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Human Rights Council adopts 11 resolutions on Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Israeli settlements

Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON 22 March 2012

Decides to Appoint an Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment; Decides to Send a Fact-Finding Mission to Investigate Israeli Settlements; Extends Mandates on Iran and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted 11 resolutions in which it decided to appoint an Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; decided to send an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; and extended for one year the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran and in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Other resolutions concerned freedom of religion or belief, birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law, the right to participation in political and public life by persons with disabilities, human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

Concerning human rights and the environment, the Council decided to appoint for three years an Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, whose tasks would include making recommendations that could help to the realize the Millennium Development Goals, taking into account the results of the Conference on Sustainable Development, and contributing to follow-up processes.

The Council decided to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, with a mandate ending on submission of a report to the Council. The Council called on Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to cooperate fully with the mission.

On Iran, the Council welcomed the report and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and expressed serious concern at the developments noted in that report as well as the lack of access permitted to the Special Rapporteur. The Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one year and called upon Iran to cooperate fully and permit access to the country.

Regarding the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Council expressed very serious concern at the ongoing grave, widespread and systematic human rights violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one year and urged the Government to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit him unrestricted access to visit the country.

Under its agenda item on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories, the Council adopted resolutions on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan in which it called upon Israel to desist from its continuous building of settlements, from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards and to allow the Syrian population of the occupied Syrian Golan to visit their families. With respect to the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the Council reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination as a basic condition for achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region of the Middle East and also reaffirmed its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security.
Concerning the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in the Occupied Syrian Golan, the Council demanded that Israel cease all of its settlement activities, condemned the firing of rockets against Israeli civilian areas and called upon Israel to cease prolonged closures and economic and movement restrictions, including those amounting to a blockade on the Gaza Strip. On the follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, the Council welcomed the efforts of Switzerland to reconvene a conference on measures to enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and recommended that the General Assembly consider launching an urgent discussion on the legality of the use of certain munitions.

On freedom of religion or belief, the Council condemned all forms of violence, intolerance and discrimination based on or in the name of religion or belief, and urged States to ensure that no one was deprived of the right to life, liberty or torture because of religion or belief.

Concerning birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law, the Council called upon States to establish or strengthen existing governmental institutions responsible for birth registration and the preservation and security of such records. States should identify and remove physical, administrative and other barriers that impeded access to birth registration.

With regards to the participation in political and public life by persons with disabilities, the Council called upon States to ensure that persons with disabilities could effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, and to participate in the conduct of public affairs.

Introducing resolutions were Denmark on behalf of the European Union, Mexico, Maldives, Costa Rica, Sweden, Japan and Pakistan.

Speaking in general comments were Uganda, Philippines and Cuba.

Ecuador, Russian Federation, Uruguay, China, Russian Federation, United States, Belgium on behalf of the European Union, Czech Republic, Mexico, Austria, Italy, Costa Rica on behalf of three countries and India spoke in explanation of the vote before or after the vote.

Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Israel and Palestine spoke as concerned countries.

The Council will continue to take action on draft resolutions and decisions on Friday, 23 March at 9:30 a.m. before concluding its nineteenth regular session.

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 Freedom of Religion or Belief

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.23) regarding freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns all forms of violence, intolerance and discrimination based on or in the name of religion or belief, as well as any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means; also condemns violence and acts of terrorism, which are increasing in number and targeting persons belonging to religious minorities across the world; stresses the importance of a continued and strengthened dialogue in all its forms; calls upon States to make use of the potential of education for the eradication of prejudices and stereotypes against members of other religions or beliefs; urges States to protect and promote freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, and to this end: to ensure that adequate and effective guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief are provided to all without distinction; to ensure that no one within their jurisdiction is deprived of the right to life, liberty or torture because of religion or belief, and to bring to justice all perpetrators of violations of these rights; to end violations of the human rights of women and to devote particular attention to abolishing practices and legislation that discriminates against women; and to promote, through the educational system and other means, mutual understanding, tolerance, non-discrimination and respect in all matters of freedom of religion or belief.

Denmark, introducing draft resolution L.23 on behalf of the European Union, said freedom of religion or belief was a fundamental human right protected by a number of international treaties. Acts of violence and discrimination based on religion or belief continued to be perpetrated in different parts of the world. The resolution urged States to step up efforts to protect and promote freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief. It condemned all forms of violence, intolerance and discrimination and emphasized that States should exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against persons belonging to religious minorities. The resolution also welcomed the work of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

Action on Resolution on Birth Registration and the Right of Everyone to Recognition Everywhere as a Person Before the Law

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.24) regarding birth registration and the right to everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses concern at the high number of persons throughout the world whose birth is not registered; calls upon States to establish or strengthen existing governmental institutions responsible for birth registration and the preservation and security of such records, and to ensure they have sufficient resources to fulfil their mandate; also calls upon States to ensure free birth registration, including free or low-fee late birth registration, by means of universal, accessible, simple, expeditious and effective registration procedures without discrimination of any kind; urges States to identify and remove physical, administrative and any other barriers that impede access to birth registration, including late registration, paying due attention to, among others, those barriers relating to poverty, disability, multicultural contexts and persons in vulnerable situations; and encourages States to request technical assistance, if required, from relevant United Nations bodies, agencies, funds and programmes in order to fulfil their obligation to undertake birth registration as a means to respect the right of everyone to be recognized everywhere as a person before the law.

Mexico, introducing draft resolution L.24, said the right of all individuals to recognition as a person before the law, which was enshrined in a significant number of international instruments, was a fundamental right. Its importance was reflected in the prohibition of its derogation as per article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. One of the most effective ways of doing this was birth registration, which involved the official recognition of the existence of a human being and promoted a culture of effective protection. Worldwide, 51 million children were not registered every year. Birth registration was important for building effective statistics, which engendered the deployment of effective development programmes and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Action on Resolution on Human Rights and the Environment

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.8/Rev.1) regarding human rights and the environment, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to appoint, for a period of three years, an Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, whose tasks will include: making recommendations that could help the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular of Goal 7; taking into account the results of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012, and to contribute to follow-up processes; to apply a gender perspective by considering the particular situation of women and girls and identifying gender-specific discrimination and vulnerabilities; to submit a first report, including conclusions and recommendations, to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session and annually thereafter; calls upon all States, United Nations agencies, other relevant international organizations and non-governmental organizations, the private sector and national human rights institutions to cooperate fully with the Independent Expert, and invites them to share best practices with the Independent Expert, and to provide him or her with all the necessary information to enable him or her to fulfill the mandate.

Maldives, introducing draft resolution L.8/Rev.1, said that more than 75 countries had co-sponsored the text on human rights and the environment. Although there had been an enormous amount of interest at national, regional and international levels regarding the relationship between the environment and human rights, there was no single mechanism at the United Nations level to gather these various strands together and to move forward the agenda in a coherent and considered fashion. The draft resolution represented an historic opportunity for the international community to finally take a significant step forward in the field of human rights and the environment.

Costa Rica, also introducing draft resolution L.8/Rev.1, said Costa Rica hoped the resolution would be adopted with consensus. One year ago, Costa Rica had launched a specific initiative in this area which had led to the draft resolution on human rights and the environment. Costa Rica thanked all the States parties which had worked in a cooperative and inclusive way during the negotiations and noted the contribution of civil society in the process.

Action on Resolution on Participation in Political and Public Life by Persons with Disabilities

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.9/Rev.1) regarding participation in political and public life by persons with disabilities, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States parties to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, and to participate in the conduct of public affairs; also calls upon States parties to adopt and implement appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can participate effectively and fully in political and public life on an equal basis with others; urges States parties to review any existing exclusion or restriction of political rights for persons with disabilities, including those persons with psycho-social, mental or intellectual disabilities, and to take all appropriate measures to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities; and requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on the work and employment of persons with disabilities prior to the twenty-second session of the Human Rights Council.

Mexico, introducing draft resolution L.9/Rev.1, said the social integration of persons with disabilities was key to the rule of law. The perspectives and experiences of some 15 per cent of the world’s population contributed diversity and knowledge to the inherent wealth of democratic regimes. The draft resolution sought to provide added-value to the Council. The draft resolution aimed to guide the implementation of timely aspects of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and develop best practices. It focused on guaranteeing political rights and participation in public life for persons with disabilities and called on States to implement measures so that this was possible.

Uganda, speaking in a general comment, said Uganda had traditionally been a sponsor of this initiative. Affirmative action measures were being taken by the Government of Uganda, including providing seats on a reserved basis in Parliament for persons with disabilities. The challenge was to ensure the effective participation for persons with disabilities in public life on an equal basis with others. Uganda called for particular attention to be paid to universal design.

Philippines, speaking in a general comment, said the Philippines had keenly advocated for the rights of person with disabilities and had enshrined the rights for persons with disabilities in the country’s voting legislation. However, the Philippines had a reservation to operational paragraph seven in the resolution.

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

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.22) regarding the situation of human rights in Iran, adopted by a vote of 22 in favour, 5 against and 20 abstentions, the Council welcomes the report and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and expresses serious concern at the developments noted in that report as well as the lack of access permitted to the Special Rapporteur to travel to Iran; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran for a further period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of his mandate to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session, and to the General Assembly at its sixty-seventh session; calls upon the Government of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit access to visit the country as well as all information necessary to allow the fulfilment of the mandate; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with the resources necessary to fulfil the mandate.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (22): Austria, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Maldives, Mauritania, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland and United States.

Against (5): Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Qatar and Russian Federation.

Abstentions (20): Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Djibouti, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Uganda and Uruguay.

Sweden, introducing draft resolution L.22, said the short, procedural resolution extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. It welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s report and further urged the Government of Iran to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur. The deteriorating situation of human rights in Iran continued to be of great concern. Sweden regretted that the Special Rapporteur, Dr. Shaheed, had not been given access to the country. At the same time, Dr. Shaheed had played an important role in presenting comprehensive reports to both the Council and the General Assembly as well as rendering a voice to the victims of human rights violations. Sweden encouraged the Iranian authorities to engage in dialogue and cooperate with this important mechanism of the Human Rights Council.

Cuba, speaking in a general comment on the resolution, said that the resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran was part of a series of strategic efforts which attempted to manipulate the way the Council operated. Iran’s history was one dominated by conflict and foreign intervention. Iran had the right to self-determination and should be permitted to follow its political, economic and social processes. There was an almost permanent intervention in Iran’s internal affairs including the sanctions regime related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. There was no justification to move forward with this exercise as Iran had cooperated with international human rights mechanisms. Cuba expressed its full solidarity with the Iranian people who faced a military intervention from abroad. Cuba requested a vote and would vote against the resolution.

Iran, speaking as the concerned country, said that the Human Rights Council had permitted the use of human rights as a pretext to advance the political interests of specific States. The draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran was an example of an unhealthy and dangerous trend. The Government of Iran had cooperated with the Human Rights Council which was meant to be an apolitical forum for meaningful engagement among States. In February 2010, a high-ranking Iranian delegation had presented Iran’s report to the Universal Periodic Review; in December 2010 the Government had cooperated with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and since 2003 six Special Procedures had visited Iran, the highest number of visits by Special Procedures in the region. The Government of Iran rejected the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran who had not observed the code of conduct of the United Nations and had deviated from adopting a fair approach in his report. The draft resolution would weaken the stature of the Council and its Special Procedures and Iran urged Member States to reject it.

Ecuador, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, asked that priority be given to the Universal Periodic Review as the main tool to protect and promote human rights. Ecuador reiterated that, in the Council, differential and biased treatment should not exist. Ecuador called on the Iranian Government to cooperate with human rights mechanisms and consider a moratorium or the abolishment of the death penalty. Ecuador was profoundly concerned that the draft resolution was not balanced and did not exhibit the appropriate level of objectivity or impartiality.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, spoke of the counter-productivity of politicized resolutions which had the sole objective of isolating certain Governments. This harmed dialogue and cooperation among States on the subject of human rights. The Russian Federation was concerned about the application of unilateral sanctions which had negative economic and social consequences. Russia would vote against the resolution.

Uruguay, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Uruguay would abstain from voting on the draft resolution because one year ago it had abstained from voting on the creation of the Special Rapporteur. There were other alternatives in order to more effectively address the human rights situation in Iran. Uruguay was not in accord with some of the policies of Iran, which had not taken all possible steps to protect the human rights of its citizens. The Iranian Government should allow special mandate holders on its territory.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that China believed dialogue and cooperation was the best way to resolve issues. China was against the practice of using country specific human rights initiatives to exert pressure. China hoped the Human Rights Council could view the situation of human rights in Iran in a fair, unbiased and objective manner and could play a constructive role in promoting and protecting human rights in Iran.

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.29) regarding the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses its very serious concern at the ongoing grave, widespread and systematic human rights violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 16/8, for a period of one year; urges the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit him unrestricted access to visit the country; also urges the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to ensure full, rapid and unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with all assistance and adequate staffing necessary to carry out his mandate effectively, with the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Denmark, introducing draft resolution L.29 on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union was deeply concerned about the continuous reports of systematic and widespread human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The use of torture and labour camps for prisoners, repatriated citizens, journalists and human rights defenders were unacceptable. The European Union regretted the refusal of the Government of the People’s Republic of Korea to work with the Special Rapporteur. The resolution called for an extension of the mandate, and for the Government to work with the Special Rapporteur and to provide full, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to the country.

Japan, also introducing draft resolution L.29, said Japan remained concerned about the gross and systematic human rights violations that persisted in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. These included unresolved cases of numerous abductions of foreign nationals, violations of the right to food, and inadequate due process of law. The Government had shown no willingness to engage in dialogue or cooperate with any of the Council’s mechanisms including accepting any recommendations made during its Universal Periodic Review in 2009. The purpose of the resolution was not to denounce the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea but to urge it to engage in constructive dialogue with the international community and to take concrete steps to improve the human rights situation on the ground.

Cuba, speaking in a general comment, said this was another case of political manipulation of the Council. Cuba clearly rejected the resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and would continue to reject resolutions of this kind. The Korean people were being denied the right to development and self-determination by Western powers which sought to impose their will on the Korean people. Western powers were also denying the right to peace to Korea. The draft resolution was totally inappropriate. Cuba wished to disassociate itself from the resolution.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking as the concerned country, said that the resolution was a product of political confrontation. The European Union had pursued an insidious political purpose following the deep-rooted hostile policy of the United States in an attempt to change the sacred socio-political system of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. All the actions against the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the international human rights arena were a confrontation of politics, ideology and ideals aimed at sabotaging the socialist system. The adoption of a country specific resolution would lead to confrontation which was not compatible with genuine dialogue and cooperation. The Government respected international human rights instruments and would continue to do its best to realise dialogue and cooperation at all times.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said China was always in favour of appropriately resolving differences in human rights through dialogue and cooperation. China was against the use of resolutions for exerting pressure on certain countries. China expressed disappointment that members of the Council were continuing to target the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Greater attention should be paid to difficulties faced in terms of economic, social and cultural rights in the country. China would not participate in the consensus on the resolution.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, pointed out the counter-productivity of these resolutions, which did not promote constructive development on human rights. The draft text was politicised and undermined the principles of international cooperation. The Russian Federation called the resolution unacceptable and disassociated itself from the resolution and the consensus.

Action on Resolutions on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

Action on Resolution on Human Rights in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.3) regarding Human Rights in the Occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, 1 against and 13 abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel to desist from its continuous building of settlements, the most recent of which is the settlement campaign being conducted by the so-called Golan Regional Council under the slogan “Come to the Golan”; further calls upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan; calls upon Israel to allow the Syrian population of the occupied Syrian Golan to visit their families and relatives in the Syrian motherland through the Quneitra checkpoint; also calls upon Israel to release immediately the Syrian detainees in Israeli prisons, some of whom have been detained for more than 25 years; further calls upon Israel to allow delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Syrian prisoners of conscience and detainees in Israeli prisons accompanied by specialized physicians to assess the state of their physical and mental health and to protect their lives; determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that seek to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void, constitute a flagrant violation of international law and of the Geneva Convention, and have no legal effect; again calls upon States Members of the United Nations not to recognize any of the above-mentioned measures; and requests the Secretary-General to disseminate the present resolution as widely as possible and to report on this matter to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (33): Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, 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 (1): United States.

Abstentions (13): Austria, Belgium, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain and Switzerland.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.3, said that since the occupation of the Syrian Golan in 1967, Israel had committed grave and systematic violations of human rights which must be highlighted and a strong message sent to the victims of these violations by the Human Rights Council. The resolution called upon Israel to comply with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, in particular Security Council Resolution 497 in which the Council decided that the decision of Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void and without legal effect.

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that for over 40 years, Syria had been calling for the Council and other bodies to draw attention to Israeli practices in the Syrian Golan. These practices were very serious and violated human rights. Israel continued to deprive residents of the Occupied Syrian Golan of their basic rights, including the right to visit their families, their rights to justice, and their rights to be free from torture. The resolution concerned Israeli practices in the Syrian Golan and called on Israel to respect human rights, withdraw from the Occupied Territories, respect the principles of land for peace, follow the Arab road map, free prisoners which originated in the Golan, respect commitments under the Fourth Geneva Convention, end colonization, stop destruction of agricultural harvests and the environment, and allow exiles to return to their land.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the resolution put forward on the Golan Heights was one sided, biased and undermined the common work of the Council to bring an end to the crisis in Syria. The situation of the citizens in the Golan was in no way equivalent to the situation of the Syrian citizens in Syria. The United States was in no way supporting the actions of Israel in the Golan and reaffirmed its commitment to achieving a permanent peace agreement in the Middle East. The United States would call for a vote on the resolution and would vote against it.

Action on Resolution on the Right of the Palestinian People to Self-Determination

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.33) regarding the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted by a vote of 46 in favour, 1 against and no abstentions, the Council reaffirms the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and to establish their sovereign, independent, democratic and viable contiguous State; also reaffirms its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security; stresses the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; urges all Member States and relevant bodies of the United Nations system to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination; and decides to continue the consideration of this question at its twenty-second session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (46): Angola, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda and Uruguay.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (0):
The results of the vote were as follows:

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.33, said the realization of the right to self- determination was an essential condition to guarantee for the observance and promotion of protection of individual human rights. The resolution recalled the relevant General Assembly, Security Council, Commission of Human Rights, and Human Rights Council resolutions that confirmed and defined the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. It reaffirmed the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. It reaffirmed support for a two State solution, Palestine and Israel, living side-by-side in peace and security. The draft text stressed the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

Israel, speaking as the concerned country, said that Israel was shocked by the level of hypocrisy and double standards that had taken root in the Council. This morning, a distinguished delegate said that country specific resolutions made little impact on the ground if the concerned country was not on board while another delegate lectured the Council that country specific resolutions should be the last resort. The Palestinian proposal was selective and Israel had not been consulted. Many speakers today had emphasized the ideas of impartiality, non-selectivity and non-politicization which they then had not applied to item seven resolutions. Israel called upon the Palestinian Authority to resume the bilateral negotiations toward the establishment of a Palestinian State living side by side with its neighbours. The resolution was unjustified and counterproductive and would add tension to an already explosive situation.

Palestine, speaking as the concerned country, expressed its sincere condolences to France and the families of the victims of terrorism in Toulouse. In 2010, the Palestinian people celebrated 10,000 years since the creation of the first Palestinian town of Jericho which was before Judaism, Christianity, and the arrival of Islam in the region. The right to self-determination was an ethical and legal value enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The draft resolution had not sought to exclude Israel but to protect the right of Palestinians through a fact-finding mission to be sent to investigate the colonization of Palestinian land. Some 46 per cent of Palestinian territory was under complete Israeli colonization; how could a two State solution be achieved under such circumstances? The resolution asked Israel to conform to the international obligations it had undertaken in order for the occupation to come to an end. The draft resolution called for a follow-up to the recommendations in the Goldstone Report and for a Fact Finding Mission to be sent to Gaza.

United States, in a general comment on draft resolutions L.33 and L.34, said the United States was deeply concerned about the plight of the Palestinians. The issue could only be resolved with a two-State solution. The United States was deeply troubled by the slate of resolutions that undermined the work of the Council. These issues belonged in direct negotiations. The United States continued to provide technical and financial support to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people. The United States was troubled by the disproportionate and one-sided resolutions. This went against collective efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace. The United States called for a vote on both L.33 and L.34 and urged Member States to join the United States in voting no on both.

Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.34) regarding the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 44 in favour, 1 against and 2 abstentions as orally revised, the Council reiterates that all measures and actions taken by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in violation of the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention and contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, are illegal and have no validity; demands that Israel cease all actions that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people; also demands that Israel comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949; further demands that Israel cease all of its settlement activities, the construction of the wall and any other measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory; condemns the firing of rockets against Israeli civilian areas resulting in loss of life and injury; demands that Israel comply with its legal obligations under international law, and General Assembly resolutions, and immediately cease the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, dismantle the structure, and make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall; calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease prolonged closures and economic and movement restrictions, including those amounting to a blockade on the Gaza Strip, and to fully implement the Agreement on Movement and Access and the Agreed Principles for the Rafah Crossing, both of 15 November 2005, in order to allow for the sustained and regular movement of persons and goods and for the acceleration of long overdue reconstruction in the Gaza Strip; and urges Member States to continue to provide emergency assistance to the Palestinian people to alleviate the financial crisis and the dire socio-economic and humanitarian situation, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (44): Angola, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ecuador, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Libya, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda and Uruguay.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (2): Cameroon and Guatemala.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.34, said the resolution expressed grave concern about the continuing systematic violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying power. The resolution noted the excessive use of force and military operations that had caused death and injury to Palestinian civilians, including children, women and non-violent, peaceful demonstrators. The draft text expressed grave concern about the critical humanitarian and security situation in the Gaza Strip resulting from its prolonged closure and the severe economic movement restrictions. The resolution urged Israel to cease all practices and actions that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people, including the killing and injury of civilians and the destruction and confiscation of civilian property. It also urged Israel to comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and urged Member States to continue to provide emergency assistance to the Palestinian people to alleviate the financial crisis and the dire socio-economic and humanitarian situation, particularly in the Gaza Strip. Pakistan presented oral amendments to the resolution.

Belgium, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of European Union, said the European Union had suggested amendments to the resolution but not all were adopted. The European Union had not expressed itself on all legal terms and evoked its statement made in support of resolution 65/105 in the General Assembly. European Union States which were members of the Council would vote in favour of the resolution.

Action on Resolution on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.35) regarding Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 36 in favour, 1 against and 10 abstentions, the Council condemns the recent Israeli announcements of the construction of new housing units for Israeli settlers in the West Bank and around occupied East Jerusalem; expresses its grave concern at: the continuing Israeli settlement and related activities; and the increasing number of newly built structures amounting to several thousands; urges Israel, the occupying Power: to reverse the settlement policy in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan and to prevent any new installation of settlers in the occupied territories; calls upon Israel to implement serious measures to prevent acts of violence by Israeli settlers; demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with its legal obligations; urges the parties to give renewed impetus to the peace process which will allow two States, Israel and Palestine, to live in peace and security; decides to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, with a mandate ending on submission of a report to the Council, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to cooperate fully with the mission; and requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all administrative, technical and logistical assistance to enable the mission to fulfil its mandate promptly and efficiently.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (36): Angola, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda and Uruguay.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (10): Cameroon, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania and Spain.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.35, said the draft resolution on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan, responded to the humanitarian and human rights challenges in the occupied territories. The draft text condemned recent Israeli announcements of the construction of new housing units for Israeli settlers in the West Bank and around occupied East Jerusalem and called upon the Government of Israel to immediately reverse its direction. The draft text called upon Israel to take and implement serious measures with the aim of preventing acts of violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians and to guarantee their safety and protection. The resolution called for an independent international fact-finding mission, appointed by the President of the Council, to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that following Israel’s sabotage of peace efforts and the United State’s veto of the resolution condemning the acceleration of settlements, the construction of settlements, including in the Syrian Golan, had been accelerated. With the blessing and complacency of many great powers or shyness in condemning acts, there was no land left for Palestine to establish a State. Israel had demolished homes, mosques and other sites. There was only 13 per cent of Arab Jerusalem left. These hysterical efforts to accelerate and expand building of settlements constituted a gross violation of humanitarian law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Israel had breached hundreds of international resolutions which had confirmed that the settlements were illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions. Sending a Commission of Inquiry to study the implications of such settlements on the rights of Palestinians and Syrians was vital.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the United States was deeply troubled by another one-sided United Nations mechanism against Israel. It was inappropriate to prejudge final status issues that could only be resolved through bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine. The United States was against new Israeli settlements but it could not support a one-sided investigation into the conflict. The Council should engage in actions which helped move the parties toward peace and not actions that complicated peace efforts through a biased fact finding mission that would sap resources and time.

Czech Republic, also on behalf of Hungary, Poland and Romania, said in an explanation of the vote before the vote, that they continued to support the main objective of this resolution but could not agree to the establishment of the fact-finding mission because it duplicated the work of other mechanisms. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania would abstain in the vote on the resolution.

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Mexico would vote in favour of the draft resolution although it had concerns about the sending of a fact-finding mission that was difficult to understand and carry out. Mexico would have preferred a more open, consultative and transparent process on this draft resolution as it contained items that were of concern to all Member States.

Austria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the construction of settlements and the separation barrier on occupied land and the destruction of Palestinian homes were in violation of international law and were a threat to lasting peace and security. Austria deplored the continued construction of settlements. Alternatives to a fact-finding mission would have been better suited to the situation, but were not included in the text. Austria would have liked to see more flexibility on the part of the delegations sponsoring the resolution.

Italy, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of Spain and Italy, said the Israeli settlements were illegal under international law, European Union law and many other forms of law. However, creating a fact-finding mission would duplicate other existing mechanisms. This would not advocate for new negotiations and full political will for carrying them on. For these reasons, Italy and Spain chose to abstain.

Costa Rica, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Costa Rica recognized the Palestinian State and was firmly committed to the Palestinian people. However, the delegation would abstain on voting on draft resolution L.35. Costa Rica was against the building of settlements by Israel. To continue this practice was contrary to international law. Costa Rica called on Israel to halt all construction. Those who had proposed the resolution had not taken into consideration all concerns. A situation such as this should not involve the presentation of the text at the last minute. It should involve dialogue and consultation with all States, especially friendly States.

Action on Resolution on Follow-up to the Report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.36) regarding follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, the Council welcomes the efforts made by the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as depositary of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to reconvene a conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; recommends that the General Assembly consider launching an urgent discussion on the legality of the use of certain munitions; also recommends that the General Assembly remain apprised of the matter until it is satisfied that appropriate action with regard to implementing the recommendations made by the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict in its report has been taken to ensure justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators; requests the Secretary-General to present to the Human Rights Council, at its twenty-first session, a comprehensive report on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission; and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit to the Human Rights Council, at its twentieth session, a progress report on the implementation of the present resolution.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (29): Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Thailand and Uganda.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (17): Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and Uruguay.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.36, said the resolution reiterated the obligation of Israel to protect civilians in armed conflict and to ensure accountability of all violations of international human rights law to avoid further violations. The resolution reiterated its call upon all concerned parties, including United Nations bodies, to ensure the implementation of the independent international fact finding mission to the Gaza Strip and called on Switzerland to reconvene a meeting of the contracting parties to the Geneva Convention. The resolution also called on the Secretary-General to provide a report during the twenty-second session of the Council on the implementation of the recommendations in the report.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the human rights record of all States should be addressed under a common rubric in the Council. The best way to address human rights issues in Palestine was through political negotiation that would result in a two State solution. The United States was committed to supporting humanitarian agencies to support Palestine. Council Member States should take a balanced approach to human rights violations in the Middle East. The United States objected to the call for Switzerland to reconvene the contracting parties to the Geneva Convention and would call for a vote on the resolution.

India, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said India would support this resolution. India was concerned about the disproportionate use of force by Israel. India’s support of the resolution which mentioned the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statue in no way changed India’s long standing position on these mechanisms.

Belgium, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union reiterated its invitation to all parties to step up the fight against impunity. The European Union did not see the added value of the resolution and those European Union members who were members of the Council would abstain.

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For use of the information media; not an official record