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Council establishes Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON 16 June 2011

Extends Mandates on Trafficking in Persons, Independence of Judges, Right to Education, Extrajudicial Executions and International Solidarity

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted 10 texts in which it established a Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises and extended the mandates on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; independence of judges and lawyers; right to education; extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions; and human rights and international solidarity. The Council also adopted texts on procedural matters concerning a discussion on Yemen; on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights; on the proclamation of 19 August as the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism; and on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.

The Council decided to establish a Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises consisting of five independent experts, of balanced geographical representation, for a period of three years, to be appointed by the Human Rights Council at its eighteenth session. It decided to promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework. It also decided to establish a forum on business and human rights under the guidance of the Working Group to discuss trends and challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles and promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights, including challenges faced in particular sectors, operational environments or in relation to specific rights or groups, as well as identifying good practices.

The Council decided to extend for three years the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; the Special Rapporteur on the right to education; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity.

The Council also adopted a decision on procedural matters which requested the High Commissioner to report to the Council on her visit to Yemen at its eighteenth session and decided to hold an interactive dialogue on the basis of the said report at its eighteenth session. Concerning the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, the Council urged States, international financial institutions and the private sector to take urgent measures to alleviate the debt problem of developing countries particularly affected by HIV/AIDS, so that more financial resources could be released and used for health care, research and treatment of the population in the affected countries. It also adopted a resolution recommending that the General Assembly proclaim 19 August the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. The Council adopted a resolution encouraging Member States to establish effective, independent and pluralistic national institutions or, where they already existed, to strengthen them for the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.

The Netherlands, the Philippines, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Norway, Argentina, Sweden, Cuba, Afghanistan, and Australia introduced draft texts.

Speaking in general comments were the United States, Ecuador, Hungary on behalf of the European Union, United Kingdom, Japan, and Spain.

The United States and Hungary on behalf of the European Union spoke in explanation of the vote before the vote.

When the Council meets at 10 a.m. on Friday, 17 June, it will continue to take action on draft decisions and resolutions before concluding its seventeenth session.

Action on Decisions and Resolutions

Action on Decision Under Agenda Item on Organizational and Procedural Matters

In a decision (A/HRC/17/L.28) regarding procedural matters, adopted without a vote, the Council requested the High Commissioner to report to the Council on her visit to Yemen at its eighteenth session and decided to hold an interactive dialogue on the basis of the said report at its eighteenth session.
BOUDEWIJN J. VAN EENENNAAM (Netherlands), introducing the draft decision, said procedural decision L.28 as orally revised would enable the Council to have an interactive dialogue at its eighteenth session on the findings of the Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights assessment mission that was to visit Yemen. The text was drafted in close consultation with the country concerned, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group.

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

Action on Resolution on Mandate of Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children

In a resolution (A/HRC/17L.2) regarding the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of three years; requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure that the Special Rapporteur receives the resources necessary to enable him or her to discharge the mandate fully; calls upon all Governments to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur; encourages Governments to refer to the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking developed by the Office of the High Commissioner as a useful tool in integrating a human rights-based approach into their responses to combat trafficking in persons; and decides to continue consideration of the issue of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, in accordance with its annual programme of work.
Evan P. GARCIA (Philippines), introducing draft resolution L2, said trafficking continued to wreak havoc across the international community. The situation of trafficking painted a highly disturbing picture. At any one time there were about 2.5 million people caught in a situation of trafficking. Many individuals were lured into a situation of trafficking by individuals they knew. International cooperation between countries of origin and destination was needed. A human rights based approach with regard to victims was also needed. The delegations of the Philippines and Germany wished to see the United Nations place human rights at the centre of all policies to address trafficking in persons. The Special Rapporteur should also bring the message of human rights to the various international bodies that addressed the issue of trafficking. The Philippines hoped that all Council members would continue to support the work of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking.

REINHARD SCHWEPPE (Germany), also introducing draft resolution L.2, said human trafficking constituted a serious violation of human rights and was an offence to the dignity and integrity of the human being. They needed to combine their efforts to break the complex structures of the perpetrators in order to allow for effective investigation, prosecution and legal and non-legal assistance to victims. The Special Rapporteur’s main task in the next three years would therefore be to promote the prevention of trafficking in all its form and to promote the effective application of relevant international norms and standards. The Special Rapporteur would be tasked with indentifying and sharing best practices, challenges and obstacles to uphold the protection of the right of victims and examine the impact of anti-trafficking measures on the human rights of victims of trafficking in persons with a view to proposing adequate responses. Germany proposed the adopting of this resolution by the Human Rights Council to allow the continuation of the Special Rapporteur’s very important work.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN (United Sates), in a general comment, said that trafficking was a serious issue of global concern that ensnared millions of people. Trafficking was not only a law enforcement issue. Trafficking included the subjection of people to forced labour and debt bondage. As provided by the Protocol on Trafficking in Persons, trafficking need not take place across international borders, it could take place within a country, town or home. It need not involve any movement at all. The United States wanted to note the importance of the problem of internal trafficking and called on the Council to pay attention to this problem.

Action on Resolution on Mandate of Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

In a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.10) regarding the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of three years; 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 or her recommendations so as to enable him or her to fulfil his or 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 or her mandate; and decides to continue consideration of this issue in accordance with its annual programme of work.
ANDRAS DEKANY (Hungary), introducing the resolution, said the main thrust of the draft resolution was the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. The few changes introduced in the preambular part of the text were merely updates that reflected the latest developments, namely the list of relevant resolutions adopted by the Council since 2008. Hungary held open-ended consultations on the draft resolution and thanked all co-sponsors for their support, highlighting the truly cross-regional nature of the initiative.

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education
In a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.11) regarding the right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education for a period of three years; requests all States to continue to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur with a view to facilitating his tasks in the discharge of his mandate, and to respond favourably to his requests for information and visits; encourages the Office of the High Commissioner, the treaty bodies, the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and other relevant United Nations bodies to continue their efforts to promote the realization of the right to education worldwide and to enhance their cooperation in this regard and, in this connection, encourages the Special Rapporteur on the right to education to facilitate, including through engagement with relevant stakeholders, the provision of technical assistance in the area of the right to education; and stresses the importance of the contribution of non-governmental and civil society organizations to the realization of the right to education, including by cooperating with the Special Rapporteur.
GRACA ANDRESEN GUIMARAES (Portugal), introducing draft resolution L.11, said that this draft resolution built on the previous resolutions on the right to education. It also renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education for a period of three years. Furthermore, the draft resolution sought to respond to the current worldwide challenges as it concerned the realisation of this right and expressed deep concern as the fact that most of the goals for Education for All Agenda set for 2015 would be missed by a wide margin. The draft resolution also urged all relevant stakeholders to increase their efforts in this regard and stressed the role that the full realisation of the right to education played in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. States were urged to give full effect to the right to education by inter alia promoting equality of opportunity in education, ensuring adequate resource allocation and integrating a gender perspective in all policies and programmes. This draft resolution enjoyed the full and broad support of delegations and Portugal hoped it would be adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Businesses

In a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.17/Rev.1) regarding human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to establish a Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises consisting of five independent experts, of balanced geographical representation, for a period of three years, to be appointed by the Human Rights Council at its eighteenth session; decides to promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework; decides to establish a forum on business and human rights under the guidance of the Working Group to discuss trends and challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles and promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights, including challenges faced in particular sectors, operational environments or in relation to specific rights or groups, as well as identifying good practices; and requests the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to provide all the necessary support to facilitate, in a transparent manner, the convening of the Forum and the participation of relevant stakeholders from all regions in its meetings, giving particular attention to ensuring participation of affected individuals and communities.
BENTE ANGELL-HANSEN (Norway), introducing draft resolution L.17 on behalf of a cross regional group (India, Nigeria, Norway, and the Russian Federation), said that in 2008 when the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, the Council charged John Ruggie with preparing guidelines on the protect, respect and remedy framework. Norway noted that Mr. Ruggie had provided the Council with the Guiding Principles to implement the protect, respect, remedy framework. The Guiding Principles provided concrete and practical guidance on how to address corporations’ violations of human rights. The resolution sought to endorse the Guiding Principles. This would not, as Professor Ruggie had noted in his final report to the Human Rights Council, bring businesses and human rights challenges to an end, but would provide a platform for action, on which cumulative progress could be built. To consolidate the work and achievements to date, the resolution proposed the establishment of a Working Group for a period of three years on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The Working Group was expected to consist of five experts of balanced geographical representation. The core co-sponsors were convinced that a Working Group composed of persons from all five regions would have greater combined knowledge about the variety of circumstances and challenges in the area of business and human rights and would be better placed to tailor measures when needed.

ALBERTO J. DUMONT (Argentina), also introducing draft resolution L.17 Rev.1, said the work done by the Special Representative John Ruggie in the framework of his mandate allowed for dialogue and understanding on the issue. Within the protect, respect and remedy framework, there had been significant advances in the development of the Guiding Principles. With the end of the mandate of Mr. Ruggie, it was time to move on to a new stage. With its co-sponsors, Argentina had tabled the resolution as a strong follow-up mechanism to tackle the significant challenges that lay ahead. Argentina hoped, as stated by Norway, that this resolution could be adopted without a vote. The Council’s support for the Guiding Principles would not put an end to the questions regarding human rights and business but would contribute to a global framework that would move on, step-by-step, without ruling out any other possibilities in the long term.

DAN BAER (United States), speaking in a general comment, said that the United States fully supported this draft resolution and added that the Guiding Principles developed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General represented a useful tool in integrating human rights in business. In States that violated human rights, it would be more difficult for businesses to respect human rights; in contrast, the States that respected human rights would be more likely to address business conduct in compliance with the rule of law. The conviction of the United States on the responsibility to protect of States extended to the protection of human rights by private and business conduct.

MAURICIO MONTALVO (Ecuador), in a general comment, said that it would not stand in the way of consensus out of consideration of the five sponsoring countries. Ecuador noted that its delegation had stressed concerns about binding measures throughout the whole process, though its comments were not included in the final text of the resolution. Ecuador noted that the resolution swept aside several issues important for setting up a binding legal frame work. It noted that the resolution only focused on the circulation of the Guiding Principles; it did not regard the human rights framework called protect, respect, remedy. The Guiding Principles proposed in the draft resolution lacked binding elements. The absence of a complaint mechanism that people affected by transnational corporations could complain to was important. The Guiding Principles were not binding standards nor did they wish to be; they were simply guidance; they were not mandatory, which was why binding measures were necessary.

ANDRAS DEKANY (Hungary), speaking in a general comment on L.17 Rev.1, and speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the Special Representative’s work had prepared the ground for future progress in the area of human rights and business. The European Union had participated in the negotiations over the resolution and welcomed the resolution tabled by the co-sponsors. The European Union looked forward to the dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles. The European Union was concerned about the extremely high cost of extending the mandate. A change in the budget would be needed. Hungary looked to an inclusive process in the extension of the mandate, supported not only by governments but also by civil society and business. Hungary lent its support to the implementation of the Guiding Principles and the draft resolution.

BOUDEWIJN J. VAN EENENNAAM (United Kingdom), speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.17 Rev.1, said that the United Kingdom had always been a supporter of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on transnational corporations and of the Guiding Principles he had produced. The United Kingdom was co-sponsoring this draft resolution with the understanding that the Guiding Principles did not necessarily always reflect the provisions of international law. The United Kingdom did not consider that there was a general duty of a State to protect under international law or international customary law. Due diligence standard, although contained in international law, was not its core provision and the United Kingdom did not recognise collective rights in the international law with the exception of the right to self determination. Finally, the United Kingdom welcomed all Professor Ruggie had achieved and the further steps the Human Rights Council would take in this regard.

KENICHI SUGANUMA (Japan), speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.17 Rev.1, welcomed the resolution on Guiding Principles and said the next key step was to publish the Guiding Principles so that all States understood their content and respected them. Japan said the necessity and effectiveness of establishing another Working Group should be considered, however owing to budgetary constraints, Japan encouraged work with all United Nations bodies including the Global Compact and hoped that every effort would be made to respond to the mandate under existing mechanisms.

Action on the Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions

In a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.19) regarding the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council demands that all States ensure that the practice of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions is brought to an end and that they take effective action to combat and eliminate the phenomenon in all its forms; urges States to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his or her task, to supply all necessary information requested by him or her and to react appropriately and expeditiously to his or her urgent appeals, and those Governments that have not yet responded to communications transmitted to them by the Special Rapporteur to answer without further delay; and decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for three years.

IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden), introducing resolution L.19 noted that in view of the accomplishment to achieve a well balanced text in 2008, the resolution today was an update. Sweden made an oral amendment to the wording of the opening paragraph; changing the word from “welcomes the report” to “welcomes the work”. It should thus read “welcomes the work of the Special Rapporteur…”

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN (United States) speaking in explanation of the vote before the vote on L.19, supported the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and looked forward to further dialogue with mandate holders. United States appreciated the reference in the resolution regarding to lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual communities as targets. The United States noted two distinct bodies of law governed these crimes: international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Determining which law applied to government action in armed conflict was fact specific and was made more difficult with the changing nature of armed welfare. Executions committed outside national territories were typically considered under humanitarian law. The United States was concerned that this was not sufficiently clear in preamble of the resolution. The United States agreed that all extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions were crimes but would have appreciated clarification on whether such acts were applicable under the Rome Statute. The United States underlined that all States had the obligation to prevent extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and emphasized that States should take all necessary measures to punish perpetrators. These obligations were intertwined with the promotion of justice and rule of law.

Action on Resolution on Mandate of the Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity

In a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.21) regarding the mandate of the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 14 against, and no abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity for a period of three years; requests all States, United Nations agencies, other relevant international organizations and non-governmental organizations to mainstream the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity in their activities, and to cooperate with the Independent Expert in his or her mandate, to supply all necessary information requested by him or her and to give serious consideration to responding favourably to the requests of the Independent Expert to visit their countries, and to enable him or her to fulfil his or her mandate effectively; requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all human and financial resources necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate of the Independent Expert; and requests the Independent Expert to continue work on the preparation of a draft declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity and to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Human Rights Council, in accordance with its annual programme of work.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32): Angola; Argentina; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Brazil; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chile; China; Cuba; Djibouti; Ecuador; Gabon; Ghana; Guatemala; Jordan; Kyrgyzstan; Malaysia; Maldives; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mexico; Nigeria; Pakistan; Qatar; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Thailand; Uganda; Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (14): Belgium; France; Hungary; Japan; Norway; Poland; Republic of Korea; Republic of Moldova; Slovakia; Spain; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom and United States.

Abstentions (0):

JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA (Cuba), introducing draft resolution L.21, said that the draft resolution aimed to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity. This issue was of a great importance to the international community and was of strategic importance to developing countries afflicted by a lack of resources and affected by global economic and financial crises and devastating natural catastrophes. In this context, cooperation and international solidarity were essential tools to ensure human rights for all. The text was in line with this approach and aimed to promote international cooperation and solidarity as essential tools in the system on international relations. Cuba trusted that this draft resolution would be adopted as customary, with a broad support of Member States.

ANDRAS DEKANY (European Union), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that the European Union was fully committed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS). The European Union was the largest aid donor in the world and was significantly contributing to the achievement of the MDGS. It was each State’s primary responsibility to implement measures for the MDGs. The moral nature of the concept of international solidarity was difficult to translate into legal obligations. For this reason the European Union’s position remained the same as in 2005; the European Union would vote against the resolution on human rights and international solidarity. The European Union had voted against all such resolutions to date, so it could not vote for it.

Action on Resolution on Effects of Foreign Debt on the Full Enjoyment of All Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.24) regarding the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, adopted by a vote of 30 in favour, 13 against, and 3 abstentions, the Council acknowledges that, in least developed countries and in several low- and middle-income countries, unsustainable levels of external debt continued to create a considerable barrier to economic and social development and increase the risk that the Millennium Development Goals for development and poverty reduction will not be attained; calls upon creditors, particularly international financial institutions, and debtors alike to consider the preparation of human rights impact assessments with regard to development projects, loan agreements or Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers; urges States, international financial institutions and the private sector to take urgent measures to alleviate the debt problem of those developing countries particularly affected by HIV/AIDS, so that more financial resources can be released and used for health care, research and treatment of the population in the affected countries; and reiterates its request to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to pay more attention to the problem of the debt burden of developing countries, in particular of least developed countries, and especially the social impact of the measures arising from foreign debt.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (30): Angola; Argentina; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Brazil; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; China; Cuba; Djibouti; Ecuador; Gabon; Ghana; Guatemala; Jordan; Kyrgyzstan; Malaysia; Maldives; Mauritania; Mauritius; Nigeria; Pakistan; Qatar; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Thailand; Uganda; Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (13): Belgium; France; Hungary; Japan; Poland; Republic of Korea; Republic of Moldova; Slovakia; Spain; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom and United States.

Abstentions (3): Chile; Mexico and Norway.

JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA (Cuba), introducing L.24, said the financial and economic crises had an impact on many countries, especially developing countries. If servicing debt was added to this burden, the impact was even greater. The enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights was affected. The draft resolution drew attention to this issue and tried to move forward in ways to alleviate the situation, bearing in mind the burden foreign debt had on the fulfillment of human rights. The draft resolution enjoyed support from a wide-ranging number of stakeholders. Cuba proposed oral amendments. Cuba looked forward to support by Council members.

ANDRAS DEKANY (Hungary), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.24 and also speaking on behalf of European Union, said that the implementation by States of their human rights obligations remained the mandate of this Council. There was no need to duplicate important work done in other institutions on the issues of foreign debt. The European Union was of the opinion that the mandate of the Independent Expert to hold additional consultations had very little to do with States’ human rights obligations and the European Union believed it would put more strain on already scarce resources.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN (United States), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.24, said the United States had long recognized the potentially harmful effects of debt burdens on poor countries, hence debt relief was an essential part of the United States’ aid programme. However, the United States believed it was incorrect to treat the issue of debt as a human rights problem and stated that several of the statements in the resolution had no basis in human rights law. The United States said that the Council’s limited time and resources should be devoted to topics related to human rights and would call for a vote on the resolution and would vote against it.

Action on Resolution on Proclamation of 19 August as the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism

In a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.25) regarding the Proclamation of 19 August as the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council recommends that the General Assembly proclaim 19 August the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism; invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations, and civil society entities, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day in an appropriate manner; and requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all States Members of the United Nations.

ZALMAI AZIZ (Afghanistan), introducing resolution L25, said that the preambular and operative paragraphs of the resolution, with the exception of operative paragraph 1, had been previously adopted as paragraphs of other resolutions. The changes to operative paragraph 1 were the name and date of the international day. In order to bring the title into uniformity with the titles of the other international days, the secretariat proposed rewording the title to read “International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to Victims of Terrorism”. In relation to the attacks on the United Nations in 2003 in Baghdad, this was considered an assault on the United Nations and an attack on all the members of the Organization. To avoid any appearance of politicization of the draft, the sponsors chose not pick the date of any act of terror in a specific country.

PABLO GOMEZ DE OLEA BUSTINZA (Spain), speaking in a general comment on L.25, said Spain very much welcomed the draft resolution and thanked Afghanistan for presenting it. Spain fully supported proclaiming an international day of tribute and remembrance for victims of terrorism but did not think another day besides 19 August could be chosen. It was already a day of remembrance. When the General Assembly voted on 19 August as a day of remembrance, a joint day of remembrance with international humanitarian day should be established. This would not only conserve resources, but be beneficial because both days of remembrance embodied the same principles of progress and peace for all peoples.

Action on Resolution under Agenda Item on Follow-up and Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Work

Action on Resolution on National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.18) regarding national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council encourages Member States to establish effective, independent and pluralistic national institutions or, where they already exist, to strengthen them for the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, as outlined in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and to do so in accordance with the Paris Principles; encourages national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights established by Member States to continue to play an active role in preventing and combating all violations of human rights as enumerated in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and relevant international instruments; encourages all Member States to take appropriate steps to promote the exchange of information and experience concerning the establishment and effective operation of national institutions; and requests the Secretary-General to report to the Human Rights Council at its twentieth session on the implementation of the present resolution.

PETER WOOLCOTT (Australia), introducing draft resolution L.18, said that Australia welcomed the invaluable contribution of national human rights institutions to the promotion and protection of human rights in domestic contexts and to the processes of the Human Rights Council. National human rights institutions were increasingly playing an important role in the Universal Periodic Review process and more States were establishing and strengthening their national human rights institutions. It was therefore timely to focus the attention of the Council on the indispensable role of national human rights institutions. The draft resolution would ensure reporting by the Secretary-General on the achievements, challenges and priorities in the establishing, strengthening and accreditation of national human rights institutions. The draft resolution would also ensure the continuing support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular through the Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions. Australia called on States to contribute voluntary funds to this end.

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