Human Rights Council
23 December 2010
The Human Rights Council this morning opened a Special Session on “The situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire since the elections on 28 November 2010”.
Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaking on behalf of High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, reiterated the deep concerns of the High Commissioner, regarding the violations of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire. United Nations human rights officers were deployed across the country and were doing their utmost to monitor the situation and provide protection where they could. It had been impossible to investigate all the allegations of serious human rights violations, including reports of mass graves, due to restriction of movement of United Nations personnel. The current restrictions imposed by security forces and youth groups loyal to Mr. Gbagbo, which had hindered the capacity of the United Nations to deliver much-needed services and humanitarian assistance, must be lifted immediately. The Security Council had urged all Ivorian parties to respect the will of the people and the outcome of the election. The human rights violations must cease and the United Nations must be granted unfettered access to the population and perpetrators must be held accountable.
Member States of the Council and Observer States then took the floor. Most expressed their deep concerns about the human rights situation in Côte d'Ivoire, in relation to the results of the 2010 presidential elections, and the violence which had led to loss of lives and property. It was imperative for the Human Rights Council to pronounce itself on the situation in the country and address the issue. The Council could not remain silent when there was growing evidence of massive violations of human rights. States underlined the importance for the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire to implement its protection mandate. States also expressed support for the action of the United Nations and the efforts of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States in Côte d'Ivoire.
Speakers further called for an immediate end to violence and expressed concerns at the alarming reports of press harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions, formation of armed militia groups and extrajudicial killings. Former President Gbagbo’s persisting intransigence to the will of the Ivorian electorate threatened to cast the country back into conflict. The presidential elections had been deemed fair and their results must be accepted by all Ivorian parties. It was imperative to uphold the integrity of the electoral process and to restore democracy immediately. The renewing of the mandate of the United Nations’ mission in Côte d'Ivoire was indispensable for enabling the United Nations and the international community at large to continue supporting the peace process and monitoring the increasingly alarming human rights situation. Attacks on the vital work of the United Nations must be universally condemned and rejected. The intolerable acts of violence committed in Côte d'Ivoire must be subject of an inquiry and those responsible must be brought to justice. Some countries expressed the fact that the events in the country were internal affairs of Africa and the situation must, above all, be resolved by Africans themselves.
Speaking this morning were the representative of Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Belgium on behalf of the European Union, Spain, the United Kingdom, Norway, the United States of America, Argentina, the Maldives, France, the Republic of Korea, Japan, the Russian Federation, Qatar, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Mauritius, Zambia, Switzerland, Malaysia, Mexico, China, Chile, Thailand, Ghana, Jordan, Cuba, and Ecuador.
The following observer delegations also took the floor: Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Austria, Peru, Turkey, India, South Africa, Sweden, Australia, Canada and Costa Rica.
Also speaking were Human Rights Watch, Reporters sans Frontières International, Amnesty International and United Nations Watch.
The Council will meet this afternoon at 3 p.m. to continue with the Special Session and to consider the proposed draft resolution.
KYUNG-WHA KANG, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, reiterated the deep concerns of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, regarding the violations of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire. United Nations human rights officers were deployed across the country and were doing their utmost to monitor the situation and provide protection where they could. The Human Rights Council should lend its support to those brave colleagues on the ground. It had been impossible to investigate all the allegations of serious human rights violations, including reports of mass graves, due to restriction of movement of United Nations personnel. The current restrictions imposed by security forces and youth groups loyal to Mr. Gbagbo, which had hindered the capacity of the United Nations to deliver much-needed services and humanitarian assistance, must be lifted immediately, Ms. Kang said.
Ms. Kang remained very concerned about the monopolization of many means of communication by those loyal to Mr. Gbagbo, and the use of national radio and television to incite hatred and violence among the population. The Security Council had urged all Ivorian parties to respect the will of the people and the outcome of the election and she reminded the Council of the strong condemnation by the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union of human rights violations in Côte d'Ivoire. The violations must cease and the United Nations must be granted unfettered access to the population and perpetrators must be held accountable.
Statements by Member States
OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), on behalf of the African Group, said that the African Union was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Côte d'Ivoire in relation to the results of the 2010 presidential elections in the country and the violence which had led to loss of lives and property. The African Group welcomed a number of initiatives undertaken by various international, regional and sub-regional bodies and said that it became imperative for the Human Rights Council to pronounce itself on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire and address the issues within the limits of its mandate. The African Groupe condemned the violence, loss of lives and property and called for restoration of democracy and rule of law. The African Union also urged all media outlets to guard against inciting violence and propaganda of hate speech in the publications and broadcasts as this had a potential of setting the country unto internal conflict. The African Group believed that the success of today’s endeavour would be judged by the collective resolve to assist Côte d'Ivoire to return to normalcy and enhance the capacity of its institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights for all.
ALEX VAN MEEUWEN (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union had joined the call for this session because it believed that the Human Rights Council could not remain silent when there was growing evidence of massive violations of human rights. The European Union condemned in the strongest terms the persistence of violations against civilians. It did not forget the thousands of refugees who fled the violence and was prepared to launch a humanitarian action in support of those refugees. Also, the European Union had adopted yesterday an emergency humanitarian aid decision of 5 million Euros as contingency planning to ensure that humanitarian aid was available for the victims of the crisis and for those who had sought refuge in neighbouring countries. The European Union underscored that all those who used violence to oppose the democratic choice of the Ivorian people would be held responsible for their actions and be brought to justice. The European Union reiterated its full support for the action of the United Nations and the efforts of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States in Côte d'Ivoire, and it underlined the importance for the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire to implement its protection mandate.
JAVIER GARRIGUES (Spain) said the Human Rights Council shouldered responsibility and had a clear mandate to fulfil given the grave and widespread human rights violations that were being committed in Côte d'Ivoire. Spain considered that the Council must take urgent action – its credibility was at stake. Spain, for its part, gave decisive support to the efforts made by international community in favour of peace, the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, as well as the respect of human rights, and in particular the role played by the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States. Spain also wished to pay tribute to human rights defenders and expressed solidarity and support to the victims of human rights violations. Spain associated itself with the appeals made by the international community and requested an immediate end to violence. Spain considered that the Council, like other United Nations human rights mechanisms and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, had a decisive role to play in the follow-up and overcoming this human rights emergency situation. The citizens of Côte d'Ivoire could count on Spain’s support for reconciliation and national reconstruction.
PHILIP TISSOT (United Kingdom) said the United Kingdom had joined the request for this Special Session to respond to the worrying developments on the ground in Côte d'Ivoire and called for all actors to respect the human rights of all Ivorian, without discrimination, during this pivotal time in this crisis. The United Kingdom shared the concerns of African and European Union partners with regard to the alarming reports of press harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions, formation of armed militia groups and extrajudicial killings. It was imperative that proper monitoring measures be put in place and those responsible for human rights violations were held to account. Former President Gbagbo’s persisting intransigence to the will of the Ivorian electorate threatened to cast the country back into conflict. The presidential elections had been deemed fair and their results must be accepted by all Ivorian parties, the United Kingdom said. The international community was united in demanding a peaceful solution to the current crisis and said that the mission of the United Nations continued to enjoy its support.
BENTE ANGELL-HANSEN (Norway) said Norway was deeply concerned about the ongoing political crisis, the continued violence and the persistence of human rights violations in Côte d'Ivoire. Norway supported the United Nations Secretary-Generals’ call, urging all Ivorian parties to accept the results of the elections. The renewing of the mandate of the United Nations’ mission in Côte d'Ivoire was indispensable for enabling the United Nations and the international community at large to continue supporting the peace process and monitoring the increasingly alarming human rights situation. Norway said it was important the Council remained seized with this urgent matter and commended the swift and determined action taken by African countries which demonstrated that the great majority of African countries adhered to democratic principles. In conclusion, Norway echoed the call of the Economic Community of West African State on Mr. Gbagbo to abide by the results of the elections and yield power without further delay.
BETTY KING (United States) said the United States was pleased that the Human Rights Council was holding this Special Session. The membership of the Council had a strong interest in speaking up, and by convening this session it was sending a strong, unified and clear message that the human rights violations occurring in Côte d'Ivoire would not be tolerated. The United States deplored the ongoing violence and recent human rights violations and abuses occurring in Côte d'Ivoire and the deterioration of the security situation. It deeply regretted the loss of life and called on all Ivorians to remain calm and peaceful. Hundreds of people had been arrested or detained and according to credible reports more than 200 people had already been killed, with many more tortured. Others had been snatched in the middle of the night. The United States was disturbed by reports that the Laurent Gbagbo-controlled media were encouraging conflict, among other things by propagating hate speech against members of ethnic groups and those who opposed Laurent Gbagbo. The United Nations was doing critical work, but their movement was being severely restricted, and United Nations staff had already been attacked. Attacks on the vital work of the United Nations must be universally condemned and rejected. Today the United States stood united with the United Nations and the international community in support of the people of Côte d'Ivoire, condemning all human rights violations and abuses in Côte d'Ivoire. The United States called for an immediate end of human rights violations and to ensure that all perpetrators would be held responsible.
ERNESTO S. MARTINEZ GONDRA (Argentina) said Argentina expressed deep concern at the acts committed in Côte d'Ivoire. Following the presidential elections, these acts had plunged the country into instability which in turn had given rise to human rights violations. The United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire and the High Commissioner’s Office had received notification of many deaths and cases of abductions. A large number of persons were also seeking refuge in neighbouring countries and fundamental freedoms had been severely undermined. In the face of these factors, Argentina considered that the human rights situation in Côte d'Ivoire required immediate and specific measures to ensure that human rights were respected and that violence was brought to an end. In this connection, Argentina urged all parties involved to avoid an increase in violence and guarantee security. In particular, the protection of human rights needed, firstly, the specific attention of the United Nations Security Council. Secondly, Argentina agreed with the High Commissioner’s press release which, inter alia, highlighted the need to investigate human rights violations and identify the perpetrators. It had been for these reasons that Argentina co-sponsored this session.
IRUTHISHAM ADAM (Maldives) said the Maldives had watched with growing concern the resurgence of violence in Côte d'Ivoire and was alarmed at reports of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions. It was further concerned at the humanitarian consequences of the current crisis and deplored the loss of life and acts of destruction of property. It was imperative to uphold the integrity of the electoral process and to restore democracy immediately. The Maldives strongly supported the efforts of the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in ensuring the restoration of democracy in Côte d'Ivoire. The Maldives called on all international and regional stakeholders to continue their efforts through dialogue and to promote peace, democracy and reconciliation, in accordance with international law.
JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France) said France welcomed the opportunity to discuss the worrying situation in Côte d'Ivoire and the driving role played by African states in dealing with this situation. The will of the Ivorian people expressed through the polls must be respected and the international community must support the people of Côte d'Ivoire. Serious human rights violations had been taking place and France firmly condemned the calls to hatred and violence, violence against people peacefully demonstrating for their rights and limitations imposed on the media. The intolerable acts of violence committed in Côte d'Ivoire must be subject of an inquiry and those responsible must be brought to justice. The United Nations mission in Côte d'Ivoire must be able to carry on its mission and protect civilians. The international community must pursue a peaceful resolution to the crisis and ensure that there was no impunity for the perpetrators of human rights violations. France called on all special procedures to remain seized of the matter and present their reports to the High Commissioner for Human Rights in January.
PARK SAN-KI (Republic of Korea) said the Republic of Korea was deeply concerned over the situation of increasing violence and deteriorating human rights that had been prevailing in Côte d'Ivoire since the presidential elections. It noted with serious concern that attacks on the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire had taken place – these attacks certainly constituted acts of violence against the international community as a whole, which could not be justified for any reasons. In this context, the Republic of Korea urged all stakeholders in Côte d'Ivoire to refrain from such violence and to extend all necessary cooperation for United Nations activities to take place in the best conditions. The delegation reiterated the Korean Government’s basic position of the need to fully respect the will of the Ivorian people expressed in a democratic way during the presidential elections of 28 November.
SHINICHI KITAJIMA (Japan) said Japan shared the international concern over the present political and human rights situation in Côte d'Ivoire. They believed that the views expressed at this Special Session added an important voice to the discussions on this matter that had already taken place at various international and regional fora. The violence, which had escalated over the past week amid the stand-off between the supporters of Laurent Gbagbo and those of Alassane Ouattara, must be halted as soon as possible. Japan joined others in condemning the killings of many civilians and other serious human rights violations, as well as the attacks on United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire personnel. All those responsible for such actions must be held accountable. All Ivorian parties and stakeholders must respect the human rights of all Ivorians without discrimination and play a constructive role in consolidating peace and democracy in the country. If they did so, the international community, including Japan, was ready to help in that process. As a first step, all Ivorian parties must respect the result of the recent election which had shown Alassane Ouattara to be the rightful president-elect.
VALERY LOSHCHININ (Russian Federation) said that the Russian Federation was concerned by the upsurge in violence in Côte d'Ivoire. Any irresponsible acts and calls could lead to further violence. The Russian Federation appealed to the parties to stop violence and demonstrate restraint. The existing problems needed to be resolved on the basis of the Ivorian Constitution and the existing laws of the country and it was not a responsibility of the United Nations or Human Rights Council to enforce the results of the elections. The key role must be played by the African community and the Russian Federation continued to support the efforts of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States in establishing stability in Côte d'Ivoire. The Russian Federation was convinced that regional bodies and institutions would be able to find a solution this crisis.
KHALID AL-HAJRI (Qatar) welcomed the initiative to hold a Special Session of the Human Rights Council and reiterated its support for all the initiatives seeking the resolution of the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire. The country was going through a sensitive historical stage and a solution could only be found if those responsible accorded the highest priority to the interests of the people. The grave human rights violations committed in Côte d'Ivoire were of concern to Qatar. Safety and security of civilians must be ensured, in accordance with international law and international humanitarian law.
MARIA LUISA ESCOREL DE MORAES (Brazil) said Brazil shared with the international community the deep concern over the human rights situation in Côte d'Ivoire. The current situation was a concrete illustration of the principle that “democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms were interdependent and mutually reinforcing.” This Special Session was a precious opportunity for the international community to send a unified and unequivocal message: all parties must refrain from violence and from incitement of hatred; electoral results must be accepted; those responsible for human rights violation must be held accountable and new violations must be prevented. Brazil, for its part, stood ready to extend technical assistance and capacity building to the democratically elected Government of Côte d'Ivoire.
PROSPER VOKOUMA (Burkina Faso) said Burkina Faso welcomed the holding of this Special Session on the human rights situation in Côte d'Ivoire since the presidential elections. After over three years of efforts that had led to considerable progress in terms of peace, the Ivorian people had been able to hold presidential elections at the end of 2010. The elections were supposed to bring the people peace and stability. In contrast, the crisis following the announcement of the election results was dangerously undermining efforts made by the Economic Community of West African States and the international community, among other actors. In fact, the current situation could lead to a new crisis which, if not managed in time, could in turn lead to a new conflict. In the view of Burkina Faso it was thus urgent to uphold the choice of the Ivorian people, protect the population and foreigners in the country and put an end to the human rights violations.
SHREE BABOO CHEKITAN SERVANSING (Mauritius) expressed Mauritius’ deep concern with the ongoing political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire and the worsening human rights situation it had generated. The fear was that if the current situation continued to linger, it would lead to conflict and it would be the civilians who would pay the heaviest price. Mauritius called on all parties in Côte d'Ivoire to remain calm and refrain from acts of violence and urged them to manage the current crisis responsibly. At this critical stage, any incitement to hatred would only serve to further exacerbate tensions and perpetuate insecurity, including economic insecurity. Mauritius called for the quick resolution of the crisis, in line with the calls made by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the United Nations Security Council.
DARLINGTON MWAPE (Zambia) said Zambia supported the initiative of the African Union to convene this Special Session on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire and that Zambia was deeply concerned with the situation in the aftermath of the 2010 Presidential elections. Zambia joined others in strongly condemning human rights violations, including loss of life and property, abductions and use of mercenaries which were aimed at terrorising the people into submission. The way out of the crisis through dialogue must be supported, but such efforts would bear fruit only if parties refrained from violence. Zambia reiterated the position of the African Union for Mr. Gbagbo to respect the result of the election and facilitate, without delay, the transfer of power to the elected president in the best interest of Côte d'Ivoire, the Region and Africa as a whole.
AMADEO PEREZ (Switzerland) said Switzerland welcomed the shared commitment of Council members coming from of all regions of the world. Switzerland condemned the human rights violations that had taken place in Côte d'Ivoire and which continued to this day. It also condemned the excessive use of violence and reminded of States’ obligation to protect fundamental rights, in particular the right to life. The information received from the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire had spoken of abductions of people at home by armed individuals in military uniform; this was very alarming. It had also been reported that abducted people had been brought to secret and illegal places of detention where they were being held without a legal process. Switzerland demanded that these persons be freed immediately. In addition, Switzerland was concerned by information regarding the harassment and intimidation United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire staff. Switzerland called for an end to the serious human rights violations and for independent investigations to take place as soon as possible with a view to bring perpetrators to justice.
OTHMAN HASHIM (Malaysia) said it was unfortunate that the situation following the presidential elections had gradually but surely deteriorated, leading to the deplorable loss of lives and destruction of property which had resulted from the chaos and lawlessness witnessed in recent days. In deliberating on this situation, in Malaysia’s view, the Council must be mindful of relevant Security Council resolutions which strengthened the framework for international support for the peace process and through which appropriate assistance could be channelled. The Malaysian delegation in this connection reaffirmed that the outcome of today’s Special Session must focus on improving the human rights and humanitarian situation on the ground. Malaysia reiterated its readiness to work with all partners and stakeholders in the Council in sending a strong and united message of solidarity and support to the Ivorian people.
JUAN JOSE GOMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico) said Mexico strongly condemned the human rights situation in Côte d'Ivoire following the presidential elections. The growing reports of killings, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions were of a particular concern. Action must be taken immediately to protect the population, stop the violations and prevent a humanitarian crisis which might have serious consequences. An end must be urgently put to the spiral of violence and Mexico called on all parties to refrain from violence and respect human rights. Impartial investigations into complaints of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law were indispensable. The crisis in Côte d'Ivoire jeopardized the significant progress made over the past decade. Mexico supported the various regional and international initiatives, including the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire.
WU HAITAO … (China) said China followed closely the developments in Côte d'Ivoire after the elections and was concerned about the human rights and humanitarian situation there. China took note of the constructive assistance provided by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and hoped the Human Rights Council would play a similar role. China called for the respect of Côte d'Ivoire’s sovereignty and called on all parties to resolve their internal disputes through dialogue. China would work together with the parties concerned to promote peace in Côte d'Ivoire to achieve stability and development in the country.
LUCIANO PARODI (Chile) expressed Chile’s support for this Special Session of the Human Rights Council and said the situation in Côte d'Ivoire was of a great concern to them. The initiative taken by the African Union was crucial for maintaining peace and stability. There was a need to protect the population and ensure the respect for their fundamental rights, particularly for the most vulnerable. Chile appealed to all parties to refrain from violence and to respect the existing legal framework. International and regional cooperation was crucial to ensure the capacity of the country to deal with the crisis and it was important to refrain from divisive policies in order to guarantee peace and stability for all people of Côte d'Ivoire.
VIJAVAT ISARABHAKDI (Thailand) said Thailand shared the concerns of the international community regarding the violence and the alleged violations of human rights and rule of law in relation to the presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire. In this connection, Thailand hoped that the newly elected Ivorian Government would spare no efforts in promoting and protecting the human rights of its civilians. All measures to restore the situation to normalcy should be taken to prevent any human rights violations in the future and ensure the safe return of refugees. Most importantly, Thailand called on all parties to come together to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. With regards to the Council’s role, Thailand looked forward to working with others in coming up with, and adopting, an outcome that focused on providing the necessary support and follow-up for Côte d'Ivoire upon its request.
ELLEN S. NEE-WHANG (Ghana) said that, as a member of the Economic Community of West African States, Ghana considered this African initiative important and timely. Since the beginning of the crisis, Ghana had been closely involved in efforts at fostering peace and ensuring a return to normalcy. Ghana was deeply concerned about the situation and condemned the ongoing human rights violations. In this regard, Ghana urged all factions to exercise the utmost restraint and to refrain from further incitement towards violence. It was Ghana’s hope that the Council would be part of the international effort to restore normalcy to Côte d'Ivoire and further assist it to deepen its democratic institutions. In this connection, Ghana looked forward to the Council’s engagement and to an appropriate mechanism to facilitate its contribution.
MUHIB MAHMOUD AHMAD NIMRAT (Jordan) said the current situation in Côte d'Ivoire warranted the involvement of the Human Rights Council in the promotion and protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights of the population. All acts of violence must stop and perpetrators must be brought to justice. The United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire must be able to fulfil its mandate without hindrance. Jordan deeply deplored the loss of life and called for upholding the rule of law and fighting impunity. It was crucial that the international community continued to lend it support and not let down the democratic process and human rights defenders. Jordan hoped that this Special Session would significantly contribute to the return of peace in Côte d'Ivoire.
LUIS AMOROS NUNEZ (Cuba), said that the African Union was showing the world how to tackle a complex situation such as that in Côte d'Ivoire. The events in this country were internal affairs of Africa and Cuba trusted African leaders to solve the problems without external interference. Cuba was grateful to Nigeria for introducing the draft resolution and said that the international and financial institutions must provide assistance to Côte d'Ivoire and help address humanitarian consequences of the current crisis.
MAURICIO MONTALVO (Ecuador) said the Ecuadorian delegation welcomed the convening of this Special Session and expressed appreciation to the African Group for this initiative. The evidence concerning a deterioration of the situation in Côte d'Ivoire was abundant. The Human Rights Council should condemn the deterioration of human rights in the country. Ecuador encouraged members of the Council to analyze the situation in all countries in the same way - the international community should act with sensitivity, responsibly and by cooperating. Ecuador expressed its solidarity with the people of Côte d'Ivoire regarding the serious situation they were currently facing. It was indispensable to put an end to hostilities and to ensure that human rights were protected.
Statements by Observer States
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) said this Special Session bore witness of the capacity of all States to respond promptly on the basis of solidarity to an urgent situation. During the recent election, the Ivorians handed in the verdict through the polls. This session of the Council was thus not aimed at throwing oil on the fire, but at encouraging peace in Côte d'Ivoire. In doing so, it was important to refrain from making any statement that could increase rivalries. Algeria particularly deplored the wave of violence leading to many innocent victims and the destruction of property. A pressing appeal must be launched towards all concerned stakeholders to show responsibility and not to increase sentiments of division which could put in peril the peace in Côte d'Ivoire. Algeria reminded all protagonists that peace had no price – all should work together to spare Côte d'Ivoire and the region from chaos. The situation must, above all, be resolved by Africans themselves.
AHMED IHAB GAMALELDIN (Egypt), said Egypt had listened carefully about the dangerous situation unfolding in Côte d'Ivoire and reaffirmed its solidarity with the Ivorian people in those difficult times. Egypt condemned the loss of life and called on parties to exercise wisdom in order to avoid sliding back into war. Egypt believed that the only solution to the crisis was in implementing international and regional decisions. Egypt looked for the Human Rights Council to reaffirm its support to the efforts by African institutions and mechanisms to reach a peaceful solution to the crisis. The Human Rights Council must ensure that the will of the people in Côte d'Ivoire was respected. The Ivorian people had to be reassured that all would be done to ensure the return of law. Egypt looked forward to hearing a progress report on the situation at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March 2011.
DERSA PERCAYA (Indonesia), said Indonesia was increasingly concerned about the escalation of tension in Côte d'Ivoire and reiterated the call to all parties to put an end to all human rights violations. Indonesia called on all concerned parties to recognise and respect the results of the elections, to show restraint and to work towards a peaceful resolution. The concerned parties and the international community must do their utmost to prevent the worsening of the situation into a humanitarian emergency and it was imperative that the civilians be protected and international humanitarian law respected at all times. Now was the time for the international community to come together and condemn the actions of those responsible for inciting violence and putting fuel on tensions. Indonesia reiterated its support for the continuing efforts of the regional mechanisms in the restoration of peace and stability in Côte d'Ivoire.
GERALD VOLLMER (Austria) said Austria was deeply worried about reports of sexual violence, indiscriminate attacks against civilian people and other human rights violations which had taken place in Côte d'Ivoire. A concern also related to reports about incitement to hatred which had reportedly been spread through Government media. Austria called on all parties to refrain from violence and refrain from any action that could further escalate the situation. It joined the High Commissioner in demanding investigations into the human rights violations and to bring perpetrators to justice. Austria commended the Security Council on expanding the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire and welcomed the deployment of additional peacekeepers. In contrast, Austria was deeply concerned about reports about physical attacks and intimidation of United Nations personnel. It expressed its appreciation on the swift holding of this Special Session, reaffirming that the Council had the mandate and the duty to respond promptly to human rights violations.
FERNANDO ROJAS SAMANEZ (Peru) expressed deep concern and deplored the violence which had taken place in Côte d'Ivoire, in circumstances where the people had tried to establish stability. Peru backed the action taken by the United Nations Secretary-General and stressed the important role played by the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire to facilitate dialogue and ensure peace in the country and the region. In Peru’s view, this crisis was seriously affecting the progress that had been made in promoting and protecting human rights. Peru appealed to the concerned parties to respect the civilian population, and in particular women and children.
ONUR KATMERCI (Turkey) said Turkey was concerned with the developments in Côte d'Ivoire and called upon the Ivorian authorities to recognise the legitimate outcome of the presidential elections. Turkey would like to see the peaceful transition to power to the legitimate winner of the elections and hoped that Ivorians would no longer be denied basic rights and freedoms. Turkey demanded that the current unacceptable situation and violations of international and international humanitarian law be brought to an end. Turkey maintained that the international community should be resolved in continuing towards securing a peaceful transition of power, in conformity with democratic standards in Côte d'Ivoire. It was necessary to have an increased guidance and leadership by the African organizations and countries in the endeavours that contributed to peace, stability and democracy in the country. Turkey called upon the Gbagbo government to take into consideration the messages of the international community for it would otherwise risk further international isolation.
ACHAMKULANGARE GOPINATHAN (India), said India welcomed this Special Session of the Human Rights Council on Côte d'Ivoire and supported the action of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States on establishing the peace in this country. India remained deeply concerned about the post-electoral violence which posed a serious threat. This Special Session provided an opportunity to undertake swift measures and the Council needed to emphasize the need for respect of human rights, particularly for those most vulnerable groups of the population, such as women and children and internally displaced persons. India was encouraged by the action taken by the international community on this issue, in which the lead had been taken by regional institution and mechanisms.
LUVUYO NDIMNI … (South Africa) said South Africa was deeply concerned over the unfolding situation in Côte d'Ivoire, the loss of live and the attacks against peacekeepers, which could not be allowed to continue. South Africa called for the unconditional respect of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the rule of law. South Africa urged all to respect the declarations issued by regional bodies. This Special Session should be results-oriented and geared towards the achieving of practical outcomes. South Africa called on the High Commissioner to assess the situation and report to the Council until the situation had stabilized.
IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) said Sweden supported and paid tribute to the United Nations Secretary-General, the High Commissioner, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and other actors for their efforts to restore to legitimacy the democratic process in Côte d'Ivoire and to find a peaceful solution to the current crisis. Sweden called on all Ivorian leaders to refrain from violence and to put an immediate end to human rights violations. It was important that the Council lived up to its potential and that it addressed grave human rights violations when they occurred. To this end, the Council must make full use of the instruments it possessed to improve the situation.
PETER WOOLCOTT (Australia) said Australia was deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights and security situation in Côte d'Ivoire and called on all parties to accept the will of the people, as expressed through the Presidential elections. Australia condemned in the strongest terms all acts of intimidation, incitement, human rights abuses and violence and counselled that those who order or were responsible for acts of violence against civilians or United Nations forces would be held accountable for their actions. Australia commended the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States for their active involvement in seeking to find a solution to the problems besetting Côte d'Ivoire. Australia fully supported the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire and urged an end to the blockade of the United Nations compound.
ANNE-TAMARA LOREE (Canada) said the international community must act on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire and that Canada welcomed the leading role taken by African countries in resolving this crisis. Canada was deeply concerned about the return of violence in Côte d'Ivoire and the mass violations perpetrated by armed forces and militias. Canada was concerned to see this country moving back to using murder and repression. The outgoing president was the main responsible who caused all difficulties and Canada called on him to leave the power immediately. Otherwise, Canada would take strict measures against him and his family, such as restrictions in travel. The international community must ensure that the will of the people of Côte d'Ivoire was respected and that the violations of human rights and violence stopped.
NORMAN LIZANO ORTEZ (Costa Rica) expressed Costa Rica’s deep concerns about the escalation of the situation in Côte d'Ivoire. Costa Rica believed that the Human Rights Council had a role to play in this regard and was therefore thankful for the convening of this Special Session. Costa Rica made an appeal to all parties to respect the results of the recent presidential elections and condemned the killings and forced disappearances which had led to serious humanitarian consequences. Costa Rica reiterated the appeals made by various actors to respect civilians, United Nations personnel and humanitarian staff in Côte d'Ivoire.
Statements by Non-governmental Organisations
JULIE DE RIVERO, of Human Rights Watch, said high-level officials connected to Gbagbo were using threatening rhetoric, apparently aimed at inciting violence against the United Nations and French Forces. Human Rights Watch thus called on the Council to remind to those who incited to and carried out unlawful attacks against United Nations peacekeepers that they might be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for such actions. Human Rights Watch was likewise concerned that those attempting to report on these mounting abuses had come under attack and said the Council must thus take immediate action to prevent further deterioration of the human rights situation in Côte d'Ivoire.
GEORGE GORDON-LENNOX, of Reporters without Borders - International, said that Reporters sans Frontières noted obstacles to the publications in Côte d'Ivoire and that they were worried about the security of journalists. Since 28 November at least a dozen foreign journalists had been called in by the police and some had their equipment taken away. Channels from abroad had also been suspended. The Ivorian radio and television accused France 24 of broadcasting false information with regard to who was the winner of the elections. The authorities had to put an end to the monopoly, ensure security and freedom of journalists.
PATRIZIA SCANELLA, of Amnesty International, said they were alarmed by the situation in Côte d'Ivoire and the human rights violations that had came to their attention, included extrajudicial killings, violence against women, denial of medical treatment, amongst others. They urged the Council to demand that the armed forces of Laurent Gbagbo immediately stopped the human rights violations; demand an immediate end to hostility and violence; recall the declaration made by Côte d'Ivoire accepting the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction with respect to crimes committed on Ivorian territory since 2002; and call on United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire to act robustly in the implementation of its mandate. Also, Amnesty International requested the Human Rights Council to urge the international community to ensure the United Nations Operation was being provided with the resources it needed and to make arrangements for the Council to be kept informed about the developments in Côte d'Ivoire.
GUANG YE CAO, of United Nations Watch, said that United Nations Watch urged the Council to conclude today’s session not only with words, but also with concrete action to help the victims. It called on the Council to create an international and independent fact-finding mission to investigate all human rights violations in Côte d'Ivoire, regardless of the identities of the perpetrators or the victims. The members of the mission should be objective and impartial, and the mandate should be non-prejudicial.
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