Human Rights Council
23 March 2018
Asks Special Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures to Present a Set of Elements to be Considered in the Preparation of a Draft Declaration on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted 10 resolutions, including texts requesting the convening of a high-level panel discussion on genocide; and a study on the role of capacity building in the promotion of human rights. The Council also requested the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures to present in his next report a set of elements to be considered as appropriate in the preparation of a draft United Nations declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures.
On the issue of genocide, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was requested to organize at the thirty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Council also requested the Secretary-General to prepare a follow-up report based on information provided by States on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution.
In a text on cooperation in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, States were called upon to uphold multilateralism and the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee was requested to conduct a study on the role of technical assistance and capacity building in fostering mutually beneficial cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights.
By the terms of a text on unilateral coercive measures, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, 15 against and 3 abstentions, the Special Rapporteur on the matter was requested to present to the Council in his next report a set of elements to be considered as appropriate in the preparation of a draft United Nations declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.
The Council decided that its next annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities would be held at its fortieth session with a focus on article 26 of the Convention on habilitation and rehabilitation. The Council requested the High Commissioner to prepare its annual study on the rights of persons with disabilities on article 26 of the Convention.
The Council also decided to incorporate into its programme of work a thematic panel discussion with regard to promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, to be held once every four years at its session preceding the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In a text on torture, States were urged to adopt, implement and comply fully with legal and procedural safeguards against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and ensure that these safeguards were not compromised by any form or practice of corruption.
The Council decided to continue its consideration of the question of the rights of the child in accordance with its programme of work and relevant resolutions, and to focus its next annual full-day meeting on the theme “Empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education”.
Turning to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Council decided to organize two one-day intersessional meetings for dialogue and cooperation on human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In another text, the Council decided to invite the President of the Economic and Social Council, commencing in 2018, to brief it on an annual basis on the discussions of the high-level political forum, including on gaps, challenges and progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
On terrorism, the Council called upon States to ensure that measures to counter terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism complied with international law. States were also urged not to resort to profiling based on stereotypes founded on ethnic, racial or religious grounds or any other ground of discrimination prohibited by international law.
Speaking in introduction of draft texts were the delegations of Greece, Denmark, Bulgaria (on behalf of the European Union), Uruguay, Venezuela (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Mexico, China, Denmark (on behalf of a group of countries), Chile, South Africa, Armenia, and Egypt.
United States, Belgium, Slovakia (on behalf of the European Union), Venezuela, Egypt, Cuba, Germany, Pakistan, South Africa, Chile, Panama, Australia, Rwanda, and Saudi Arabia spoke in general comments.
Speaking in an explanation of the vote before or after the vote were United States, Slovakia (on behalf of the European Union), Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Mongolia, Japan, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Kyrgyzstan.
At 1 p.m., the Council will continue taking action on resolutions and decisions before closing its thirty-seventh session.
Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development
Action on Resolution on Promoting Human Rights through Sport and the Olympic Ideal
In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.31) on promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, adopted without a vote, the Council encourages States to promote sport as a means to combat all forms of discrimination; and decides to incorporate into its programme of work a thematic panel discussion with regard to promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, to be held once every four years at the session of the Human Rights Council preceding the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, and also decides that the discussions will be fully accessible to persons with disabilities. The Council also decides that the first such panel discussion will be organized at its forty-fourth session, ahead of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Greece, introducing draft resolution L.31 on behalf of sponsors Brazil, China, Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Japan, Lebanon, Morocco, Republic of Korea, Russia and Greece, presented the text which was the result of two rounds of informal negotiations. The resolution took into account the work accomplished thus fur with regard to sport and the Olympic idea and had the ambition to deepen the scope of resolution 31/23. L.31 brought in new elements such as women empowerment and gender equality, persons with disabilities, volunteer movements, and the participation of teams of refugees. The resolution called for the Council to incorporate into its programme of work a thematic panel discussion with regard to promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal.
United States, speaking in a general comment, was pleased to support the draft resolution. The United States had been long supporting sport activities in the promotion of sport and international labour standards and would continue to work to integrate human rights in international labour standards.
The Council adopted the draft resolution without a vote.
Action on Resolution on the Negative Impact of Corruption on the Right to be Free from Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.32) on the negative impact of corruption on the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as a criminal offence the acts of corruption as required in the United Nations Convention against Corruption and as required in other relevant regional anti-corruption treaties to which they are a party; and urges States to adopt, implement and comply fully with legal and procedural safeguards against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and ensure that these safeguards are not compromised by any form or practice of corruption. The Council underlines that one key aspect of prevention measures against corruption is to address the needs of those in vulnerable situations and persons belonging to marginalized groups, who may be the first persons negatively impacted by corruption and may consequently be in increased risk of being subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Denmark, introducing draft resolution L.32, said it had a long tradition of being a main sponsor of resolutions on torture in both the Council and the General Assembly. The basis for the draft resolution was the role that the rule of law and good governance played in torture prevention. The text identified areas where corruption had a particularly negative impact on the fight against torture. Measures to combat torture and corruption could be mutually reinforcing, including in the training of law enforcement personnel, judges and other public officials.
Belgium, speaking in a general comment, was strongly committed to fight against torture and other forms of degrading treatment. Belgium welcomed the fact that the resolution focused on the links between corruption and torture, two illegal practices tightly intertwined. The importance of independent law enforcement mechanisms was emphasized in the text and the process of drafting the resolution was highly transparent.
Slovakia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, reiterated that this was another step in the fight against torture. Members States of the European Union were proud to join the consensus in adopting this draft resolution.
Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, considered that L.32 sought to bring a new substantive concept to this area. However, this issue should be brought up at the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, not the Council and therefore Venezuela could not support it.
Egypt, speaking in a general comment, welcomed draft resolution L.32 and announced its sponsorship of the text as part of Egypt’s policy to combat corruption and torture.
The Council adopted the draft resolution without a vote.
Action on Resolution on the Rights of the Child: Protection of the Rights of the Child in Humanitarian Situations
In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.33) on the rights of the child: protection of the rights of the child in humanitarian situations, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to contribute to the work of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on the follow-up of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development… in particular by providing comprehensive inputs from a child’s rights perspective, to the yearly thematic reviews of progress at the Forum. The Council decides to continue its consideration of the question of the rights of the child in accordance with its programme of work and its resolutions 7/29 of 28 March 2008 and 19/37 of 23 March 2012, and to focus its next annual full-day meeting on the theme “Empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education”, and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on that theme, in close cooperation with all relevant stakeholders.., and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session, with a view to providing information for the annual day of discussion on the rights of the child.
Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union to introduce L.33 on the protection of the rights of the child, said that when crises struck, children were the first to suffer. They suffered unspeakable physical and psychological damage. One out of three suffered such damage while 50 million had been uprooted from their homes. The European Union thanked all delegations for their constructive engagement. The text presented would continue to improve the protection of children in the humanitarian context. The European Union proposed oral revisions to PP11, inserting a phrase on “the best interest of the child;” OP14 inserting “in consultation with children;” and OP22 inserting “strongly condemns all attacks directed against civilian objects.” The oral revisions reflected the widest possible consensus, and it was hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted as orally revised, in consensus.
Uruguay, speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, said this was a topic of particular urgency, and invited States to take all measures to protect children in disasters, when they were more vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. This text was in line with international law and proposals by humanitarian actors, with the aim to provide health care, education, reunification, identification as well as other rights to children, always upholding the best interest of the child. It highlighted the discussion today, which had concluded that the Convention of the Rights of the Child was applicable in all situations. The consultation process of this draft had been open and transparent. The text presented was balanced, having taken into account the consensus expressed by all countries. Uruguay invited all States to co-sponsor this draft resolution by consensus.
United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, joined the consensus on the draft resolution to underscore the priority it placed on domestic and international efforts to promote and protect the wellbeing of children. However, it dissociated itself from two paragraphs referring to international legal obligations on climate and federalism. The United States reiterated the understanding expressed in its position on the New Declaration and thus dissociated itself from preambular paragraph 11. It also dissociated itself from the language regarding the policies, systems and procedures applicable to migrant children. The United States made sure that they were treated in a safe and dignified manner, and its current practices with respect to children were consistent with its international commitments. It noted that the Council’s resolutions did not oblige States to join human rights or other international instruments or any obligations under them.
The Council then adopted the draft resolution as orally revised without a vote.
Action on Resolution on Human Rights and Unilateral Coercive Measures
In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.34) on human rights and unilateral coercive measures, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, 15 against and 3 abstentions, the Council requests the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights to identify and propose concrete measures to ensure the removal of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights of victims, and to focus on the resources and compensation necessary to promote accountability and reparations for victims in his next report to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly; and also, taking into account the views of Member States, to present to the Human Rights Council in his next report, a set of elements to be considered as appropriate in the preparation of a Draft United Nations Declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. The Council requests the High Commissioner, in discharging his functions relating to the promotion, realization and protection of the right to development and bearing in mind the continuing impact of unilateral coercive measures on the population of developing countries, to give priority to the present resolution in his annual report.
The results of the vote were as follows:
In favour (28): Angola, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela.
Against (15): Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
Abstentions (3): Afghanistan, Brazil, Mexico.
Venezuela, introducing draft resolution L.34 on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said it also enjoyed co-sponsorship of Jordan on behalf of the Arab Group and Togo, on behalf of the African Group. At the Margarita summit, States had expressed their dissatisfaction with unilateral coercive measures and announced their decision to require the annulment of such measures. The historic position of the Non-Aligned Movement was to condemn unilateral coercive measures, as was done in the declaration of New York. New elements had been incorporated in this draft resolution to update the resolution 34/30 on the same topic. The Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures was required to report to the Council on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights and to prepare elements to draft a declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights. The Office of the High Commissioner was required to give priority in its report to the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights.
Cuba, speaking in a general comment, said that draft resolution L.34 was an expression of genuine will to end the negative practice of unilateral coercive measures. Countries expressing opposition to this draft resolution were the very same countries imposing unilateral coercive measures. Those countries sought to bring double standards to the Council. Cuban people knew too well the consequences and impact of unilateral coercive measures, having been subjected to the economic and trade blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States.
Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union Member States that are Members of the Human Rights Council in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated that the introduction and implementation of restrictive measures must always be undertaken in accordance with international law. Such measures must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular due process and the right to an effective remedy. The measures imposed must always be proportionate to their objective. Sanctions were one of the European Union’s tools to promote the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy: peace, democracy, and respect for the rule of law, human rights and international law. They were always part of a comprehensive policy approach involving political dialogue and complementary efforts. The European Union’s restrictive measures were not punitive in nature but sought to bring about a change in the policy or conduct of those targeted. Measures were therefore always targeted at such policies or activities, the means to conduct them and those responsible for them. Despite the European Union’s numerous concerns about the Council’s initiatives on unilateral coercive measures and possible biased political agendas that might be pursued, including by the Special Rapporteur, the European Union had always actively participated both in the informal consultation on the resolution and in the previously Council-mandated panel and workshops. Nonetheless, bearing in mind the nature and content of this draft resolution, which dwelled essentially on relations between States instead of on concrete human rights of individuals, the European Union recalled its position that it considered that the Human Rights Council was not the appropriate forum to address this issue.
Finally, the European Union could not support any of the new elements introduced in this resolution. Its long-standing position that sanctions were not intrinsically unlawful in nature prevented them from supporting the premise that their imposition must give rise to accountability or reparations. Furthermore, it did not see the need for the elaboration of a draft United Nations declaration on the issue, nor for the High Commissioner to give priority to the present resolution in his annual report, as it was the European Union’s strong belief that there was sufficient work being done so far in the United Nations system. For the above mentioned reasons, the European Union could not support the draft resolution and called for a vote. The European Union Member States that were members of the Human Rights Council would vote against the resolution.
Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, condemned unilateral coercive measures as they were contrary to international law, international humanitarian law, and the United Nations Charter. Brazil stressed their potential negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights. Brazil was, nevertheless, concerned about some new elements in the draft resolution, such as the possible United Nations declaration on the negative effects of unilateral coercive measures, which would require more time for negotiations due to the complexities of the issue. The situation in Venezuela had created a dilemma with regard to Brazil’s traditional position on the matter. In Venezuela threats against human rights defenders were the result of the policies administered by the Venezuelan Government itself, such as using access to food to influence the popular will. Brazil thus decided to abstain on the draft resolution.
Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reminded that it traditionally supported the initiative when the use of unilateral coercive measures was in contravention of the United Nations Charter and contrary to international law. But it had concerns regarding the development of the text, namely closed negotiations and the inclusion of a new paragraph that did not enjoy the support of the membership. Mexico disagreed with paragraph 24, which requested the Special Rapporteur to submit a proposal of elements for the elaboration of a new United Nations declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights. It was necessary to maintain the spirit of cooperation in the United Nations and avoid duplication of work. The proposal for coming up with a declaration on the issue would not contribute to international standards on the matter. Mexico would thus abstain from voting on the draft resolution.
United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, once again categorically rejected the premise that underlined the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures. The imposition of targeted sanctions did not violate human rights. In fact, targeted sanctions could be a powerful tool to promote human rights accountability for those who violated or abused human rights. The resolution before the Council today blatantly mischaracterized international law and called into question legitimate practices undertaken by many United Nations Member States. Sanctions, whether unilateral or multilateral, could be a successful means of achieving foreign policy objectives. Financial sanctions, bans on technology and arms transfers, and travel restrictions helped impede the ability of designated persons from engaging in actions that threatened international peace and security. In cases where the United States had applied sanctions, the measures had been implemented with specific objectives in mind, including as a means to promote the rule of law or democratic systems, to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, or to encourage improved resource governance. The United States believed that sanctions could be an appropriate, effective, and legitimate alternative to the use of force and that the United States sanctions were consistent with international law and in line with the United Nations Charter. For these reasons, the United States would vote “no” on the resolution and urged all delegations to vote against it.
Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said sanctions had played a critical role over the years in fighting oppression and promoting freedoms, including by ending apartheid. Sanctions in line with international obligations were directed at advancing accountability. Australia did not support this resolution and would vote no.
The Council then adopted the draft resolution with a vote of 28 votes in favour, 15 against and 3 abstentions.
Action on Resolution on the Equality and Non-Discrimination of Persons with Disabilities and the Right of Persons with Disabilities to Access to Justice (Articles 5 and 13 of the CRPD)
In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.35) on the equality and non-discrimination of persons with disabilities and the right of persons with disabilities to access to justice (articles 5 and 13 of the CRPD), adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides that its next annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities will be held at its fortieth session and that it will focus on article 26 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on habilitation and rehabilitation and will have international sign interpretation and captioning; also decides that an interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities will be held at its forty-third session, and that the debate will focus on article 8 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on awareness raising, and will have international sign interpretation and captioning. The Council requests the High Commissioner to prepare its annual study on the rights of persons with disabilities on article 26 of the Convention, and to prepare its subsequent study with a focus on article 8 of the Convention, in consultation with States and other relevant stakeholders… including organizations of persons with disabilities… requiring contributions to be submitted in an accessible format, and requests that such stakeholder contributions, and the study and an easy-to-read-version of it, be made available on the website of the Office, in an accessible format, prior to the fortieth session of the Human Rights Council. The Council encourages the task force of the Human Rights Council on secretariat services and accessibility for persons with disabilities to report orally to the Council on its work and on the progress made on the implementation of its accessibility plan.
Mexico, introducing draft resolution L.35, stressed that equality and non-discrimination, and the right to access to justice, were essential for the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Nevertheless, 11 years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, there were persistent and significant challenges for persons with disabilities in accessing justice on an equal footing with other persons, due to the lack of reasonable accommodation and procedural adjustments. The draft resolution, thus, proposed ways in which States could fully comply with their obligations under the Convention. It paid particular attention to multiple and cross-cutting forms of discrimination faced by women and girls with disabilities.
Egypt, in a general comment, underlined the need for persons with disabilities to fully enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to have full access to justice. The Egyptian Constitution guaranteed economic, social, cultural, educational and sports rights of persons with disabilities. Egypt had declared 2019 as the year of disability and it would continue its efforts to empower persons with disabilities in all areas of life. It called on all countries to make similar efforts.
Hungary, speaking in a general comment, said it was committed to the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities and had co-sponsored the resolution. However, the draft resolution was not consistent with international commitments in the area of sexual and reproductive rights and the 2030 Agenda. The term sexual and reproductive had not been universally defined and Hungary wished to express its reservation toward a number of paragraphs.
The Council adopted the draft resolution, as orally revised, without the vote.
Action on Resolution on Promoting Mutually Beneficial Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights
In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.36) on promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, the Council calls upon all States to uphold multilateralism and to work together to promote mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of human rights; and requests the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee to conduct a study on the role of technical assistance and capacity-building in fostering mutually beneficial cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights, and to submit a report thereon to the Human Rights Council before its forty-third session.
The results of the vote were as follows:
In favour (28): Angola, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela.
Against (1): United States.
Abstentions (17): Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
China, introducing L.36, said the resolution was of mutual benefit for the lofty goals for all peoples and Member States of the United Nations. It was in line with all documents, including the Vienna Declaration and Programme for Action, which called for strong cooperation and dialogue among States to the promotion and protection of human rights. All peoples lived on the same Earth and faced common challenges. China had co-sponsored this resolution for mutually beneficial cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights. It strongly believed that the Human Rights Council should be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity for greater cooperation, capacity building, and technical assistance, in order to build a new type of international relations, which reflected the times. The contributions of China and other countries to global human rights governance were in this direction. China had, over the past few weeks, done its utmost to consult and integrate modifications to the draft resolution. It thanked all parties who had demonstrated a cooperative attitude. The oral amendments to this effect would be distributed by the Council. China hoped that this draft resolution would be adopted by consensus, and would regret if any country would oppose it just because it was put forth by China. China hoped countries would refrain from the “zero-sum” game and hoped that all Member States would participate in consensus.
Pakistan, in a general comment, said the draft resolution advocated the values of cooperation and constructive engagement in the promotion of human rights. Not only did it take into account the importance of technical cooperation but also the principles of universality, impartiality, and non-selectivity, based on dialogue and political independence. Earnest implementation of such principles could lead to the valuable tangible goals that the United Nations had set themselves. Pakistan would therefore support the resolution.
United States, in a general comment, said it was clear that China was attempting through this resolution to weaken the United Nations human rights system and the norms underpinning it. The “feel good” language about “mutually beneficial cooperation” was intended to benefit autocratic States at the expense of people whose human rights and fundamental freedoms all were obligated, as States, to respect. For these reasons, the United States was calling for a vote and would vote against this resolution, and encouraged all other countries not to support this resolution.
Cuba, in a general comment, said that it understood the benefits of mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of human rights as based on the principles of equality, non-politicization and non-selectivity. It would help expand the common ground of understanding and it would reinforce cooperation through technical assistance and capacity building. It would help build a future community in which respect for all human rights was shared by all human beings.
South Africa, in a general comment, supported the draft resolution as it contained important principles it believed in and as it encouraged an approach key to the Council’s mandate to operate in a cooperative manner. The draft resolution affirmed issues of importance to South Africa in a context where resolutions of crucial importance reflected the aspirations of ordinary people ranging from access to medicines, the right to food, and the right to peace. They could not quarrel with a resolution which spoke about key issues of importance to the majority of the poor globally. That happened too often in the Council on the needs of the vulnerable, yet those were all important issues as everyone believed in the indivisibility of all human rights. The notion of cooperation being mutually beneficial also importantly denoted fundamental and universally agreed principles being upheld and respected among partners engaging in cooperation and was enshrined in the founding mandate of the Council. All programmes of cooperation, capacity building and technical assistance should fundamentally further the realization of human rights as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, recognized the important role played by international cooperation in the area of human rights, including the right to development. Genuine dialogue, guided by the principles of objectivity, respect for national sovereignty and non-politicization as well as non-interference in the area of human rights, had to be carried out in order to strengthen constructive elements of technical assistance and capacity building. China was thanked for its sponsorship and constructive role and flexibility demonstrated during the drafting process.
Egypt, speaking in a general comment, noted that article 1 of the United Nations Charter emphasized the importance of international cooperation in the area of human rights. Such cooperation had to be based on reciprocity and mutual respect, in the same vein that L.36 promoted international cooperation. The study requested by L.36 served to allow for informed technical assistance and capacity building efforts.
Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it had negotiated in good faith with drafters of L.36, but regretted that none of their concerns had been addressed. L.36 lacked balance and it focused overly on the relations between States instead of the rights of individuals, as emphasized in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Words and concepts such as mutually beneficial cooperation and community of shared future should not be used as they had not been defined and were vague and ambiguous. The call for technical assistance and capacity building contained in the text was unappropriated. While technical assistance and capacity building were vital, those instruments were used to promote human rights of individuals, but the draft resolution did not emphasize the importance of transparency and monitoring. The important role of other stakeholders such as national human rights institutions were not addressed. Finally, there was a concern that L.36 might seek to reform the Council and its mandate.
Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, recognized the efforts of China to hold open negotiations and the very hard work of the Chinese delegation. China had addressed many of the concerns of Mexico, such as recognition that human rights were not only a cause. However, significant omissions remained, notably with respect to the work of human rights defenders and civil society. Those were notable omissions and the text contained unclear concepts, such as the call to build a community for a shared future. However, Mexico attached importance to international cooperation and would thus vote in favour of the draft resolution.
Slovakia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, believed that it was crucially important that all Council initiatives enhanced all human rights. Initiatives needed to demonstrate clearly that they were in the service of promoting human rights and preventing human rights violations. International cooperation was one way to achieve that objective. Benefits went to individual human rights holders. The draft resolution did not go far enough and it used concepts that were at odds with those set out in the United Nations Charter and other key agreements. There was no clear recognition that human rights violations should be addressed even when there was no cooperation with concerned countries. The European Union could thus not support the draft resolution.
Mongolia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the enjoyment of human rights as the basis for democratic and open societies. It was committed to work toward the full implementation of all rights, civil and political, economic, social and cultural, and the right to development. Any cooperation in the field of human rights was beneficial if it enhanced human rights without any compromise. Such cooperation would be beneficial only if it expanded the existing human rights system, and thus Mongolia would support the draft resolution.
Japan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, appreciated the efforts by China for full cooperation and constructive engagement on the draft resolution. Japan was of the opinion that a couple of terms in the oral revisions, including “building a community” and “mutually beneficial cooperation” were not widely used in international cooperation. They were not suitable for a human rights resolution as they were not widely accepted definitions. The individual was the central subject for human rights. Japan had considered it appropriate to delete OP5 which requested the High Commissioner to conduct a study and submit a report on these two terms, and had submitted a proposal to this effect. The proposal however had not been reflected in the oral revision. Having said that, Japan would support further efforts on this topic, but would abstain from the draft resolution as orally revised.
Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, appreciated the efforts made by China to conduct open consultations on the draft resolution. Some considerations had been taken into account, however central concerns of Switzerland had not been addressed. In particular, Switzerland opposed the vague and ambiguous language which weakened the fundamental principles of human rights. This language would jeopardize the significant progress made, in particular in commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Switzerland appreciated constructive cooperation internationally as a means to the promotion and protection of human rights. At the same time, it recalled that human rights mandates had to act where human rights violations were present and to prevent and promptly intervene in crises. Human rights protection contributed to peace stability in all countries. The United Nations mechanisms were carrying out their mandates in conformity with international law. It highlighted the crucial participation of civil society in the human rights mechanisms, without being subject to reprisals. As a result, Switzerland would abstain from the draft resolution.
Republic of Korea, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, appreciated the efforts of China to accommodate different views. However, it was concerned that the term “mutually beneficial cooperation” was not understood, especially in the area of the promotion of human rights, so the Republic of Korea would abstain from this draft resolution.
The Council then adopted the draft resolution by a vote of 28 in favour, one against and 17 abstentions.
Action on Resolution on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.37) on the promotion and protection of human rights and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to organize two one-day intersessional meetings for dialogue and cooperation on human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; decides that the focus of each of the above-mentioned meetings will reflect the stated themes of the 2019 and 2020 high-level political forums on sustainable development; and further decides that the meetings should be held in advance of the 2019 and 2020 high-level political forums respectively. The Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize the two meetings… and to provide… all the services and facilities necessary to make the discussions fully accessible to persons with disabilities; also requests the President of the Human Rights Council to appoint for each meeting, on the basis of regional rotation, and in consultation with regional groups, a chairperson of the meeting from candidates nominated by members and observers of the Council; the chair, together with the Office of the High Commissioner, shall be responsible for the preparation of summary reports of the discussions of the meetings, to be made available to all its participants, and for their presentation to the Council at its fortieth and forty-third sessions, respectively; and decides that the summary reports of the discussions of the two meetings should be made available to the high-level political forum on sustainable development.
Denmark and Chile, introducing draft resolution L.37 on behalf of a broad cross-regional core group, were pleased to present the draft resolution following three rounds of informal consultations, bilateral meetings and over 18 months of dialogue with States, United Nations organizations and civil society. The draft aimed to move beyond normative debates and provide a simple, practical and forward-looking framework for helping States leverage the interrelated and mutually reinforcing nature of human rights and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The draft resolution proposed the organization of two one-day intersessional meetings for dialogue on human rights and the 2030 Agenda. All delegations would benefit from such a key space for dialogue and practical exchange. The draft also recognized the central role of the high level political forum in providing political leadership and recommendations for sustainable development.
United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, joined consensus on the draft resolution, while noting its longstanding and well-known concerns regarding the “right to development,” and concerns about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Council then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.
Action on Resolution on the Need for an Integrated Approach to the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for the Full Realization of Human Rights, Focusing on All Means of Implementation
In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.42) on the need for an integrated approach to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for the full realization of human rights, focusing on all means of implementation, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council reaffirms the central role of the high-level political forum on sustainable development, which meets under the auspices of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council and has a mandate to oversee a network of processes for the follow-up to and review of the 2030 Agenda at the global level; and decides to invite the President of the Economic and Social Council, commencing in 2018, to brief, on an annual basis, the Human Rights Council, during one of its regular sessions, on the discussions of the high-level political forum, including on gaps, challenges and progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, focusing on the means of implementation taken together as an integrated package.
South Africa, introducing draft resolution L.42 on behalf of the core group, presented oral amendments, which were the product of Member States’ negotiations. South Africa reminded that when Member States had adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it was with the understanding that development was a continuum, that countries were not at the same levels of development, and above all, that development was about human rights. The text thus had a solid human rights foundation as inherently built into the 2030 Agenda. The 2030 Agenda gave content to the right to development in a manner that moved the international community forward and it was a critical aspect of the draft resolution. States had the right and the duty to formulate appropriate national development policies that were aimed at the constant improvement of the wellbeing of the entire population and of all individuals. South Africa noted that there was a trend in the Council of cherry-picking the goals and re-interpreting the 2030 Agenda in a manner that fragmented them, while at the same time ignoring and undermining the means of implementation completely. The draft resolution reaffirmed the central role of the high-level political forum under the auspices of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council with a central role in overseeing follow-up and review at the global level and in that regarded invited the President of the Economic and Social Council to annually brief the Human Rights Council on the discussions of the high-level political forum, including on gaps, challenges and progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. That briefing would fundamentally assist the Human Rights Council in establishing a baseline with regard to what needed to be done and locating itself appropriately in how best it could complement processes on the Sustainable Development Goals, and how to deploy technical assistance and capacity building.
Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said it joined consensus on this issue. The 2030 Agenda reaffirmed that peace, access to justice, and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions were vital to sustainable development. It strived to ensure that no one was left behind. In this regard, the work of the Human Rights Council was deeply relevant to the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda. Likewise, the implementation of the Agenda in other fora was important for the Council. All initiatives of the Council had to ensure the promotion and protection of all human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. In this regard, the European Union wished for stronger consensus on the draft resolution today. It was crucial to have a human rights-based approach to the 2030 Agenda. This approach had not been adequately reflected in the text of the draft resolution. The European Union thanked the sponsors of the resolution for having conducted an open process and for their efforts to try to reflect all the various views. The sponsors had taken these views seriously and tried to accommodate all in the draft resolution. Therefore, the European Union found itself in the position to be in consensus with this draft resolution.
United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, thanked South Africa, Pakistan and the core group, all of whom had enabled the United States to join consensus on this resolution and to underscore the priority that the United States placed on the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of sustainable development. The United States concerns about the right to development, cited in PP4, were well-known, and would be addressed under item 3. The United States recognized that the 2030 Agenda could help countries work toward global peace and prosperity, and that each country had its own development priorities and must work toward implementation in accordance with its own national policies and priorities. However, this single element should not be elevated above others, particularly in a Human Rights Council resolution. Similarly, it was good that the resolution stressed that the Sustainable Development Goals were “universal, indivisible, and interlinked” but it implied that SDG 17, which addressed the means of implementation, was foremost among them. Therefore, the United States disassociated itself from PP9 and OP4. It did not support such attempts to circumvent the careful balance of elements in the 2030 Agenda. The United States highlighted that paragraph 58 of the 2030 Agenda stated that the implementation of the Agenda must respect and be without prejudice to the independent mandates of other processes and institutions, including negotiations, and did not prejudge or serve as precedent for decisions and actions under way in other fora. For example, the United States continued to view the World Trade Organization as the appropriate forum for the negotiation of trade issues.
The Council then adopted the draft resolution, as orally revised, without a vote.
Action on Resolution on the Prevention of Genocide
In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.44) on the prevention of genocide, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requests the Secretary-General to draw up a roster of focal points and networks on the prevention of genocide with updated information from Member States; and also requests the Secretary-General to prepare a follow-up report based on information provided by States on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution… and to submit the report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-first session. The Council requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize at the thirty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to be followed by an interactive dialogue with the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide; and to prepare a summary report on the high-level panel discussion and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session.
Armenia, introducing draft resolution L.44, said that Armenia had been presenting resolutions on the prevention of genocide since 1998 and such resolutions were usually adopted by consensus. The draft resolution called on States and the United Nations to utilise this important anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which had been adopted in December 1948. The draft took into account ongoing legislative developments and reconfirmed that the fight against impunity was an essential element in the fight against genocide. It also commended the adoption of resolution 69/323 of General Assembly proclaiming the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide. Mobilizing the international community was instrumental in preventing genocide, so Armenia called for the adoption of L.44 by consensus.
Slovakia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, attached great importance to the draft resolution, which addressed the most serious of international crimes. It was incumbent upon the international community to ensure that the rhetoric of “never again” was matched by convincing action to identify and address warning signs that atrocities may be in the making. That meant assisting the United Nations Secretary-General in his prevention agenda and intensifying the Human Rights Council’s engagement on prevention issues. It meant supporting the mechanisms that were in place to contribute to early warning endeavours, including the Special Advisors of the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide and the responsibility to protect, and the framework analysis for atrocity crimes that they had developed. The European Union wished to have a more robust language in the draft resolution on the responsibility to protect, drawing on the agreed language enshrined in the World Summit Outcome Document of 2005.
Cuba, in a general comment, regretted that it could not support all paragraphs, noting that the prevention of genocide was a vital topic for the international community. It rejected attempts by certain countries to include items that did not enjoy the support of the international community. Cuba rejected an attempt to bring the concept of the responsibility to protect before it was clearly agreed on by the General Assembly. That concept could be used as a justification for military intervention against developing countries. The General Assembly should continue discussions on that topic, which had left divergent opinions and important doubts, namely with respect to who decided whether there was a need to intervene under the responsibility to protect, or how and where limits were established? The General Assembly had to remain the centre of those discussions and other bodies should refrain from taking steps in that area. Cuba thus requested that a separate vote be held on two paragraphs of the draft resolution and it would vote against them.
Chile, in a general comment, thanked Armenia for presenting the draft resolution. It was deeply concerned about the prevention of genocide and welcomed the focus on this issue on its seventieth anniversary. Every State had the responsibility to prohibit this crime and every incitement to it. Cuba reiterated the importance of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the importance of carrying forward efforts to prevent and punish genocide, and ensure that such atrocious grave crimes were never repeated again. It highlighted the important role of the Human Rights Council and the United Nations Special Advisers of the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide and on the responsibility to protect from genocide – including early warning sings. It hoped that the Human Rights Council would unanimously move to adopt the draft resolution in consensus.
Panama, in a general comment, said in 2018 the world was commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. As co-sponsor of the text, it considered it vital to reiterate the importance of the Convention, as well as new challenges. The world could not deny that genocide was a scourge which had inflicted great loss to the world. It was therefore important to incorporate issues which prevented this scourge. Panama highlighted the importance of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide and the five-point analysis for grave crimes. It encouraged States to support the draft resolution as orally revised. PP22 and OP16 were aimed to assess risks and other crimes. These elements were relevant for the substance of the draft resolution.
Germany, in a general comment, supported the texts of PP22 and OP16, which contained agreed language that had been adopted in 2015. Germany and other co-sponsors believed that this resolution should provide a clear source of knowledge available, to ensure prevention. These two paragraphs made references to the importance of such prevention. For these reasons it would vote against the oral revisions of PP22 and OP16. Germany would vote for keeping these two paragraphs, and called on all others to support the text as it was, with the two paragraphs, without oral revisions.
Belgium, speaking in a general comment, reaffirmed its full support for draft resolution L.44. Noting the important anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which had been adopted in December 1948, Belgium also supported the work of the Special Adviser for the prevention of genocide and the Special Adviser on the responsibility to protect and the development of a joint analysis framework, highlighting the possibility of early warning development. By supporting PP22 and OP16, the Council could send a strong signal concerning the prevention of genocide.
Australia, speaking in a general comment, commended the references made to the Special Adviser for the prevention of genocide and the Special Adviser on the responsibility to protect. It also commended work done to develop a joint analysis framework. A joint analysis framework was crucial in atrocity crime prevention and it had to rely on cooperation with international and national actors. The draft resolution contributed to the current United Nations reform which had been aiming to strengthen the prevention agenda.
Venezuela, in a general comment, expressed serious reservations regarding the concept of the responsibility to protect, which sought to give normative nature to the use of the concept currently discussed by the General Assembly. It thus suggested oral amendments to paragraphs in question, and it requested the Council to vote in favour of them.
Rwanda, in a general comment, welcomed the adoption of the draft resolution, given that 2018 also marked the seventieth anniversary of the Genocide Convention. As the world approached the twenty-fifth anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, ending impunity was of vital importance, not only in ensuring justice for the victims of atrocities but in deterring and preventing future serious international crimes. Rwanda continued to support regional and international efforts to prevent serious international crimes and was also a strong supporter of the responsibility to protect. It regretted that two important paragraphs in the draft resolution would be subjected to a vote. It would vote against the proposed deletions.
United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, commended the sponsors for conducting a comprehensive bilateral negotiations process. It viewed the proposal to vote against PP22 and OP16 as hostile to the spirit of the draft resolution and contradictory to the important work of genocide prevention. The work of genocide prevention was too important to be politicized. The two paragraphs took note of the new joint analysis framework and highlighted its importance as one of the tools to assess the risk of genocide. The resolution also recommended greater collaboration among Member States, regional organizations, and sub-regional organizations to increase their collaboration on prevention. The framework of analysis was a guideline, one that all States could use as appropriate; it was not imposed on States.
Action on PP22 and OP16
The Council then adopted PP22 and OP16 by a vote of 24 in favour, 8 against, and 15 abstentions.
Cuba, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it had requested a vote on the two paragraphs in order to express its rejection of the term responsibility to protect, particularly reference to the Special Adviser on the responsibility to protect. The scope of the application of the term “responsibility to protect” was not appropriate in L.44. Cuba fully supported the work of Special Adviser on the responsibility to protect and noted its importance. Still all States were urged to reflect on whether it was appropriate to invoke the responsibility to protect. Cuba disassociated itself from PP22 and OP16 and the paragraph referring to the Special Adviser on the responsibility to protect.
Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, disassociated itself from PP22 and OP16. Insisting on the responsibility to protect by those who sought to impose responsibility to protect had a negative impact on L.44 and the attempted adoption by consensus.
Kyrgyzstan, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, underlined that genocide was a heinous crime and Kyrgyzstan was a signatory to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Although Kyrgyzstan joined in the consensus, it could not support the work of the Special Adviser on the responsibility to protect. The responsibility to protect was not universally accepted and Kyrgyzstan had not ratified the Rome Statute so it wished to disassociate itself from PP22, PP24 and OP16.
Pakistan disassociated itself from PP22 and OP16 and wished this to be documented in the minutes.
The Council then adopted the draft text as orally revised without a vote.
Action on Resolution on Terrorism and Human Rights
In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.50/Rev.1) on terrorism and human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to ensure that any measure taken to counter terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism complies with international law, in particular human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law; and urges States… not to resort to profiling based on stereotypes founded on ethnic, racial or religious grounds or any other ground of discrimination prohibited by international law. The Council requests States to refrain from providing support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, including support in establishing propaganda platforms advocating hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence… and emphasizes in this regard the key importance of the full respect for the right to freedom of opinion and expression as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Council further urges States to adopt rehabilitation and reintegration strategies for returning foreign terrorist fighters, in line with the good practices… and to adopt a comprehensive approach that includes, inter alia the development of national centers for counsel and to prevent the radicalization to violence that can play an important role together with criminal justice responses.
Egypt, introducing the draft resolution L.50 on behalf of the core group, said the world had been witnessing an overwhelming and severe tide of atrocities in an endless chain of deplorable incidents. These necessitated that the Human Rights Council shoulder its responsibility and protect peoples from terrorism, and send a clear message especially to the victims, that the Council was united in this fight. In this direction, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia had worked with Mexico on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism. The draft resolution dealt with terrorism from all its angles, while protecting victims from counter-terrorism measures. It aimed to unequivocally condemn all acts and methods of terrorism, and incitement of all its forms and manifestations, as unjustifiable. It expressed grave concern on the detrimental effects thereof. It reaffirmed the primary responsibility of the State in preventing terrorism, as well as denying all forms of support to terrorism, including military, political, logistical and financial. It also urged States to deal with such underlying causes of terrorism as conflicts, oppression, poverty, intolerance, racism and xenophobia. It called upon all States to promote a culture of peace, and religious, ethnic and national tolerance. It required States to refrain from supporting propaganda platforms advocating hatred, that constituted hatred and discrimination, including through the Internet and other media, while emphasizing the right to freedom and expression. Finally, it expressed solidarity with victims of terrorism, acknowledged the importance of their needs, and ensured their access to justice and accountability. It also expressed the importance of maintaining an effective, fair, human, transparent and accountable criminal justice system and incited the international community on the importance of preventing and combatting this phenomenon. The core group had reached out to partners and managed to incorporate the sometimes difficult amendments from delegations, in a matter that did not affect the balance. The core group was dedicated to deliberating on this issue, in coming years, to ensure the implementation of all concerns of all Member States. It called on the Council to adopt L.50 Rev.1 with consensus.
Mexico, also introducing draft resolution L.50, noted that without doubt terrorism was one of the greatest threats to societies, principles and values. However, the fight against terrorism should not be used as an excuse to restrict fundamental freedoms. In the search for collective peace and security, the international community should not forget about the primacy of human rights. By deciding to combine in a single text the resolution on the protection of human rights and the fight against terrorism with the resolution on the impact of terrorism on human rights, the delegations of Egypt and Mexico had sought to bridge differences in the Human Rights Council and build unity that would allow Member States to find efficient ways of fighting terrorism, while protecting human rights. The two delegations were aware that the text did not address all concerns and doubts, and that it could be improved. Nevertheless, it represented a legitimate effort to close the gap between two perspectives of the same problem.
South Africa, introducing amendment L.63, noted the murder of Solomon Mahlangu who had been fighting against apartheid and had been killed as a terrorist; he would be considered a human rights defender today. Mandela himself was very fortunate to have escaped the death penalty. Numerous politicians had called him a terrorist and asked for him to be murdered. It took a while for him to be removed from the international lists of terrorists after he was released. South Africa was deeply concerned over the loss of lives because of indiscriminate terrorist acts. South Africa supported the underlying sentiments of the draft resolution but noticed substantive omissions to which it disagreed. To prevent what happened to Solomon Mahlangu happening again, the amendment sought to balance the text by confirming that the legitimate struggle for self-determination and liberation, recognized by the United Nations, should not be associated with terrorism. The United Nations Charter and the Covenants all enshrined the right to self-determination. South Africa was concerned that L.50 had not made reference to the grave human rights abuses precipitated by the so-called war on terror. States which were supporting South Africa’s sentiment were called to vote in favour of this amendment L.63 to ensure that safeguards were built within the resolution, in order to prevent freedom fighters being labelled terrorist and to prevent abuses.
Mexico, on behalf of co-sponsors, said they did not agree with the comment.
Egypt, in a general comment, reiterated that it had a firm position on the rights of peoples to their right to self-determination as an inalienable and indivisible right that was enshrined in the United Nations Charter and many other relevant resolutions adopted by the United Nations, including those where Egypt had participated in drafting and adopting these resolutions. No one was incognizant of the fact that Egypt had stood steadfast with peoples yearning for freedom, in particular in Africa. It underlined the movement for freedom of peoples in South Africa against apartheid, under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, whose centenary was being celebrated this year. Egypt supported the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination, considering that this was the pivotal question in the Middle East, in view of all realities in recent history.
Egypt said that the draft resolution before the Council was on terrorism. This was an objective and substantive resolution written in generic terms and was not related to a specific geographic area and did not point to a specific terrorist group. It did not deal with the right to self-determination which was enshrined under international law. Nor did it deal with legitimate armed struggle which was also enshrined under international law. The attempt to bring this shade of difference meant there was an attempt to mix up the notion of a legitimate struggle for liberation with the notion of terrorism. This was a matter that was contrary to the reality and set the world back miles. The law and international conventions had provisions. Mexico, during the preparation of the draft resolution, had amalgamated two resolutions that the Council had brought in the past. It had tried to bring into concern the considerations of all delegations. The delegation of South Africa had been present at the consultations during the draft resolution and had proposed two amendments. The core group had studied one of them and applied it in a manner consistent with the draft resolution. Egypt hoped that it would work with South Africa today in order to contain this matter. The States were before an effort to unify the Human Rights Council in order to take a firm and stable position in relation to the relationship between human rights and terrorism, which had led to thousands of victims and the displacement of thousands of people, and the destruction of the wealth of countries. Egypt believed the Member States would work earnestly to achieve consensus on this issue and support the rights of the victims and their families. Egypt would thus vote against the amendments made by South Africa because they countered the substance and the context of the draft resolution.
Pakistan, in a general comment, appreciated the work done on the important draft resolution, and supported the amendment presented by South Africa as it enriched the text. Pakistan strongly condemned terrorism and it took part in all international efforts to fight terrorism. But it noted that the international community needed to be careful that liberation movements were not labelled as terrorist movements. It urged Member States of the Council to support the proposed amendment.
Saudi Arabia, in a general comment, called on everyone to vote against the amendment proposed by South Africa. It reminded that the two draft resolutions were agreed in most opinions. However, the objective was one and the same. The merger of the two resolutions would reconcile the views of most parties. Saudi Arabia thanked Mexico for its efforts in that endeavour and called on all to adopt the draft resolution as originally presented.
Slovakia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, fully supported the merger of the two previous resolutions related to terrorism – one sponsored by Mexico and the other sponsored by Egypt. While the draft text was a compromise which could be further improved, the European Union saw it as an important step forward. Terrorism knew no borders and thus it was important that the international community stood united and spoke with one voice on countering terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, and especially on the importance of protecting human rights when doing so. The European Union expected the Council to fully live up to its mandate to protect the concrete human rights and fundamental freedoms of all human beings, and called on Member States to join consensus on the draft resolution.
ACTION ON AMENDMENT L.63
Mexico, in an explanation of vote before the vote in relation to amendment L.63, noted that the right to self-determination had been indeed enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The content of the amendment, however was not relevant for this draft resolution and it moreover introduced a highly controversial element to the draft resolution, which sought to offer balanced and universal text. Rejection of this amendment did not imply rejection of the right to self-determination or liberation movements.
The Council then rejected the amendment, by a vote of 6 in favour, 26 against and 14 abstentions.
Action on L.50
United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, was pleased to join the consensus on this resolution regarding terrorism and human rights. It thanked the main sponsors for their efforts to merge together two related elements of the Council’s work into a single resolution, and for their willingness to improve many aspects of the text. It regretted that the short timeline to negotiate this resolution had left it unable to resolve all concerns. The United States made the following statement to supplement its general statement on agenda item 3 matters in order to clarify its position on certain issues pertinent to the resolution. It was essential that States respected their human rights obligations and commitments, including with regard to freedom of opinion and expression, while addressing the scourge of terrorism. The fact that States held the primary responsibility under international law to protect and promote human rights in the context of counterterrorism must continue to be the guiding principle of how the Council addressed this topic. The United States understood OP6 of the resolution to conform to the meaning laid out in OP9 of the Human Rights Council resolution 35/34. It understood the reference in OP7 to States’ acting “in accordance with their obligations under international law” to mean that, if a State carried out the stated actions within its criminal justice system, it should do so in a manner consistent with its applicable international obligations; it should not be understood to suggest the existence of particular obligations to implement the actions described.
Nothing in this resolution, including OP12 and OP13 requested States to take certain actions to counter terrorism, nor altered States’ obligations under applicable international law, including decisions of the United Nations Security Council. The United States understood OP8 to mean that States must comply with their international obligations, including non-discrimination provisions of international human rights treaties which they were a party to, as applicable, when taking measures to counter terrorism and violent extremism. OP19 of this resolution reaffirmed the important role that civil society organizations and human rights defenders played in countering violent extremism by promoting a fair and just society, where all persons enjoyed their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The United States was gravely concerned that civil society groups and individual human rights defenders may be inappropriately targeted under unduly restrictive counterterrorism laws. It understood OP19 as calling upon States to ensure only that their counterterrorism efforts were implemented appropriately in a manner consistent with their international obligations.
South Africa, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that two days ago the international community had observed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It was the day that commemorated the Sharpeville massacre that had taken place in 1960 in South Africa when 69 protestors had been killed. For that reason, the matter was not theoretical for South Africa but quite literally a matter of life and death. However, absence of safeguards in L.50 was the reason that South Africa had tabled amendment L.63. Terrorism had to be robustly countered and it required a global response. However, the absence of safeguards could lead over time to abuses such as racial and religious profiling, hate speech, arbitrary arrest and detention.
The Council adopted the draft resolution without a vote.
For use of the information media; not an official record
Follow UNIS Geneva on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube |Flickr
* * * * *