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Human Rights Council concludes thirty-seventh session after adopting 42 resolutions, including on Eastern Ghouta in Syria

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23 March 2018

ROUNDUP RELEASE 

Extends Six Country Mandates including on Syria and South Sudan; Renews Mandates on the Right to Privacy, on Human Rights and the Environment, on Cultural Rights, and on People with Albinism; and Decides to Hold a High-Level Panel on the Legacy of Nelson Mandela on 27 April 2018

GENEVA (23 March 2018) - The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its thirty-seventh regular session, during which it addressed a wide range of human rights issues with numerous human rights experts, working groups and investigative bodies, adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of 14 States, and heard statements from 91 dignitaries during its high-level segment, including from the Heads of State of Austria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Mozambique.  

United Nations Secretary-General António Gutteres addressed the Council at its opening session on 26 February.

The Council heard from 34 independent experts, including two commissions of inquiries - on Burundi and on Syria, the commission on South Sudan and the fact-finding mission in Myanmar, and heard the presentations of 95 reports addressing 35 themes and 50 country situations.  The Council filled nine vacancies of Special Procedure mandate holders, and adopted 42 resolutions on a wide range of themes as well as on human rights situations in Syria, Myanmar, South Sudan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the occupied Palestinian territory, Mali, and Iran.

After holding an urgent debate on the deteriorating human rights situation in Eastern Ghouta in Syria on 2 March, the Council adopted on 5 March, by a vote of 29 in favour, 4 against and 14 abstentions, an orally revised resolution requesting the Commission of Inquiry on Syria to urgently conduct a comprehensive and independent inquiry and update the Council at its June session.  In another resolution on the human rights situation in Syria adopted on 23 March by a vote of 27 in favour, 4 against and 16 abstentions, the Council extended for one year the mandate of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, and demanded the Commission to provide an oral update to the Council at its June session and written reports at the thirty-ninth and fortieth sessions.

By virtue of other texts, the Council extended, for a period of one year, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.  By a vote of 21 in favour, 7 against and 19 abstentions, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a period of one year; and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for a further period of one year, by a vote of 32 in favour, 5 against and 10 abstentions.

In the context of technical assistance and capacity-building, the Council extended the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, and requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and his Office to present an oral update on the situation of human rights in Libya at its thirty-ninth session and a report on the efforts to prevent and ensure accountability for violations and abuses of human rights at its fortieth session; and to continue to provide technical assistance through his office in Tbilisi, Georgia and present an oral update on the follow-up to the present resolution at the Council’s June session and a written report at its September 2018 session, by a vote of 19 in favour, 5 against and 23 abstentions.

The Council extended or renewed the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, and the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.

Under its agenda item on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, the Council adopted, by a vote of 25 in favour, 14 against and 7 abstentions, a resolution on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan; by a vote of 34 in favour, 4 against and 8 abstentions, an orally revised text on Israeli settlements; and a text on right of the Palestinian people to self-determination by a vote of 43 in favour, 2 against and 1 abstention.  In a resolution 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 urged Israel to refrain from holding criminal proceedings against Palestinian children in military courts, while the resolution on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 4 against and 15 abstentions as orally revised, requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Council on the implementation of that resolution at its fortieth session.

In the adopted resolutions, the Council decided to convene a high-level intersessional panel discussion on the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela on Friday, 27 April 2018; and to incorporate in its programme of work a thematic panel discussion on promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, to be held once every four years; the first such panel discussion will be organized at the forty-fourth session ahead of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.  

In the context of the implementation of 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 with a focus on the themes of the 2019 and 2020 high-level political forums on sustainable development; and also decided to invite the President of the Economic and Social Council, commencing in 2018, to annually brief the Council on the discussions of the high-level political forum and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  The Council invited the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to mark United Nations Public Service Day at every June session of the Human Rights Council with a view to raise awareness about the human rights dimension of public services delivery, in the context of the promotion of human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Council decided to focus its next annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child on the theme “Empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education”, while the next annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities will address article 26 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and will be held at its fortieth session.  An interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities on article 8 of the Convention, will be held at the Council’s forty-third session.

The Council requested United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and his Office, to convene a half-day intersessional seminar on the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights before the forty-first session and to submit a summary report at the Council’s forty-third session; to convene a two-day workshop in Geneva before the forty-fourth session, to develop appropriate tools for the dissemination of an approach to the protection, restoration and preservation of cultural heritage, and to submit the report to the Council at its forty-sixth session; and to organize a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and an interactive dialogue with the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, at the thirty-ninth session.

The Council requested the United Nations Secretary-General to continue to prepare and submit to the Human Rights Council an annual report on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights with a special focus on their role in empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.  

It further requested United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare: an analytical report on the relationship between the realization of the right to work and the enjoyment of all human rights by young people and submit it to the Council prior to its fortieth session; and a comprehensive follow-up report on the efforts and measures taken to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect and submit it to the Council at its fortieth session.  In a resolution adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 2 against and 22 abstained, the Council requested the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive study on the implications of the lack of integrity of the judicial system for human rights, in particular for persons kept in detention facilities outside the territory of States, and to submit it to the Council at its forty-third session; and it also requested his Office, by a vote of 26 in favour, 10 against and 11 abstentions as orally revised, to prepare a report on the joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem with regard to human rights and present it to the Council’s thirty-ninth session.

The Human Rights Council requested its Advisory Committee, by a vote of 27 in favour, 4 against and 16 abstentions, to submit the final report on the activities of vulture funds and their impact on human rights at the Council’s forty-first session, and also requested the Advisory Committee, by a vote of 28 in favour, 1 against and 17 abstained, 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 to the Council before its forty-third session.

The Council also adopted texts on adequate housing and the right to non-discrimination; on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities; on the negative impact of corruption on the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; on freedom of religion or belief; and on terrorism and human rights in which the Council requested States to refrain from providing support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts.  The text on the right to food was adopted by a vote of 46 in favour, 1 against and no abstentions, and the text on human rights and unilateral coercive measures by a vote of 28 in favour, 15 against and 3 abstentions.

Ambassador Vojislav Šuc of Slovenia, President of the Council, opened the thirty-seventh session on 26 February, during which the Council heard an address by United Nations Secretary-General António Gutteres, who stressed that, to make human rights a reality for everyone, the international community must invest in human rights and recognize them as values and goals in themselves and not allow their instrumentalization.  Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned that oppression had become fashionable again and that the accumulating unresolved human rights violations would spark the conflicts that could break this world.  The Council also heard from Miroslav Lajèàk, President of the seventy-second session of the United Nations General Assembly, and Ignazio Cassis, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.  During its three-day high-level segment, the Council heard senior dignitaries from 84 States and seven international and regional organizations, including Presidents of Austria and Mozambique, the Governor General of Australia, and the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

The Council held three high-level panel discussions, on the situation of human rights in Syria, on the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and on human rights mainstreaming; an annual debate on the rights of persons with disabilities centred on access to justice, and a panel discussion on promoting tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity in the context of combating racial discrimination.  The annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child on 5 March focused on the protection of their rights in humanitarian situations.  During the session, the Council adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Czechia, Argentina, Gabon, Ghana, Peru, Guatemala, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Benin, Pakistan, Zambia, Japan, Ukraine and Sri Lanka; and heard the addresses by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cameroon and the New Zealand’s Minister of Justice.

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 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.

The Council adopted its report of the thirty-seventh session ad referendum.

In concluding remarks, Vojislav Šuc of Slovenia, President of the Human Rights 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, he said and urged States to take all necessary measures to prevent and ensure adequate protection against such acts.  

Documentation, statements, resolutions and reports relating to this and all Human Rights Council sessions are available on its webpage.  Detailed, speaker-by-speaker coverage of every public meeting, in English and in French, can be found on the website of the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The thirty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council was held in Geneva from 26 February to 23 March 2018.  The thirty-eighth session will be held in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room of the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 18 June to 6 July 2018.

Summary of the Programme of Work

Session Opening 

On 26 February, Ambassador Vojislav Šuc of Slovenia, President of the Council, opened the thirty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council.  In his address to the Council, United Nations Secretary-General António Gutteres welcomed the Security Council’s adoption of a resolution demanding a cessation of hostilities throughout Syria for at least 30 days.  “It is high time to stop this hell on earth”, stressed the Secretary-General, reminding all parties of their absolute obligation under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure at all times.  “Efforts to combat terrorism do not supersede these obligations”, underlined Mr. Gutteres, who also highlighted continued denial of human rights, pressing gender inequality, shrinking space for civil society, and a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, including anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred.  To make human rights a reality for everyone, the international community needed to recognize human rights as values and goals in themselves and not as instruments and a political tool, urged Mr. Gutteres.

In his statement to the Council, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, highlighted the failure to prevent the rising horrors of “the most prolific slaughterhouses of humans” in recent times - in Eastern Ghouta and other besieged areas in Syria, Ituri and the Kasais in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Taiz in Yemen, Northern Rakhine in Myanmar – and said that, second to those who killed and maimed, the responsibility for the continuation of so much pain lied with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.  Oppression had become fashionable again and fundamental freedoms were in retreat in every region of the world; it was the accumulating unresolved human rights violations that would spark the conflicts that could break this world, concluded the High Commissioner.  

Miroslav Lajèàk, President of the seventy-second session of the United Nations General Assembly, spoke of the Council’s normative power, and, highlighting the link between human rights, and peace and prevention, noted that human rights violations were the tremors in the ground that could direct attention before it was too late.  Ignazio Cassis, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, addressed the Council on behalf of the host country, underlined the continued relevance, and the need for, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and went on to stress the critical importance of preventing human rights violations as a way of preventing conflicts.

First Week of the Session

Following the session opening, the Council held a three-day high-level segment, during which it heard senior dignitaries from 84 States and seven international and regional organizations, including Presidents of Austria and Mozambique, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the First Vice President of South Sudan, who presented national efforts to promote and protect human rights and noted the critical role of the Council - the main global forum for discussing human rights challenges – especially as the system of international institutions was under threat and the universality of human rights was being contested around the world.  The Council held its annual high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming with a focus on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism on Monday 26 February, and the high-level panel discussion on the seventieth  anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on Wednesday 28 February.

Also on Wednesday, the Council started a clustered discussion with the Independent Expert on foreign debt on the development of guiding principles for assessing the human rights impact of economic reform policies, and with the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing on the human rights-based housing strategies with the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing.  On Thursday 1 March, the Council held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and with the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, which focused on the difficult situation of human rights defenders engaged in the protection and defence of rights of all people on the move, and on the implications of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment on laws and policies of States in response to irregular migration.  It also discussed states of emergency in the context of countering terrorism, in particular, new post-9/11 emergency practices with the Special Rapporteur on human rights and terrorism, and the significant contributions of actions in the field of arts and culture towards creating, developing and maintaining societies with the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.  
 
On Friday 2 March, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief presented the report on the relationships between State and religious institutions, while the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence and the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide introduced a joint study on the contribution of transitional justice to the prevention of gross violations and abuses of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law.  That same day, the Council held an urgent debate on the situation in Eastern Ghouta in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Second Week of the Session

The Council opened its second week with the adoption of a resolution requesting the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to urgently conduct a comprehensive, independent and inquiry into the recent events in Eastern Ghouta.  It then held an annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child focused on the protection of the rights of the child in humanitarian situations, examining best practice in meeting children’s needs in emergencies in its morning panel, and exploring accountability of States and the international community to children in humanitarian situations in the afternoon panel.  The Council discussed, in a clustered dialogue, the relationship between children’s rights and environmental protection with the Special Rapporteur on the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and the right to food in the context of natural disasters and humanitarian assistance with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.  Mr. Lejeune Mbella Mbella, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cameroon addressed the Council on Monday 5 March.

In its first clustered dialogue on Tuesday 6 March, the council discussed privacy protection and government and other forms of surveillance with the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, and the protection of the rights of the child in a context of commercial surrogacy with the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.  Next, the Council dialogued with two Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, for Children in Armed Conflict, and on Violence against Children, and examined the challenges in protecting children from sale and trafficking in situations of armed conflict, and also discussed the impacts of the denial of humanitarian access on children.  Finally, the Council took up the rights of persons with disabilities to equal recognition before the law, and the access to health for persons with albinism in a clustered dialogue with the respective mandate holders.

In a presentation of his annual report and oral update to the Council on Wednesday 7 March, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged today’s politicians to commit to the spirit and the letter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which affirmed the universality of rights of everyone as human beings.  The High Commissioner emphasized the urgency of the situation in Syria, where the horror of Eastern Ghouta “needs to be spoken of time and again”; Myanmar, where the “ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State” continued; and the escalation of the conflict in Yemen, where a humanitarian disaster of new magnitudes was being created, particularly in the city of Taiz (full statement here).  Following this update, the Council concluded interactive dialogues on the rights of persons with disabilities and persons with albinism, and on violence against children and children in armed conflict.  In its annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities, which took place in the afternoon, the Council addressed the right of persons with disabilities to access justice and the need for immediate paradigm shift in justice systems.

On Thursday 8 March, the delegations engaged in an interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on his annual report and oral update, and heard the presentation of the report of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, and the thematic reports of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  This was followed by a general debate on all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, which concluded on Friday 9 March.

Third Week of the Session

Turning to human rights situations that require the Council’s attention on Monday 12 March, the Council examined, with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the key developments, and the implications for human rights, of the recent escalation in political and security tensions in the wake of nuclear and ballistic missile tests; discussed the report of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, the late Asma Jahangir; and examined the human rights situation in Myanmar with the Special Rapporteur and with the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.  An enhanced interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Eritrea was also held, with the participation of, inter alia, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The following day, a high-level panel discussion on violations of the human rights of children in Syria took place, which focused on attacks against children, including attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access.  The Council then engaged in an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, whose report demonstrated once again that civilians were not only the unintentional victims of violence, but often deliberately targeted through unlawful means and methods of warfare.  In the report, the Commission signalled its intention to help victims obtain justice and to pursue this task vigorously in the light of the evolving situation on the ground in Syria and the various ongoing efforts to bring the parties to the conflict to the negotiating table.  During the interactive dialogue with Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, the Council heard that some of the violations for which the Commission had been able to collect and preserve evidence, might amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Finally, the Council heard an oral update by the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi which informed of a continued deterioration of the political, security, economic and human rights situation in this country.

On Wednesday 14 March, Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner updated the Council on the activities of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights field-based structure in Seoul monitoring the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, following which the Council held its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.  In the afternoon, the Council held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues who highlighted the crucial role that minority youth play in advocating for and protecting the rights of minorities, particularly through the use of digital media and various social media platforms; and heard the presentation of reports by the Forum on Minority Issues and by the Social Forum held in Geneva in October 2017.  The Council’s general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms concluded on Thursday 15 March, when reports by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group for Czechia, Argentina, Gabon, Ghana, Peru, Guatemala, Switzerland, and the Republic of Korea had also been adopted (also here and here).  The Human Rights Council did not hold its meeting on Friday 16 March due to a strike called for by UN staff at the UN Office at Geneva.  

Fourth Week of the Session

The last week of the thirty-seventh session started with an annual debate on racial discrimination during which a panel discussion focusing on promoting tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity in the context of combating racial discrimination was held.  The Council then adopted reports by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group for Benin, Pakistan and Zambia, as well as the reports for Japan, Ukraine and Sri Lanka, and then held its general debate on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  

The Council then held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 whose report focused on the right to health; and on Tuesday 20 March, it heard Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights presenting reports by the Secretary-General, High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, which was followed by a general debate on this agenda item.  That day, the Council also held a general debate on the follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, following which it heard from the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on its nineteenth session, and from the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Durban Declaration on its fifteenth.  A general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, then took place.  The Council then opened agenda item on technical assistance and capacity-building, and held an enhanced dialogue on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the participation of, inter alia, Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights New York.

Further in the context of technical assistance and capacity-building, on Wednesday 21 March, the Council held separate interactive dialogues with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali; on the human rights situation in Libya with Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights; on the report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Ukraine presented by Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore; and it also held a high-level interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic.  The Council then heard the presentation of reports and oral updates by the High Commissioner and Secretary-General on Burundi, Colombia, Cyprus, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran and Sri Lanka, followed by a general debate on country reports under agenda item Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General.  Andrew Little, Minister of Justice of New Zealand, addressed the Council; while Jorge Luis Borrayo, Head of the Presidential Commission for Coordinating the Executive Policy in the Field of Human Rights of Guatemala and Tilak Marapana, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka spoke on behalf of countries concerned by the Annual Report of the High Commissioner.

On Thursday 22 March, the Council concluded the consideration of technical assistance and capacity-building after hearing the presentation of country report by the High Commissioner and Secretary-General on Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti and Yemen and holding a general debate on this agenda item.

On 22 and 23 March, the Council adopted 41 resolutions; the resolution on the deteriorating situation in Eastern Ghouta in Syria was adopted on 5 March.

Resolutions

Action on the Presidential Statement under the Agenda Item 1 on Organizational and Procedural Matters

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.1) on the deteriorating situation of Human rights in Eastern Ghouta, in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, 4 against and 14 abstentions as orally revised, the Council requests the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to urgently conduct a comprehensive and independent inquiry into the recent events in Eastern Ghouta and provide an update the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session.

Action on Texts under the Agenda Item 3 on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Including the Right to Development

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.10) on the right to privacy in the digital age, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy for a period of three years under the same terms as provided for by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 28/16 of 26 March 2015.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.11/Rev.1) on the integrity of the judicial system, adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 2 against and 22 abstained, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a comprehensive study on the implications of the lack of integrity of the judicial system for human rights, in particular for persons kept in detention facilities outside the territory of States, and to submit the study to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.12) on the adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to non-discrimination in this context, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Special Rapporteur to participate in relevant international dialogues and policy forums relating to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, and to undertake thematic research with a view to advise States and other stakeholders on how to effectively respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing, and non-discrimination in this context.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.13) on the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, for a period of three years, and requests the Independent Expert to integrate a gender perspective throughout the work of the mandate in order to address the multiple, intersecting and aggravated forms of discrimination faced by women and girls with albinism.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.15) on the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the High Commissioner to convene, before its forty-first session, a half-day intersessional seminar on the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights, and to submit a summary report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.16) on promoting human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals through transparent, accountable and efficient public services delivery, adopted without a vote, the Council invites the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to mark United Nations Public Service Day at every June session of the Human Rights Council with a view to raise awareness about the human rights dimension of public services delivery.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.19) on human rights and the environment, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment for a period of three years, and requests the Special Rapporteur to convene an expert seminar on experience and best practices of States at the national and regional levels with regard to human rights obligations relating to the environment and to submit a summary report to the Council at its forty-third session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.20) on freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council urges States to ensure that their constitutional and legislative systems provide adequate and effective guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief to all, without distinction, and ensure that no one within their jurisdiction is deprived of the right to life, liberty or security of person because of religion or belief.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.21) on the right to food, adopted by a vote of 46 in favour, 1 against and no abstentions, the Council calls upon States to heed the urgent United Nations humanitarian appeal to assist countries facing drought, starvation and famine with emergency aid and urgent funding, and underlines that if no immediate response is received, an estimated 20 million people, most of whom are women and children, risk losing their lives.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.22) on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 4 against and 16 abstentions, the Council requests the Advisory Committee to submit the final report on the activities of vulture funds and their impact on human rights to the Human Rights Council at its forty-first session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.23) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to renew, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, to enable the mandate holder to continue to work in accordance with the mandate established by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 19/6.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.24) on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, adopted without a vote,  the Council requests the Secretary-General to continue to prepare and submit to the Human Rights Council an annual report on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights with a special focus on the role of economic, social and cultural rights in empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.25) on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, adopted without a vote, the Council urges States to take legislative, policy or practical measures to ensure that minority youth have equal access to education of equal quality, and promote the representation of minority youth in decision-making processes at the local, national and international levels.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.26) on High-level intersessional discussion celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene a high-level intersessional panel discussion on the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela on Friday, 27 April 2018 and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare and submit a summary report at the thirty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.28) on the right to work, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare an analytical report on the relationship between the realization of the right to work and the enjoyment of all human rights by young people, with an emphasis on their empowerment, and to submit the report to the Human Rights Council prior to its fortieth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.30) on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the High Commissioner to convene a two-day workshop in Geneva before its forty-fourth session, to develop appropriate tools for the dissemination of an approach to the protection, restoration and preservation of cultural heritage, and to submit the report to the Council at its forty-sixth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.31) on promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to incorporate into its programme of work a thematic panel discussion on promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, to be held once every four years, and 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.

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 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.  

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 decides to focus its next annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child 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, and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session.

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 to focus on the resources and compensation necessary to promote accountability and reparations for victims in his next report to the Council and to the General Assembly, and to present 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.  

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, and 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.

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 abstained, the Council requests its 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 to the Council before its forty-third session.

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, whose focus will reflect the stated themes of the 2019 and 2020 high-level political forums on sustainable development, and decides that the meetings should be held in advance of the 2019 and 2020 high-level political forums respectively.

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.

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 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.

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 to submit the report to the Council at its forty-first session, and also requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize at the Council’s thirty-ninth session 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.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.50/Rev.1) on terrorism and human rights, adopted without a vote, 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.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item 4 on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.29) on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, adopted without a vote, the Council reiterates the request to the High Commissioner to provide a full report to the Council at its fortieth session on the implementation of the recommendations made by the group of independent experts on accountability in its report to the Council; and decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for a period of one year.  

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.38) on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, four against and 16 abstentions, the Council invites Member States to support actively the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, including by considering the provision of information and data on the most serious crimes under international law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic, and decides to extend for one year the mandate of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic; requests the Commission of Inquiry to provide an oral update to the Human Rights Council during the interactive dialogue at its thirty-eighth session, and to present an updated written report during an interactive dialogue at the thirty-ninth and fortieth sessions; and decides to transmit all reports and oral updates of the Commission of Inquiry to all relevant bodies of the United Nations.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.39) on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by a vote of 21 in favour, 7 against and 19 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a further period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of the mandate to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.40) on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, adopted without a vote, the Council, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for a period of one year and requests the Commission to present an oral update to the Council at its thirty-ninth and a comprehensive written report at its fortieth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.43) on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 5 against and 10 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for a further period of one year, requests the Special Rapporteur to present an oral progress report to the Council at its thirty-eighth session and to submit a report to the Third Committee at the seventy-third session of the General Assembly and to the Council at its fortieth session.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item 7 on Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

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 desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan and 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.

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 and urges all States to adopt measures as required to promote the realization of this right 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.

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 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.

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 calls upon the relevant United Nations bodies to take all necessary measures and actions within their mandates 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.

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 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 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.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item 9 on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

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 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 [to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect] outlined in paragraphs 7 and 8, and views on potential follow-up measures for further improvement of the implementation of that plan.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item 10 on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

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 and decides to hold a dialogue at its fortieth session to assess the evolution of the situation of human rights in the country, with a particular focus on the fight against impunity.

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 and present an oral update on the follow-up to the present resolution at the Council’s thirty-eighth session and a written report at its thirty-ninth session.

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 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 and a report on the situation of human rights in Libya and efforts to prevent and ensure accountability for violations and abuses of human rights at its fortieth session.

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