society.  It was thus of great concern that systematic action was being taken by a number of Governments to suppress the legitimate activities of civil society.  All States could do more to protect human rights defenders from harassment, intimidation and all forms of reprisals.  The United States called on all States to defend civil society and push back against restrictions.

India reminded that the lack of sufficient will had resulted in a situation where the international community was still struggling with unfulfilled aspirations of human dignity and social justice.  When one set of rights became more prominent at the cost of others, a process of trust erosion and reluctance to cooperate was set in motion that could potentially derail the basic objectives of the Human Rights Council.

Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted that the Human Rights Council was bound to implement civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, at the same level.  The implementation of all those rights had a direct correlation with the achievement of, among others, the rights of migrants, refugees, peasant farmers and people of African descent.  To achieve that, it was essential to encourage genuine dialogue, equal treatment, capacity building and technical assistance. 

Russia stressed that international cooperation was a crucial factor in the promotion and protection of human rights and today, more than ever, it must be turned into a key principle of the Human Rights Council, where politicization and the use of human rights as a pretext to interfere into internal affairs of other States was more frequent than ever.  Attempts by some States, or groups of States, to impose their views of democracy and human rights as universal, was unacceptable. 

Israel said that the principle of human dignity had been reaffirmed in the promise of the 2030 Agenda not to leave anyone behind.  Sadly, this was not true for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in many areas of the world.  States must take responsibility for ending violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and the work of the Independent Expert was indispensable.

Greece said it had strengthened its anti-racial legislation, imposing criminal sanctions for racial crimes.  Greece was also part of many initiatives in the Human Rights Council which promoted the efforts to combat inequality and racial discrimination.

Iran reminded that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had opened a new chapter in the promotion and protection of human rights, underlining objectivity, non-politicization and universality in the consideration of human rights.  Iran called on States to refrain from any unilateral action that created obstacles to trade relations among States and impeded the full realization of human rights set forth in international human rights instruments.

Libya underlined the importance of cooperation between States and relevant international organizations in the promotion and protection of human rights.  In that respect, the role of national human rights institutions was essential and Libya aimed to re-launch its own human rights institution, despite the difficult context in the country.  Its role was to end impunity for human rights violations.

Pakistan highlighted the importance of the right to development as a precondition for the protection of all other human rights.  Pakistan was committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through inclusive economic development and international cooperation.  The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was a unique example of international cooperation for the realization of the right to development, which would fulfil human needs and ensure the human rights of people without discrimination. 

Sudan stressed that more efforts were needed to realize the right to development of all peoples, and that the Human Rights Council must promote dialogue on this issue in a non-politicized manner.  Unilateral coercive measures caused suffering of populations and threatened their enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, and other rights.  Sudan recalled that sanctions were in violation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

Morocco said all areas of the country, including the Sahrawi people, were involved in the governance and the democracy in the country.  The development and openness of Morocco, particularly in the Sahrawi region, would not be affected by hostile interventions of States which themselves were human rights violators.

Liberation stressed the principles of equality and non-discrimination as core human rights and said that the Armed Forces Special Power Act in India violated core human rights reaffirmed by the Vienna Declaration.  India continued with its discriminatory treatment of the people in north-east India, the people who were racially, ethnically and religiously different.

Friends World Committee for Consultation highlighted the obligation of States to protect the rights of migrants, reminding that the Global Compact provided a unique opportunity to do so.  It called on all States to place migrants at the centre of global governance of migration, share good practices, bring expertise to discussions, and focus attention on implementation and follow-up mechanisms. 

Advocates for Human Rights noted that women’s equal status in human rights had to be a priority for all States.  Laws of some countries still failed to implement best practices and to implement them properly.  This was most evident in the implementation of domestic violence laws.  Member States were urged to regularly monitor the implementation of their own laws.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development recalled the importance of the independence of national human rights institutions, adding that their composition had to be in full compliance with the Paris Principles.  It urged Governments in Asia to follow transparent and merit-based election of members of national human rights institutions.

Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said that the dire human rights situation in Baluchistan needed urgent action by the Human Rights Council.  Pakistan’s security forces were using violence against the population, including mass abductions, detentions and killings.  Pakistan had a history of conducting a genocide in Bangladesh where they had killed three million Bangladeshi.  The Council must speak up before it was too late.  

International Service for Human Rights stressed that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had recognized the crucial role of civil society and national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights, and raised issues that civil society organizations faced in obtaining accreditation for participation in various human rights meetings and conferences.

Victorious Youth Movement said that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had reaffirmed the universality of human rights and the obligations incumbent on States to promote and protect therm.  Algeria should do everything in its power to implement a census of the Sahrawi refugees which should be done by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as it had the capacity to distinguish the Sahrawis from other populations, such as migrants.

Commission Africain des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l’homme said up to 11 per cent of women in the areas of Jammu and Kashmir faced sexual violence at the hands of authorities.  All violations of that kind, including in particular sexual slavery, required an effective response from the international community.

Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme said that after the savage attack against Yemen, there had been encouragement of aggression. There had been an attack from the international airport against civilians. That was an ongoing crime with daily violations.  Whole neighbourhoods had not been spared in Sana’a and many other places.  Yemeni fishermen and African refugees on the coast had been targeted.

African Regional Agricultural Credit Association said the Vienna Declaration had reaffirmed that all fundamental freedoms were universal and that included persons with disabilities. Any direct discrimination of persons with disabilities was a violation of their rights, but it was unclear how many disabled Iranians worked, with some estimating their unemployment rates were drastically higher than average.  There were also numerous persons with disabilities in Pakistan. 
 
World Environment and Resources Council underlined the importance of women’s rights, which were related to the level of countries’ development.  Gender issues were the third most important global issues.  In spite of numerous international agreements, women still faced inequality at home and at work. 

United Schools International reminded that Iranian women faced discrimination in many spheres of life, including marriage.  Iranian women deserved the same basic rights as men, including participation in public life.  Honour killings of women were still a widespread practice.  Violence against women was also endemic in Pakistan, whose Government did not take enough measures to protect women.

International Association for Democracy in Africa noted that children’s rights had progressed a great deal in the past decades.  However, plenty remained to be done due to the persistence of child labour, child marriages, and conflicts, most notably in Syria.  Children’s health was negatively affected by the lack of access to water, leading to numerous infections and diseases.

American Association of Jurists, in a joint statement with, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, said in a joint statement that the occupation of the Non-Self Governing Territory of Western Sahara by Morocco had been condemned both by the United Nations Secretary-General and the General Assembly.  The right to self-determination was of particular importance because its realization was an essential condition for the effective guarantee and observance of individual human rights.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik recalled that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action emphasized free and fair elections, freedom of expression and administration of justice.  In less than two months, the municipal and presidential elections would take place in Iran, which had already started a crackdown on journalists in order to stop them from informing the Iranian people on the upcoming elections.

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association spoke about violence against women in the north and east of India perpetuated under the Armed Forces Special Power Act.  Freedom of expression, movement and peaceful assembly were frequently limited. 

Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee expressed concern about violence against women, and stressed that both males and females should participate in society.  As a Sikh, the speaker said some south-east Asian cultures referred to women as the source of evil.  The Human Rights Council was called on to stop violence against women to let them play their due role in society.

Association pour l’intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi said violence against women was a daily problem in India where Dalit women suffered doubly.  Though the caste system was outlawed in India, in some villages girls were consigned to temples where they had to act as sex workers to higher-caste males. 

Prahar said the status of women in India had undergone a big change over the last years, and recently in Assam matters had occurred of great concern.  The State had a high rate of maternal mortality.  The Council was requested to take notice of the human rights situation of women in India.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation reminded that the right to self-determination of the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara was being undermined by the exploitation of their natural resources without their participation or consent.  Morocco claimed that there was a fair distribution of profits from oil-related activities, but cited only hypothetical job creation with no mention of revenue sharing.

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace noted that the human rights situation in Iran continued to raise concern.  The United Nations reported widespread torture, arrests and detentions of journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders.  Prospects for reforms in Iran were grim and the Council was called upon to continue monitoring the situation of human rights in Iran, including the treatment of religious minorities.

European Union of Public Relations warned that some countries systematically trumped the rights of indigenous peoples, notably in Iran where continued neglect of minorities led to their economic deprivation.  In Pakistan, the Baloch suffered extrajudicial killings and lived in extreme poverty because they had no representation in decision-making bodies. 

Canners International Permanent Committee said that one of the most atrocious violations of human dignity was torture and said that this blatant violation of human rights must not be tolerated, even in the direst conditions, or under any circumstances.  Torture was ineffective, immoral and illegal.

Centre for Environmental and Management Studies drew the attention of the Council to the oppression that Iranian women suffered on a daily basis.  Iran continued to apply torture, ill-treatment, flogging of detainees, and also continued to execute people. 

Pan African Union for Science and Technology spoke about atrocities committed by ISIS against women in areas under their control.  Another issue of concern was the situation of migrants, whose human rights were being violated on a daily basis, and who were exploited by criminal gangs, including for organ trafficking.

France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand said that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action recognized that people had the right to take all legitimate measures to realize their inalienable right to self-determination.  Violations of the rights of the people of Western Sahara continued.  The Sahrawi people were persecuted by Morocco and the Council was called on to resolve the violations of human rights in Western Sahara.

World Barua Organization said Tamil people in Sri Lanka had been deprived of human rights.  The speaker said he was the victim of “LTTE” actions.  Both parties had committed crimes and legal action should be taken accordingly.  Terrorists were terrorists, therefore the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was requested to “bring the LTTE to the book against their human rights violations.”

Organisation Internationale pour le Développement intégral de la Femme expressed concern about three young Sahrawi women being held against their will.  The Human Rights Council was called on to investigate the situation and similar situations in the camps in Tindouf.
 
Centre for Inquiry reminded that women around the world were still unable to realize their equal dignity and rights.  Many States either outright banned or else aggressively restricted the right of women to bodily autonomy, often through bans on reproductive health care, including abortion and birth control.  Ironically, States often ignored the fact that access to birth control reduced abortion rates. 

International Humanist and Ethical Union drew attention to countries, such as Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Syria and Tunisia, where the law allowed rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victims.  Not only were rapists not prosecuted for their crimes, but they were permitted long-term abuse against their victim by subjecting her to a forced marriage.  It called on the Council to raise the issue of marriage being used legally to absolve a rapist of his crime.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain drew attention to the recent arrest of a well-known civil society activist in Saudi Arabia, adding concern that many countries did not respect the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  The rights of Shi’a in Bahrain had been undermined.  The organization called on the international community to take immediate measures to compel Bahrain to respect its international obligations.

Alsalam Foundation was increasingly concerned about threats to medical personnel and their inability to perform their functions in Bahrain.  Doctors and other medical personnel were arbitrarily detained and tortured for providing medical treatment to peaceful protesters, or for exercising their freedom of expression.

Iraqi Development Organization drew attention to the war waged against Yemen which had been declared without sufficient legal basis, or a United Nations mandate.  This war must end.  To date, 60,000 people had been killed, a blockade had been imposed and civilians suffered hunger and malnutrition.   

Indian Council of South America said that the relationship between the United States and Alaska and Hawaii must be based on the original relationship as separate and distinct people not under the jurisdiction of the United States.  The people of Hawaii and Alaska must be treated as sovereign nations.

International-Lawyers.org said the Human Rights Council had to be the guardian of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and expressed concern at the eviction of Inner City Press, which was an accredited news agency covering the United Nations Headquarters.  The withdrawal of the resident correspondent status for Inner City Press had been arbitrary and without due process with any opportunity for appeal.

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, in a joint statement with the International Centre for Human Rights and Freedoms, said States carried the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights.  In Gulf Cooperation Council countries, human rights defenders were subject to acts of retaliation.  Some had been sentenced to prison for acting as human rights defenders.  Gulf Cooperation Council States were called on to implement the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

Centre Independent de Recherches et d’Initiative pour le Dialogue said the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action required respect for international instruments and economic, social and cultural rights were also indivisible.  It was vital to enforce those rights, given the current situation in Yemen where women were subjected to rape, arrest and harassment.  As regard violations of Article 21 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the Human Rights Council was asked which measures were being taken to protect children in armed conflict.

OCAPROCE Internationale underlined that thousands of women continued to suffer from many forms of violence, particularly in the Tindouf camps.  Many women were violated, abused, detained against their will and marginalized.  Humanitarian assistance had become a window dressing for their situation.   

United Nations Watch drew attention to human rights violations in various countries.  It welcomed the Secretary-General’s pledge of a new United Nations reform, but called for the complete removal of Saudi Arabia, China, Venezuela, Cuba and many other countries from the Human Rights Council because of their human rights abuses. 

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development noted that legislation in many countries relegated women and girls to second-class citizens, particularly with respect to their rights concerning marriage and reproductive health care.  It was very important for women to have access to property and ownership. 

Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development noted the worsening human rights situation in most Arab States, and highlighted with particular concern the situation of women and children.  Thousands were facing terrible dangers and challenges, many children were dying or suffering poor nutrition, and many were denied access to school.

Amuta for NGO Responsibility said that the United Nations was in charge of preparing accurate and credible reports to support the promotion of human rights, but was not living up to this responsibility, as evidenced by last week’s report which accused Israeli of human rights violations.  All reports accusing Israel of human rights violations were filled with accusations which were unfounded.

World Muslim Congress said that denial of the right to self-determination was a violation of human rights; this was the case in Kashmir, where for the past seven decades Indian forces had resorted to systematic and gross human rights violations, including the use of force against civilians, extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detention, and collective punishment.
 
Conectas Direitos Humanos stated that legal uncertainty on the use of contemporary forms of labour in Brazil persisted.  Any decision to suspend the black list of companies using such labour violated the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and the organization urged the Government to uphold its international obligations.

Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Genero, in a joint statement with, Colombian Commission of Jurists, and World Organisation Against Torture, drew attention to the overcrowding of social protection institutions in Guatemala where women suffered from sexual abuse and systematic violations.  It urged all States to uphold the right of everyone in line with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service noted that indigenous peoples had the right to follow their traditional, cultural and religious practices where drug use was part of those practices.  It thanked Colombia, Guatemala, Portugal, Switzerland and the entire core group working for the integration of a human rights approach in drug policy.

Association for Protection of Women and Children’s Rights urged the Council to address the situation of women and children affected by conflict and violence, including the women in Indian-occupied Kashmir.  At the moment, there were about 3,000 “half widows” – women whose husbands were arbitrarily arrested by Indian armed forces and forcibly disappeared.

Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique recalled that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action called for particular attention to the situation of people under occupation and drew attention to the situation of Tamils in north-east Sri Lanka.  The Council should hold a panel discussion on the right to self-determination.

ANAJA (L’Eternel a repondu) said that the international community had failed to protect 140,000 Tamils from genocide.  The right to self-determination was an essential human right which should be guaranteed to the Tamils.  Establishing an independent Tamil nation was the only way to complete the decolonization process.

Tourner la Page said the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action said that the contribution of civil society was crucial.  Tamils had not been protected against genocide, and Member States had weakened their resolve vis-à-vis Sri Lanka.  The people of Eelam Tamil called on the Human Rights Council not to heed the genocidal single State. 

Association des étudiants tamouls de France said the civil war in Sri Lanka had ejected refugees into India.  There were refugees in Tamil Nadu living in camps, and the Eelam Tamil refugees were at risk of exploitation.  Pregnant women were afraid to become mothers.  The international community was called on to work out a political settlement to restore the land to its original owners.

L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et de la démocratie said the Sri Lankan military forces had carried out a genocidal war for six months, and Sri Lankan forces still occupied the Tamil homeland.  The Member States of the Human Rights Council were called on to envisage holding a panel discussion on the right to self-determination.  Some lands had not been released for resettlement.

Alliance Creative Community Project drew attention to the occupation of Tamil lands in Sri Lanka.  Could the killing of more than 146,000 Tamils in a short span of six months be considered genocide?  The organization requested the Council to encourage the Sri Lanka Government to allow the Tamil people their right to self-determination for the sake of lasting peace on the island.

Association Mauritanienne pour la Promotion du Droit reminded that all people had the right to self-determination, especially those under foreign occupation and colonization.  It denounced the contradictory foreign policy of the European Union which had cooperated with the occupying regime in Sri Lanka. 
 
Right of Reply

Brazil, speaking in a right of reply, referred to the statement of Conectas Direitos Humanos, noting that the Government of Brazil had led a firm policy to safeguard human rights.  As for the black list on forced labour, the Government had set up a working group to reach an outcome by July 2018.  The publication of the list without solid research could cause further litigation.

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