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Human Rights Council extends mandates of Special Rapporteur on Myanmar and the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

Human Rights Council
MORNING 23 March 2012

Also Adopts Texts on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, Human Rights and Good Governance, the Social Forum, and the Forum on Minority Issues

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted six resolutions in which it extended for one year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and extended the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria. The texts also concerned the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights, the Social Forum, and the Forum on Minority Issues.

At the beginning of the meeting, Laura Lasserre Dupuy, President of the Human Rights Council, said that the Council examined in closed meetings under its Complaint Procedure the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Turkmenistan and Iraq. It had decided to discontinue consideration of the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Turkmenistan, and one human rights situation regarding Iraq. The Council recommended that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights increased capacity building and advisory services to this country and decided to keep under review one human rights situation there.

Concerning the situation of human rights in Syria, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the sharply escalating widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights perpetrated by the Syrian authorities and the attacks against civilians in cities and villages across the country. The Council demanded that the Syrian authorities meet their responsibility to protect their population. The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council in its resolution S-17/1 and requested the Commission of Inquiry to conduct and continuously update a mapping exercise of gross violations of human rights since March 2011, including an assessment of casualty figures, and to publish it periodically.

On the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the Council urged the Government of Myanmar to ensure that the by-elections of 1 April were free, transparent and fair; strongly called for an immediate end to the continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers by all parties, and decided to extend for one year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

On the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Council expressed serious concern at the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as of refugee and international humanitarian law, in the context of countering terrorism. It deeply deplored the suffering caused by terrorism to the victims and their families and called upon States to safeguard, while countering terrorism, the right to privacy in accordance with international law.

Concerning the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights, the Council invited States to provide the High Commissioner with information on good practices and their views regarding the organization, training and education of the public service. The Council requested the High Commissioner to prepare and present to the Council, at its twenty-fourth session, a comprehensive report outlining the role of the public service as an essential component of good governance.

On the Forum of Minority Issues, the Council decided that the Forum would continue to meet annually for two working days allocated to thematic discussions and that the Independent Expert would continue to guide its work.

The Council decided that the Social Forum would meet for three working days in 2012, in Geneva, and should focus on the theme: “People-centred development and globalization”. It requested the President of the Council to appoint the Chairperson-Rapporteur for the 2012 Social Forum and the High Commissioner to submit a report as a background contribution for the dialogues and debates held at the 2012 Social Forum.

Introducing resolutions were Mexico, Poland, Denmark on behalf of the European Union, Austria,

Speaking in general comments were the Philippines, Cuba, India, the Russian Federation, Qatar, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Norway, Belgium on behalf of the European Union, Switzerland, Peru and the United States.

The Russian Federation, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Ecuador, Switzerland and India spoke in explanation of the vote before or after the vote.

Myanmar and Syria spoke as concerned countries.

When the Council reconvenes at 3 p.m. this afternoon, it will take action on remaining resolutions and decisions before closing its nineteenth session.

Complaint Procedure

LAURA LASSERRE DUPUY, President of the Human Rights Council, said that the Council examined in closed meetings, the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Turkmenistan and Iraq. It had decided to discontinue consideration of the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Turkmenistan, and one human rights situation regarding Iraq. The Council recommended that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights increased capacity building and advisory services to this country and decided to keep under review one human rights situation there.

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

Action on Resolution on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.25/Rev.1) regarding the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses serious concern at the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as of refugee and international humanitarian law, in the context of countering terrorism; deeply deplores the suffering caused by terrorism to the victims and their families; calls upon States to ensure, while countering terrorism, that any person whose human rights or fundamental freedoms have been violated has access to an effective remedy and reparations; urges States to protect all human rights while countering terrorism; calls upon States to safeguard, while countering terrorism, the right to privacy in accordance with international law; urges States to respect, while countering terrorism, the rights to be equal before the courts and tribunals and to a fair trial; requests the Special Rapporteur, in accordance with his mandate, to continue to gather, request, receive and exchange information on alleged violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, and to report regularly to the Human Rights Council; requests all States to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur; and requests the High Commissioner and the Special Rapporteur to present their reports, bearing in mind the content of the present resolution, to the Human Rights Council under agenda item 3, in conformity with its annual programme of work.

Mexico, introducing draft resolution L.25/Rev. 1, said that there were over 40 co-sponsors of the resolution on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. The resolution emphasized a respect for the victims of terrorism and appealed to States to guarantee due process on the basis of international law for people deprived of liberty. The resolution invited the Special Rapporteur and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen discussions on procedures with regards to specific individuals who were identified in the fight against terrorism to ensure their access to justice. The resolution also noted the important role of civil society in ensuring fundamental freedoms and human rights.

Action on Resolution on the Role of Good Governance in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.26) regarding the role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council welcomes the growing trend towards the universal ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and encourages States that have not yet ratified to consider doing so; underlines the fact that the primary responsibility for ensuring that professional public services uphold the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, including impartiality, rule of law, transparency and accountability, lies with the State at the national level; invites the Secretary-General to ensure the upholding of the integrity and relevance of the United Nations system in the service of humanity; invites Members States, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations to provide the High Commissioner with information on good practices and their views regarding the organization, training and education of the public service, as well as activities developed to assist and support the public service at the country level in this regard; and requests the High Commissioner to prepare and present to the Council, at its twenty-forth session, a comprehensive report outlining the role of the public service as an essential component of good governance.

Poland, introducing draft resolution L.26 on behalf of a cross-regional group, acknowledged the constructive way in which groups from all regions had consulted on the resolution and worked together to improve it. The group had aimed to ensure the process was transparent and all delegates were able to provide input on the draft text. The attitude, culture and work of public servants were instrumental in ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights. In the draft resolution, the Council was asking the High Commissioner for Human Right to prepare a report which outlined the role public servants played in good governance and the promotion and protection human rights.

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

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.30) regarding the situation of human rights in Myanmar, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council welcomes the recent positive developments in Myanmar; also welcomes the engagement of the Government of Myanmar with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and opposition parties; expresses continued grave concern about remaining serious human rights violations; welcomes the release of a substantial number of prisoners of conscience, while expressing concern over reports on the conditions attached to some of the releases; urges the Government of Myanmar to ensure that the by-elections of 1 April are free, transparent and fair, including by seeking technical cooperation and the presence of international election observers; calls upon the Government of Myanmar to continue to implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur, the Universal Periodic Review and relevant Human Rights Council and General Assembly resolutions; strongly calls for an immediate end to the continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers by all parties and welcomes the recent engagement of the Government of Myanmar on this issue; decides to extend for one year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, and invites the Special Rapporteur to include in his next report further recommendations on the needs of Myanmar, including technical assistance and capacity-building; calls upon the Government of Myanmar to continue to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, including by facilitating further visits, and calls upon the Office of the High Commissioner to provide the Special Rapporteur with all the resources necessary to enable him to discharge his mandate fully; and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a progress report to the General Assembly at its sixty-seventh session, and to the Human Rights Council in accordance with its annual programme of work.

Denmark, introducing draft resolution L.30 on behalf of the European Union, said the resolution had come during significant changes and improvements of human rights in Myanmar. There were areas where serious human rights violations remained including: the need to put an end to impunity for human rights violations, to ensure an independent judiciary, and to resolve the conflict in ethnic areas. The resolution stressed the need for a free and fair process in the upcoming elections and the European Union stressed that there should be a full respect for freedom of speech and assembly in Myanmar. The resolution extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar for another year. Oral amendments to the resolution were distributed in the room.

Philippines, speaking in a general comment, said the delegation viewed the resolution as politicised and would like to register its dissatisfaction. The draft resolution did not provide an accurate picture of Myanmar on its path to democracy. It failed to comment on Myanmar’s progress. If it was truly about human rights, then full consideration should be given to the rights of the citizens of Myanmar and the draft resolution would call for the end of economic sanctions. The Philippines had no part in the resolution.

Cuba, speaking in a general comment, said once again the Council was showing its inability to take action on the ground and prevent countries from pursuing their own agendas. The draft resolution was politically motivated and put undue pressure on the process of reform in Myanmar. It should not have been submitted in this format to the Council. Given that it did not in any way contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights in Myanmar, Cuba disassociated itself from the draft resolution.

India, speaking in a general comment, emphasized the need to expedite the reforms in Myanmar and make the process more inclusive and broad based. India noted the efforts of the international community of engaging with the Government instead of imposing sanctions which were unproductive. India believed that the international community should engage more constructively with the Government of Myanmar. India did not believe the resolution was productive and would not vote in favour of it. India, however, would continue to engage with Myanmar on its democratic process and human rights.

Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, said the Government had expressed its commitment to protecting and promoting human rights and had launched a series of political, economic and social reforms. A serious setback to the current reforms was the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and other countries and now was the time to examine these sanctions. The Government had released over 28,000 prisoners; strengthened the peace process with ethnic groups to realize national reconciliation; and enhanced the political process with a free and fair election scheduled for 1 April that would be witnessed by observer countries. Myanmar thanked the Association of South East Asian Nations for their support of Myanmar during the consultation process and regretted that the European Union had not taken on board the balanced and objective suggestions from countries in the region. There were unfounded allegations of human rights violations in the text and Myanmar would oppose the adoption of the resolution.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, was forced to note that despite the amendments proposed, the resolution continued to be rigidly critical and political in nature. The practice of adopting such resolutions was unproductive. This approach did not promote productive cooperation. The Russian Federation disassociated itself from the consensus of the Council.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said constructive engagement promoted human rights. China was against applying pressure through country-specific resolutions. Last year, Myanmar created a parliament and had made other improvements recognized by the international community. The resolution was not able to objectively assess the developments in Myanmar and instead applied pressure. China called on the Council to objectively consider the situation and play a constructive role in Myanmar. China was not able to join consensus on the resolution.

Thailand, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, welcomed the many positive developments in the democratization, reconciliation and development processes in Myanmar recently. These would significantly contribute to the peace and prosperity of Myanmar’s people and the region as the whole. Thailand recognized the efforts of the European Union and other sponsors to duly reflect efforts by the Government. This was why Thailand joined the consensus on the draft resolution. Thailand believed there was a need for a paradigm shift in the way the Council dealt with Myanmar. It should not be framed by “old thinking”.

Indonesia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Indonesia joined the consensus on the draft resolution and called on Myanmar to continue its reform process. It was regrettable that the sponsors of the initiative had failed to acknowledge the progress that had been made in the promotion and protection of human rights in Myanmar. Indonesia welcomed the changes that had occurred in the country including the Government’s positive engagement with Aung San Suu Kyi, the upcoming elections, efforts toward national reconciliation and the establishment of a national human rights commission in 2011. In the future, Myanmar should be considered under agenda item 10 to reflect the reforms it had implemented and the country’s need for technical assistance.

Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in Syria

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.38/Rev.1) regarding the human rights situation in Syria, adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions, the Council welcomes both reports of the commission of inquiry and the recommendations made therein, and expresses profound concern about the commission’s findings that Government forces have committed widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations that may amount to crimes against humanity with the apparent knowledge and consent of the highest levels of the State; condemns in the strongest terms the sharply escalating widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms perpetrated by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters, refugees, human rights defenders and journalists, including recent deaths of Syrian and foreign journalists, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, including of adolescents and children; also condemns the attacks against civilians in cities and villages across the country, including the artillery bombardments of residential areas; demands that the Syrian authorities meet their responsibility to protect their population; is deeply troubled by the Commission of Inquiry’s finding that there are reasonable grounds to believe that particular individuals, including commanding officers and officials at the highest levels of Government, bear responsibility for crimes against humanity; urges unhindered access for all humanitarian actors into the country; demands that the Syrian authorities respect the popular will and demands of the Syrian people; put an immediate end to all attacks against journalists; take immediate steps to ensure the safety of foreign nationals in the Syrian Arab Republic, including refugees and diplomatic staff; lift the blockade of Homs, Dar’a, Zabadani and all other cities under siege; and calls upon the Syrian authorities to implement the League’s Plan of Action of 2 November 2011 in its entirety. The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council in its resolution S-17/1, and requests the commission to continue its work, to provide an oral update to the Council at an interactive dialogue at its twentieth session and to present also a written updated report at an interactive dialogue at its twenty-first session; requests the Commission of Inquiry to conduct and continuously update a mapping exercise of gross violations of human rights since March 2011, including an assessment of casualty figures, and to publish it periodically; calls on the Syrian authorities to cooperate fully with the commission of inquiry, including by granting it unhindered access to the country; and recommends that the main bodies of the United Nations urgently consider the reports of the commission of inquiry and take appropriate action to address human rights violations, as well as crimes against humanity that may have been committed.
A vote was conducted on oral amendments proposed by the Russian Federation, and the amendments were rejected by a vote of four in favour, 33 against, and nine abstentions.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (4): China, Cuba, Ecuador and Russian Federation.

Against (33): Austria, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, United States and Uruguay.

Abstentions (9): Angola, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Congo, India, Indonesia, Mauritius, Thailand and Uganda.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (41): Angola, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, United States and Uruguay.

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

Abstentions (2): Ecuador and Uganda.

Denmark, introducing draft resolution L.38/Rev.1 on behalf of the European Union, said the human rights situation was deteriorating every day in Syria. The European Union condemned the excessive use of force against civilians and the shelling of densely populated areas. Thousands had died. The European Union was deeply troubled by the suffering of the Syrian people and called on the authorities to open the country to humanitarian access. The Syrian authorities had failed in their responsibility to protect their people and had committed human rights violations that could amount to crimes against humanity. There was no choice but to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, which was asked to conduct a mapping exercise of the human rights violations. The authorities were asked to open up the country to the Commission. The European Union welcomed the efforts of the Arab League and the appointment of Kofi Annan as a Special Envoy. Denmark asked the Council to send a strong and unified message of support to the people of Syria.

Russian Federation, speaking in a general comment, said that opposition groups in Syria had carried out acts of violence against the Government. Human rights defenders had collected data which showed that there were illegal abductions of Government officials, civilians and soldiers by armed opposition groups. Russia proposed oral amendments to the text to reflect the terrorist attacks that had occurred in the country.

Qatar, considering the oral amendments submitted by the Russian Federation, said these oral amendments could not be accepted because the text already contained language as proposed by the Russian Federation. Qatar called for a vote on the amendments and urged all Members to vote against them.

Cuba, speaking in a general comment, said there was no objectivity or balanced information on the situation in Syria and stressed its concern for victims of violence in any of its forms. Cuba recognized the efforts of the Syrian authorities to use dialogue to overcome the situation. The amendments could not be rejected because they were balanced and would help facilitate the end of this situation. Cuba would vote for the amendments proposed by the Russian Federation.

Belgium, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Member States who were members of the Council, gave full support to Qatar. Belgium did not understand why the amendments were being proposed, as there had been consultations with the Russian Federation in the development of the draft text. It was clear that the text addressed the violence, legal responsibility and accountability concerned. All sponsors of the draft test would vote against the amendment and Belgium called on all to vote against it.

Saudi Arabia, speaking in a general comment, supported the statement made by Qatar. The resolution had the support of a large number of countries and needed no amendments.

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, condemned the resolution because it was out of the scope of the mandate of the Council and reflected a biased and politicized viewpoint. The Government of Syria had attempted to make a positive contribution to the text which was categorically rejected by the sponsors. The resolution did not reflect the reality on the ground including the role of armed gangs, their crimes and their refusal to engage in dialogue with the Government and the negative impact of economic sanctions. Syria feared that the efforts of Kofi Annan and other United Nations bodies would fail to resolve the crisis. A clear message should be sent to condemn terrorism. The co-authors had played a negative role in drafting this text for political ends that would lead to civil war. The resolution had not provided a positive appeal for inclusive dialogue to resolve the crisis and Syria rejected it and appealed to all Member States to vote against it.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the Russian Federation had been an active participant in resolving the situation in Syria and working on the draft resolution. The draft had not reflected the positive changes taking place in Syria. The Russian Federation saw no positive outcome resulting from the resolution. It would not lead to a peaceful settlement. It contradicted the recent presidential statement. It set the international community back in settling the crisis. There was no mention of terrorism or the victims of terrorism. The passing interest of the moment overrode professionalism and common sense. Russia asked for a vote and appealed to members of the Council to vote against.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said China’s consistent position was that differences in human rights should be resolved through constructive dialogue and cooperation. China was following the situation in Syria closely and was a strong advocate for finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. It was imperative that all parties stop the violence and express political propositions through non-violent means. All parties had to commence political dialogue without preconditions and without a predetermined outcome. It was unfortunate that the resolution did not give a balanced perspective to the situation and China would vote against it.

Ecuador, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Ecuador regretted that the Council did not adopt the proposed amendments which aimed at putting an end to impunity. The Universal Periodic Review was the most adequate and ideal instrument for assessment of the human rights situation of all States. Ecuador asked Syria to implement the recommendations of its Universal Periodic Review. Ecuador appealed to the Government and the armed opposition to respect the human rights of the population and seek peaceful dialogue in order to solve the crisis. External meddling had exacerbated the conflict. Ecuador would abstain from the vote.

Thailand, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on item 4, said Thailand joined the international community in expressing grave concerns over the continuing violence in Syria. Thailand had voted in favour of this resolution out of its genuine concern for the need for the Council to address both the human rights and humanitarian situations on the ground. The draft resolution could have been more balanced by calling on armed opposition groups to halt violence and by ensuring that the allegations of human rights violations by all sides would be addressed in an equal manner.

Action on Resolutions on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

Action on Resolution on the Forum on Minority Issues

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.11) regarding the Forum on Minority Issues, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides that the Forum shall continue to meet annually for two working days allocated to thematic discussions; requests the President of the Human Rights Council to continue to appoint for each session a chairperson of the Forum among experts on minority issues, nominated by members and observers of the Council; decides that the Independent Expert shall continue to guide the work of the Forum; requests the High Commissioner to provide all the necessary support to facilitate the convening of the Forum and the participation of relevant stakeholders from every region in its meetings; invites the High Commissioner to continue to seek voluntary contributions to the Forum to facilitate participation, in particular of those coming from developing countries, and to give particular attention to ensuring the participation of young people and women.

Before the resolution was adopted, the Council voted on an amendment which was proposed by China. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 15 in favour, 18 against and 12 abstentions.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (15): Angola, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Congo, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mauritania, Philippines, Russian Federation, Thailand and Uganda.

Against (18): Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, United States and Uruguay.

Abstentions (12): , Benin, Botswana, Djibouti, Ecuador, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Senegal.

Austria, introducing draft resolution L.11, said that Austria had traditionally been a main sponsor on resolutions concerning minority issues. The Forum on Minority Issues had been established in 2007 and the resolution called for a continued strong engagement with the Council on the topic. Austria thanked all delegations for their constructive support and engagement on this topic with over 50 delegations that had co-sponsored the text.

China, speaking in a general comment, said China supported the Forum on Minority Issues which provided an important platform for all stakeholders to engage in dialogue on best practices. The criteria for accrediting individuals and non-governmental organizations had not been abided by and there were instances of individuals and organizations that pursued a political agenda being permitted to engage in the Forum on Minority Issues. China called for a clearer definition on the registration procedure for individuals and non-governmental organizations without consultative status and proposed oral amendments to draft resolutions L.11, L.41 and L.42.

Austria, concerning proposed amendments by China, said resolution L.11 had reflected consensus language from previous resolutions on the Forum on Minority Issues. There had been open consultations for weeks on the text and these changes from China had come at the last minute and would complicate matters. Austria called for the Secretariat to provide an explanation of the non-governmental organization criteria to participate in the Forum on Minority Issues. Over the last 40 years, the Council had maintained consensus and constructive and useful discussions on minority issues and Austria urged China to reconsider its position.

China, speaking in a general comment, proposed a simple oral amendment to resolution L.42.

Austria, concerning the proposed amendment by China on L.42, said it could accept that amendment on behalf of co-sponsors but could not accept the proposed amendment on L.41.

A member of the Secretariat then informed the Council of the registration procedure for individuals and non-governmental organizations without consultative status to participate in the Forum on Minority Issues.

Cuba, speaking in a general comment, said Cuba deeply regretted not being among the co-sponsors because it greatly appreciated the role played by Austria with regard to the Forum. Politicization had been avoided. Cuba believed it would not have been possible to do better than the way in which Austria proceeded. Unfortunately, it had not been possible to reach an understanding because not all co-sponsor’s opinions were heard.

Costa Rica, speaking in a general comment, said the resolution was acceptable to the Costa Rican delegation and the many other delegations that had co-sponsored it. However, the amendment to L.41 Operative Paragraph 6 was not acceptable to Costa Rica and thus Costa Rica moved for the Council vote on this.

Norway, speaking in a general comment, supported the call for a vote on the amendment to L.41 Operative Paragraph 6 because Norway could not support the amendment. The issue of criteria for non-governmental organizations was important to the institutional-building package. Such criteria should be used and developed in a transparent manner. Also, these amendments were unnecessary. Non-governmental organizations were asked to adhere to the spirit and principles of the United Nations Charter. The amendments could be perceived as restricting the participation of non-governmental organizations and could silence the voices that disagreed with States’ practices and policies. This could restrict the spaces that allowed non-governmental organizations to provide valuable information and perspectives into discussions.

Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said Belgium could not accept the proposed amendments under L.41. The term territorial integrity and sovereignty should be a definition of responsibility for States and not for civil society. The participation of civil society in the Forum on Minority Issues was established in the institutional building package. The proposed amendments by China could challenge the basis of participation as defined in the package. The European Union would vote against these amendments.

Switzerland, speaking in a general comment, supported a vote on the amendments proposed by China and would vote against the amendments.

Austria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said there was careful language in operative paragraph six of the text. Austria appealed to China not to insist on bringing this amendment to a vote.

China, speaking in a general comment, said the amendment was a moderate, legitimate amendment with standard language. Even European colleagues had traditionally respected the concepts. They understood fully the meaning of the concepts. It was regrettable that they did not accept the amendment. China thought it was not a matter of whether China would withdraw it or not. China hoped co-sponsors would accept the amendments.

Philippines, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the Philippines supported the Forum on Minority Issues. The Philippines also supported the amendment. The intention involved had been a recurring one. Consistent and scrupulous implementation of the procedures of the Council was necessary.

Uruguay, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, clarified that Uruguay was not a co-sponsor. The amendment proposed worked against the objective that the Forum on Minority Issues should remain open to broad participation. Uruguay did not see any value added from the amendment. The guiding principles of the United Nations Charter were already listed, albeit in general, and they should be integrated in a positive, non restrictive manner. The amendment would also add a new body for monitoring non-governmental organizations’ participation which was unnecessary. There were already security, monitoring and accreditation measures and a procedural measure regarding the participation of non-governmental organizations in the Council

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on resolution L.11, regretted that Member States had rejected China’s oral amendments and noted that the Forum for Minority Rights had serious problems. The issue of the improper functioning of the Forum on Minority Issues in terms of the approval procedures of non-governmental attendance should be addressed and because that had not happened, China would not participate in the consensus on draft resolution L.11.

Action on Resolution on the Social Forum

In a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.20) regarding the Social Forum, adopted without a vote, the Council decides that the Social Forum will meet for three working days in 2012, in Geneva, on dates suitable for the participation of representatives of States Members of the United Nations and of the broadest possible range of other stakeholders, especially from developing countries, and should focus on the theme: “People-centred development and globalization”; requests the President of the Council to appoint the Chairperson-Rapporteur for the 2012 Social Forum; requests the High Commissioner to submit a report as a background contribution for the dialogues and debates held at the 2012 Social Forum; also requests the High Commissioner to facilitate participation in the 2012 Social Forum; decides that the Social Forum will remain open to the participation of representatives of Member States and all other interested stakeholders; requests the High Commissioner to seek effective means of ensuring consultation and the broadest possible participation of representatives from every region; requests the Secretary-General to take appropriate measures to disseminate information about the Social Forum; invites the 2012 Social Forum to submit a report containing its conclusions and recommendations to the Human Rights Council; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Social Forum with all the services and facilities necessary to fulfil its activities, and requests the High Commissioner to provide all the support necessary to facilitate the convening and proceedings of the Forum.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.20, said the Social Forum was a unique opportunity allowing open dialogue and exchange of views. It allowed for the broadest amount of participation possible. The draft resolution contained an appeal to empower sectors otherwise restrained by financial means to participate. It would guarantee the representation of poor sectors of civil society. In this context, the draft resolution proposed that the Social Forum of 2012 focused on development and human-centered development, the role of civil society and social movements and other issues of topical importance. Cuba introduced oral amendments to L. 20.

Uruguay, speaking in a general comment, said Uruguay co-sponsored the resolution. Cuba ensured that the resolution strengthened and consolidated the work of the Social Forum. Uruguay believed and participated in the Social Forum, particularly in giving better visibility to the right to development and other rights. The amendment diminished the initial thrust of the resolution. The Social Forum should be a broad opportunity to exchange views. Uruguay would withdraw as a co-sponsor.

Cuba, speaking in a general comment, withdrew its oral amendments to L.20.

Uruguay, speaking in a general comment, said Uruguay would support the resolution as a co-sponsor.

Costa Rica, speaking in a general comment, said the Social Forum was an important forum for discussing issues important to all delegations. Costa Rica said it would co-sponsor the resolution.

Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, thanked the delegation of Cuba for preparing the draft resolution on the Social Forum and appreciated that some of its comments were included. The time allocated to the Social Forum should be reduced and there should be a broader involvement of representatives in determining the topics for the forum. The European Union was deeply committed to the goal of increasing civil society participation in the United Nations but could not agree to finance this participation in the Social Forum.

Switzerland, speaking in a general comment, thanked Cuba for withdrawing its oral amendment.

Peru, speaking in a general comment, thanked Cuba for its cooperation on the resolution.

United States, speaking in a general comment, continued to have significant concerns on the resolution on the Social Forum and would not join the consensus. The Human Rights Council should focus on promoting and protecting human rights worldwide. There were inaccuracies in the social and economic data provided in the resolution and financing for development was not the domain of the Social Forum.

India, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said India’s vote on L.38, Rev.1 should be recorded as abstention.

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For use of the information media; not an official record