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Human Rights Council creates mandate on Iran, extends mandate on Democratic People's Republic of Korea

MORNING

24 March 2011

Council Extends Mandates on Drinking Water, Freedom of Opinion, Human Rights Defenders, Minority Issues and Violence against Women

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted nine resolutions, in which it created a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, and extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, the Independent Expert on minority issues, and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

The Council also adopted resolutions on promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind, and on holding a panel on the human rights of victims of terrorism. It heard the introduction of a draft resolution on holding a panel on the rights of the child and discussed it, but postponed taking action on it.

Under its agenda item on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, the Council adopted by a vote of 22 in favour, 7 against and 14 abstentions a resolution in which it created a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

Sweden and the United States introduced the resolution; Iran spoke as a concerned country; Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Pakistan in its national capacity, Cuba, Uruguay, China , Brazil and Mauritania spoke in general comments and explanations of the vote before the vote.

The Council also extended by a vote of 30 in favour, 3 against and 11 abstentions the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for one year.

Hungary on behalf of the European Union and Japan introduced the report. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke as a concerned country. Speaking in general comments or explanations of the vote before the vote were Cuba, Ecuador, China and Thailand.

Under its agenda item on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, the Council extended for three years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; extended for three years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; extended for three years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; extended for three years the mandate of the Independent Expert on minority issues; and extended for three years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women,

Introducing the resolutions were Germany, Spain, Egypt, United States, Norway, Austria and Canada.

Speaking in general comments were Mauritania, Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Argentina, United States, United Kingdom, Cuba, Nigeria, Pakistan and Hungary on behalf of the European Union.

A resolution on promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind was adopted by a vote of 24 in favour, 14 against and 7 abstentions. In the resolution, the Council requested the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee to prepare a study on how a better understanding and appreciation of traditional values of dignity, freedom and responsibility could contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Speaking on that resolution was the Russian Federation, China, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Nigeria, United States, Chile, also on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay, Hungary on behalf of the European Union and Mexico.

The Council adopted a resolution on convening a panel discussion on the human rights of victims of terrorism at its seventeenth session. Speaking on this resolution were Spain, Turkey and Colombia.

Speaking on the resolution on the rights of the child panel, which the Council did not take action on, were Hungary on behalf of the European Union, United States, Uganda, and Nigeria on behalf of the African Group.

The Council will next meet at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 24 March when it will continue to take action on draft decisions and resolutions.

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

Action on Resolution on Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

In a resolution (A/HRC/16/L.4) regarding the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, adopted without a vote, the Council welcomes the recognition of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council; also welcomes the work of the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation; decides to extend the mandate of the current mandate holder as a Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation for a period of three years; encourages the Special Rapporteur, in fulfilling his or her mandate: to pay particular attention to persons belonging to vulnerable and marginalized groups; to work on identifying challenges and obstacles to the full realization of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; to monitor the way in which the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is being realized throughout the world; and to facilitate, including through the engagement with relevant stakeholders, the provision of technical assistance in the area of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; encourages all Governments to respond favourably to requests by the Special Rapporteur for visits and information and to follow up effectively on recommendations of the mandate holder and to make available information on measures taken in this regard; requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the Special Rapporteur with all resources and assistance necessary for the effective fulfilment of her mandate; decides to continue its consideration of this matter under the same agenda item and in accordance with its programme of work.

REINHARD SCHWEPPE and JUAN VILLAR ESCUDERO (Germany and Spain), introducing the draft resolution L.4, said that the aim of this resolution was the renewal of the mandate of Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque for a period of another three years as Special Rapporteur. Germany and Spain said that the resolution was presented with over 55 co-sponsors and proposed the adoption of this resolution by the Human Rights Council to allow Ms. de Albuquerque to continue with her excellent work. Germany and Spain were deeply concerned that approximately 884 million people still lacked access to improved water sources and about 1.5 million children under 5 years of age died every year as a result of water and sanitation related diseases. This alarming situation could not be tolerated. The Special Rapporteur’s main task for the next three years would, therefore, be to further promote the full realization of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. They appreciated the broad cross-regional support for this resolution and warmly welcomed delegations that had not been able to support resolutions in the context to safe drinking water and sanitation. Finally, Germany and Spain reminded the Human Rights Council that the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation was essential for the full enjoyment of all other human rights. The Special Rapporteur’s work was, therefore, indispensable.

JUAN VILLAR ESCUDERO, (Spain), speaking as a co-sponsoring state on resolution L.4, said Spain was happy to see the progress made over the last three years on the right to drinking water and sanitation. Spain would like to congratulate the Special Rapporteur on her work. Spain was pleased with the fundamental recognition of the human right to access to safe drinking water and sanitation and to the clarification of the legal content of this right. Spain said it was fundamental that the Special Rapporteur’s mandate be extended as this was an opportunity for Member States to act quickly to palliate the conditions for millions of people lacking adequate drinking water. Every 20 seconds a child under 5 died due to diseases linked to poor drinking water.

CHEIKH AHMED OULD ZAHAF (Mauritania), speaking in a general comment, said that Mauritania welcomed resolution L.4 and wanted to go back to the comment Mauritania had made at the last session of the Human Rights Council, which concerned the availability of water. Those aspects required means and resources, so if the Council would start talking about the human right to safe water and sanitation, there was also a need to start talking about the resources necessary to enjoy this right. Therefore, Mauritania believed that international cooperation needed to be incorporated in this resolution, to ensure that the right to safe water would be enjoyed by all.

OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), speaking in a general comment on behalf of the African Group, made a clarification to the text and said that they no longer used “take note with appreciation” all mandates but rather they could “take note with appreciation” of the activity of the mandate holder, but at the end they would like to insert “within the scope of their mandate”. In operative paragraph two, they welcomed the work of the Independent Expert and they would like to insert “within the scope of her mandate” to continue. They did not want to make this amendment in each of the paragraph if the meaning was well understood. This only applied to the work of the activity of the mandate holder. They would not make any amendment but they were making a clarification for the future draft resolutions for the next session.

HECTOR RAUL PELAEZ (Argentina), speaking in a general comment, said it supported the progressive development of human rights bearing in mind that the main United Nations treaties had become one of the key pillars of Argentinean society. The importance of having drinking water and basic sanitation to protect human health and the environment was recognized. It was one of the main responsibilities of a State to ensure their citizens had access to water to guarantee the right to human life. The Government would like to recall the statement about the permanent sovereignty of States relating to their natural resources.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the United States was committed to the right to safe water and sanitation and added that Secretary Clinton had underlined the importance of access to safe water and sanitation at the World Bank yesterday. The international community should actively address the lack of this resource in the world. The United States reaffirmed its commitment to this issue and looked forward to continuing discussion on how best to bring tangible achievements in the realisation of this right.

PETER GOODERHAM (United Kingdom), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, responded to the information received by the Secretariat about the financial implications and said they were disappointed not to receive more details on this issue before adopting the resolution. They requested the President to take action in order to be able to receive more information. They regretted that they had to disassociate themselves again from consensus, though they wished to make it clear that the United Kingdom believed that inadequate sanitation had a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights and they were committed to ensure that more people had access to safe drinking water and sanitation. That said, the United Kingdom did not believe that a right to sanitation as such currently existed under international law and currently no international human right instrument included a right to sanitation and there was no internationally agreed definition on this right. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom did not want to prevent consensus and believed that this should not lead to recognition of a new legal right and they requested that this statement be included in the report of the Council.

Action on Resolution on Promoting Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Through a Better Understanding of Traditional Values of Humankind

In a resolution (A/HRC/16/L.6) regarding promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind, as orally amended, adopted by a vote of 24 in favour, 14 against, and 7 abstentions, the Council affirms that dignity, freedom and responsibility are traditional values, shared by the entire humanity and embodied in universal rights instruments; recognizes that the better understanding and appreciation of these values contribute to promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms; notes the important role of family, community, society and educational institutions in upholding and transmitting these values, which contributes to promoting respect for human rights and increasing their acceptance at the grass roots and calls upon all States to strengthen this role through appropriate positive measures; requests the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee to prepare a study on how a better understanding and appreciation of traditional values of dignity, freedom and responsibility can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights, and to present that study to the Council before its twenty-first session; decides to remain seized of the matter.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (24): Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Ghana, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Thailand, Uganda, and Zambia.

Against (14): Belgium, France, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

Abstentions (7): Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, and Uruguay.

OLEG MALGINOV (Russian Federation), introducing resolution L.6 on promoting human rights with a focus on traditional values on behalf of 22 co-sponsors, said the text clearly indicated the universality of human rights and reaffirmed the obligations of all States to protect the general protection of human rights and freedoms in accordance with all treaties. The Russian Federation noted there were a number of States that doubted this initiative because it doubted the universality of human rights. Russia noted that human rights should serve as a tool to unite and not divide people. Governments should work in partnership with civil society stakeholders. No country or stakeholders had a monopoly on the final truth. The Council should use a comprehensive approach to ensuring general human rights and urged the Advisory Committee to continue to study the issue of universality of human rights. The Russian Federation indicated that traditions should not be used to justify a violation of human rights and made an oral change to the text.

XIA JINGGE (China), speaking in a general comment, said that China supported the international community’s efforts to focus on traditional values and their important role in promoting human rights and they had always believed in the importance of making efforts for the comprehensive development of human rights and hoped that all sides concerned discussed the relationship between traditional values and human rights and made common efforts to promote the healthy development of international human rights so that anyone could enjoy human rights. For this reason China supported L.6 draft resolution.

MARIAM MADIHA AFTAB (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in a general comment, said the Organization of the Islamic Conference believed that all cultures shared a common set of values which helped develop human rights standards and this process must continue. Regional particularities must however be taken into account. The Human Rights Council had a role to play in better understanding traditional values of humankind in promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

OSITADINMA ANAEDU. (Nigeria), speaking in a general comment, said Nigeria supported the basis of this text and pointed out that all African countries supported the text except for one. Traditional values were at the heart and core of all Africans; God mattered, family mattered, and community mattered. The Nigerian delegation said that African people did not want the culture of others to be imposed on their way of life. The African Group made oral amendments to opening paragraph 2.

TARA E. FOLEY (United States), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the United States approached the traditional value resolution with an open mind. The concept of traditional value, without reference to human rights law, could undermine the universal principles enshrined in international human rights instruments with regard to the rights of women, minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals, and other vulnerable groups. The United States was concerned that the term “traditional values” had no internationally agreed upon definition. The term had thus been so vague and open-ended that it could be used to legitimize human rights abuses. For these reasons, the United States would vote “no” on this resolution.

PEDRO OYARCE, (Chile), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of delegations of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay, thanked the Russian Federation for their work on the text. During the negotiations Chile made an effort to contribute constructively to the debate; however, the text still had a conceptual problem regarding the lack of clarity of what traditional values were. Undefined concepts such as tradition or traditional played with fire and could upset the balance achieved among States and might upset the universality of human rights and lead to cultural relativism. Chile said freedom and responsibility were the values to be defended along with equality. In the text, the content and legal scope of responsibility was not clear and the terminology should refer to human rights. Chile said it could not support paragraph 5. Chile and the other delegations it represented would abstain during the vote.

ANDRAS DEKANY (Hungary), speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the undefined concept of traditional values of humankind were of such nature as to undermine the norms laid down under international human rights law. The European Union could not accept the initiative that undercut the principle of universality of human rights and said that values were important to all but that they should be consistent with human rights law and never used to undermine it. While there were some traditions in line with human rights, others were in contradiction with them, such as female genital mutilation. States had an obligation to promote and protect human rights and other entities such as the family, the society or educational institutions could not replace the State under international law. This resolution on traditional values introduced a concept that was not based on the universality and indivisibility of all human rights as laid down in international human rights law. It did not condemn human rights violations that were the result of traditional values, norms and practices and for those reasons the European Union called for a vote and would vote against the resolution.

SALVADOR TINAJERO (Mexico), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, thanked the Russian Federation for this open and transparent process in drafting this text and for including language that tried to safeguard universality of norms. Unfortunately the wording included in the draft resolution was not consistent with the practice of the Mexican legislation and Mexico believed that the intrinsic link between human rights and tradition values was already included in international instruments. However, they thanked the Russian Federation for their openness for a constructive dialogue.

Action on Resolution on Freedom of Opinion and Expression

In a resolution (A/HRC/16/L.10) regarding the freedom of opinion and expression: mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, adopted without a vote, the Council welcomes the work of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further period of three years; urges all States to cooperate fully with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his/her tasks to provide all necessary information requested by him and to consider favourably his requests for visits and for implementing his/her recommendations; requests the Secretary-General to provide the assistance necessary to the Special Rapporteur to fulfil the mandate, in particular by placing adequate human and material resources at his/her disposal; requests the Special Rapporteur to submit an annual report to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly covering all activities relating to his/her mandate, with a view to maximizing the benefits of the reporting process; decides to continue its consideration of the issue of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with its programme of work.

HISHAM BADR (Egypt), speaking in an introduction of resolution L.10, said the right to freedom of expression was a cherished right that was essential for the enjoyment of other human rights. Egypt’s revolution on 25 January supported the reality that the freedom of opinion and expression was fundamental to protecting human rights and bringing about democratic change in society. Freedom of expression should be used to promote tolerance and not hatred for others. The resolution focused on the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur who had undertaken ambitious initiatives over the last year. Freedom of expression on the Internet was fundamental to changing the future of the nation of Egypt. Egypt was confident the present draft would be adopted by consensus.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), also introducing the resolution L.10, said that the United States was pleased to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and they supported this resolution. The open exchange of ideas constituted a fundamental pillar for building a democratic society and was key for the realization of many other human rights. Therefore, the continuation of this mandate was vital for this Council. The United States fully upheld the freedom of expression of their citizens and they thanked all delegations for their contribution and cooperation and hoped that this initiative would be adopted by consensus.

The President of the Council informed that there were 52 additional co-sponsors for this resolution.

Action on Resolution on the Rights of the Child Panel

ANDRAS DEKANY, (Hungary), speaking on behalf of the European Union in introducing resolution L.13 on the rights of the child panel, said that the resolution was focused on a holistic approach to the protection and promotion of the rights of children working and or living on the street. The international community should pay attention to the continued emergence of situations where children were exposed to all forms of violence, discrimination and abuse in their daily life. Universal and free birth registration, compulsory and free for all primary education, effective prosecution of the sale and trafficking of children, access of all children without discrimination to health care and other basic services, support to families and appropriate alternative care should all be part of such a response. The resolution invited the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct, in collaboration with States, relevant mandate holders, United Nations bodies and agencies and civil society stakeholders, a study on lessons learnt in this area and present it to the Council. They added a new preamble to resolution L.13.

SARAH CIACCIA (United States), speaking in a general comment, said that the United States was extremely pleased to co-sponsor the “Right of the Child resolution: a holistic approach to the protection and promotion of the rights of children working and/or living in the streets” and thanked the co-sponsors for their transparency and flexibility during the negotiations. Consistent with the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols and the objectives expressed in the resolution, the United States continued its domestic efforts to strengthen already existing protection for children and to pursue new and innovative ways of ensuring that the rights of children were realized. Today they joined the consensus and co-sponsored this resolution with the express understanding that it did not imply that States had become parties to instruments to which they were not party nor had they agreed to implement obligations under human rights instruments they were not a party to.

EUNICE IRUNGU KIGENYI (Uganda), speaking in a general comment, said that Uganda regretted that as a delegation it had not been availed the text of the resolution to enable it to participate in discussions. Therefore, Uganda requested that Uganda was availed of all texts that would be discussed in the Council.

OSITADINMA ANAEDU, (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group in a general comment, said that the gift of a child was fundamental to a parent. Nigeria supported the basic elements in the text and pointed out that the text should be aligned with the African Group’s statements. Nigeria made oral comments on various paragraphs in the text.

ANDRAS DEKANY (European Union), speaking in a general comment concerning the amendments proposed, said that there had been a long and comprehensive consultation process on this resolution where delegations could express their views on the text and the changes proposed by Nigeria were traditional elements of the previous resolution and Africa had co-sponsored this resolution as well. Finally, to preserve the consensus on this resolution, they would accept the elements introduced by Nigeria.

ANDRAS DEKANY (Hungary), speaking on behalf of European Union, proposed that they move on to another text while consultations were held on the amendments proposed by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group.

The action on resolution L.13/Rev.1 was suspended.

Action on Resolution on Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

In a resolution (A/HRC/16/L.15) regarding the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, adopted without a vote, the Council takes note with appreciation of the work conducted by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders for a period of three years; urges all Governments to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his/her tasks, to provide all information and to respond to communications transmitted to them by the Special Rapporteur without undue delay; calls upon Governments to give serious consideration to responding favourably to the requests of the Special Rapporteur to visit their countries, and urges them to enter into a constructive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur with respect to the follow-up to and implementation of his/her recommendations so as to enable him/her to fulfil his/her mandate even more effectively; requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all the assistance to the Special Rapporteur necessary for the effective fulfilment of his/her mandate; and decides to continue consideration of this issue in accordance with its annual programme of work.

CLAIRE HUBERT (Norway), speaking in introduction of resolution L.15, said the draft resolution recalled the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and reiterated the importance of its implementation. The resolution extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders for a period of three years. The draft resolution urged all Governments to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of her tasks.

OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group in a general comment, said that the African Group understood that while they “took note with appreciation” the work carried out by the mandate, the Council had to include “within the scope of the mandate”, but from the next session so Nigeria was not proposing any amendment now. They said that they wanted to see if the Cuban Ambassador wanted to take the floor to withdraw the draft resolution from consideration.

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), speaking in a general comment on L.13, said that the rules provided for when a draft was put to a vote it was not possible to stop the voting procedure. The Council was sovereign and could decide on its procedures. In this case, Cuba could not take a stand because it did not know if the draft, at the time of being voted whether or not the amendments had been adopted.

Action on Resolution on Panel of the Human Rights Victims of Terrorism

In a resolution (A/HRC/16/L.21) regarding the panel on human rights of victims of terrorism, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene, within existing resources, at its seventeenth session, a panel discussion on the issue of human rights of victims of terrorism, taking into account, inter alia, the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s Symposium on Supporting Victims of Terrorism, held in New York on 9 September 2008; requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to liaise with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism and all concerned parties and stakeholders, including relevant United Nations bodies and agencies, with a view to ensuring their participation in the panel discussion; and also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on the outcome of the panel discussion in the form of a summary.

JUAN VILLAR ESCUDERO (Spain), speaking in introduction of resolution L.21, said that fighting terrorism could only be done by supporting human rights and Spain believed that sufficient attention had not been given to the human rights of victims. The draft resolution proposed a panel to be held in the June session to take into account the recommendations from a symposium which would make progress in recognizing victimhood. The Council should pool what had been done in other forums and collect a list of the rights due to victims such as rights to access to justice, compensation and privacy. Spain was interested that victims of terrorist organizations could participate in the forum and called on the Council to take the appropriate measures to include interested parties.

YAPRAK ALP (Turkey), also introducing the draft resolution, said that they were honoured to present with Colombia this draft resolution and hoped that it would be adopted with consensus. Turkey had a long experience with terrorism and was actively trying to improve its legislation in this field and underlined the fundamental importance of international cooperation to fight against terrorism. The United Nations had provided a sound legal structure to counter-terrorism.

ALVARO ENRIQUE AYALA MELENDEZ (Colombia), also introducing draft resolution L.21, said that combating terrorism meant that the efforts must be doubled, particularly in addressing impunity for the perpetrators. The efforts to combat terrorism would be incomplete without the care for victims of violence and therefore Colombia welcomed the proposal it made with Spain and Turkey to hold a panel which would address, from the human rights perspective, the issue of victims of terrorism. Colombia was deeply committed to recognising the human rights of victims of violence in finding peace and solutions across Colombia.

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Independent Expert on Minority Issues

In a resolution (A/HRC/16/24) regarding the mandate of the Independent Expert on minority issues, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on minority issues for a period of three years, and requests the Independent Expert: to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; to apply a gender perspective in his/her work; to cooperate closely with existing relevant United Nations bodies, mandates and mechanisms and with regional organizations; to take into account the views of non-governmental organizations on matters pertaining to his/her mandate; to guide the work of the Forum on Minority Issues, as decided by the Council in its resolution 6/15; and to submit annual reports on his/her activities to the Council; calls upon all States to cooperate with and assist the Independent Expert in the performance of the tasks and duties mandated to him/her, to provide him/her with all the necessary information requested and to seriously consider responding promptly and favorably to the request of the Independent Expert to visit their countries in order to enable him/her to fulfil his/her duties effectively; invites the Office of the High Commissioner, the Independent Expert and relevant United Nations agencies, within existing resources, as well as Member States, to explore possibilities for organizing activities to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; requests the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to provide all the human, technical and financial assistance necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate of the Independent Expert; and decides to continue its consideration of this issue in accordance with its annual programme of work.

CHRISTIAN STROHAL (Austria), speaking in introduction of resolution L.24, said that traditionally Austria was the main sponsor of resolutions concerning persons belonging to minorities. The draft resolution would renew the mandate for another period of three years of the Independent Expert on minorities. Austria would like the Council to continue its strong engagement on this topic and the draft resolution also referred to the upcoming twentieth anniversary of the Declaration of Rights for People Belonging to Ethnic or National or Linguistic Minorities. Austria looked forward to cooperating with delegations about possible elements to be included in the General Assembly resolutions. Austria made oral amendments to the draft resolution from the floor. Austria thanked all countries who had signed up as co-sponsors.

Action on Resolution on Mandate of Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women

In a resolution (A/HRC/16/26) regarding the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, for a period of three years; invites the Special Rapporteur, in carrying out his/her mandate, to continue to adopt a comprehensive and universal approach to the elimination of violence against women, its causes and consequences, including causes of violence against women related to the civil, cultural, economic, political and social spheres; requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide the Special Rapporteur with all necessary assistance for the effective fulfilment of his/her mandate, in particular staff and resources, including to carry out and follow up on missions; and requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the reports of the Special Rapporteur are brought to the attention of the Commission on the Status of Women, the General Assembly and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and requests the Special Rapporteur to present an oral report annually to the Commission.

MANON BOISCLAIR (Canada), introducing draft resolution L.26 , said that it was an honour for Canada to introduce this draft resolution and this text aimed at renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a three-year period and the value of this mandate had been proved since its establishment. Among the progress made, there was the recognition that violence against women constituted a violation of human rights. Despite progress recorded today, women worldwide were still subject to violence. Canada was the main co-sponsor of this resolution and the text took into account those attitudes that were supported during the negotiation. Canada thanked the non-governmental organizations and their constructive commitment and hoped that the resolution would be adopted by consensus and general support. Canada then introduced revisions to the operative paragraph 4 of the text. There were 37 additional co-sponsors of this resolution.

OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), speaking in a general comment, said the resolution was conceptually an important resolution because in Africa women were the greatest asset and gift that God gave to mankind. Nigeria had not co-sponsored this resolution but highly recommended it. Nigeria made oral amendments to the text: at end of Paragraph 1 it should say within the scope of its mandate.

PETER GOODERHAM (United Kingdom), speaking as a co-sponsor of the resolution L.26 in a general comment, said that the text had gone through extensive negotiations and consultations over a period of time and in the light of that, the United Kingdom felt unable to accept the amendments proposed by Nigeria.

ASIM VETIKHAR AHMAD (Pakistan) speaking in a general comment, said that Paistan supported the amendments proposed by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group.

OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group in a general comment, clarified that adding “within the scope of the mandate” was what they required but they did not want to insist on that during this session. Nigeria did not request that this amendment go for voting.

ANDRAS DEKANY (Hungary), speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, asked if Nigeria’s comments on L.26 applied also to the Rights of the Child Resolution, L.13.

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

Action on Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

In a resolution (A/HRC/16/L.3) regarding the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, adopted by a vote of 30 in favour, 3 against, and 11 abstentions, the Council expresses its very serious concern at the ongoing grave, widespread and systematic human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; commends the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the activities undertaken to date and his continued efforts in the conduct of the mandate, despite the limited access to information; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, in accordance with Council resolution 13/14, for a period of one year; urges the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit him unrestricted access to visit the country and to provide him with all necessary information to enable him to fulfil his mandate; also urges the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to ensure full, rapid and unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance that is delivered on the basis of need, in accordance with humanitarian principles, coupled with adequate monitoring; encourages the United Nations, including its specialized agencies, regional intergovernmental organizations, mandate holders, interested institutions and independent experts and non-governmental organizations, to develop regular dialogue and cooperation with the Special Rapporteur in the fulfilment of his mandate; requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with all assistance and adequate staffing necessary to carry out his mandate effectively and to ensure that this mechanism works with the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; invites the Special Rapporteur to submit regular reports on the implementation of his mandate to the Council and the General Assembly.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (30): Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Djibouti, France, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, and Zambia.

Against (3): China, Cuba, and Russian Federation.

Abstentions (11): Angola, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ecuador, Malaysia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Senegal, and Uganda.

ANDRAS DEKANY (Hungary), speaking on behalf of the European Union, introducing the draft resolution L.3, said that the European Union remained deeply concerned about the continuous violation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and they were concerned about the lack of freedom of expression and the practice of operating labour training camps and human rights abuses. The European Union regretted the continuous refusal to recognize the legitimate mandate of the Special Rapporteur and cooperate with him and they asked the country to allow him access to the country. The resolution urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cooperate with the mandate holder and to extend the mandate for one year. They were alarmed at the human rights situation in the country. The preamble of the resolution expressed concern at the refusal of the country to accept the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review in 2009 and the European Union hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted with support.

KENICHI SUGANUMA (Japan), also speaking in introduction of resolution L.3, said Japan considered that wide spread human rights violations existed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The principle of dialogue was essential in human rights issues and though the Council had tried to engage the Government, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had shown no willingness to cooperate with any of the mechanisms or with the Office of the High Commissioner. The Special Rapporteur had worked tirelessly to monitor the situation in the country and the draft resolution proposed to extend this mandate for one year. The purpose of the draft resolution was to urge the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage in constructive dialogue with the international community to improve the situation of human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of China.

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), speaking in a general comment, said that once again the draft resolution was politically motivated against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and this was confrontational, selective and was a denial of the right to self-determination of the North Korean people. The draft resolution L.3 violated principles of respectful dialogue which should guide the actions of the Human Rights Council. This idea of pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a policy incompatible with those principles. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review and this was the context within which the issue should be examined. Cuba called for a vote of draft resolution L.3 and said it would vote against.

ALFONSO MORALES (Ecuador), speaking in a general comment, said that the Human Rights Council needed to take a stand toward all human right violations regardless where they took place and look at the situation of human rights in all countries equally and there should not be different criteria and visions on how to address the human rights situation. Human rights were universal and respect for them could not consider some countries and exclude others. Ecuador was concerned about solely focusing on some countries. There was a real risk of human rights politicization and this was why they would abstain in this vote.

SO SE PYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), speaking as a concerned country, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea strongly rejected the draft resolution presented by the European Union and Japan. The draft resolution was the product of political confrontation and political plots. The European Union had taken sides with the United States to identify the country as an axis of evil and the draft resolution was staged as an annual event that had no relation to human rights and was part of a hostile policy against the Government for half a century. There should be an investigation into crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, xenophobia and past crimes against humanity committed by both the European Union and Japan. This continued practice of selective country specific human rights should not be permitted in the Council especially in the Universal Periodic Review process which treated countries equally. The Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would respond strongly to the end against these political motivations and would hold fast to the socialist system for the happiness of the country’s people. The Government urged Member States who were opposed to the politicalization of human rights to reject this draft resolution.

XIA JINGGE (China), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that China always said that human rights must be approached on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect. The practice of putting pressure on some countries was only complicating the issues. The international community should treat the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with respect and understanding of the challenges this country faced and should carry out constructive dialogue and abandon political pressure. In the view of the above, China would vote against the draft resolution L.3.

EKSIRI PINTARUCHI (Thailand), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that given the long standing relationship between Thailand and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it was difficult to make a decision. Thailand urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to address the concerns of the international community and such cooperation needed to address the pressing humanitarian needs and Thailand urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to re-engage in the process of dialogue. Therefore with these reasons, Thailand would support the resolution.

Action on Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in Iran

In a resolution (A/HRC/16/25/Rev.1) regarding the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by a vote of 22 in favour, 7 against, and 14 abstentions, the Council decides to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, to report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, to present an interim report to the Assembly at its sixty-sixth session and to submit a report to the Council for its consideration at its nineteenth session; calls upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit access to visit the country as well as all necessary information to enable the fulfilment of the mandate; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with the resources necessary to fulfil the mandate, within existing resources.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (22):Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Maldives, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, and Zambia.

Against (7):Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Mauritania, Pakistan, and Russian Federation.

Abstentions (14):Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Uganda, and Uruguay.

JAN KNUTSSON (Sweden), introducing resolution L.25/Rev.1, said this procedural resolution aimed at appointing a Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran. Sweden said it was the responsibility of this Council to use all of its mechanisms to address the issue of human rights abuses in Iran. Sweden was encouraged by the positive responses it had received during the consultation process.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), introducing draft resolution L. 25/Rev.1, said that the United States was gravely concerned about the situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran where respect of human rights had deteriorated dramatically in the last year. Since the latest report on the human rights situation in Iran to the General Assembly in September 2010, the situation had worsened and the report documented imputation, flogging and acts of torture carried out by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and death sentences of men and women by stoning. They hoped that this resolution would help to address the human rights situation in Iran and they were pleased that the Council would carried out this step and they thanked the members of the Council for this support in a shared request to promote human rights around the world.

The President of the Council informed that there were 2 additional co-sponsors for this draft resolution.

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in a general comment, said on principle the Organization of the Islamic Conference did not support country mandates because they were counterproductive. Pakistan believed that the work of the Council should be guided by constructive international dialogue and cooperation. The international community agreed to address specific conditions through the Universal Periodic Review as this mechanism ensured universal coverage and equal treatment of all States. The Universal Periodic Review provided the right space to review human rights concerns.

SEYED MOHAMMAD REZA SAJJADI (Iran), speaking as a concerned country, said that as the Human Rights Council was poised to take action on the draft resolution, Iran wished to draw attention to the fact that the main organiser of the draft resolution was the United States and added that the role of that country was such that the international community had decided to suspend its membership in the Human Rights Commission. The membership of the United States in the Human Rights Council was a great setback, had a destructive role and derailed the Council from functioning properly. At the international level, the United States had always been supporter of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and through that support the Government of the United States had contributed to the massive violations of the human rights of Palestinians and Arabs. In Iraq and Afghanistan thousands had been massacred, while prisoners had been tortured. At the domestic level, different forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance against different groups, and violations of the rights of indigenous peoples were taking place.

The approach of Iran to the promotion and protection of human rights was based and emanated from its religious and cultural background and its international commitments. The Government of Iran had worked wholeheartedly to ensure the human rights of its people. At the international level, Iran had extended full cooperation to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and had extended invitations to Special Rapporteurs and had received them on six different occasions. Providing true and timely communications at the request of Special Procedures had been a constant. The Human Rights Council had reviewed and adopted the Universal Periodic Review Outcome on the Islamic Republic of Iran and they had already extended an invitation to the High Commissioner to visit the country this year. The Council must not be the domain of the few and must avoid politicization and double standards. Iran believed that the travesty of introducing draft resolution on Iran was a disservice to the people of Iran and should be rejected. Iran invited States to vote against the draft resolution. Whatever the result of the action would be, Iran would continue its efforts to the promotion and protection of human rights which were inherent, genuine and deeply rooted in its values.

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said as a matter of principle Pakistan did not support country mandates and believed that the existing mechanisms provided the right space to discuss concerns in an objective manner and discussing human rights concerns in a non plurality manner was the best way to obtain cooperation. Iran had participated last year in the Universal Periodic Review in a constructive manner and many States made several recommendations and the debate led to the acceptance by Iran of most of the recommendations which reflected the readiness to improve their human rights situation. The Council should pursue engagement and dialogue and if this did not happen then the Council would follow the same fate of the Human Rights Commission. This draft resolution did not conform to the constructive spirit of the Human Rights Council and Pakistan would call for a vote on this resolution and would vote “no”.

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Persia and Iran throughout history were always easy prey for Western interests. The Shah of Iran was a great friend of the United States and nobody cared if the Shah had oppressed his people and the United States Government even provided nuclear technology to Iran under the Shah. After the revolution in Iran, then that country became a target for regime change. This resolution was being used as a pretext to perhaps use military actions against Iran. Cuba rejected this resolution. Iran said it had invited the High Commissioner for Human Rights and even many thematic Rapporteurs from the Council to visit the county. The passage of this resolution would be seen as a political victory for those building a political or military aggression against Iran and Cuba would vote against the resolution.

LAURA DUPUY LASSERRE (Uruguay), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Uruguay would abstain in the vote. Uruguay was a staunch defender of human rights and considered Special Procedures to be crucial to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. However, the establishment of Special Procedures must be examined in light of whether this would contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights. It was positive to see that Iran had invited the High Commissioner to visit the country; it was a priority to keep open the dialogue with the country in question. Uruguay did not agree with some stances of Iran, such as statements on Israel or denial of the Holocaust, application of the death penalty, particularly to minors, and stoning, among others. Uruguay asked Iran to allow visits by the Special Procedures because with those mechanisms in place the democratic processes would be taken further.

XIA JINGGE (China), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that China was of the view of dealing with human rights issues through dialogue and cooperation and not through the practice of using pressure. China hoped that the international community would have a constructive dialogue with Iran and hoped that it would recognize the efforts of the country in improving its human rights situation. For this reason, China would vote against this resolution.

MARIA NAZARETH FARANI AZEVEDO (Brazil), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Brazil believed that every country without exception had challenges to overcome in human rights. Brazil perceived the aim of the United Nations human rights system to be to improve human rights in Member States. In the former Commission, Brazil had voted in favour of a mandate for Iran but in 2001 it abstained on the basis of a commitment made by the Iranian Government to enhance its cooperation with the system. Since late 2005 and despite requests made by mandate holders no visits had taken place to Iran. Brazil said this resolution should be seen as the expression of a common judgment that it was important, necessary and imperative for all Member States to cooperate with all human rights mechanisms. The non observance of the moratorium on the death penalty was of particular concern to Brazil in Iran and in other countries. Brazil expected those member countries who sponsored this resolution would apply the same standards to other countries that did not engage in cooperation with human rights mechanisms. Brazil would vote in favour of the resolution.

CHEIKH AHMED OULD ZAHAF (Mauritania), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that since Iran had explained and demonstrated the desire to cooperate with the Human Rights Council mechanisms and since it had undergone the Universal Periodic Review process and had accepted most of the recommendations addressed to them, Mauritania believed that this resolution would not have any practical consequences on the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran. Mauritania preferred dialogue to be established with Iran in order to advance human rights in this country. That was why Mauritania would vote against this draft resolution.

CORRIGENDUM

In press release HRC/11/45 of 21 March, the statement of Afghanistan should read as follows:

SHARIF GHALIB (Afghanistan) said Afghanistan shared the grave concerns expressed, time and time again, by the international community about the severe violations of international humanitarian law and of the human rights of the Palestinian people and Israel’s denial of their right to self-determination. The continued siege on the Gaza Strip had given rise to dire humanitarian consequences and amounted to collective punishment of populations; it must come to an end immediately. The daily incursions and recurring military operations in the occupied territories also remained of concern as they often resulted in casualties and loss of innocent lives. Settlement activities and plans to push ahead with the construction of housing units in the occupied territories, both contrary to international law, were also impediments to efforts towards achieving a durable peace. Afghanistan viewed the Goldstone report to be of due importance and supported the implementation of its recommendations.

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