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Human Rights Council adopts texts on Haiti, migrants, climate change and promoting human rights through the olympic ideal

MORNING

30 September 2011

Extends Mandate of Expert on Haiti, Decides to Hold Seminar on Climate Change and Panel on Promoting Human Rights through Sport and the Olympics

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted three resolutions on migrants, climate change and on promoting human rights through sport and in particular the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It also adopted a Presidential Statement on technical assistance for Haiti.

Laura Dupuy Lasserre, President of the Human Rights Council, said that under the Presidential Statement on Technical Assistance and Reinforcement of Capacities for Haiti, the Council had decided, upon request of the authorities of Haiti, to technically extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti until the nineteenth session of the Council.

In a resolution regarding the human rights of migrants, the Council called upon States that have not yet signed, ratified or acceded to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, as a matter of priority, to consider doing so, and to strengthen measures to protect the human rights of migrant workers in times of humanitarian crisis. The Council also requested the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants to continue his efforts to promote and support the building of greater synergies between States to strengthen cooperation for the protection of human rights of all migrant workers and their families.

Concerning human rights and climate change, the Council requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene, prior to the nineteenth session of the Human Rights Council, a seminar on addressing the adverse impacts of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights and invite States and other relevant stakeholders, including academic experts, civil society organizations and representatives of those segments of the population most vulnerable to climate change, to participate.

Regarding the promotion of awareness, understanding and the application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, the Council decided to convene, within existing resources, at its nineteenth session, a high-level interactive panel discussion to highlight, examine and suggest ways in which sport and major sporting events, in particular the Olympic and Paralympic Games, could be used to promote awareness and understanding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Introducing resolutions were Mexico, Philippines, United Kingdom and Brazil.

Speaking in general or other comments were Poland on behalf of the European Union, Italy, United States, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Maldives, Costa Rica, Haiti, Russia and Cuba.

When the Council reconvenes at 3 p.m. this afternoon, it will consider and adopt the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Papua New Guinea and take action on remaining resolutions and decisions before it closes its eighteenth session.

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 Rights of Migrants

In a resolution (A/HRC/18/L.10/Rev.1) regarding the human rights of migrants, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States that have not yet signed, ratified or acceded to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, as a matter of priority, to consider doing so; stresses the obligation of States to protect the human rights of migrants regardless of their status, and also taking into account the principles set forth in the relevant international instruments that protect labour related human rights; expresses its concern at legislation and measures adopted by some States that may restrict the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants; calls upon all States to ensure that their immigration policies are consistent with their obligations under human rights law; urges all States to strengthen measures to protect the human rights of migrant workers in times of humanitarian crisis; requests the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants to continue his efforts to promote and support the building of greater synergies between States to strengthen cooperation for the protection of human rights of all migrant workers and their families; and also requests the Special Rapporteur to continue reporting on best practices of States to protect the human rights of all migrant workers.

JUAN JOSE GOMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico), introducing L.10/Rev.1, said that Mexico as a country of origin, transit and destination considered that the protection of migrants must be at the centre of work and shared responsibility. The resolution had the generous support of 20 delegations and aimed to protect migrant workers and to enable them to uphold their rights irrespective of their migratory status. The draft resolution took elements from previous resolutions adopted by the Council and the General Assembly and highlighted the responsibility for protecting the right of migrants, irrespective of their migratory status, including issues of equal pay. Once a migrant entered into a labour relation with an employer, the State was responsible for ensuring the protection of their rights; and the cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner and countries of origin, transit and destination was commended. The resolution did not aim to promote migration. Mexico had held numerous consultations as part of an inclusive dialogue and thanked delegations for participating, including international organizations, and for contributing with their knowledge and expertise.

ANDRZEJ SADOS (Poland), speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.10 Rev.1 on behalf of the European Union members of the Human Rights Council, said the European Union thanked Mexico for conducting negotiations on the text in an open and frank manner. The European Union remained concerned about the human rights of migrants regardless of their legal status. The European Union built its approach to migration on solidarity and responsibility. There was a responsibility to prevent irregular employment and irregular migration. The European Union was tackling trafficking in human beings. The European Union considered the protection of the human rights of migrant workers a high priority. The European Union remained concerned about some issues and about the approach by the main sponsor; however, the European Union could join consensus on this issue. The European Union hoped that the constructive spirit would be retained and would find its place in future texts.

LAURA MIRACHIAN (Italy), speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.10/Rev.1, said that Italy supported the resolution and noted that Italian national legislation had drawn a clear distinction between regular and irregular migrants. The only way to fully protect the human rights of migrants was to address the illegal activities of criminal gangs engaged in the trafficking of people and those that illegally hired workers.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), speaking in a general comment, thanked the Mexican delegation for their leadership and flexibility on this issue. The United States was proud to be a nation that had from its beginning valued migrants and had long recognized the human rights of migrants. The United States was striving to protect the dignity and human rights of all people, whatever their nationality, citizenship, nationality, status. The United States was committed to combating racism and racial discrimination, including through the enhanced implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The United States was concerned that certain provisions in the resolution could be misinterpreted to inhibit freedom of expression, and recalled that they must be interpreted in light of robust international legal protections for freedom of expression. The United States would always stand ready to work with others in the effort to combat racism, bigotry and racial discrimination.

ALFONSO MORALES (Ecuador), speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.10 Rev 1., said the human rights of migrants had to be an integrated responsibly of countries of origin, transit and destination. All States had the right to regulate their migration policies. At all times, the State was obliged to ensure that all migrants were treated with dignity and respect. Ecuador strongly supported the Special Rapporteur in his work on migrant workers. Illegal working should be an administrative breach as opposed to a criminal one. Irregular workers should not be seen as criminals. Ecuador called on the main receiving countries to consider their accession and ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Action on Resolution on Human Rights and Climate Change

In a resolution (A/HRC/18/L26/Rev.1) regarding human rights and climate change, adopted without a vote, the Council reiterates its concern that climate change poses an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world and has adverse implications for the full enjoyment of human rights; requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: (a) to convene, prior to the nineteenth session of the Human Rights Council, a seminar on addressing the adverse impacts of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights; (b) to invite States and other relevant stakeholders, including academic experts, civil society organizations and representatives of those segments of the population most vulnerable to climate change, to participate actively in the seminar; and (c) to invite the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Development Programme to help organize the seminar, informed by the best available science, including the assessment reports and special reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; requests the Office of the High Commissioner submit to the Human Rights Council, at its twentieth session, a summary report on the above-mentioned seminar.

EVAN P. GARCIA (Philippines), introducing resolution L.26/Rev.1, thanked co-sponsors for their support. Climate change was one of the most pressing challenges facing the world community with a direct and severe impact on a wide range of human rights. The Philippines was extremely vulnerable to climate change and its people had experienced the adverse effects of climate change on their human rights and livelihoods. In a generation, the Philippines could stand to loose 300 of its islands due to climate change. The most vulnerable groups, such as the poor, women and children and indigenous peoples, unjustly bore the brunt of climate change. For this reason, the Philippines and Bangladesh were inspired to bring back the issue to the Council. The intention was in no way to dilute human rights obligations of States but to highlight the need to address climate change also from a human rights perspective. It was a man-made phenomenon which impacted human lives and the effective enjoyment of human rights. The Philippines also recognized the work of the Maldives, which first drew attention to the human rights dimensions of climate change and expressed appreciation for the support from civil society. The draft resolution addressed all pending concerns raised during the negotiations

ABDUL HANNAN (Bangladesh), also speaking in introduction of draft resolution L.26/Rev.1, said that climate change had devastating effects on the human rights of a vast number of people. Erratic floods, cyclones, droughts and earthquakes had compromised agricultural production, challenged water resources, and affected the health of many. Reports had shown how rising sea levels, changing weather patterns and other climate change related impacts had threatened fundamental rights inter alia, the right to life, food, water, health, adequate housing. Developing countries were generally more vulnerable to climate-induced disasters, drought and desertification due to their serious capacity constraints to cope with these adverse phenomena. Bangladesh remained on the front-line of the adverse impacts of climate change. With a mere 4.5 cm of sea level rise, about 10 per cent of Bangladesh would be affected by salt water; with one meter rise, a fifth of the country would go under the sea affecting more than 25 million people. Concerning the urgency and threats to the full enjoyment of all human rights, including right to development that effects of climate change posed, it merited focused and continued discussion in the Human Rights Council as a stand-alone item and not necessarily within the particular frame of reference for discussions on environment which covered a range of issues. The resolution proposed to hold a seminar before the nineteenth session of the Human Rights Council and a report on the outcome of the seminar at the twentieth session of the Council.

IRUTHISHAM ADAM (Maldives), speaking in a general comment, said that the Maldives had initiated the concern about climate change and human rights with the aim of giving climate change a human face. Through its work on previous resolutions and during the meetings of COP15 and COP16 in Copenhagen and Cancun, through a cross-regional group, the Maldives had addressed the issue and hoped that affected States would continue to cooperate on this important issue. The Maldives looked forward to working with its regional neighbours when the issue came back into consideration by the Council. The Maldives was pleased to support this resolution and underlined that there was no inherent incompatibility or tension in the Council also addressing climate change; and that it was important for countries interested in these interrelated issues to cooperate.

CHRISTIAN GUILLERMET-FERNANDEZ (Costa Rica), speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.26 Rev.1, said Costa Rica was committed to the protection of the environment and of human rights. A voice needed to be given to future victims. They were numerous and often not visible. The response needed to be comprehensive and inclusive relating to this. A more holistic approach needed to be made. There was a need to properly analyze the effect of environmental degradation. Now was the time to start thinking about a Special Procedure on human rights and the environment.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.26/Rev.1, said the United States would join the consensus on this serious matter. No nation could escape the impacts of climate change, and the security and stability of all nations and their people were at risk, especially the most vulnerable. The United States remained firm in its conviction that discussions on climate change should address human rights. The United States was however concerned about the resolution’s selective quoting from the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change and understood that the references and acknowledgements by the Council that the Framework Convention on Climate Change contained the stated provisions, rather than endorsements by the Council on the content of such provisions. The United States said that the climate change related role of the Human Rights Council and other United Nations human rights bodies was limited to ensuring that countries respected their human rights obligations in reacting to climate change.

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

Action on Resolution on Promoting Awareness, Understanding and Application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through Sport and the Olympic Ideal

In a resolution (A/HRC/18/L18/Rev.1) regarding promotion of awareness, understanding and the application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene, within existing resources, at its nineteenth session, a high-level interactive panel discussion to highlight, examine and suggest ways in which sport and major sporting events, in particular the Olympic and Paralympic Games, can be used to promote awareness and understanding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the application of the principles enshrined therein; requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to liaise with relevant Special Procedures, States and other stakeholders, including relevant United Nations bodies and agencies, with a view to ensuring their participation in the above-mentioned panel discussion; 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.

PETER GOODERHAM (United Kingdom), introducing draft resolution L.18/Rev.1, said that the draft resolution would foresee a high-level panel discussion in March that would explore ways in which sport and major sporting events, in particular the Olympic and Paralympic Games, could be used to promote awareness and understanding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the application of principles enshrined therein. Principles that underpinned the Olympic charter, such as equality and non-discrimination were familiar to the work at the Council. It was hoped that as a result to follow up to the panel discussion, a similar awareness of human rights would be as common to many more people outside this chamber. The Olympic Games provided an unparalleled opportunity to reach out to more people than ever before. The draft resolution was designed to link up existing work, add a human rights perspective and ignite a broader conversation on how to use the vast potential of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to raise awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

MARIA NAZARETH FARANI AZEVEDO (Brazil), speaking in introduction of draft resolution L.18 Rev.1, said sport was a universal expression of team spirit, loyalty and healthy competition. Sport had the potential to produce positive change, promote inclusion and bring joy to the lives of many. The similarity of values in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Olympic Charter might offer new possibilities for strengthening non-discrimination, equality, inclusion, respect and mutual understanding in societies. Sports had the capacity to reach the widest audiences in all parts of the globe. As a host of two major sport events in 2014 and 2016, Brazil was committed to ensuring that sports were devoted to the promotion of respect, solidarity, universality, diversity, inclusion and peace.

CHRISTIAN GUILLERMET-FERNANDEZ (Costa Rica), speaking in a general comment, commended the excellent work done by the delegations of the United Kingdom and Brazil in bringing to the Council the Olympic spirit to promote tolerance and fundamental values. Costa Rica indicated that this resolution and the step taken by the Council today could be useful regarding work that could be done concerning complementary standards.

VLADIMIR ZHEGLOV (Russia), speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.18/Rev.1, said for a century now, sports and the Olympic Games had promoted peace and created openness in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect. The present initiative facilitated the enhancement of the positive role of the Olympic Games and sports in supporting human rights and the Russia Federation hoped that neither the Olympic Games nor sports would be used in a political manner.

Presidential Statement on Technical Assistance and Reinforcement of Capacities for Haiti

LAURA DUPUY LASSERRE, President of the Human Rights Council, introduced the Presidential Statement in which the Council decided, upon request of the authorities of Haiti, to technically extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti until the nineteenth session of the Council.

JEAN-CLAUDE PIERRE (Haiti), speaking as a concerned country on the Presidential Statement, said that the mandate of the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti was coming to an end and a decision must be taken by the new Haitian authorities. However, months after the investiture of the President, Haiti still did not have an effective government. It was now up to the senate to state its view on the choice of the Prime Minister and the formation of a new government. The Haitian authorities realized that if nothing was done by the end of September the mandate of the Independent Expert would automatically come to an end. Given the political deadlock the alternative options consisted of: first, a technical prolongation of the mandate until March 2012 hoping for a definitive decision to be taken in the following months; or, second, the renewal of the mandate, which was materially impossible given the procedural deadlines in the work of the Council for submission of draft resolutions. Thus Haiti had opted for requesting a technical prolongation of the mandate. Haiti took the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to cooperate with human rights mechanisms and bodies and took advantage of this opportunity to extend the thanks of the Haitian authorities to all delegations supporting this request and which had shown an interest in the human rights situation in Haiti.

JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMAN (Cuba), speaking in a general comment on the Presidential Statement on Haiti on behalf of Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, said the extension of the mandate was being done at the express request of the Government of Haiti. This demonstrated that Haiti was willing to cooperate on the issues of human rights and was in need of technical assistance. It was important for the mandate holder’s recommendations to be converted into tangible improvements. The Universal Periodic Review would give an excellent opportunity to strengthen the Haitian Government by a range of international mechanisms.

ALEKSANDRA WOJTYLAK (Poland), speaking in a general comment on the Presidential Statement on Haiti on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union had fully supported Haiti after the earthquake last year and in the country’s efforts to re-establish human rights and the rule of law. The European Union as of January 2011 had sent 600 million Euros to Haiti to consolidate its efforts and had identified the following critical areas: re-establishing governance, consolidating the judicial system and establishing rule of law. The European Union supported the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert on Haiti because of the significant progress he had made on calling to the attention of the international community the difficult human rights situation on the ground, especially for the most vulnerable including women, children and the displaced along with the technical assistance requirements of the country. The European Union hoped that the Haitian authorities would be able to take favourable action on the extension of this mandate.

CHARLES O. BLAHA (United States), speaking in a general comment, thanked the Government of Haiti for its spirit of cooperation concerning the technical extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert until March. The United States stressed the importance of the continuous work of the Independent Expert, particularly in the context of concerns, including gender and sexual-based violence, prison overcrowding and the need to ensure the independence of justice and filling the vacuum of the Supreme Court.

VLADIMIR ZHEGLOV (Russian Federation), speaking in a general comment on the Presidential Statement on Haiti, said the Russian Federation fully supported the reconstruction of Haiti and noted that the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert was clearly technical in manner and would not create a precedent.


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For use of information media; not an official record