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Human Rights Council adopts seven texts on Sri Lanka, Adequate Housing, Right to Food, and extends the mandate on Cultural Rights

Human Rights Council
MORNING 22 March 2012

Adopts Texts on Composition of the Staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and
on the Realisation in All Countries of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted seven texts on Sri Lanka, the composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the right to adequate housing in the context of disaster settings and on the right to food. The Council extended the mandate of the current mandate holder on cultural rights as a Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights for a period of three years and adopted a Presidential Statement welcoming the participation of United Nations Member States and other stakeholders at the launch of the Annual Report of the High Commissioner.

In a resolution on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, adopted by a vote of 24 in favour, 15 against and 8 abstentions, the Council noted with concern that the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka did not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law. It called on the Government to take all necessary steps to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans. The Council further requested the Government to present a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps implementing the recommendations made in the Commission’s report and to address alleged violations of international law.

Regarding the composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council adopted a resolution by a vote of 33 in favour, 12 against and two abstentions, in which it expressed its serious concern that, despite the measures taken by the Office, the imbalance in the geographical representation of its composition continued to be prominent. The Council requested the High Commissioner to enhance the implementation of measures to achieve a better representation of countries and regions that were unrepresented or underrepresented and to consider applying a zero-growth cap on the representation of countries and regions already overrepresented in the Office.

The Council welcomed in a presidential statement the decision by the High Commissioner that the launch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Annual Report would be accompanied by meetings with the participation of United Nations Member States and other stakeholders to provide the information, inter alia, on issues identified in the operative paragraph four of PRST 18/2.

Concerning adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, in the context of disaster settings, the Council expressed concern that any deterioration in the general housing situation disproportionately affected vulnerable groups and expressed its deep concern at the number and scale of natural disasters and extreme climate and weather events and their increasing impact in the context of climate change and urbanization, which had resulted in massive loss of life, homes and livelihoods. The Council further urged States to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing without discrimination of any kind in the context of post-disaster settings.

On the question of the realisation in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, the Council called upon States to pay particular attention to the individuals and communities living in extreme poverty and decided to focus on the issue of economic, social and cultural rights of women and the empowerment of women in its annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective, to be held at the twenty-first session of the Human Rights Council.

Concerning the mandate holder on cultural rights, the Council welcomed the work and contributions of the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights and decided to extend, for a period of three years, the mandate of the current mandate holder as a Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, with the mandate: to identify best practices in the promotion and protection of cultural rights at the local, national, regional and international levels; to identify possible obstacles to the promotion and protection of cultural rights, and to submit proposals and/or recommendations to the Human Rights Council on possible actions in that regard; to study the relationship between cultural rights and cultural diversity; and to integrate a gender and disabilities perspective into his or her work.
In a resolution regarding the right to food, the Council expressed grave concern at the evolution of the world food crisis which was further aggravated by the world economic and financial crisis. The Council called upon States to combat different forms of malnutrition and especially chronic under-nutrition in early childhood, and to support plans to improve nutrition in poor households, in particular plans and programmes which aimed to combat under-nutrition in mothers and children and those which targeted irreversible effects of chronic under-nutrition in early childhood from pregnancy to two years of age. The Council requested the Special Rapporteur on the right to food to continue to monitor the evolution of the world food crisis and to keep the Human Rights Council informed of the impact of the crisis on the enjoyment of the right to food and to alert it to possible further actions in this regard.
Introducing resolutions were the United States, Cuba, Finland and Portugal.

Speaking in general or other comments were Cuba, the United States, Belgium on behalf of the European Union, Czech Republic, China, and Uganda.

Speaking in explanations of the vote before or after the vote were Cuba, Ecuador, the Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Nigeria, Philippines, Uganda, China, Maldives, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mexico, Angola, Belgium on behalf of the European Union, the United States, India and Saudi Arabia.

Sri Lanka spoke as the concerned country.

The next meeting of the Council will be at 3 p.m. this afternoon, when it will continue taking action on decisions and resolutions.

Action on Texts under the Annual Report of the High Commissioner and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

Action on Resolution on Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.2/Rev1) regarding promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, adopted by a vote of 24 in favour, 15 against and 8 abstentions as orally revised, the Council notes with concern that the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka does not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law and calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and to take all necessary additional steps to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans; requests the Government of Sri Lanka to present, as expeditiously as possible, a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps that the Government has taken and will take to implement the recommendations made in the Commission’s report, and also to address alleged violations of international law; and encourages the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures mandate holders to provide, in consultation with and with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (24): Austria, Belgium, Benin, Cameroon, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Italy, Libya, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, United States and Uruguay.

Against (15): Bangladesh, China, Congo, Cuba, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritania, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Uganda.

Abstentions (8): Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Senegal.

United States, introducing draft resolution L.2, said the resolution enjoyed the broad support of 40 co-sponsors. It was almost three years since the end of Sri Lanka’s conflict and given the lack of action to implement the recommendations of the Sri Lankan Government’s own Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission and the need for additional steps to address accountability issues not covered in the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission Report, it was appropriate that the Human Rights Council consider and adopt this moderate and balanced resolution. The resolution encouraged Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of its own Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission and to make concerned efforts at achieving the kind of meaningful accountability upon which lasting reconciliation efforts could be built. The resolution urged Sri Lanka to work with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and drew on helpful expertise the Office could offer. The resolution was intended to help the people of Sri Lanka achieve a lasting and equitable peace that was marked by equality, dignity, justice and self-respect.

Cuba, speaking in a general comment, said Cuba wanted to address the legitimacy and credibility of the work of the Council and would ask co-sponsors whether it would not be possible to delay action on the resolution until the September session. Three years ago, President Obama said he would close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre but that had not been done. It would seem that this could be an arena for possible confrontation. Cuba asked co-sponsors to postpone the resolution, thereby avoiding any action that would undermine the Council’s work.

United States, responding to Cuba, said the resolution was a straightforward declarative resolution that asked Sri Lanka to take action on the report of its Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission. The resolution had been the subject of open dialogue and it was appropriate for the Council because it was charged with addressing situations of human rights and helping countries to address human rights. If countries wanted to vote against the resolution, they should simply vote against the resolution in an up or down vote. The United States hoped that Council members would vote against the motion to postpone the resolution.

Cuba said that Cuba sought a climate of cooperation and then read a text deploring country resolutions, agreed on by 14 States. The resolution set a negative precedent that risked singling out developing countries. The international community must allow space and time to countries emerging from conflict. The mission of the Human Rights Council was to provide technical assistance and cooperation to a country and build capacity with the consent of the concerned country. If done differently, it would put in question the sovereignty and independence of the concerned country. If the Council adopted the resolution on Sri Lanka, it would act contrary to the principle of non-intervention. Sri Lanka cooperated with the High Commissioner and the Special Procedures, which made the proposed resolution inadmissible, unjustified and unproductive.

Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment on draft resolution L.2, said the European Union fully supported this initiative to promote national reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. Genuine reconciliation among all groups and communities in Sri Lanka was essential and required justice and accountability for past events. The European Union regretted that questions raised in the report of the Expert Panel of the United Nations Secretary-General had not been reflected in the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission Report. Accountability was an essential part of the process of national reconciliation and sustainable peace. The European Union expressed strong concern over continued reports of intimidation and reprisals against civil society representatives in Sri Lanka as well as in Geneva. The Sri Lankan Government should respect and protect the rights of individuals and civil society who had cooperated with United Nations mechanisms.

Czech Republic, speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.2, said the Czech Republic fully supported the resolution as it urged national reconciliation among all groups in Sri Lanka which was dependent on practical measures being taken by the Government to ensure accountability for actions that had happened in the past. The recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission Report would help in this regard and the Czech Republic would support the resolution and encouraged other Member States to support it.

China, speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.2, said constructive dialogue and cooperation was the proper way to resolve conflicts. The resolution submitted by the United States was a product of the politicization of human rights. The reconciliation efforts of Sri Lanka were beyond the mandate of the Human Rights Council. Sri Lanka required the assistance of the international community. The draft resolution interfered in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka and violated the principles of the United Nations. The international community should provide the Government with sufficient time and space to complete the national reconciliation process and China called on all Member States to reject the draft resolution.

Sri Lanka, speaking as the concerned country, thanked China and Cuba for the kind sentiments expressed in support of Sri Lanka. Many in the Council would agree that Sri Lanka had been a model, consistently and unambiguously engaging with everyone in the Council. Sri Lanka had been selectively targeted by certain counterparts at the behest of some who still bore resentment at the clear and decisive decision taken at the Special Session in 2009. The attempt to undermine the resolution of 2009 was unacceptable especially because of the continuing improvement in Sri Lanka during the intervening period. Sri Lanka needed more time to further consolidate the clear progress that had been achieved in the short period of three years. Sri Lanka was compelled to face a misconceived, unwarranted and ill-timed draft resolution that would have adverse ramifications, not only for Sri Lanka, but for many other countries. The way in which the matter was dealt with would decide whether or not purely parochial, if not political, agendas would prevail. The founding principles of the Council were being assailed. If the proposed intrusion was accepted by the Council, no domestic process would be free to deliver on its mandate. The resolution would not add value to the implementation process in Sri Lanka; on the contrary it may well be counter-productive. Ironically, proponents and sponsors of the resolution were among those who prescribed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil and sought to give comfort to proxies of the organization to assume their activities, undermining a well-established democracy.

Cuba, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.2/Rev.1, reiterated its request for a nominal vote as the resolution was based on a blaming and shaming exercise. Cuba could not accept the fact that only three years would be given to the programme of action proposed by the Government of Sri Lanka and regretted that the Council had not recognized the progress made in the country, notably in dealing with internally displaced persons. A double standard was being applied to Sri Lanka as the European Union and the United States had used violence to carry out executions and to attack civilian populations in other regions of the world with no action being taken by the Human Rights Council. Detention centres, secret flights, and the indiscriminate bombings by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization all required an independent commission of investigation. Cuba noted that 40 per cent of all income from arms sales between 1983 and 2009 in Sri Lanka had been sold to the Sri Lankan Government by the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel. The Sri Lankan Government had cooperated with the Human Rights Council and was committed to national reconciliation.

Ecuador, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.2/Rev.1, said that despite the number of violations of human rights and regardless of who had committed them, the Human Rights Council should not take a biased approach. The situation of human rights in Sri Lanka would improve to the benefit of minorities and the population in general. The Government was following the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission and would inform the Council of the results of the investigations of past human rights violations in Sri Lanka’s next Universal Periodic Review. The situation of human rights in Afghanistan and Iraq should be investigated.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.2/Rev.1, said that the process of national reconciliation in Sri Lanka should be carried out by the Government of Sri Lanka without interference from outside forces. The international community should not make hasty and ill-founded judgments. The Russian Federation remained firm in its position that country situations could be considered in the Council only with the agreement of the State concerned and attempts to dictate to a sovereign State how policy should be carried out was unacceptable. The Russian Federation would vote against the resolution and encouraged other States to do the same.

Uruguay, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Uruguay would vote in favour of the resolution, as it was balanced and constructive. It sent a clear message from the international community that it was willing to cooperate with the reconciliation efforts at the national level. Uruguay appreciated the efforts of the Colombo Government, including the priorities for human rights laid out in the Action Plan and measures contained therein. The Council had cooperation instruments and tools for achieving these objectives, working together with the authorities. Uruguay urged Sri Lanka to investigate human rights violations, including reprisals against political opponents, human rights defenders and reports of enforced disappearances.

Kyrgyzstan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the delegation of Kyrgyzstan would abstain as it held the view that Sri Lanka had not had enough time to review the recommendations of the Commission. The Council should allow enough time for improvement of the situation without interference. Action at the international level would only destabilize the situation, which was not in the favour of any member of the international community.

Thailand, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Thailand had always attached much importance to accountability and the fight against impunity as well as to engagement, cooperation and dialogue with the country concerned. Sri Lanka had shown a clear willingness to cooperate. For the moment, the home-grown process should be prioritized. So far, Sri Lanka had shown its willingness to cooperate with the Council. For these reasons, Thailand would vote against the resolution. Thailand urged the Sri Lankan Government to implement without delay, the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission.

Nigeria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on resolution L.2/Rev.1, said Nigeria had decided to vote for the resolution, not to censure Sri Lanka but to encourage the process of reconciliation in the country. Nigeria had fought a civil war and the wounds of war had healed through an open and inclusive reconciliation process. Nigeria was ready to assist Sri Lanka and wished the Government and the Sri Lankan people every success in the reconciliation process.

Philippines, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on resolution L.2/Rev.1, said the Philippines opposed the introduction of a trigger mechanism in the Council and attempts to turn technical assistance into a form of political pressure to influence Governments. This resolution was a reincarnation of the trigger mechanism and it attempted to turn international cooperation into a form of political pressure. The Philippines would vote against the resolution.

Uganda, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on resolution L.2/Rev.1, noted the speedy publication of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission report, the progress made in implementing the report’s recommendations and the Government’s engagement with the international community and the Human Rights Council. The draft resolution denied a reasonable time to be accorded to the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission report. Special consideration should be given to transitional countries emerging from war if their Governments demonstrated a clear intention and roadmap to address the post war conflict. Uganda would vote against the resolution.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said attempts to interfere in the national reconciliation process and internal affairs of Sri Lanka were against the United Nations Charter and norms of international relations. China would vote against L.2 and called on all members to vote against it.

Maldives, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was a close friend of Sri Lanka and understood better than most the scale and impact of the conflict. The Maldives understood the trauma inflicted by the conflict and that it would take time to rebuild. In order to rebuild, there had to be accountability for all involved in human rights abuses, reconciliation had to be promote and had to ensure that a fairer and more equitable society was created. The Maldives believed the resolution was not necessary at the current juncture. Sri Lanka needed the time and space to implement recommendations. The Maldives would vote against the resolution.

Indonesia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was with deep regret that the delegation was not able to support the resolution. This was due to the failure of the co-sponsor to respond in a constructive manner to the reconciliation process at the national level. The efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission were not without imperfections. However, the process needed support and nurturing at the international level.

Bangladesh, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on resolution L.2/Rev.1, said Bangladesh maintained a specific position to not support country specific resolutions without the approval of the country concerned. Such resolutions would make limited impact on the ground if the country concerned was not on board. Sri Lanka was a country that had been the victim of terrorism for more than three decades and had only recently come out of this violence. The Government of Sri Lanka had provided significant leadership in countering international terrorism and required time and space to heal from the long lasting effects of terrorism. Bangladesh would vote against the resolution.

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on resolution L.2/Rev.1, said Mexico would vote in favour of the draft resolution because the text was balanced, fair and constructive. Mexico said the Council was a cooperative, coordinating body and had the competence and responsibility to act not only where Sri Lanka was concerned but also in any other country where human rights violations had occurred. Mexico would support the resolution.

Angola, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on resolution L.2/Rev.1, said it would abstain from voting on the resolution because the principles that guided the Council had not been respected. The resolution should encourage and help the people of Sri Lanka to pursue national reconciliation. Angola had gone through a complex and difficult process of national reconciliation and the results could not be achieved on paper but only at the grass roots level.

Action on the Resolution on the Composition of the Staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.19) regarding composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, 12 against and 2 abstentions, the Council expresses its serious concern that, despite the measures taken by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the imbalance in the geographical representation of its composition continues to be prominent, and that a single region occupies almost half of the posts of the Office of the High Commissioner; notes the increase in the past four years in the percentage of staff from regions identified as requiring better representation, while noting with concern the small increase in 2011 and no change in the status of the prominent region; requests the High Commissioner to work on the broadest geographical diversity of her staff by enhancing the implementation of measures to achieve a better representation of countries and regions that are unrepresented or underrepresented, particularly from the developing world, while considering applying a zero-growth cap on the representation of countries and regions already overrepresented in the Office of the High Commissioner; encourages the General Assembly to consider further measures to promote desirable ranges of geographical balance in the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner; and requests the High Commissioner to submit a comprehensive and updated report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session with a special focus on further measures taken to correct the imbalance in the geographical composition of the staff of the Office.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (33): Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Thailand, Uganda and Uruguay.

Against (12): Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and United States.

Abstentions (2): Chile and Congo.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.19, wished to reiterate the importance of the issue being addressed, which was the question of the geographical representation of the staff in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In adopting the resolution, the Council would emphasize the importance of regional representation and would request the High Commissioner to take the necessary measures to address the imbalance in geographical representation. The United States and its European allies would stand up to allege that this was not under the responsibility of the Council and would undermine the work of the Office. Cuba believed that much needed to be done to achieve a truly universal composition of the Office, which represented the diverse political, cultural and geographical nature of the world.

Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote on the draft resolution, said that the General Assembly was the only competent body to address issues of administration and budget in the United Nations. The paramount basis for the employment of staff should be for the highest standards of efficiency with due regard to geographic diversity. The European Union welcomed the efforts of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to increase the geographic diversity of the staff in her Office. This Council had no competence or legal basis to recommend caps on staffing levels or budgets for staff. The European Union would not support this resolution and called for a vote.

United States speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on the draft resolution, said the United States strongly supported the recruitment of staff in the United Nations based on the highest quality of efficiency. The Human Rights Council was not competent to make recommendations on the composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United States would vote no on this resolution.

Action on Presidential Statement on the Launch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Annual Report

In a presidential statement (A/HRC/PRST/19/2), bearing in mind PRST 18/2, the Council welcomes the decision by the High Commissioner that the launch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Annual Report would be accompanied by meetings with the participation of United Nations Member States and other stakeholders to provide the information, inter alia, on issues identified in the operative paragraph four of PRST 18/2.

 

Explanation of Vote after Vote on Texts under the Annual Report of the High Commissioner and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

India, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on L.2, said the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights rested with States themselves. Council resolutions should respect the rights of States. India believed there was a window of opportunity to forge reconciliation through political consultation between all groups. India had noted the Sri Lankan Government’s commencement of dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil National Alliance. The Sri Lankan Government should play the lead role in this regard. India was confident that implementation of the report would foster substantive reconciliation. India subscribed to the general message of the resolution, but any assistance should be taken in consultation with the Sri Lankan Government.

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

Action on Resolution on Adequate Housing as a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living in the Context of Disaster Settings

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.4) regarding adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, in the context of disaster settings, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council expresses concern that any deterioration in the general housing situation disproportionately affects persons living in conditions of poverty, low-income earners, women, children, persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples, migrants, internally displaced persons, tenants, the elderly and persons with disabilities, and increases the need for them to be supported against extreme natural disasters; expresses its deep concern at the number and scale of natural disasters and extreme climate and weather events and their increasing impact in the context of climate change and urbanization, which have resulted in massive loss of life, homes and livelihoods, together with forced displacement and long-term negative social, economic and environmental consequences for all societies throughout the world; urges States, in the context of post-disaster settings, and recognizing that short-term humanitarian response and early recovery phases are based on needs, to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing without discrimination of any kind; welcomes the cooperation extended to the Special Rapporteur by States and other relevant actors and calls upon them to continue to cooperate, to share good practices and to respond favourably to her requests for information and visits; requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all assistance necessary to the Special Rapporteur for the effective fulfilment of her mandate.
Finland, introducing draft resolution L.4, said it addressed the issue of adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living in the context of disaster settings. In recent years, a number of devastating natural disasters had affected tens of thousands of lives around the world. The integration of human rights within the framework of disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness as well as in all phases of disaster response and recovery was a necessary step for the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing for affected persons. The resolution encouraged States and other actors to integrate the right to adequate housing as a key component of planning and implementation of humanitarian, reconstruction and development responses. All persons, irrespective of their pre-disaster tenure status, should have access to affordable, habitable, suitable and culturally adequate housing. Finland introduced oral amendments to the resolution.

United States, in a general comment, said the United States was pleased to join the consensus on the resolution. The United States welcomed the focus on adequate housing in the context of natural disasters and noted that this was a challenge that affected all countries, including the United States. The United States had responded to shelter needs generated by crises and disasters for nearly 50 years. The United States expressed understanding that the resolution did not imply that States must become party to or implement obligations under human rights instruments that they were not party to.

Saudi Arabia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of 49 States, signalled dissatisfaction with the final formulation of the text which did not clearly delineate the responsibility of States before, during and after natural disasters, thereby making the resolution unfeasible for implementation on the ground. General comments of the treaty bodies reflected the opinions of members of the treaty bodies, and not the common understanding of the wider membership of States parties. Saudi Arabia requested the deletion of the reference to General Comment 20 by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights due to its reference to sexual orientation. The countries Saudi Arabia spoke on behalf of would like to dissociate themselves from the relevant paragraph of the text.

India, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said India identified with the thrust of the resolution, but believed the framework needed to be framed more appropriately. The resolution as framed was more appropriate for the post-disaster construction phase. This issue was best addressed in the rubric of humanitarian affairs, such as by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Although agreeing conceptually with the issues laid out in the resolution, India was not in a position to vote for the resolution.

Action on Resolution on the Question of the Realization in All Countries of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.10) regarding the question of the realisation in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States to consider signing and ratifying, and the States parties to implement, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; to guarantee that economic, social and cultural rights shall be exercised without discrimination of any kind, paying particular attention to the individuals and communities living in extreme poverty and therefore among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged; encourages the Office of the High Commissioner to strengthen its research and analytical capacities in the field of economic, social and cultural rights, and to share its expertise through the holding of expert meetings; decides to focus on the issue of economic, social and cultural rights of women and the empowerment of women in its annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective, to be held at the twenty-first session of the Human Rights Council, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare and disseminate a report on the proceedings; and requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Human Rights Council, at its twenty-second session, a report on the implementation of the present resolution, with a special focus on the economic, social and cultural rights of women, including in the context of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Portugal, introducing draft resolution L.10/Rev.1, said there were more than 50 co-sponsors of the resolution which focused on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights. This omnibus resolution had set the main generic goals to achieve regarding the promotion, protection and realization of economic, social and cultural rights, including the attainment of all the Millennium Development Goals. The resolution also focused on the work of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and encouraged all States to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

United States, speaking in a general comment, joined the consensus on this resolution and would support it. The Government of the United States was committed to working constructively with Member States toward the progressive advancement of the economic, cultural and social rights of all citizens.

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.18) regarding the mandate of Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, adopted without a vote, the Council welcomes the work and contributions of the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights; decides to extend, for a period of three years, the mandate of the current mandate holder as a Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, with the mandate: to identify best practices in the promotion and protection of cultural rights at the local, national, regional and international levels; to identify possible obstacles to the promotion and protection of cultural rights, and to submit proposals and/or recommendations to the Human Rights Council on possible actions in that regard; to work in cooperation with States in order to foster the adoption of measures at the local, national, regional and international levels enhancing sub-regional, regional and international cooperation; to study the relationship between cultural rights and cultural diversity; and to integrate a gender and disabilities perspective into his or her work. The Council also calls upon all Governments to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the discharge of his or her mandate and to give serious consideration to responding favourably to his or her requests to visit their countries in order to enable him or her to fulfil his or her duties effectively; requests the High Commissioner to provide all the necessary human and financial resources for the effective fulfilment of the mandate by the Special Rapporteur; and requests the Special Rapporteur to report regularly to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly in accordance with their respective programmes of work.
Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.18, said the draft resolution renewed the mandate of Special Procedure in the area of cultural rights and suggested the Independent Expert become a Special Rapporteur. Cuba attached great importance to promoting the enjoyment of cultural rights for all people and respect for cultural diversity. The area of cultural rights had unfortunately not had sufficient coverage. Cuba hoped the resolution would be adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Right to Food

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.21/Rev1) on the right to food, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requires the adoption of urgent measures at the national, regional and international level for the elimination of hunger and expresses grave concern at the evolution of the world food crisis which has been further aggravated by the world economic and financial crisis. The Council calls upon States to combat different forms of malnutrition and especially chronic under-nutrition in early childhood, and to support plans to improve nutrition in poor households, in particular plans and programmes which aim to combat under-nutrition in mothers and children and those which target irreversible effects of chronic under-nutrition in early childhood from pregnancy to two years of age. The Council requests the Special Rapporteur to continue to monitor the evolution of the world food crisis and to keep the Human Rights Council informed of the impact of the crisis on the enjoyment of the right to food and to alert it to possible further actions in this regard. The Council also requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner to continue to provide all the human and financial resources necessary for the continuation of the effective fulfilment of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.21, said the draft resolution on the right to food had been co-sponsored by 21 additional countries and was the result of a broad based consultative process. The draft resolution affirmed the position of most members of the Council with regard to the scourge of hunger which affected 2 billion people in the world. The rise in food costs had impacted developing countries and the draft resolution would address the combined affects of the energy, food and economic crisis. Cuba submitted an oral amendment to the draft resolution.

Belgium, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said some concerns remained about the resolution. In particular, the European Union did not consider preambular paragraph 15 to be accurate and balanced. There was a need to show that eliminating distortions in the current system would allow local producers and poor farmers to improve production. Good and accountable governance at the national level as well as the full enjoyment of all human rights were essential to food and nutrition security on a sustainable basis. In light of the importance of food security, the European Union looked forward to working with Cuba to further improve the draft resolution.

United States, speaking in a general comment, said improving global food security was a key foreign policy objective of the Obama administration. The reference to trade negotiations was beyond the subject manner and expertise of the Council and thus inappropriate. The resolution would not undermine the United States or other Governments’ trade agreements or trade negotiations. The United States supported countries’ further implementation of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement. The United States did not believe that there was currently a world food crisis. The United States would not agree with the resolution’s suggestion that countries had any extra-territorial obligation with respect to the right to food.

Uganda, speaking in a general comment on the resolution on the right to food, said that food was a necessity for life and for the realization of other enshrined rights. The global food crisis posed a serious humanitarian crisis. Uganda noted that gender inequality and discrimination against women existed in the provision of food supplies. The Doha trade talks should continue with a focus on the elimination of agricultural subsidizes in order to provide a fairer global food production system. Uganda would support the resolution.

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For use of the information media; not an official record