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Human Rights Council adopts texts on Myanmar and on reprisals against persons cooperating with the United Nations

MIDDAY

Extends Mandate of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar

GENEVA (29 September 2017) - The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting adopted a resolution in which it extended the mandate of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar.  It also adopted a text on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.

Under its agenda item on human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention, the Council decided, without a vote, to extend the mandate of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar.

In a resolution on the cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, none against and 19 abstentions, the Council condemned all acts of intimidation or reprisal by State and non-State actors against individuals and groups who cooperated with the United Nations and its mechanisms in the field of human rights, and decided that the presentation of the report of the Secretary-General on this topic would be followed by an interactive dialogue, to share good practices, challenges and lessons learned, in order to strengthen the capacity of Member States to comply with their human rights obligations for the benefit of all people.

Introducing draft resolutions and amendments were Estonia on behalf of the European Union, Hungary on behalf of a group of countries, Russian Federation, India, Venezuela, Egypt and Bolivia.

Myanmar spoke as a concerned country.

Speaking in general comments were the Philippines, India, Republic of Korea and Panama.

Speaking in an explanation of the vote before or after the vote were China, Egypt, Venezuela, Ghana, United States, Germany, Georgia, Panama, Albania, Latvia, Belgium, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Slovenia, Japan, Germany, Republic of Korea, Croatia, Panama, Hungary, Venezuela on behalf of a group of countries, Bolivia, Cuba, Brazil, United Kingdom and Germany on behalf of a group of countries,

The Council will next meet at 3 p.m. to finish taking action on resolutions and decisions, before closing its thirty-sixth session.

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

Action on Resolution on the Extension of the Mandate of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.31/Rev.1) on the extension of the mandate of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar, adopted without a vote the Council decides to extend the mandate of the independent international fact-finding mission to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, and to request it to present an oral update, to be followed by an interactive dialogue with the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh session, to submit its final report for consideration by the Council at its thirty-ninth session, to be followed by an interactive dialogue, and to present that report also to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session. 

Estonia, introducing on behalf of the European Union draft resolution L.31/Rev. 1, said it requested the extension of the mandate of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar.  The European Union was deeply concerned about the violence and human rights violations in Rakhine state, leading to the fleeing of hundreds of thousands of civilians, mostly to Bangladesh.  The draft text called for the prompt, safe and voluntary return of all refugees and displaced persons, and for full and unhindered humanitarian access.  The European Union thanked co-sponsors of the draft resolution.    

Philippines, in a general comment, said that it shared the value of human rights and thus continued to support Myanmar’s democratisation efforts which deserved full support.  The Philippines condemned all acts of violence and displacement of a large number of people.  It urged all parties to desist from actions that would result in the worsening of the situation.  It called on the international community to provide all the necessary support to Myanmar.

India, speaking in a general comment, remained concerned about the situation in Rakhine state of Myanmar.  Initially triggered by a series of terrorist attacks leading to loss of lives amongst the security forces as well as the civilian population, subsequent operations by security forces had resulted in the exodus of a large number of people, many of whom had sought shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh.  The only lasting solution to the situation was in the socio-economic and infrastructure development of Rakhine state and the resolution of underlining issues of citizenship and residence in line with the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission.  All efforts must be made to restore normalcy in the state through a solution based on respect for peace, communal harmony and democratic values.

Philippines, speaking in a general comment, said that it could not support the extension of the mandate of the fact-finding mission.
 
Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, stated that the establishment of a fact-finding mission had not been helpful and Myanmar would therefore dissociate itself from the draft resolution on the extension of its mandate.  The Government was of the view that finding a sustainable solution for all communities in Rakhine state was the best way to approach the situation and it had thus established an advisory committee headed by Kofi Annan.  The Government had decided on some measures to improve the situation, including the return of some internally displaced persons.  Extending the mandate would be counterproductive for the Government’s efforts to re-establish peace and stability in Rakhine state. 

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, advocated in favour of a constructive dialogue among States and opposed the politicization of human rights issues.  The situation in Myanmar was complex and would take time to address.  The international community should view it in an impartial manner.  Relevant discussions in the Council should encourage concerned countries to step up dialogue to find an appropriate solution to the conflict.  China dissociated itself from the consensus on this draft resolution.
 
Explanations of the Vote after the Vote after Concluding Taking Action on Texts under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Situations Requiring the Council’s Attention

Egypt, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, regretted the attempts made by some delegations to politicize the Council and use it for their interests.  Egypt had hoped that the European Union would respond to the calls for cooperation made by the African Group to reach a consensual text enjoying the acceptance of the concerned country.  It was well known that strategies under this agenda item were used to pressure countries.  The resolution on Burundi before the Council had established a disastrous rule and imposed a certain mechanism on the country in an unprecedented manner.  Egypt opposed the resolution.

Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that some States continued to insist on the use of mechanisms that, without the consent of the concerned country, were not efficient, and went against the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.   Venezuela reiterated that it did not support such initiatives.  Venezuela encouraged Myanmar to continue to cooperate with the Human Rights Council and implement the measures it had adopted to ensure justice and prosecute perpetrators.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

Action on Resolution on Cooperation with the United Nations, its Representatives and Mechanisms in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.26/Rev.1) as amended on the cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, none against and 19 abstained (as orally revised), the Council condemns all acts of intimidation or reprisal by States and non-State actors against individuals and groups who seek to cooperate, cooperate or have cooperated with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights; and decides that the presentation of the report of the Secretary-General on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights will be followed by an interactive dialogue with a view to ensuring adequate attention to the report and to share good practices, challenges and lessons learned, based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue, and aimed at strengthening the capacity of Member States to comply with their human rights obligations for the benefit of all people.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (28): Albania, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Latvia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Kingdom and United States.

Abstentions (19): Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Hungary, introducing the draft resolution L.26/Rev.1, said that acts of intimidation or reprisals against persons engaging with the United Nations, or their families, had grave impacts on their lives and violated human rights, and also seriously impeded the ability of the Human Rights Council to discharge its mandate efficiently and effectively.  The text firmly rejected acts of intimidation and reprisal against courageous people who helped the work of the Council and the United Nations as a whole, and noted that the Presidents of the Human Rights Council had an important role in addressing allegations of intimidation or reprisal experienced by those engaging with the Council.  The annual presentation of the Secretary-General on cooperation with the United Nations in the field of human rights would be followed by an interactive dialogue, which would provide an excellent opportunity to exchange views on this highly important issue, share best practices, challenges and lessons learned.

Russian Federation, introducing amendments to L.26 rev.1, condemned all acts of persecution and intimidation against individuals cooperating with the United Nations and its mechanisms.  The Russian Federation believed that the function of the Council was to consolidate international dialogue in the field of human rights.  It was not a court or a prosecutor but a forum for discussion on human rights issues.  This approach was not echoed in the resolution proposed by the co-sponsors.  Forms of access could differ when civil society wished to contact the United Nations.  The refusal of visas for Russian civil society organizations had become frequent.  The Russian Federation regretted this problem and the arbitrary politically motivated provision of access to visas in general.  The amendments were designed to bridge that gap.  During the negotiating process on L26. Rev.1, proposals welcomed the fact that certain functions had been attributed without consensus.  The Russian Federation praised the work of the treaty bodies.  However, their working methods should not create other obligations on States.  Finally, the Russian Federation underlined that the Council did not have the necessary powers to introduce changes to decisions taken by the General Assembly.  The adding of other conditions for candidates to the Council was a violation of the fundamental principle of non-retroactivity.  The Russian Federation called on all States to adopt the amendments.

India, introducing five draft amendments to L.26/Rev.1, said that access to and communication with the United Nations and its bodies was important for the effective functioning of the United Nations and that reprisals and intimidation for cooperation with the United Nations were unacceptable and must be effectively addressed.  India raised serious concerns about the approach adopted by the co-sponsors of the resolution, and noting that there were many existing human rights mechanisms to deal with the issue of alleged reprisals, stressed that Member States should first determine through appropriate means if those mechanisms could no longer serve the purpose.  India also said that the role of the President and the Bureau was very clear and confined to organizational and procedural aspects of the Council.  Contrary to this, the draft resolution aimed to assign a political role to the President and the Bureau.  It also proposed to have an additional dialogue on the Secretary-General’s report every year despite the fact that the report was already covered under the general debate under item five on human rights bodies and mechanisms.  India outlined draft amendments L.56, L.58, L.59, L.60 and L.61.

Venezuela, introducing amendments to L.26 rev.1, recalled that the work of national human rights institutions should be carried in a cooperative spirit.  National human rights institutions should continue to be truly independent.  It was crucial to maintain the intergovernmental nature of the United Nations.  Venezuela urged all Council members to support the amendments.

Egypt, introducing amendments L.50, L.53 and L.54, said it was opposed to any reference to regional mechanisms in the draft resolution.  Egypt reiterated its firm rejection of any forms of reprisals against individuals and groups for cooperating with the United Nations.  If such acts happened, they should be addressed.  Nevertheless, some individuals abused the attention paid by the United Nations by fabricating allegations of restrictions that were made up.  The purpose was to gain impunity while naming and shaming some countries.  The amendments provided a recognition that some allegations of reprisals were invented.  Egypt was also concerned that the United Nations secretariat had never provided explanations on its methodology to verify allegations.  The amendments could respond to the shortcomings of this system.

Ghana, speaking on behalf of the co-sponsors of the draft resolution, vehemently opposed the proposed amendments and said that the issue of reprisals against those who cooperated with the United Nations human rights mechanisms was one of the gravest challenges facing the United Nations today.  Reprisals seriously impeded the Human Rights Council from discharging its mandate effectively and in the words of the High Commissioner for Human Rights “amounted to theft of people’s inalienable rights”.  The resolution aimed to put an end to unjustifiable practices that United Nations Member States condemned, and it recognized steps at national, regional and international levels to address this serious issue.  Ghana seriously opposed the amendments which were against the integrity of the draft resolution.  Ghana would vote for the draft resolution L.26/Rev.1 and against all the presented amendments.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a general comment, said that it was deeply concerned by the growing number of acts of intimidation and reprisal against members of civil society and said that all such acts should be prevented.  Civil society made the Human Rights Council remain in touch with reality.  True democracy and the rule of law was possible only when all civil society organizations could freely express their voices.  The draft resolution would contribute to provide more protection for civil society and thus the Republic of Korea fully supported the text.  The Human Rights Council must have a unified and coherent stance on the issue of reprisals and intimidation. 

Panama, speaking in a general comment, said that the Human Rights Council must reject all acts of reprisals and intimidation and it must urge States to prevent and address them.  Such acts were unacceptable because they undermined the credibility of this Council and that was why Panama welcomed the appointment of Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, as the senior United Nations official in charge of issues of reprisals.

Actions on Amendment L.43.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed amendment L.43 that was proposed by the Russian Federation.  The issue of host nation responsibility was outside the scope of this resolution and was a topic that was appropriately addressed in other United Nations bodies.  The proposed amendment did not accurately capture the nature of reprisals against members of civil society for their participation in the United Nations.  The real concern was the cases in which the country did not allow members of its own civil society to travel abroad.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that as a host country of the United Nations, it was strictly opposed to the content of the amendment.  It did not provide legal basis of host country obligations.  Host country obligations were defined by headquarters agreements.  The Russian amendment referred to the participation in meetings without any kind of difference.  Some individuals did not benefit from immunity such as journalists and non-governmental organizations’ representatives.  The ECOSOC status did not suffice to guarantee participation to United Nations meetings.  Moreover, as Switzerland was part of the Schengen zone, the procedure to obtain a visa had to meet the Schengen rules.  Switzerland rejected amendment L.43.

The Council rejected amendment L.43 by a vote of 10 in favour, 22 against and 14 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.45

Germany, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported the text as drafted.  It was the collective responsibility of the international community to protect those cooperating and reaching out to the United Nations.  Attacks on civil society were unacceptable and yet, intimidation of persons cooperating with the United Nations persisted.  The reports on intimidation and reprisals had been mandated by the Human Rights Council in 2009.  Even though Germany had had some remarks on the draft resolution, it was of the view that the resolution had tried to accommodate all views.  Germany would vote against the amendment and asked others to do the same.

Georgia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, welcomed the draft resolution presented.  The paragraph had been duly discussed during the informal meetings, and the text was already a compromise text.  Georgia opposed the amendment and urged all others to do the same.

The Council then rejected amendment L.45 by a vote of 14 votes in favour, 22 votes against and 10 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.46

Germany, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Germany could not support this amendment as the language on the importance of the cooperation had already been incorporated in the text of the resolution.  Germany was also confused as to how the delivery of technical assistance and capacity building in any way could be linked to the issue of reprisals.  Germany stressed that the primary responsibility for the protection of human rights was with States; the amendment sought to diminish the responsibility of States in delivering on their human rights obligations, which was unacceptable.

The Council then adopted draft amendment L.46 by a vote of 24 in favour, 18 against and five abstentions.  In the amendment, the Council reiterates that the promotion and protection of human rights should be based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue, and be aimed at strengthening the capacity of Member States to comply with their human rights obligations for the benefit of all human beings.

Action on Amendment L.47

Panama, speaking in an explanation of the vote before vote, rejected the amendment.  The goal of the draft resolution was to warmly welcome the fact that the Secretary-General put the Assistant Secretary-General for human rights in charge of the issue of reprisals.  This contributed to strengthen the United Nations’ capacities and would contribute to put an end to the attacks against those who collaborated with the United Nations.  It was a crucial component of the resolution.  Panama urged all countries to vote against amendment L.47.

The Council rejected the amendment by a vote of 13 in favour, 23 against and 11 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.48

Albania, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the amendment sought to delete important elements of paragraph 9 of the draft resolution L.26 in reference to the work of the President and the Bureau of the Human Rights Council.  The paragraph as drafted was not about creating new roles or tasks, but rather recognizing the important role of the President and the Bureau in addressing reprisals.  Albania therefore would vote no on the amendment and invited all others to do the same.

Latvia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the international community aspired in common to strongly reject any intimidation of any person or entity that cooperated with the Human Rights Council.  The draft resolution did not give any new tasks to the President of the Human Rights Council.  It therefore would vote against the amendment and asked all others to vote against it.
 
The Council then rejected amendment L.48 with 17 votes in favour, 20 votes against and 10 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.49

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the activities mentioned in the draft resolution had indeed taken place and the text was aimed to prevent violations and address allegations accordingly.  The Council should support such steps.  Just taking note of the work done would not stress the seriousness of the concerns, and it would significantly weaken the draft text.  The Netherlands would thus vote against the amendment.

Latvia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it could not support the proposed amendment.  Addressing the acts of reprisals against those who wanted to cooperate with the Special Procedures was a priority.  Latvia thus called on all to vote against the amendment.

The Council then rejected amendment L.49 by a vote of 19 in favour, 22 against, and six abstentions. 

Action on Amendment L.50

Ghana, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it opposed the proposed amendment.   Ghana regretted that the co-sponsors of the amendment were seeking to change the meaning of the resolution aimed to address acts of intimidation against individuals collaborating with United Nations mechanisms.  The Council should be encouraging all efforts made to address reprisals, including through the contribution of regional mechanisms. 

Belgium, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly opposed the amendment.  Belgium did not understand why the reference to the fact that the African Commission had appointed a focal point to address reprisals should be deleted.  Belgium would vote no and called on all members to do the same.

The Council rejected amendment L.50 by a vote of 16 in favour, 23 against and 7 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.51

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated the particular requirements for Member States of the Human Rights Council.  If the Council allowed intimidations to happen to those who cooperated with it, it would not be fully upholding its responsibilities.  The paragraph supported these responsibilities.  It was for this reason that the Netherlands would vote against the amendment and called upon others to do the same.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would vote against the amendment and called on others to do the same.  The amendment sought to change important wording in the preamnular paragraph on cooperation of Member States of the Human Rights Council.  It also failed to address the failure to prevent and investigate acts of reprisals, which was clearly set out in Human Rights Council resolution 16/21.

The Council the rejected amendment L.51 with 19 votes in favour, 21 votes against, and seven abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.52

Slovenia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it could not support the amendment.  Slovenia underlined the important role of national mechanisms in addressing human rights.  National human rights institutions had a significant potential securing and helping collaboration with the United Nations in the field of human rights.  The text of the resolution was not prescriptive nor restrictive.  It recognized the broad mandate of national human rights institutions to protect human rights at the national level.  The Council had already recognized their roles in addressing reprisals.  The resolution did not contain any controversial language and did not introduce new ideas or concepts.  Slovenia would vote no and called on all members to do the same.

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the aim of the resolution was to secure cooperation with United Nations mechanisms in the field of human rights.  There was nothing controversial in the original text which recognized the important role played by national human rights institutions.  Reprisals were illegal in any circumstances and national human rights institutions could contribute to call out cases of reprisals and provide accountability for such acts at the national level.  It was logical to mention their important role. 

The Council rejected amendment L.52 by a vote of 16 in favour, 26 against and 5 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.53

Japan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the proposed preambular paragraph was highly selective in that it suggested that some actions against reprisals and intimidations were pre-empted and politically motivated.  For this reason, Japan voted against the proposed amendment and encouraged others to do the same.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly opposed the amendment.  Its purpose was to call into question many serious cases of actions against reprisals that occurred, by suggesting that they were politically motivated.  The suggestion that some accusations of reprisals could be fabricated diminished the credibility of the Human Rights Council.  The amendment entirely undervalued the work of the Secretary-General and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Therefore, the United Kingdom called on all members of the Council to reject the amendment.

The Council then rejected amendment L.53 by a vote of 15 in favour, 22 against and 10 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.54

Germany, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it could not support the proposed amendment because it sought to water down the draft resolution.  The sponsors had not been presented with credible facts or information that the United Nations and the Secretary-General had been failing to provide Member States with relevant information.  Thus, the logic of the amendment was flawed and Germany asked all to vote against it.

The Council then rejected amendment L.54 by a vote of 18 in favour, 21 against, and eight abstentions. 

Action on Amendment L.55

Germany, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it could not support the amendment.  The language used by the original draft resolution was the same as the language adopted a few years ago.  The amendment sought to discredit the way the United Nations mechanisms addressed cases of reprisals.  It was not acceptable to run the clock back to end communications of individuals with the United Nations mechanisms. 

The Council rejected amendment L.55 by a vote of 16 in favour, 21 against and 10 abstentions.

Action Amendment L.56

Japan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the proposed operational paragraph stated the necessity for checks, however it did not specify who had to undertake these actions.  Japan therefore would vote against this amendment and encouraged others to do so.

Republic of Korea, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, echoed the concern of many stakeholders regarding the amendment.  There was no added value introduced by the amendment.  Additionally, the amendment defocused the attention from the main purpose of the draft resolution.  The Republic of Korea therefore would vote against this amendment and encouraged others to do so.

The Council then adopted amendment L.56 with 21 votes in favour, 20 votes against, and 6 abstentions.  The amendment stresses that information provided by all stakeholders, including civil society, to the United Nations and its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights should be credible and reliable, and must be thoroughly checked and corroborated.

Action on Amendment L.57

Croatia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, underlined that addressing acts of intimidation against those who cooperated with the United Nations was crucial.  National human rights institutions played an important role.  The Assistant Secretary-General helped enhance the position of groups cooperating with the United Nations.

Panama, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected the proposed amendment.  The goal of the resolution was to take note of the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights in dealing with reprisals against those who cooperated with the United Nations.  This mandate strengthened the work of the United Nations in addressing acts of intimidation. 

The Council rejected amendment L.57 by a vote of 16 in favour, 22 against and nine abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.58

Albania, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected the proposed amendment because it sought to delete important elements of the draft resolution, which mandated the Council Bureau to deal with organisational and procedural matters.  The draft resolution recognized the important role of the President and the Bureau in addressing reprisals and threats against those who wished to cooperate with Special Procedures.  Presidents of the Council had on a number of occasions publicly rejected threats against those persons.  Albania thus invited all to vote against the proposed amendment.

Panama, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected the proposed amendment because the draft resolution did not seek to assign new functions to the President of the Council and the Bureau.  The Council was tasked to generate a setting conducive to the work on human rights.  That element was highly important for the substance of the draft resolution.  Panama thus called on all to vote against the amendment.

The Council then rejected amendment L.58 by a vote of 18 in favour, 21 against and eight abstentions.

Action Amendment L.59

Hungary, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported the resolution as drafted and strongly opposed the amendment.  The roles of the Human Rights Council President and Bureau were clear, and the paragraph addressed the functions of these in a most acceptable way.  Therefore Hungary would vote against this amendment and encouraged others to the same.

Georgia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was the duty of the Human Rights Council to protect persons cooperating with it against acts of reprisals. The roles of the President and the Bureau of the Human Rights Council were crucial. The paragraph did not add additional functions to the President.  Therefore, Georgia would vote against this amendment and encouraged others to do the same.

The Council then rejected the amendment with 14 votes in favour, 23 votes against, and 10 abstentions.

Action on Amendment  L.60

Ghana, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed the amendment.  The original text recognized the need for a constructive dialogue with the United Nations mechanisms, including on the issue of reprisals and intimidation against individuals collaborating with the United Nations.  

Georgia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stressed that the resolution underlined the constructive dialogue between States and all the mechanisms of the United Nations to prevent and address acts of reprisals against individuals and groups cooperating with the United Nations.  Georgia opposed the amendment.

The Council adopted amendment L.60 by a vote of 23 in favour, 19 against and 5 abstentions.  The amendment invites United Nations human rights mechanisms to continue to include in their reports to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly respectively a reference to credible allegations of intimidation or reprisal against those who seek to cooperate, cooperate or have cooperated with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, while providing an appropriate opportunity to the State concerned to respond to the allegations transmitted to them and to reflect the State’s response in their reports.

Action on Amendment L.61

Hungary, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the foundation of the Council was dialogue and exchange.  The Secretary-General had asked on multiple occasions that the Human Rights Council address the issue of reprisals.  Hungary would vote against this amendment and urged all others to do the same.

Belgium, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the Secretary-General had urged the Human Rights Council to address the issue of reprisals on many occasions.  The only way to do so was through a structured interactive dialogue.  For those reasons, Hungary would vote against this amendment and called upon all Members of the Council to do the same. 

The Council then rejected amendment L.61 with 18 votes in favour, 23 votes against, and six abstentions.

Action on Resolution L.26/Rev.1 as amended

Albania, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, deeply regretted the adoption of three hostile amendments that undermined the draft resolution as tabled.  The core group had tried to accommodate the different perspectives expressed by delegations.  Albania strongly rejected any act of intimidation or reprisal against any individual or group that wished to cooperate with United Nations Special Procedures.  The text was a good opportunity to stress the importance of that cooperation and it did not assign new functions to the President or Bureau, but highlighted good practices in addressing reprisals.  Albania would thus vote in favour of the draft resolution and urged other to do the same

Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of a group of countries, expressed deep regret at the attempt to have a rather unbalanced approach.  It believed that reprisals against those who wished to cooperate with the United Nations were utterly intolerable.  But, even more intolerable was the attempt of a group of countries to use that noble cause to promote their own agenda.  Venezuela reiterated the concern over those amendments that had been rejected which wanted to correct the undermining of the principles underpinning the work of the Council.  Naming and shaming was a harmful practice.  The draft resolution sought to grant excessive authority to a group of persons, and it did not heed any objections.  Venezuela urged all Member States not to support the draft resolution. 

Bolivia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated the right of all individuals and groups to communicate with United Nations mechanisms in the realm of human rights.   Bolivia rejected any attempts of reprisals against individuals and groups collaborating with the United Nations.  Bolivia would abstain from voting because consensus had not been achieved on this question.

Cuba, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated that it was opposed to any forms of reprisals against individuals or groups collaborating with United Nations mechanisms.  The current guarantees provided sufficient protection for victims and an avenue for prosecution.  Cuba regretted that some information received by the United Nations was politically motivated.  A resolution on such an issue should be well-balanced, which was not the case.   Cuba would abstain from voting.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, encouraged delegations to constructively take part in the work of the United Nations and engage in dialogue.  China was against reprisals against those who cooperated with the United Nations mechanisms.  Considering the limited resources of the Council, it should best use its existing mechanisms and resources instead of creating new mechanisms.  China could not support this draft resolution.

Brazil, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Brazil fully appreciated the work of those who cooperated with the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council.  Brazil had a vibrant civil society which cooperated with the human rights mechanisms, and this was fundamental to the protection of human rights.  A national policy dedicated to the protection of witnesses and human rights defenders was fundamental for the work of international bodies and mechanisms dedicated to human rights.  Brazil had extended a permanent invitation to all Special Procedure Mandate Holders, and had received many, while two were scheduled to visit Brazil next year.  These visits were in the spirit of cooperation.  Brazil welcomed the appointment by the Secretary-General of the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights to lead this important work.  The importance and validity of this serious concern should not overstep the carefully formulated mandates.  Brazil believed that the matter at hand had to elicit the most careful consideration and stood ready to discuss and implement a constructive, forward looking approach.  Brazil would vote in favour of the resolution, but would disassociate itself from preambular paragraph 6; operational paragraph 9 and operational paragraph 10.

Egypt, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the engagement of civil society in the field of human rights was of increasing importance and of added value.  No group or individual should be attacked solely for cooperating with the United Nations.  Nevertheless, the extensive consultations had failed to resolve a number of challenges in the draft text.  New difficulties had been added by the recent text.  Egypt rejected the fabrication of information for the achievement of politicised purposes, as well as naming and shaming based on unknown sources, which were not conducive to dialogue within the Council.  Egypt would thus abstain from voting.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that the issue of cooperation with the United Nations should be an issue that united Member States.  No Member State should bring into question the total unacceptability of reprisals.  It was deeply troubling that so many amendments had been presented.  Their nature could not but question the readiness of the countries presenting them to defend individuals and groups seeking to engage with United Nations human rights bodies.  The unnecessarily protracted voting had demonstrated that the United Nations needed to strengthen its response to intimidation and reprisals.  The vote in favour would send a clear signal by the Council that it strongly rejected any such acts of reprisals and intimidation.  It called on all countries to vote in favour of the draft resolution

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted the presentation of many amendments to the draft resolution.  The United States was concerned that the amended language changed the original meaning of the resolution.  Some States sought to question the credibility of the victims.  The United States dissociated itself from the new paragraphs OP4bis and OP7bis as amended.

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