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Human Rights Council adopts 11 resolutions and a Presidential Statement

AFTERNOON

Closes its Thirty-Sixth Regular Session

GENEVA (29 September 2017) - The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted a Presidential Statement and 11 resolutions in which it called for the establishment of a group of eminent international and regional experts to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in Yemen, and extended the mandates of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic; the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan;  the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia; and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia.  The Council then closed its thirty-sixth regular session.

Other texts concerned the human rights of peasants; racism and racial discrimination; technical cooperation and capacity building; national human rights follow-up systems; technical assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the Advisory Committee.

In a resolution on technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a group of eminent international and regional experts for a period of at least one year to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in Yemen and to carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of human rights.  The Council requested the immediate operationalization of the mandate.

The Council extended the mandate of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent for a further period of three years.  

On technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights in the Central African Republic, the Council decided to renew, for one year, the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic to assess, monitor and report on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic with a view to making recommendations related to technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights. 

Concerning technical assistance and capacity-building to improve human rights in Sudan, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance and capacity-building in response to the request from the Government of Sudan for support on ways to improve the situation of human rights in the country and with a view to providing support for the country to fulfil its human rights obligations and commitments.  The Council decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert for a period of one year.

The Council renewed the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia for a period of one year to assess, monitor and report on the situation of human rights in Somalia, with a view to making recommendations on technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights.

The Council decided to extend by two years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, and requested the Special Rapporteur to report on the implementation of her mandate to the Council at its thirty-ninth and forty-second sessions, and to engage in a constructive manner with the Government of Cambodia for the further improvement of the situation of human rights in the country.

By a vote of 34 votes in favour, two against, and 11 abstentions, the Council decided that the open-ended intergovernmental working group on a United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas would hold its fifth annual session for five working days before the thirty-eighth session of the Human Rights Council. 

In a resolution titled “From rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”, the Council welcomed the convening of regional meetings organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to effectively implement the programme of activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent. 

Concerning the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, the Council decided that the theme for the annual thematic panel discussion under agenda item 10 to be held during its thirty-eighth session will be “Human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals: enhancing human rights technical cooperation and capacity-building to contribute to the effective and inclusive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

On promoting international cooperation to support national human rights follow-up systems, processes and related mechanisms, and their contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Council invited States to gradually increase their voluntary contributions to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance for the Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review and other relevant trust funds.

By a vote of 45 in favour, one vote against and no abstentions, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to give an oral update on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Council at its thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth sessions, as well as to prepare a comprehensive report on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and present it to the Council at its thirty-ninth session.

In a Presidential Statement on the reports of the Advisory Committee, adopted without a vote, the Council took note of the reports of the Advisory Committee on its eighteenth and nineteenth sessions, and noted that the Advisory Committee had made a research proposal.

The Council elected the following members of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council by secret ballot: Ajai Malhotra from India, and Changrok Soh from the Republic of Korea for the Asia-Pacific States.  Five members of the Advisory Committee were elected by acclamation: Dheerujlall Baramlall Seetulsingh from Mauritius, and Mohamed Bennani from Morocco for the African States; Ion Diaconu from Romania for the Eastern European States; Elizabeth S. Salmón from Peru for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and Ludovic Hennebel from Belgium from the Western European and other States.

The Council then proceeded with the appointment of Special Procedure mandate holders:  E. Tendayi Achiume (Zambia) as the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Alice Cruz (Portugal) as the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.  Marie-Evelyne Petrus (France) was appointed to the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.  Meskerem Techane (Ethiopia), Melissa Upreti (Nepal), Ivana Radacic (Croatia), and Elizabeth Broderick (Australia) were appointed as members of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice.

The Council adopted ad referendum the report of its thirty-sixth session, presented by Mouayed Saleh, Human Rights Council Vice-President. 

Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli, President of the Human Rights Council, in concluding remarks, recalled that on 9 August 2016, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva had met with his predecessor and informed that due to the budgetary situation and the significant increase in the number of meetings of the Council, UNOG would not be able to accommodate more than 135 regular session Council meetings in 2017 and no more than 130 regular session Council meetings in 2018.  In response, the Council had adopted diverse, urgent and extraordinary measures to reduce the speaking times during the meetings.  Four proposed measures had been presented, including that the Council request support from the General Assembly for 20 additional regular session meetings.  No consensus had been reached.  The Bureau would continue consulting with States on the issue with a view to reach consensus.  

Introducing draft texts were Bolivia, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Somalia, United Kingdom, Thailand, Paraguay also on behalf of Brazil, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Japan, and the United States.

Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen and Cambodia spoke as concerned countries.  The Central African Republic did not take the floor to speak as a concerned country. 

Speaking in general comments were Latvia on behalf of the European Union, United States, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Japan.

Speaking in an explanation of the vote before or after the vote were: Venezuela, United States, Germany, Latvia on behalf of the European Union, and Switzerland.

The thirty-seventh regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 26 February to 23 March 2018.   

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

Action on Resolution on the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.29) on the promotion and protection of the human rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, two against and 11 abstentions, the Council decides that the open-ended intergovernmental working group on a United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas shall hold its fifth annual session for five working days before the thirty-eighth session of the Human Rights Council; also decides that the updated version of the draft declaration that will be presented by the Chair-Rapporteur of the working group at its fifth session …will be translated into all official languages of the United Nations; and requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure the participation in the fifth session of the working group of up to five expert panellists, including representatives of peasants and other people working in rural areas, civil society and grass-roots organizations from developing countries, in order to contribute to the analysis and interactive dialogues.  The Council requests the working group to submit an annual report on progress made to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly for their consideration.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (34): Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Against (2): United Kingdom and United States.

Abstentions (11): Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Republic of Korea and Slovenia.

Bolivia, introducing on behalf of a group of countries draft resolution L.29, said that it renewed the mandate of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on a United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.  The draft resolution considered that smallholder farmers were particularly vulnerable to malnutrition, inter alia.  Seventy per cent of the food in the world was produced by smallholder peasants whose adaptability and resilience to climate change was fundamental.  Bolivia invited all Member States of the Council to vote in favour of the draft resolution in order to improve the lives of those persons.

Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed support for the initiative and the renewal of the mandate of the Working Group on a United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, as such an instrument would strengthen the rights of millions of people working in rural areas who represented one third of the world population, and would further contribute to addressing the weaknesses in the existing legal framework. 

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, was concerned about the situation of people working in rural areas who suffered from poverty.  However, a new declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas would not change the situation.  The United States said that authorising a fifth session of the Working Group was not appropriate considering the limited resources of the Council.

Germany, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of a group of countries, was deeply concerned that there still remained inequalities in the achievement of human rights for peasants and all those living and working in rural areas.  Nevertheless, the existing United Nations normative framework was adequate for protecting their rights.  Creating rights for new groups would not bring new values.  Germany appreciated that the main sponsors had accommodated some of the proposals, but as the concerns about the mandate of the Working Group remained, Germany would abstain from voting.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.16) on the mandate of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent for a further period of three years, … and also decides that the Working Group shall undertake a minimum of two country visits per year.  The Council requests the Working Group to submit an annual report to the Human Rights Council on all activities relating to its mandate, as well as to the General Assembly in the context of the International Decade for People of African Descent; …and to pay special attention in its annual report to the rising tide of racism and racial hatred, as evidenced by the resurgence of white supremacist ideologies, and extremist nationalist and populist ideologies, and to make specific recommendations in this regard.

Tunisia, introducing draft resolution L.16 on behalf of the African Group, said it renewed the mandate of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, and said that this mandate was critical to the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  The Working Group continued to promote and participate in activities, interact with civil society, and assist States and stakeholders in the implementation of the Programme of Activities for the International Decade for People of African Descent.  It had a mandate to monitor the human rights situation of people of African descent, elaborate proposals for the elimination of racial discrimination against people of African descent, and contribute to development programmes for people of African descent.  The draft resolution called for the Working Group to pay special attention to the rising tide of racism and racial hatred as evidenced by the resurgence of white supremacist ideologies, and extremist nationalist and populist ideologies.  Racism and structural discrimination, racial profiling, and unequal access to economic, social and cultural rights for people of African descent continued unabated, thus the role of the Working Group in highlighting their plight remained imperative.  The African Group pledged its support to the Working Group and looked forward to the adoption of this resolution by consensus as had been previously done.

Latvia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, reiterated the European Union’s commitment to the fight against racism, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, and also reiterated the importance of the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which was the universal foundation to prevent, combat and eradicate racism.  The European Union continued to be engaged in the work of the Council and the treaty bodies, and would join the consensus in renewing the mandate of the Working Group.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the United States remained fully committed to combatting racism, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance.  However, due to the well-known problems related to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the United States would dissociate itself from the consensus on this draft resolution.

Action on Resolution titled From Rhetoric to Reality: a Global Call for Concrete Action against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.17/Rev.1) titled From rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, five against, and 10 abstentions, the Council welcomes the convening of regional meetings organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to effectively implement the programme of activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent, …; requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in his capacity as coordinator of the Decade, to submit an oral update on his activities in follow-up to the implementation of the programme of activities within the framework of the Decade to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-ninth session; and requests the High Commissioner to prioritize the issue of preventing and combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the work of the Office of the High Commissioner.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32): Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Against (5): Albania, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

Abstentions (10): Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal,  Republic of Korea and Slovenia.

Tunisia, introducing on behalf of the African Group draft resolution L.17/Rev.1, said that the African Group had done everything to ensure the full implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  The draft resolution underlined the primacy of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination as the principal international instrument to combat all the scourges of racism and called for States to withdraw their reservations to this Convention.  The text also noted the support expressed for a memorial to the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.  The African Group looked forward to the adoption of the text by consensus, bearing in mind that all had a collective responsibility to uphold principles of human dignity.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it remained firmly and fully committed to combatting racial discrimination, intolerance, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and all other forms of discrimination.  The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination provided for full protection against all those violations and States should focus on implementing those provisions.  The objections to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action were among the reasons why the United States would vote against this draft resolution.  Another concern was that the draft resolution proposed limits to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly according to substance, and the United States stressed that all freedoms had to be protected equally.  Combatting racism was a challenge everyone faced.  The United States expressed hope that in the future, the Council would have other opportunities to pursue freedoms in a more cooperative fashion. 

Latvia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, expressed the European Union’s full commitment to the protection of human rights, adding its concern that racial discrimination continued to persist in all parts of the world.  The European Union thanked South Africa for having held constructive consultations, and expressed regret that it had not been possible to reach an outcome that the European Union could support, especially as the operative paragraph 7 went beyond the duties of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and might result in an infringement of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.  This would undermine the work of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in combatting racism. 
Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Switzerland was fully committed to the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and stressed that the fight against racism, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance remained crucial.  Switzerland thanked Tunisia for having submitted the resolution and appreciated the efforts undertaken by South Africa to carry open consultations.  But some concerns remained unmet and thus, Switzerland could not support the draft resolution.  Switzerland was also concerned about the language adopted on freedom of speech which would impose restrictions.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, reiterated its support for the resolutions L.16 and L.17/Rev.1, noting that the world was beset by a worrying increase of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  There was also a question of tackling reparation for damages suffered by Afro-descendants.  The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was valuable, as well as the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference of 2009.  The International Decade for People of African Descent was the framework to focus on those challenges.  Supporting the necessary mechanisms for debate on issues of such importance was needed.  Venezuela would be active in all efforts to protect the rights of Afro-descendants.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building in the Field of Human Rights in the Central African Republic

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.18/Rev.1) on technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights in the Central African Republic, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to renew, for one year, the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic to assess, to monitor and to report on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic with a view to making recommendations related to technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights.  The Council also decides to organize, at its thirty-seventh session, a high-level interactive dialogue to assess the evolution of the human rights situation on the ground, placing special emphasis on the impact of peace and reconciliation efforts on human rights …; and requests the Independent Expert to provide an oral update on her report on technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights in the Central African Republic to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session and to submit a written report to the Council at its thirty-ninth session.

Tunisia, introducing draft resolution L.18/Rev.1 as orally revised on behalf of the African Group, said that the draft recognized the progress made in the Central African Republic and welcomed the constitutional referendum and the presidential elections in 2015 and 2016.  The draft text expressed concern about the worsening situation in this country 2017 and requested the Central African Republic to put an end to impunity and bring perpetrators of crimes to justice.  Collective mobilization to address the crisis was essential.  The draft resolution encouraged the United Nations and other relevant international organizations as well as donor countries to provide the Central African Republic with technical assistance and capacity building.  The decision to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert for a year ran in the same vein and aimed to ensure the monitoring and reporting on the situation in the Central African Republic.  The African Group expressed its gratitude to all delegations for their constructive commitment to the text, and expressed hope for its adoption by consensus.
Latvia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the draft resolution and said that the situation in the Central African Republic required all attention, given the developments noted on the ground.  The security and human rights situation was deteriorating because of the activities of armed groups.  The European Union took note of the positive developments, particularly the operationalisation of a special criminal court, and all the efforts to fight impunity, and said that the draft text would contribute to building lasting peace through reconciliation.  The European Union welcomed the work of the Independent Expert and the quality of her cooperation with the authorities of the Central African Republic, and remained committed to accompanying the Central African Republic in its efforts to address the crisis.
 
United States, speaking in a general comment, commended the efforts made by all members of the Council to reach a consensus, and reiterated its concerns regarding reports of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the Central African Republic.  The United States was pleased to co-sponsor the resolution.

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building to Improve Human Rights in Sudan

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.19) on the technical assistance and capacity-building to improve human rights in the Sudan, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner, taking into account the recommendations of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, to provide technical assistance and capacity-building in response to the request from the Government of the Sudan for support on ways to improve the situation of human rights in the country and with a view to providing support for the country to fulfil its human rights obligations and commitments.  The Council decides to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert for a period of one year; and requests the Independent Expert to present a report to the Human Rights Council on the implementation of his mandate …for consideration at its thirty-ninth session.  The Council also calls upon the Government of the Sudan to continue its full cooperation with the Independent Expert and to continue to permit effective access to visit all areas of the country, and to meet with all relevant actors.
 
Tunisia, introducing on behalf of the African Group draft resolution L.19 on Sudan, said the resolution encouraged the Government of Sudan to extend the declaration of cessation of hostilities.  It noted the cooperation of the Government of Sudan with the Independent Expert and called on the Government to continue to give him access to all areas of the country.  The role of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights was essential and could assist the State in promoting and protecting all human rights.  The draft acknowledged that the situation of human rights in Sudan informed the renewal and transition of mandates related to Sudan and urged the Government of the Sudan to cooperate with the Independent Expert.  Continued and sustained improvement would contribute to changing the mandate from Independent Expert to another United Nations mechanism.  The African Union draft came as a result of intensive bilateral consultations.  Most concerns were taken on board.  It was hoped the draft would be adopted by consensus.
 
United States, speaking in a general comment, was pleased to welcome Sudan’s cooperation with the Independent Expert.  The United States remained concerned about the overall situation of human rights in the country.  Arrests targeting civil society representatives were extremely worrisome.  The resolution called on Sudan to protect the freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly.  The United States was concerned about reports of acts of torture committed by the authorities as well as the demolition of churches and places of worship.  The United States welcomed the work of the Independent Expert in Sudan and was pleased to see the renewal of its mandate. 

Egypt, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the Arab Group, noted the resolution had been under item 10 for the last six years.  In this period, no technical assistance had been provided to Sudan.  The resolution confirmed the cooperation offered by Sudan to the Independent Expert.  Although this resolution was not in line with the aspirations of the Arab Group, it would benefit from its support.

Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the sponsors for the resolution.  Sudan was determined to always cooperate with the Council and the Independent Expert.  It would continue to strive to improve the situation for human rights until it was no longer under consideration by Special Procedures.  The United States was called on to do away with double standards, and to free the Guantanamo detainees who included one Sudanese journalist.

Action on Resolution on Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.23) on the assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon the Federal Government of Somalia, with the support of the international community, inter alia to implement the commitments in the New Partnership for Somalia and London Conference communiqué on constitutional reform …, to end the prevailing culture of impunity and to hold accountable those who commit human rights violations and abuses …, and to impose a zero-tolerance policy on sexual and gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation.  The Council decides to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia …for a period of one year to assess, monitor and report on the situation of human rights in Somalia, with a view to making recommendations on technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights; and requests the Independent Expert to report to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-ninth session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session.

Somalia, introducing draft resolution L.23, said that it recognized the needs and effectiveness of capacity development in technical assistance to Somalia and the primary responsibility of the Government.  It urged all countries hosting Somali refugees to uphold their international obligations.  The draft text recognized the role of Somali women in community mobilization, peace building, economic empowerment, and public and political decision-making.  The draft welcomed the endorsement of the first national development plan, and the promotion of female equality and empowerment of women, and the increase of women’s representation in the Cabinet.  It also welcomed the continued commitment of Somalia in the Universal Periodic Review process, the adoption of the security pact, the new partnership between Somalia and international partners, and progress in key legislation. 

United Kingdom, introducing draft resolution L.23, noted that Somalia’s recovery from 25 years of conflict was continuing.  The country had made welcome progress towards upholding human rights and in strengthening its political processes.  Somalia rightly deserved the Council’s recognition and continued support.  The resolution today did exactly that.  It renewed the mandate of the Independent Expert and called for support to Somalia’s institutions to build a stable, peaceful and prosperous State.

Action on Resolution on the Enhancement of Technical Cooperation and Capacity-Building in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.28) on the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council invites the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to make his next annual oral presentation, under agenda item 10, on the overview of and successes, best practices and challenges in technical assistance and capacity-building efforts, …to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh session, and subsequently on an annual basis at the March session of the Council …; decides …that the theme for the annual thematic panel discussion under agenda item 10 to be held during its thirty-eighth session will be “Human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals: enhancing human rights technical cooperation and capacity-building to contribute to the effective and inclusive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on how United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms …through effective, coherent and coordinated technical assistance and capacity-building in the promotion and protection of human rights can support States in the realization of the 2030 Agenda …and to submit the report to the Council at its thirty-eighth session to serve as a basis for the thematic panel discussion.

Thailand, introducing draft resolution L.28 on the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights on behalf of a cross-regional core group of countries consisting of Brazil, Honduras, Indonesia, Morocco, Norway, Singapore, Qatar and Turkey, said the purpose of the draft resolution was to highlight the essential role of technical cooperation in strengthening the capacity of States in their efforts toward the promotion and protection of human rights.  The draft resolution set the theme for a panel discussion to be held at the Council’s thirty-eighth session in June 2018, namely “human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals: Enhancing human rights technical cooperation and capacity-building to contribute to the effective and inclusive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”  It was hoped the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus as in the past years.

United States, speaking in a general comment, believed that technical assistance was a one of the best kinds of support that the Council could provide to countries to ensure they would protect and promote human rights.  The United States thanked the core group for taking into account its concerns.  However, the United States would dissociate from the inappropriate assertion that the enhancement of technical assistance was necessary for the promotion and protection of human rights.  Each State had the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights.  The United States also regretted that the resolution made reference to the declaration on the right to development. 

Latvia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, thanked the core group for the consultations.  The European Union underlined the valuable support that technical support and capacity building could provide.  The European Union agreed that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development needed to be consistent with international human rights law.  While the European Union fully supported the resolution, it had engaged with others to further strengthen the text.  The European Union encouraged the core group to consider the biannualization of the resolution.

Action on Resolution on Promoting International Cooperation to Support National Human Rights Follow-up Systems, Processes and Related Mechanisms, and Their Contribution to the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.30) on promoting international cooperation to support national human rights follow-up systems, processes and related mechanisms, and their contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted without a vote, the Council invites States to gradually increase their voluntary contributions to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance for the Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review and other relevant trust funds, in order to  enable States …to establish or strengthen their respective national human rights follow-up systems and processes, including, as appropriate, their national mechanisms for reporting and follow-up; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to continue to compile, assess and raise awareness of good practices, challenges and lessons learned on the potential contribution of national human rights follow-up systems and processes …to the implementation of human rights recommendations and …to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Paraguay, introducing draft resolution L.30 on behalf of Brazil and Paraguay, said that the draft resolution recognized that the national systems, processes and mechanisms of follow-up could make an important contribution to implement the Sustainable Development Goals by strengthening States’ capacities to evaluate their needs and define their priorities.  These national follow-up systems and mechanisms made it easier to implement recommendations and to translate them into national policies preventing future violations.  This resolution recognized the value of the cooperation given to States to establish national human rights institutions.  It urged the High Commissioner to continue providing this cooperation and to continue to compile best practices within the framework of these national mechanisms.  Paraguay thanked all those who made comments and suggestions to improve the text.

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building in the Field of Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.34/Rev.1) on technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, adopted by a vote of 45 in favour, one against and one abstention as orally revised, the Council welcomes the appointment by the High Commissioner of Bacre Ndiaye, Luc Côté and Fatimata M’Baye as members of the team of international experts on the situation in the Kasai regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as mandated by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 35/33; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to give an oral update on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth sessions, in an enhanced interactive dialogue; also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive report on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including in the context of the electoral process, and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-ninth session in an enhanced interactive dialogue.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (45): Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Venezuela.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (1): Republic of Korea.

Tunisia, introducing on behalf of the African Group draft resolution L.34/Rev.1 as orally revised on technical assistance and capacity-building in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said it should not be confused with the previous resolution on the situation in the Kasai.  The draft resolution was based on the report of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.  The draft recognized the worsening human rights situation but highlighted the work of the Government on previous recommendations by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and other United Nations human rights mechanisms.  The draft invited stakeholders to prepare for a swift holding of elections in line with provisions of the agreement.  The Council requested the High Commissioner to make an oral report at a subsequent session of the Human Rights Council and also to prepare a detailed report on the situation of human rights, including in the framework of the electoral process.  The text was submitted for adoption by consensus.

Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking as the concerned country, reminded of the adoption of the previous Council resolution on technical assistance and sending a team of international experts to investigate the atrocities committed in the Kasai province.  The draft resolution remained the logical follow-up of the general resolution that the Council usually discussed in September.  It should not be confused with the previous resolution on Kasai.  The report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had welcomed efforts by the Government to fight sexual violence, the liberation of several prisoners of conscience, and the adoption of a bill on the protection of and responsibility for human rights defenders.  Those giving lessons were far from being perfect models and the Democratic Republic of the Congo denounced the hypocrisy of countries which interfered in domestic affairs of other countries.  Double standards and politicisation should not be permitted in the Council.  The management of the migrant crisis had negatively affected human rights all over the world, but not enough was being said about it.  Neither was enough being said about racial discrimination in those countries which wanted to hide that problem.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo would not be intimated by those who wished to stifle the work of the Council.  It thanked the African Union and all those countries which had fought tirelessly to find consensus.  

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stressed that the resolution did not reflect the reality on the ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which was why it would vote no.  The United States continued to receive reports of violations of human rights, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and cruel treatment committed by armed groups and the security forces.  The congratulating tone used in the resolution was an insult to the American citizens who had been killed in the country.  Furthermore, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had continued to delay free and fair elections.  There was still no calendar of elections.  In addition, there were serious concerns on restrictions on political space, including the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.  In recognition of the lack of progress in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United States had hoped that the resolution would be stronger.  It was also disappointing that the negotiations on the draft resolution had not been conducted more transparently.  The United States reiterated its calls to end the abuses and violations of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Action on Presidential Statement

In a Presidential Statement (A/HRC/36/L.65) on the reports of the Advisory Committee, adopted without a vote, the Council takes note of the reports of the Advisory Committee on its eighteenth and nineteenth sessions, and notes that the Advisory Committee has made a research proposal.

Action on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building for Yemen in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.8) on the technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requests the High Commissioner to establish a Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts with knowledge on human rights law and the context of Yemen for a period of at least one year, renewable as authorized, with the following mandate: to monitor and report on the situation of Human Rights and carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and other appropriate and applicable fields of international law committed by all parties to the conflict since September 2014, including possible gender dimensions of such violations, and to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses and, where possible, to identify those responsible; to make general recommendations on improving the respect for and protection and fulfilment of human rights, and to provide guidance on access to justice, accountability, reconciliation and healing, as appropriate; and to engage with Yemeni authorities and all stakeholders …with a view to exchanging information and providing support for national, regional and international efforts to promote accountability for human rights violations and abuses in Yemen.  The Council requests the immediate operationalization of the mandate and further requests the High Commissioner to appoint without delay the   Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts and by no later than by the end of 2017, and requests the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts to present a comprehensive written report to the High Commissioner by the time of the thirty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council to be followed by an interactive dialogue.

Egypt, introducing on behalf of the Arab Group L.8 on technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen as orally revised, welcomed providing technical assistance to the Yemeni Government.  The Netherlands, Canada, Belgium and other countries had participated in the consultations to reach consensus.  The draft resolution recognized the difference between the legitimate Government of Yemen and armed groups who were using violence to achieve their goals.  The political process in Yemen was important.  The draft resolution before the Council gave the High Commissioner the mandate of assigning a team to follow up on the human rights situation in Yemen, provide recommendations to enforce justice, report to the High Commissioner, and pursue technical assistance to help the Committee discharge its mandate.  The Council was called on to adopt the draft resolution by consensus.

Netherlands, speaking in a general comment, was concerned about the grave human rights situation in Yemen.  In this session, the High Commissioner, for the third year in a row, requested the establishment of an independent and investigative body.  This urgent request could no longer be ignored.  A credible investigation was necessary to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding these violations.  Accountability was necessary to reach reconciliation.  The resolution was not aimed at taking sides but to further promote the human rights of the people in Yemen.  The Netherlands valued the constructive dialogue that had led to a common agreement.  The text included the establishment of international and regional experts to carry out investigations on violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.  The draft resolution also included an element of technical assistance.  The resolution called for the immediate operationalisation of the mandate so it could get to work.

United Arab Emirates, speaking in a general comment, stressed that the resolution was a new momentum for the cooperation between the High Commissioner and the authorities of Yemen. The United Arab Emirates stressed that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should provide technical assistance and capacity building in compliance with the needs of Yemen.  Some paragraphs stated that some requirements had to be fulfilled by Yemen in order to have access to technical assistance.  This was contrary to the spirit of human rights.

United Kingdom, speaking in a general comment, expressed concern about the human rights situation in Yemen, and the humanitarian situation was also worrying.  More needed to be done to fund the humanitarian appeal.  There was an urgent need for a political solution.  Accountability was possible.  The human rights situation in Yemen had not improved.  The situation for Yemenis on the ground needed to improve, and for that, international law should be respected in the conflict.  All violations and abuses of human rights and any violations of human rights law were unacceptable.  An impactful resolution had been a priority for the United Kingdom. 

Saudi Arabia, speaking in a general comment, thanked all States for their help in the preparation of the resolution and their cooperation and engagement in negotiations, especially the core group.  The Yemeni Republic was undergoing a difficult situation.  The draft resolution was a follow-up to L.5 which was adopted in September at the thirty-third session of the Human Rights Council.  All partners had needed to cooperate for that text to be adopted by consensus.  All delegations were thanked for their support to Yemen. 

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that the United States was pleased to join the consensus and said that the Council, speaking with one voice on Yemen, was essential to addressing the human rights situation in this country, encouraging the parties to the conflict to come to the negotiating table, and to maintaining the Council’s integrity.  The international community faced a number of important tasks and challenges in Yemen, including the protection of civilians, expansion of humanitarian assistance, particularly in the face of famine and infectious diseases, and addressing water scarcity.  Yemen had the highest number of people at risk of cholera and famine in the world today, largely as a result of this conflict.  The United States regretted the unnecessary loss of civilian lives.  All parties in Yemen had the responsibility to respect their obligations, including under international humanitarian and human rights law, as applicable.  The United States stressed the importance of reaching a lasting peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Yemen, speaking as the concerned country, stressed that the complex circumstances that Yemen was going through required support so that the Government could fulfil its international obligations in the field of human rights.  The Government would engage positively with the resolution in terms of capacity building and technical assistance to be provided to Yemen.  Yemen supported the respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity as contained in the draft resolution.  Yemen reiterated its gratitude to the Arab Group and hoped the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

Action on Resolution on the Advisory Services and Technical Assistance to Cambodia

In a resolution (A/HRC/36/L.21) on the advisory services and technical assistance to Cambodia, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council invites the Secretary-General, agencies of the United Nations system present in Cambodia and the international community, including civil society, to continue to work with the Government of Cambodia in strengthening democracy and ensuring the protection and promotion of the human rights of all people in Cambodia; decides to extend by two years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, and requests the Special Rapporteur to report on the implementation of her mandate to the Council at its thirty-ninth and forty-second sessions, and to engage in a constructive manner with the Government of Cambodia for the further improvement of the situation of human rights in the country; and requests the Secretary-General to provide an oral update, followed by an interactive dialogue, to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session and to report to the Council at its thirty-ninth session and forty-second sessions on the implementation of the present resolution and on the role and achievements of the Office of the High Commissioner in assisting the Government and the people of Cambodia in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Japan, introducing draft resolution L.21 as orally revised, said that Japan had worked tirelessly to keep this resolution intact and said that regretfully there were oral revisions to the operative paragraphs 22, 23, 25 and 30.  The main purpose of the draft resolution was to continue international efforts to further improve the human rights situation in Cambodia, which included an extension by two years of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Cambodia.  Concerns had been raised about the heightening political and social tensions in the country ahead of the highly important general elections in July next year.  Japan and the international community were paying close attention to the situation in Cambodia and Japan urged the Government of Cambodia to demonstrate through action its commitment to realizing a true democratic elections by accepting international observers.

United States, introducing oral revisions to L.21, expressed disappointment with the draft.  Discussion in the Human Rights Council would help.  An amendment to operative paragraph 30 would request the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an oral update followed by an interactive dialogue at a subsequent session of the Human Rights Council.  All delegations were urged to vote in favour of the amendment. 

Japan, speaking as the main sponsor, said it was important that States that were receiving technical cooperation were actively engaged.  Dialogue was important.  Speaking as the main sponsor, the United States proposal would be incompatible with the intent of the draft resolution.  For that reason, Japan would call for a vote and vote against the amendment. 

Latvia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, acknowledged that the draft resolution sought to acknowledge the limited areas of progress and address some concerns raised by the Special Rapporteur and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  But the European Union was disappointed that it did not reflect better the deterioration in the human rights situation in the country, including the restrictions on the opposition and the media which seemed to be politically motivated.  Cambodia should take immediate steps to restore human rights and fundamental freedoms to ensure that the July 2018 elections were truly free and fair, including by engaging with the Special Rapporteur and allowing her access to the country in the run up to the July 2018 elections.

Cambodia, speaking as the concerned country, said that since 1993 and the inception of this Human Rights Council, the resolutions on Cambodia had never asked the Secretary-General to provide an oral update followed by an interactive dialogue, which completely contradicted the existing rules of the Council.  This was because some States wanted to interfere in the general elections in Cambodia in 2018 under the pretext of this draft resolution.  If this illegitimate amendment succeeded, Cambodia would disassociate from the whole resolution.  Those who wished to express their concerns should do so through the established rules and practices of this Council.  Cambodia remained committed to upholding the universal principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and would take all necessary mediums conducive to a free, fair, transparent and inclusive participation in next year’s elections, taking into account lessons learnt and experience from its June 2017 elections.

Action on Oral Amendment

Latvia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed its gratitude for the efforts of the delegation of Japan to reach consensus.  One of the key issues for the European Union was that the draft resolution should create a different level of attention on the situation in Cambodia.  It did not prove to be the case.  The amendment was an attempt to reintroduce this level of attention.  It was a reasonable proposal given the situation in the country.  It would be in line with the goal of the Council to prevent further deterioration of the situation in the country.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, welcomed the commitment of the delegation of Japan and welcomed the cooperation of Cambodia.  However despite the efforts of the Japanese delegation, it was not possible to reach a text that met all of the requests of the stakeholders.  Switzerland remained concerned about the situation in the country.  In light of the elections in July 2018, Switzerland called on Cambodia to protect the situation of human rights and ensure that the media could carry their activities without restrictions.  Switzerland would support the amendment.
   
The Council rejected the amendment by a vote of 12 in favour, 20 against and 15 abstentions.

Action on Resolution of L.31 as Orally Revised

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed regret that the resolution would be adopted without certain elements, including an oral update by the High Commissioner.  Given the deteriorating human rights situation in Cambodia, such action was merited.  There was grave concern about the worsening human rights situation in Cambodia.  The arrest of the opposition leader and the expulsion of independent media outlets had underscored the need for continued attention by the Council. 

Explanation of the Vote after the Vote on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

Latvia, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union remained concerned about the humanitarian and human rights situation across the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The High Commissioner’s report presented during the session clearly demonstrated that the human rights violations had worsened over the last year.  This increase had been caused mainly by the State agents, and civilians were paying a heavy price, including in the areas which had previously escaped the crisis, such as the Kasaïs.  It was essential for the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to put an end to the human rights violations and abuses by the State agents and officials and end the restrictions to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.  In terms of the fight against impunity, the Government should transform their commitment into specific action and prosecute all perpetrators of human rights violations, including those who were part of the security forces.  The European Union called upon the Democratic Republic of the Congo to fully cooperate with the international team of Experts established by this Council and investigate the atrocious murder of two of its members.  It was vital to keep the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the agenda of the Human Rights Council.

Election of Members of the Advisory Committee and Appointment of Mandate Holders of Special Procedures

JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI, President of the Human Rights Council, announced the election by secret ballot of members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee.  Following the vote, the following members were elected: Ajai Malhotra from India, and Changrok Soh from the Republic of Korea for Asia-Pacific States.  Five members of the Advisory Committee were elected by acclamation: Dheerujlall Baramlall Seetulsingh from Mauritius, and Mohamed Bennani from Morocco for the African States; Ion Diaconu from Romania for the Eastern European States; Elizabeth S. Salmón from Peru for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and Ludovic Hennebel from Belgium from the Western European and other States.

The President also announced the appointment of mandate holders of the Special Procedures.  E. Tendayi Achiume (Zambia) was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  Marie-Evelyne Petrus (France) was appointed to the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.  Meskerem Techane (Ethiopia), Melissa Upreti (Nepal), Ivana Radacic (Croatia), and Elizabeth Broderick (Australia) were appointed as members of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice.  Alice Cruz (Portugal) was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.  

Concluding Remarks

MOUAYED SALEH, Vice-President and Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, said that the draft of the report on the session contained a description of the work of the Council up to 2 p.m. today.  After the session, the secretariat would finalize the report and circulate it for comments to be added.  The draft report contained 10 chapters corresponding to the items of the agenda of the Council.  Mr. Saleh thanked all delegations and the President of the Council for their presence.

The report of the Council was adopted ad referendum.

JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI, President of the Human Rights Council, said that on 9 August 2016, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva had met with his predecessor and informed that due to the budgetary situation and the significant increase in the number of meetings of the Council, UNOG would not be able to accommodate more than 135 regular session Council meetings in 2017 and no more than 130 regular session Council meetings in 2018.  In response, the Council had adopted diverse, urgent and extraordinary measures to reduce the speaking times during the meetings.  Four proposed measures were presented, including the Council requesting support from the General Assembly for 20 additional regular session meetings.  They were circulated with a request for feedback and remarks.  Last Monday, an information consultation was held but there was no consensus to take a decision and States said they needed more time to consult.  The Bureau would continue consulting with States on the issue with a view to reach consensus.   The Council would meet on 20 October to approve a relevant decision.  The President then declared the thirty-sixth session of the Council closed.

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