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Human Rights Council adopts 10 resolutions and closes its thirty-seventh session

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23 March 2018

AFTERNOON 

Extends Mandate of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Mali, Adopts Five Texts under its Agenda Item on the Situation of Human Rights in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories

GENEVA (23 March 2018) Human  Rights Council this afternoon adopted 10 resolutions in which it extended the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year, and requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem with regard to human rights.

Other resolutions dealt with human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan; the right of Palestinian people to self-determination; the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan;  ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; fostering religious freedom and pluralism; cooperation with Georgia; and monitoring of human rights abuses and the implementation of technical assistance and capacity building in Libya.

The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year in a resolution adopted without a vote, and requested the Independent Expert to submit a report at the Council’s fortieth session, and to hold a dialogue to assess the evolution of the situation of human rights in the country, with a particular focus on the fight against impunity.

The Council requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the implementation of the joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem with regard to human rights, and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-ninth session.  This resolution was adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 10 against and 11 abstentions.

In a resolution, adopted by a vote of 25 in favour, 14 against and 7 abstentions, the Council determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel that sought to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan were null and void and would have no legal effect.

By a vote of a vote of 43 in favour, 2 against and 1 abstention, the Council reaffirmed the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and urged all States to adopt measures to promote the realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.

The Council demanded in a resolution, adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions, that Israel cease all practices and actions that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people, demanded that Israel cease its policy of transferring prisoners from the occupied Palestinian territory into the territory of Israel, and urged it to ensure that any arrest, detention or trial of Palestinian children was in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In a resolution adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, 4 against and 8 abstentions as orally revised, the Council demanded that Israel immediately cease all settlement activities in all the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.  It further called upon all States to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in relation to the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

By a vote of 27 in favour, 4 against and 15 abstentions, the Council called for the implementation of the recommendations of the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict, of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people, and of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council called upon all States to foster religious freedom and pluralism.  The Council requested the High Commissioner to prepare and submit to it at its fortieth session a comprehensive follow-up report with elaborated relevant conclusions based upon information provided by States.

The Council requested the High Commissioner to continue providing technical assistance through his office in Tbilisi, Georgia, and requested him to present an oral update on the follow-up at the Council’s thirty-eighth session, and to present a written report on the implementation of the present resolution at the Council’s thirty-ninth session, in a resolution adopted by a vote of a vote of 19 in favour, 5 against and 23 abstentions.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor and report on human rights violations and abuses across Libya, and it requested the High Commissioner to present an oral update at the Council’s thirty-ninth session, as well as to present a report on the situation of human rights in Libya, including the implementation of technical assistance and capacity-building and efforts to prevent and ensure accountability at the Council’s fortieth session.

The Council then proceeded with the appointment of Special Procedure mandate holders.

The Council appointed Alioune Tine (Senegal) as the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali; Livingstone Sewanyana (Uganda) as the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Fabián Salvioli (Argentina), as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; and Nyaletsossi Clément Voule (Togo) as the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

Albert Kwokwo Barume (Democratic Republic of the Congo) was appointed to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples as an independent expert from Africa indigenous sociocultural region, and Kristen Carpenter (United States of America) as an independent expert from the North America indigenous sociocultural region.

As members of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, the Council appointed Chris Kwaja (Nigeria) from African States, Jelena Aparac (Croatia) from Eastern European States, and Lilian Bobea (Dominican Republic) from Latin American and Caribbean States.

The Council adopted ad referendum the report of its thirty-seventh session, presented by Marta Maurás, Rapporteur and Vice President of the Human Rights Council.

Vojislav Šuc, President of the Human Rights Council, in his concluding remarks, regretted to inform the Human Rights Council that during the session allegations of intimidation and reprisals were brought to his attention.  He stressed that the Council condemned and rejected all acts of intimidation or reprisal by Governments and non-State actors against individuals or groups seeking to cooperate or who had cooperated with the United Nations.  Civil society played an important role in the work of the Human Rights Council.  States were urged to take all necessary measures to prevent and ensure adequate protection against such acts.  The President then closed the thirty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council.

Introducing draft texts were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Togo on behalf of the African Group, Georgia, Colombia, Switzerland, Cuba, Russian Federation, Philippines and Egypt.  

Israel, Syria, State of Palestine, Mali and Libya spoke as concerned countries.

Slovakia on behalf of the European Union, Belgium, United States, and Australia spoke in general comments.

United States, Slovakia on behalf of the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, South Africa, Hungary, Australia, Venezuela, Brazil, Switzerland, Mexico, Panama, Egypt on behalf of a group of countries, Peru, Philippines and Pakistan spoke in explanation of the vote before the vote.

Speaking in explanation of the vote after the vote were the United States, Egypt, Switzerland, Australia and Saudi Arabia.

Netherlands, Russia, Brazil and Canada spoke as observer States as did the non-governmental organization International Service for Human Rights.

The thirty-eighth regular session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 18 June to 6 July 2018.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories

Action on Resolution on Human Rights in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.18) on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 25 in favour, 14 against and 7 abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, in particular Security Council resolution 497 (1981); calls upon Israel to desist from its continuous building of settlements, the most recent of which is the settlement campaign being conducted by the so-called Golan Regional Council under the slogan “Come to the Golan”; and further  calls upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and to desist from its repressive measures against them.  The Council determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power, including the Knesset’s decision of 22 November 2010 to hold a referendum before any withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem, that seek to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void and have no legal effect.  The Council requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Governments, the competent United Nations organs, specialized agencies, international and regional intergovernmental organizations and international humanitarian organizations.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (25): Afghanistan, Angola, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Against (14): Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Panama, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States

Abstentions (7): Democratic Republic of the Congo, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Rwanda and Switzerland.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.18 on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said violations of human rights like the arbitrary arrests of Syrians continued.  Operative paragraphs in the draft resolution expressed grave concern over Israeli practices in the Syrian Golan.  The draft resolution called on the occupying power to comply with all relevant United Nations resolutions and expressed regret at the lack of cooperation of Israel with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  In light of the prolonged occupation, Pakistan hoped the draft would be adopted by consensus.

Israel, speaking as a concerned country, said the Human Rights Council was about to vote in favour of the five one-sided resolutions against Israel.  The Human Rights Council’s priorities were in question.  Israel rejected the resolutions entirely and urged that item 7 be removed from the Council’s agenda.  The Council was in need of urgent reform, especially with regard to its biased agenda against Israel.  Such treatment against Israel undermined the Council’s credibility.  The Council was deepening the mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians.  Despite the Council, Israel would continue its efforts to pursue peace, security and prosperity.

Syria, speaking as a concerned country, said the continuation of the occupation by Israel of the Syrian Golan since 1967 was the subject of the report presented to the Council in 2018.  The draft resolution addressed the results of a whole range of violations and colonial practices by the occupying power.  It asked the Council to call for an end of the occupation and condemn the actions, as well as to put an end to the change of the geographical nature being perpetrated by Israel in the occupied Syrian Golan.  It also reiterated that the staging of elections in 2018 was in violation of international humanitarian law, as they forced the population to accept the occupation of the Syrian Golan.  Practices of arbitrary detention continued, despite the denouncement thereof.  The entire situation had led to obscene violations in the entire region.  The draft resolution sent a clear message on the need to attach importance to the principles of the United Nations Charter, including the occupation of territory by force.  The occupying power had violated the Charter and numerous resolutions.  The Israeli occupying power and its American supporters were trying to remove item 7 from the agenda of the Council.  This went against the United Nations Charter.  Syria invited the Council to support this draft resolution and on Israel to end the occupation.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly opposed the biased existence of the Council’s item 7, as it undermined the credibility of the Council.  All resolutions concerning Israel had been tabled for action under item 7, as opposed to moving them to a general agenda item which would ensure that Israel was treated as every other country in the Council.  None of the worst human rights violators had their own stand-alone item agenda, only Israel.  An example of the Council’s complacency was the repeated introduction of a resolution focusing on the Golan Heights.  To consider such a resolution aimed at Israel while the Syrian regime continued to slaughter its own citizens exemplified the absurdity of this agenda item.  For those reasons, the United States called for a vote on each of the resolutions under agenda item 7 and urged fellow Members to vote no on each of them.

Slovakia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said that it had not been involved in discussions on the draft resolution, partly as it was only presented with the text a few hours before the only informal consultation.  The draft resolution failed to mention suffering caused by the Syrian regime.  The European Union could not support the draft resolution and European Union members that were Human Rights Council members would vote against it.

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its support for a two-State solution to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The disproportionate amount of resolutions against Israel did little to promote dialogue and mutual understanding.  The United Kingdom would vote against the draft resolution.  The United Kingdom would also vote against draft resolution L.49 on accountability.  The vote against the accountability resolution was a vote against the Council’s unreasonable amount of drafts on Israel.  The United Kingdom remained alarmed about the treatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli detention.  The United Kingdom would vote in favour of draft resolution L.46 on self-determination and would abstain in the vote on draft resolution L.48 on settlements.

Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was its firm view that a separate agenda item focusing on a single country, in this case Israel, was biased.  Australia was firmly committed to a two-State solution where Palestine and Israel existed side by side.  It did not support any action that diminished this process.  The one-sided resolutions under item 7 did nothing to bring back the two sides to the negotiating table.  Throughout its membership in the Human Rights Council, Australia would continue to respect international humanitarian law and human rights.  However, it would maintain its opposition to item 7.  For this reason, it would vote against each of the five resolutions under item 7.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said despite the significant number of resolutions and reports under item 7, the violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories continued.  Reports and draft resolutions under this item could benefit from addressing all human rights concerns regardless of their origin – such as the Commission report focusing on arbitrary detention.  Though their manifestations and scale may vary, there were violations by all parties to this conflict.  A more balanced approach to this agenda item could strengthen participation.  Brazil would vote in favor of all draft resolutions under item 7.  Its decision was not automatic but taken for each session on each draft, taking into consideration the context, the developments on the ground, and the views of the concerned State.  It was its view that the parties should resume dialogue in a way that allowed for effective improvement of the situation of human rights as well as the achievement of a two-State solution with a mutually agreed border on the basis of the 1967 agreement.

Ecuador, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that, as in previous years, the Council would consider five resolutions on the occupied Palestinian territories, aiming to improve the situation of Palestinians.  Those draft resolutions referred to various issues and were trying to apply numerous tools for assessment of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.  The draft resolutions were trying to protect civilians against reprisals of both State and non-State actors.  In view of all human rights violations it was striking that three States would call for the removal of item 7.  For all those reasons Ecuador would vote in favour of all five resolutions and called on States to vote yes on each of them.

South Africa, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed its satisfaction that the Council had kept agenda item 7 as it was its moral responsibility to the children and women of Palestine.  Agenda item 7 had to stay.  The Council could not pick and choose which countries to focus on.  Simply because people had gone through horrendous experiences, they were not allowed to do the same to others.  Imagine South Africans advocating for apartheid because of their own experience.  It was because of the dedicated response of the United Nations against apartheid that apartheid had come to an end, in spite of the key members of the Security Council supporting it.  South Africa would vote for all resolutions under agenda item 7.

The Council then adopted the draft resolution L18, by a vote of 25 in favour, 14 against and 7 abstentions.

Action on Resolution on the Right of the Palestinian People to Self-Determination

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.46) on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted by a vote of 43 in favour, 2 against and 1 abstention, the Council reaffirms the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and the right to their independent State of Palestine; calls upon all States to ensure their obligations of non-recognition, non-aid or assistance with regard to the serious breaches of peremptory norms of international law by Israel…, and also calls upon them to cooperate further to bring, through lawful means, an end to these serious breaches and a reversal of Israel’s illegal policies and practices; and urges all States to adopt measures as required to promote the realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, and to render assistance to the United Nations in carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to it by the Charter regarding the implementation of this right.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (43): Afghanistan, Angola, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Venezuela.

Against (2): Australia and United States.

Abstentions (1): Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.46 on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the realization of the right to self-determination was an essential condition for the promotion and protection of human rights.  The draft resolution focused on the inalienable right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.  It also reaffirmed its support for a two-State solution, Palestine and Israel, living side by side.  The draft resolution stressed the need for the preservation of the territorial unity and contiguity of all the occupied Palestinian territories.  Pakistan hoped the draft would be adopted by consensus.

State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, expressed deep appreciation and gratitude to all countries that sponsored all the resolutions on Palestine.  It also thanked the European Union which had worked to reach a unified position and hoped that it would continue in favour of the Palestinian cause.  It also hoped that the one or two countries which had deviated from the continuous position of the African Group in favour of the Palestinian cause, would go back to their previous position.  The United States insisted on eliminating item 7, supported by Australia, a new member of the Council, under the sponsorship of Israel.  The Member States were not here to perpetuate item 7 but to get over this item.  This could be achieved if Israel ended its occupation.  The difference between item 7 and item 4 was that under item 4, they were discussing human rights situations where countries exercised their sovereignty.  State of Palestine believed that the flagrant violations of human rights by Israel would one day be discussed under item 4.  This would be when the Israeli occupation ended.

Regarding the right to self-determination under item 7, the Palestinian people had the inalienable right to self-determination and to ending the occupation of Palestine.  If this was achieved, there would be no need to deal with this under item 4.  Regarding the settlements, it was strange that some countries supported the resolution to this effect, and then when they came to the Council they rejected it.  Settlements were in contradiction with the Geneva Conventions, and were considered as a crime of war.  Settlements had attained 45 per cent of the lands of the West Bank.  Regarding the violations of human rights, Palestinians respected the law, and were against the targeting of civilians.  Yet a quick look into the situation showed that Israel, since its inception 70 years ago, had started to adopt this practice in 1948.  Since that day, all articles in the Geneva Conventions and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had been violated.  Following the declaration by the United States recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the legislative Council of Israel had adopted legislation, all of which was contrary to international law.  For example, the capital punishment for Palestinian prisoners, as well as the suffering of martyrs.  Another decision was to keep the corpses of prisoners.  There were more than 300 prisoners who had died in Israeli prisons.  The destruction of houses, killing of civilians, and even animals continued.  Children were being kidnapped and tortured.  Listing all the violations would take hours.  Unfortunately, some were saying that Israel was the only democracy in the region.  What democratic values were they talking about? Killing children?  With regard to the fourth resolution on accountability, Palestine had called for an urgent debate on Syria.  Why did States want accountability everywhere, but when it came to Israel the situation was different?

The Council then adopted the draft resolution, without a vote, with 43 in favour, 2 against, and 1 abstention.

Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.47) on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions, the Council stresses the need for Israel, the occupying Power, to withdraw from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, so as to enable the Palestinian people to exercise its universally recognized right to self-determination;  demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and cease immediately all measures and actions taken in violation and in breach of the Convention; and demands that Israel, the occupying Power, cease all practices and actions that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people.  The Council condemns all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction, especially the excessive use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, particularly in the Gaza Strip; also condemns the firing of rockets against Israeli civilian areas resulting in loss of life and injury; and calls upon Israel to end all harassment, threats, intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders and civil society actors who peacefully advocate for the rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  The Council expresses deep concern at the conditions of the Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including minors, in Israeli jails and detention centres; demands that Israel cease its policy of transferring prisoners from the Occupied Palestinian Territory into the territory of Israel; and urges Israel to ensure that any arrest, detention and/or trial of Palestinian children is in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including by refraining from holding criminal proceedings against them in military courts.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (41): Afghanistan, Angola, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Venezuela.

Against (3): Australia, Togo and United States.

Abstentions (2): Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.47 on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the draft addressed continuous human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.  Such violations included excessive and lethal use of force against civilians, arbitrary arrests, detention, and restrictions on the freedom of movement.  The preambular part reaffirmed the applicability of the international human rights instruments and the Fourth Geneva Convention and expressed concern over the dire humanitarian situation in Palestine, especially in the Gaza Strip.  The operative part of the draft resolution stated that all practices and actions violating rights of Palestinians should cease.  It demanded that Israel fully comply with the Fourth Geneva Convention and respect its obligations under international law.  Member States should continue to provide assistance to Palestine, particularly the Gaza Strip.  The Council was called on to adopt draft resolution L.47.

Slovakia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said it was strongly committed to work to achieve a comprehensive peace deal and preserve the viability of a two-State solution.  The European Union would continue to support Palestine’s aspirations for statehood.  The European Union reiterated its strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy.  It clarified that it had not expressed itself on the use of certain legal terms used in this, and other resolutions including “forcible displace”, “forcible transfer”, and “peremptory norms”.

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.47 by a vote of 41 in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions.

Action on Resolution on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.48) on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, 4 against and 8 abstentions as orally revised, the Council demands that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately cease all settlement activities in all the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan; and calls upon all States to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in relation to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to take appropriate measures to help to ensure that businesses domiciled in their territory and/or under their jurisdiction, including those owned or controlled by them, refrain from committing, contributing to, enabling or benefiting from the human rights abuses of Palestinians.  The Council calls upon the relevant United Nations bodies to take all necessary measures and actions within their mandates to ensure full respect for and compliance with Human Rights Council resolution 17/4 of 16 June 2011, on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other relevant international laws and standards, and to ensure the implementation of the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework, which provides a global standard for upholding human rights in relation to business activities that are connected with Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Human Rights Council on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (34): Afghanistan, Angola, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Against (4): Australia, Hungary, Togo and United States.

Abstentions (8): Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Georgia, Panama, Rwanda, Slovakia, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.48 on behalf of the 65 co-sponsors, said that the construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territory, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, continued in violation of international humanitarian law.  The preambular part of the text established the legal framework on the illegality of the settlements in the occupied territories, with reference to the United Nations Charter, the Fourth Geneva Convention, relevant United Nations resolutions, as well as the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall.  It affirmed that the transfer by the occupying power of its civilian population into the territory it occupied constituted a violation under the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The operative part reaffirmed that settlements were illegal and an obstacle to peace and socio-economic development.  L.48 called on Israel to put to an end all human rights violations linked to its settlement activities.  It urged Israel to take immediate measures to prohibit all policies that had discriminately and disproportionally affected the Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Syrian population in the Syrian Golan.

Syria, speaking as a concerned country, said Israel’s settlements were rapidly expanding and the draft reaffirmed the illegality of the practice.  The occupying power was urged to end its settlement policy.  Following the announcement of the United States of its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, that State had become emboldened and continued to act in violation of relevant United Nations resolutions.  Turning to attempts to put an end to item 7, Syria said certain States were trying to manipulate the United Nations system.  Syria’s sovereignty over the Syrian Golan must be respected.

Hungary, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it always upheld human rights standards when discussing the subject of Israeli settlements.  Israeli settlements in territories held since 1967 were illegal but their fate had to be decided within the Israeli Palestinian agreement.  The Council was a forum where delegations should deal with human rights considerations in line with principles and not political agendas.  Approaching issues with political interest in mind instead of following human rights principles led to vicious cycles that diverted attention from human rights considerations.  Hungary voted against the Council’s disproportionate focus on Israel.

The Council then adopted the draft resolution L.48, by a vote of 34 in favour, 4 against and 8 abstentions.

Action on Resolution on Ensuring Accountability and Justice for All Violations of International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.49) on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 4 against and 15 abstentions as orally revised, the Council calls upon all duty bearers and United Nations bodies to pursue the implementation of the recommendations contained in the reports of the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict, the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict;  also calls upon the parties concerned to cooperate fully with the preliminary examination of the International Criminal Court and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened; and calls upon all States to promote compliance with international law, and all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to respect, and to ensure respect for, international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  The Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (27): Afghanistan, Angola, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Against (4): Australia, Togo, United Kingdom and United States.

Abstentions (15): Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Panama, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.49 on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the objective of the draft resolution was to welcome the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict and called for the implementation of its recommendations.  The draft resolution called on States to ensure respect for international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.  Member States were urged to adopt the draft by consensus.

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.49 by a vote of 27 in favour, 4 against and 15 abstained as orally revised.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance, Follow-Up to and Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

Action on Resolution on Combatting Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against Persons Based on Religion or Belief

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.17) on combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States to take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries, in the conduct of their public duties, do not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion or belief; to foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion, and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society; and to encourage the representation and meaningful participation of individuals, irrespective of their religion, in all sectors of society.  The Council also requests the High Commissioner to prepare and submit to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session a comprehensive follow-up report with elaborated conclusions based upon information provided by States on the efforts and measures taken for the implementation of the action plan outlined in paragraphs 7 and 8 above, and views on potential follow-up measures for further improvement of the implementation of that plan.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.17 on behalf of the 62 co-sponsors, noted that resolution 16/18 which had been adopted by the Council in 2011 by consensus exemplified the spirit of constructive engagement and mutual collaboration within the Council.  The United States, European Union and the United Kingdom were thanked for their close coordination and efforts in maintain the consensus and balance.  The draft resolution addressed the ways to address the rising trend of religious intolerance, xenophobia, hatred and discrimination in different parts of the world.  At the heart of L.17 were a series of practical steps, outlined in an Action Plan which needed to be effectively implemented by States in a non-selective manner to combat intolerance, stigmatization and discrimination.   The draft resolution recognized that an open and constructive intercultural and interfaith dialogue at all levels could play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combatting religious hatred.  Hope was expressed that L.17 would be adopted by consensus, binding all States to the commitments contained therein.

Slovakia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the consensual adoption of L.17.  Racial hatred and intolerance was deplored in all forms and a call was launched to join efforts in combatting prejudice and intolerance.  The opportunity to learn from each other within the Istanbul process was welcomed.  The main task of each State lay at the national level through the implementation of human rights and ensuring freedom of religion or belief, expression and association.

The Council then adopted the draft resolution L.17 without voting.

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

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.14) on technical assistance and capacity-building for Mali in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year in order to permit him to evaluate the situation of human rights in Mali and to assist the Government of Mali in its efforts to promote, protect and fulfil human rights and to strengthen the rule of law; and also requests the Independent Expert to submit a report to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session.  The Council decides to hold a dialogue at its fortieth session, in the presence of the Independent Expert and representatives of the Government of Mali, to assess the evolution of the situation of human rights in the country, with a particular focus on the fight against impunity.

Togo, introducing draft resolution L.14 on behalf of the African Group, said the situation in Mali deserved the attention of the Council more than ever.  The resurgence of Islamic terrorist attacks had serious consequences on the situation of human rights.  In this regard, the African Group commended the Government on its work toward sustainable development of the country which had led to the Truth, Justice and Conciliation Mechanism.  The draft resolution took into account all the priorities for Mali, including the fight against impunity, reconciliation, and restoring security in the country.  It supported the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali.  The African Group hoped the Members States would show their solidarity with Mali by supporting the draft resolution.

Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, believed that the draft resolution correctly reflected the situation on the ground, and recognized the commitment of the Government of Mali to address the situation, as well as the challenges that remained.  While commending the engagement of Mali to promote human rights, the European Union remained alarmed by the level of violence committed by terrorist groups, and the progress in the fight against impunity which remained insufficient.  The European Union fully supported the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali, urged the Human Rights Council to adopt the draft resolution, and expressed its solidarity with Mali.

Belgium, in a general comment, strongly supported the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert.  The mandate was a significant tool in supporting the Government in the field of human rights.  The draft was a clear recognition that significant challenges, including the surge in violent extremism, remained in Mali.  Belgium supported the consensus-based adoption of the draft.

Mali, speaking as the concerned country, thanked State and civil society representatives for their contributions during the official consultations on the draft resolution.  Consensus on the draft was due, in part, to the inclusive approach adopted by the Africa Group in the drafting process.  The resurgence of Islamist attacks had been accompanied by serious rights violations.  The Government had the view that all States must abide by all relevant international human rights mechanisms.  For that reason, Mali would continue to cooperate with relevant agencies.  Mali called on the international community to redouble efforts to assist in the promotion of peace in the country.

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.14 without a vote.

Action on Resolution on Cooperation with Georgia

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.27) on cooperation with Georgia, adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, 5 against and 23 abstentions, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide technical assistance through his office in Tbilisi; strongly calls for immediate access to be given to the Office of the High Commissioner and international and regional human rights mechanisms to Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia; and requests the High Commissioner to present to the Human Rights Council, in accordance with its resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007, an oral update on the follow-up to the present resolution at its thirty-eighth session, and to present a written report on developments relating to and the implementation of the present resolution at its thirty-ninth session.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (19): Australia, Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

Against (5): Burundi, China, Cuba, Philippines and Venezuela.

Abstentions (23): Afghanistan, Angola, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates.

Georgia, introducing draft resolution L.27, said that the document highlighted Georgia’s cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner, its office in Tbilisi and mechanisms of the Council.  It further recognized reassurances to implement recommendations from the United Nations and regional mechanisms.  It also addressed specific problems pertaining to the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region of Georgia, currently outside of the effective control of the Government.  Last year, the Council had adopted the resolution for the first time and later the Office of the High Commissioner had been prevented from entering Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.  The humanitarian situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region was further deteriorating with the local population being deprived of minimal safeguards of their rights.

United States, speaking in a general comment, strongly supported the draft resolution and called on all States to vote for it, in case it was called to a vote.  The Government of Georgia was cooperating with the Office of the High Commissioner and all international human rights mechanisms while the authorities in de facto Russian occupied territories had not provided access.  The right of return was limited to refugees, but internally displaced persons should also be allowed to return.  The United States fully supported the national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Georgia.  It was essential for the Council to adopt the resolution.

Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the draft resolution sought immediate access by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as international and regional mechanisms to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The draft resolution was appropriate since these were integral parts of Georgia.  It was not appropriate that another country hold open elections in the country where it had no jurisdiction.  Australia supported the draft resolution and called on all Member States to do the same.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted that the text was a summary of policy interests which were inconsistent with Human Rights Council resolution 62/51.  Venezuela opposed the selectivity of the draft resolution and said it was in violation of the United Nations Charter, particularly those provisions relating to the domestic interference of the State.  For that reason, Venezuela would vote against this draft resolution.

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, thanked the delegation of Georgia for its presentation of the draft resolution.  It commended it for its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Georgia was ongoing challenges and its commitment to cooperation was commendable.  The United Kingdom deeply regretted that the staff of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were consistently denied access to the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  This heightened arbitrary detentions, torture and restricted freedom of movement.  The draft resolution responded to this by calling for access to both regions by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  At its core, this resolution was about access and was being brought by the country concerned.  The United Kingdom would therefore vote yes and called on all Member States to support this draft resolution.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly supported the role that technical assistance could play in promoting and protecting human rights.  Brazil commended Georgia for its positive engagement with international agencies.  However, Brazil would abstain in the vote as some issues mentioned in the draft strayed from the topic of technical assistance and capacity building.

Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, shared concerns over the situation of human rights in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and called on all stakeholders to work toward improving the human rights situation.  Switzerland was sparing no effort to improve the security and human rights situation in the region and respected Georgia’s territorial integrity.  Switzerland would abstain in the vote on the draft.

The Council adopted draft resolution L.27 by a vote of 19 in favour, 5 against and 23 abstained.

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.45) on technical assistance and capacity-building to improve human rights in Libya, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, while continuing its engagement with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, to monitor and report on human rights violations and abuses across Libya and to establish the facts and circumstances of such abuses and violations with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring full individual accountability.  The Council also requests the High Commissioner to present an oral update on the situation of human rights in Libya and the implementation of the present resolution to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-ninth session during an interactive dialogue, with the participation of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, and to present to the Council at its fortieth session a report on the situation of human rights in Libya, including the implementation of technical assistance and capacity-building and efforts to prevent and ensure accountability for violations and abuses of human rights.

Togo, introducing draft resolution L.45 on behalf of the African Group, said that it was an update of the resolution of last year, taking into account the latest developments in Libya, particularly the situation concerning migrants.  The draft strongly encouraged the national government as well as the United Nations, African Union, regional mechanisms and international organizations to heighten their efforts to protect human rights.  It further requested the High Commissioner to provide an oral update to the Council during its thirty-ninth session, during the interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya.  The draft also requested that the High Commissioner present during the Council’s fortieth session a report on the human rights situation, noting technical assistance and capacity building efforts conducted for the promotion of human rights.  L.45 was the result of intense negotiations and discussions and most of the concerns raised during the discussion were incorporated in the draft resolution.  Hope was expressed that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

Slovakia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the continued engagement of the Government of National Accord at the Human Rights Council and its desire to improve the human rights situation on the ground.  Slovakia reiterated the importance of broad international support to the United Nations led political process as the way to build a lasting peace in which human rights could be secured.  Slovakia would have been prepared to further explore how best to build on Libya’s standing invitation to the Special Rapporteur.

Libya, speaking as the concerned country, said the African Group had participated in informal consultations with all Member States of the Human Rights Council in a transparent manner.  United Nations contributions to Libya to assist in electoral and security reform would allow for the restoration of stability, democracy and human rights in the country.  Libya could be a stable country, with a stable economic and political situation.  Libya thanked all co-sponsors of the draft and urged that the draft be adopted by consensus.

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.45 without a vote.

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

United States, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it strongly supported the renewal of the mandate on Mali.  It used this opportunity to clarify its understanding of the language in a few parts of the text of this resolution.  It understood the language in OP4 about “illegal recruitment of children and their use as soldiers” to refer both to the illegal recruitment of child soldiers and to the illegal use of child soldiers.  The United States reiterated that States were responsible for fulfilling their applicable international obligations and commitments when countering terrorism and violent extremism, including their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as applicable.  Additionally, more broadly, the United States reiterated its views regarding references to the International Criminal Court in its item 4 general statement, to the extent that they were applicable to resolution adopted under agenda item 10.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development

Action on Resolution on Contribution to the Implementation of the Joint Commitment to Effectively Addressing and Countering the World Drug Problem with Regard to Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.41) on the contribution to the implementation of the joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem with regard to human rights, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 10 against and 11 abstentions as orally revised and amended, the Council requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report, in consultation with States, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and other United Nations agencies, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, on the joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem with regards to human rights, and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-ninth session, and also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to share the report with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, through the appropriate channels, as a contribution to their work in this field and in preparation for the sixty-second session of the Commission.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (26): Angola, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Ecuador, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

Against (10): Burundi, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Abstentions (11): Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Qatar, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia.

Colombia, introducing draft resolution L.41, said the text was seeking to comply with the Human Rights Council’s mandate.  States must consider that human rights were a fundamental pillar of the United Nations.  As such, the draft resolution requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to act in such a way that would incorporate human rights into the consideration of the global drug problem.  The Council could, from a human rights perspective, compliment the work of relevant agencies in that field.

Switzerland, also introducing draft resolution L.41, said that it had been necessary to achieve an approach that integrated human rights to the global drugs problem as highlighted in the opening speech of the Secretary-General at the opening of this Council’s session.  Two years after the special session of the General Assembly devoted to human rights concerns about the global drugs policy, the Council had a responsibility to assume its responsibility in this area.  The narcotics commission should remain the steering body of the United Nations and an inter-sectoral approach should be encouraged within the 2030 Agenda.  The draft resolution requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to contribute to addressing the global drugs issue in relation to human rights and to present the outcome at the Council’s thirty-ninth session.  The open dialogue should continue to guide States.  During five formal and many informal meetings, the sponsors of L.41 made many amendments to the text, to integrate concerns of other States.  It was surprising that some States maintained amendments although there was already an orally revised version.

Cuba, introducing written amendment L.58, said including the amendment was essential as it would send a clear message on the cornerstone of the international narcotics control system.  These were the guiding documents.  No one could justify the calling into doubt of the guiding international documents on these issues.  Any attempt to undermine or reduce this international legal framework was not appropriate.  The main co-sponsors had tried to highlight some of the concerns by Cuba.  However, Cuba regretted that these did not reflect the most important element, which was the due relevance that should be attached to international instruments in this area.  In addition, Cuba regretted that the draft resolution did not mention that these international instruments constituted the core of the international fight against narcotics.  As such Cuba asked all members of the Council to support its amendment and thus send out a clear message.

Russian Federation, introducing amendment L.59, said the main steering bodies of the United Nations on issues of international drug control were the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.  Attempts to discuss the issue outside of those bodies were counterproductive and could lead to an overlapping of efforts.  Country-specific drug issues should not be discussed in the Human Rights Council.  Russia took note of the fact that the amendment was fully incorporated into the draft now before the Council and withdrew amendment L.59.  Russia supported amendments L.58, L.61 and L.62.

Philippines, introducing amendment L.61 on behalf of a group of countries, said the amendment was altering preambular paragraph 15.  The core sponsors could not carry on board all elements on the amendment, so the preambular paragraph as orally revised failed to include the Memorandum of Understating between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Health Organization.  Also, the draft over-emphasized the health perspective at the expense of all other perspectives.  The world drug problem remained a common responsibility that should be addressed in a multilateral setting through effective international cooperation and it demanded a multidisciplinary approach.  The amendment was not only consensus language, it was a holistic approach to the world drug problem.  The sponsors of the L.41 presented a great departure from consensus language.

Egypt, introducing amendment L.62, referred to the United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions on Drugs in 1998 at which Member States had agreed on a Political Declaration on Global Drug Control, and the meeting by Member States in Vienna 10 years later, to discuss progress made and to agree on a new Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation toward an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem.  These meetings had not been random and had been based on the understanding that the world had to look at all dimensions of the drug problem.  Achieving such an approach could hardly take place if the discussion was without clear direction.  The Vienna Commission was the proper place to discuss this problem, not the Human Rights Council.  All relevant stakeholders had been invited at this meeting.  A similar report to the draft resolution proposed had been issued in 2015 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which called for the right of indigenous peoples to use drugs.  This was what happened when the world drug problem was observed through a narrow perspective.  Egypt had put forward L.62, together with Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Pakistan, Cuba, the Russia Federation, Venezuela and Singapore, offering a consensual paragraph that encouraged the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the relevant mechanisms to continue within their relevant mandates and through the appropriate channels to address the world drug problem.  Since there was a change in the paragraph of the orally revised version, Egypt suggested the removal of OP5 and OP6 and that they be replaced with amendment L.62.

Australia, in a general comment, recognized that within the United Nations system there were bodies with primacy over drugs control related issues.  However, human rights must be mainstreamed across the work of the United Nations.  Australia was pleased to see language on gender mainstreaming in the draft and said it would vote against all amendments.

Action on Draft Amendment L.58

Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it did not understand the value of the amendment and that there was no reason to place it to a vote.  A paragraph had already been included in the draft covering the issues identified in the amendment.  Mexico said it would vote against the amendment and urged other States to do the same.

The Council then adopted draft amendment L.58 by a vote of 17 in favour, 15 against and 15 abstentions.

Action on Draft Amendment L.61

Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of sponsors of the draft resolution, said this amendment was rejected.  Many amendments were already incorporated and the paragraph PP15 was already partially amended as a result of one of the longest discussions.  It was concerning that after so many efforts, the delegation tried to force this change.  However, the only part not included from all amendments was that specific bilateral agreement between the World Health Organization and the United Nations on Drugs and Crime.  The reasoning was consistency.

Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that a draft version of PP15 had been extensively discussed during informal consultations.  The link between health and drugs was obvious and accepted worldwide.  Core group countries were very surprised that an amendment was tabled on PP15.  No country had an issue with calling for enhanced cooperation regarding health and drugs.  It was regrettable that the Philippines had decided to revert to a hostile amendment.  Finally, core group countries were surprised to learn that despite the inclusion of the language of cooperation into the oral revision, the amendment had not been withdrawn.

The Council then rejected amendment L.61 by a vote of 15 in favour, 18 against and 14 abstentions.

Action on Amendment L.62

Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it did not understand why any delegation could be opposed to paragraph (OP5) that had been adopted by consensus in the past.  A small number of delegations had been against it, and the co-sponsors had been flexible.  Mexico had incorporated Egypt’s proposals.  Where it did not incorporate amendments, it had done so because the draft resolution aimed to represent a fundamental overall aim.  The co-sponsors thought it was fundamentally important to keep OP5.  For this reason, they encouraged Member States to vote no to the amendment.

Panama, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was not in agreement with L.62 because its elements were already in the orally revised version.  In addition, it did not agree with the amendment because it proposed to get rid of OP5 which requested the “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report, in consultation with States, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and other United Nations agencies, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, on the application of existing human rights indicators for the implementation of the human rights aspects of operational recommendations of the outcome document of the thirtieth special session of the General Assembly, and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-ninth session.”  It also requested “the Office of the High Commissioner to share the report with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, through the appropriate channels, as a contribution to their work in this field and in preparation for the sixty-second session of the Commission.”

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said though not immediately apparent, the effect of the amendment was to delete OP5, which requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report, on the application of existing human rights indicators for the implementation of the human rights aspects and to share it with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.  The main co-sponsors had removed the reference to human rights indicators that had posed a difficulty for others.  For these reasons the United Kingdom would vote no to the amendment and encouraged others to do the same.

The Council then rejected the amendment, with 15 in favour, 20 against and 12 abstentions.

Action on L.41

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would join in the consensus on the draft.  However, the United States emphasized that United Nations organizations in Vienna, such as the Office on Drugs and Crime, were the appropriate venue for discussion of many of the issues contained in the draft.

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would vote in favour of the draft.  All States must agree that policies on drugs must be carried out with consideration to human rights.  As such, the Human Rights Council could play a positive role.

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of a group of countries, said there was extensive opposition to the draft.  The large number of amendments made it clear that consensus was not reached.  The draft would result in a step backwards in addressing drugs issues.  The text worked on creating contradictory mandates on the issue and duplicated ongoing efforts.  All aspects of drugs demand reduction and related measures must be addressed in a balanced manner.  Egypt stressed that drug-related resolutions were adopted in Vienna by consensus and called for a vote on the draft, urging all States to vote against the resolution.

Peru, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they were grateful for many comments which had been incorporated in the draft resolution.  The world drug problem had to be regulated through common and shared responsibility and a balanced approach.  The importance of international conventions on narcotics control was reiterated.  Several organizations played a key role in this area, including the World Health Organization, International Narcotics Control Board and the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs.  Strengthening of cooperation between those organizations was welcomed.

Philippines, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, joined in the strong opposition to the adoption of the draft resolution.  The Council was not the right forum to discuss the drugs problem; the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs was the right forum.  L.41 was unbalanced and emphasized only health protection, which was why the Philippines would vote against it.

Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted that a group of countries had insisted on voting, although their concerns had been integrated in the text, in its orally revised draft resolution.  It seemed that submissions of amendments only served to impose obstacles in the Council.  It was understandable that positions would differ, however not seeking way to overcome such differences was not.

Pakistan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said United Nations specialized agencies should act in coordination and in line with their mandates.  At a time of fiscal difficulties there was no need to duplicate efforts.  Pakistan would vote against the draft.

Panama, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the Human Rights Council defended the universality of all human rights.  As such, Panama firmly supported the draft resolution.  Panama thanked the main sponsors for holding a transparent consultation process.  It was regrettable that a vote on the draft was requested.  The Human Rights Council had the expertise to contribute to the implementation of drugs-related commissions.  Panama urged all States to vote in favour of the draft.

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.41 by a vote of 26 in favour, 10 against and 11 abstentions as orally revised and amended.

Explanations of the Vote after the Vote

United States, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, wished to clarify its position on a few issues present in several of the item 3 resolutions, including but not limited to the right to work and good governance.  As it had noted in the past, the United States understood that the Human Rights Council’s resolutions did not change the current state of conventional or customary international law, or impose legal obligations on States.  To address time limits, a full general statement on item 3 issues would be uploaded to the extranet and to the United States Mission’s website.  The United States clarified that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did not create legal obligations.  Nor did the United States read the resolutions adopted by the Council to imply that States must join or implement obligations under international instruments to which they were not a party.  The United States understood that any reaffirmation of prior documents applied only to those States that affirmed them initially, and, in the case of international treaties or conventions, to those States who were party.  The United States recognized the 2030 Agenda as a non-binding global framework for sustainable development that could help countries work towards global peace and prosperity.  However, each country had its own development priorities and must work toward implementation in accordance with its own national policies.  With respect to references to climate change and the Paris Agreement, the United States informed that it had announced that it intended to withdraw as soon as it was eligible to do so, consistent with the terms of the Agreement, unless it could identify suitable terms for re-engagement.  Therefore, language on the Paris Agreement and climate change in these resolutions was adopted without prejudice to the United States positions.  With respect to other areas of concern, the United States had set forth its views regarding references to the International Criminal Court in its item 4 statement.  The concerns of the United States about economic, social and cultural rights and the existence of a “right to development” were long-standing and well known.  With respect to the issue of education, as educational matters in the United States were primarily determined at the state and local levels, the United States understood that when resolutions called on States to strengthen the various aspects of education, including with respect to curriculum, this was done in terms consistent with its respective federal, state and local authorities.  Finally, the United States emphasized its continuing concerns about the growth in funding related to the Human Rights Council.  In addition, significant amounts of regular budget funding supported the human rights pillar via the United Nations conference services.  It was essential that a fiscal discipline was implemented.

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, commended the resolution on the prevention of genocide introduced by Armenia.  Egypt had a long-standing history of combatting the crime of genocide.  Still, some concepts in the draft could undermine the sovereignty of States, notable the notion of the responsibility to protect.  Egypt assured that the primarily responsibility to protect populations from such crimes rested on States.  International agencies must aid States to that end.  Egypt disassociated from preamble paragraph 22 and operative paragraph 16.

Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, spoke in French and there was no interpretation.

Australia, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action reaffirmed that democracy and human rights were mutually dependent.  Implementation of the Agenda 2030 had to be consistent with human rights considerations.  All States had to uphold and respect human rights, without discrimination.  Resolution L35 recognized the rights of persons with disabilities.  Concerning the resolution L.41 and the joint commitment to resolving world drug problems in relation to human rights, Australia disassociated itself from new paragraph which had been inserted as a result of the acceptance of amendment L.58.

Saudi Arabia, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, spoke in Arabic and there was no interpretation.

Appointment of Special Procedure Mandate Holders

VOJISLAV ŠUC, President of the Human Rights Council, said that the Council would proceeded with the appointment of Special Procedure mandate holders, and called on all States to cooperate with the newly appointed mandate holders in the implementation of their mandates.

The Council appointed Alioune Tine (Senegal) as the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali; Livingstone Sewanyana (Uganda) as the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Fabián Salvioli (Argentina), as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; and Nyaletsossi Clément Voule (Togo) as the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

Albert Kwokwo Barume (Democratic Republic of the Congo) was appointed to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples as an independent expert from Africa indigenous sociocultural region, and Kristen Carpenter (United States of America) as an independent expert from North America indigenous sociocultural region.

As members of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, the Council appointed Chris Kwaja (Nigeria) from African States, Jelena Aparac (Croatia) from Eastern European States, and Lilian Bobea (Dominican Republic) from Latin American and Caribbean States.

Mr. Šuc regretted incidences of personal attacks, insults and acts of reprisals and intimidation against Special Procedure mandate holders, merely for implementing the mandates entrusted to them by the Council.  Those attacks were of serious concern as some of them related to the personal integrity and security of mandate holders.  The President strongly condemned those attacks and reminded all States of their obligations towards human rights mechanisms.

Report of the Thirty-Seventh Session of the Council

MARTA MAURAS, Vice President and Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, introduced the draft report of the thirty-seventh session of the Council, which contained 10 chapters corresponding to the respective items of the agenda of the Council.  She reminded that during the session 94 dignitaries, including four Heads of State and one Vice President, had addressed the Council.  The Council had held interactive dialogues with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on his annual report and on his Office’s updates on a number of country-specific human rights situations.  It had also held an urgent debate on the situation of Eastern Ghouta in Syria, and had discussed a wide range of topics during seven panel discussions and a series of interactive dialogues with mandate holders and general debates.  The Council had considered the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of 14 countries, and had appointed nine Special Procedures mandate holders.

Statements by Observer States

Netherlands, speaking on behalf of a cross-regional group of States, said that the Council had made a marked difference in the promotion of human rights worldwide, as demonstrated during this thirty-seventh session by the way it addressed many relevant thematic and country situations.  The Council could however do even better in preventing and monitoring violations in all countries, supporting the implementation of obligations and promoting accountability for perpetrators, and enhancing access to remedy and justice for victims.  There was a need for all to demonstrate leadership and collectively make improvements aimed at strengthening the Council.  The links between the General Assembly and the Security Council and the Council could also be strengthened.  The signatories of this Joint Statement were firmly committed to an inclusive and transparent effort to strengthen the Council and would challenge constructively with the Bureau and other delegations in any such efforts.

Russian Federation spoke in Russian and there was no interpretation.

Brazil said it was time to refocus attention on strengthening the Human Rights Council.  It strongly welcomed the emphasis on prevention.  In implementing the Council’s preventive mandate, a great deal remained disproportionate.  Selectivity and politicization undermined the principles that guided the Council and eroded common goals.  Prevention was much broader than early response.  In the context of scarce financial resources, some specific situations should be avoided, while many others remained ignored or neglected.  Extending a hand could be more effective than pointing a finger.

Canada said this session had begun by marking the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  Canada, along with many others, highlighted the principles of universality, inalienability, and equality of human rights.  These words applied today as much as they did then.  The Human Rights Council was a place where the protection and promotion of these ideals and language were manifested.  While the world celebrated the lofty standards and expressions of the Declarations, the work of protecting and promoting human rights was ongoing.  However, this tradition should not be undermined by language that sought to exclude civil society, limit the scope of human rights to State-to-State interactions, or undermine universality by promoting exclusively national visions of human rights cooperation, now or in the future.  Empowering the Human Rights Council to promote and protect the human rights of all people should be the goal of both its members and its observers.

International Service for Human Rights, in a joint statement with several NGOs1 agreed that dialogue between stakeholders was important for the full promotion of human rights.  However, the resolution on mutually beneficial cooperation in the area of promotion of human rights cooperation should not impede other areas of work of the Human Rights Council.  Worry was expressed over Cambodia’s attempt to silence opposition and civil society.  Concerning the situation in Libya, it was assessed as a weak outcome.  Co-sponsorship on the resolution on Myanmar was welcomed and extensions of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.  Renewal of the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan was also welcomed.

Closing Remarks by the President of the Council

VOJISLAV ŠUC, President of the Human Rights Council, regretted to inform the Human Rights Council that during the session allegations of intimidation and reprisals were brought to his attention.  He stressed that the Council condemned and rejected all acts of intimidation or reprisal by Governments and non-State actors against individuals or groups seeking to cooperate or who had cooperated with the United Nations.  Civil society played an important role in the work of the Human Rights Council.  States were urged to take all necessary measures to prevent and ensure adequate protection against such acts.  The President then closed the thirty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council.

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1Joint statement on behalf of: International Service for Human Rights; East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project; International Commission of Jurists; Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues; Conectas Direitos Humanos; Human Rights House Foundation; Amnesty International.
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