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Human Rights Council suspends twenty-first session

ROUNDUP

28 September 2012

Adopts 33 Resolutions, Extends Mandates of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the Independent Expert on Sudan, Adopts Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, and Decides to Establish a Working Group on the Rights of Peasants

The Human Rights Council suspended its twenty-first regular session this afternoon after adopting 33 resolutions on a wide range of issues in which it, among others, extended the mandates of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the Independent Expert on Sudan, adopted the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, and decided to establish a Working Group to negotiate and finalize a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. The Council also elected four new members of the Advisory Committee, appointed mandate-holders on the situation of human rights in Eritrea and in Belarus and on the disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, and named two new Commissioners for the Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

In a resolution on the human rights situation in Syria the Council extended the mandate of the independent international Commission of Inquiry on Syria. Regarding technical assistance for Sudan in the field of human rights, the Council renewed the mandate of the Independent Expert to Sudan for a period of one year. On follow-up to the human rights situation in Mali, the Council renewed its urgent invitation to the High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit a written report on the situation, particularly the northern part of the country. In a resolution on technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan in the field of human rights, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to provide South Sudan with the necessary technical support and training.

Concerning the human rights of older persons, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to organize a public consultation in Geneva to receive information and share good practices on the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons. On human rights and indigenous peoples, the Council decided to hold a half-day panel discussion on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples at its twenty-fourth session. The Council adopted Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and asked the Advisory Committee to finalize the study on traditional values and human rights. Other resolutions dealt with safe drinking water and sanitation, enforced or involuntary disappearances, dissemination of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, the right to truth, the use of mercenaries, the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, and human rights and international solidarity.

In other texts, the Council decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental Working Group to negotiate and finalize a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas; to convene a panel discussion on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights; to extend the deadline for submission of the final study on human rights and issues related to terrorist hostage-taking; and to convene a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

The Council also adopted other texts on the safety of journalists; the World Programme for Human Rights Education; human rights and transitional justice; the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes; enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights; technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights; the regulation of the activities of private military and security companies; complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights; a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; and on the right to development.

During the session, the Council decided to discontinue reviewing the human rights situation in Eritrea under its confidential Complaints Procedure in order to take up public consideration of the same issue. It also decided to discontinue reviewing the situation of trade unions and human rights defenders in Iraq under it Complaints Procedure.

Laura Lasserre Dupuy, President of the Human Rights Council, said the Council elected by acclamation Imeru Tamrat Yigezu from the African region, Saeed Mohamed Al Faihani from the Asian region, Mario L. Coriolano for the Latin Americas and Caribbean region, and Katharina Pabel for the Western European and other States, as new members to fill the vacant seats on the Advisory Committee.

The Council appointed Beedwantee Keetharuth as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea; Miklos Haraszti as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus; and Marc Pallemaerts as Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.

Taking into account the extension of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic until March 2013, and given that the situation on the ground had shown no sign of improvement, the President appointed Carla del Ponte and Vitit Muntarbhorn as two additional Commissioners.

Documentation, statements, resolutions and reports relating to this and all Human Rights Council sessions are available on its webpage. Detailed, speaker-by-speaker coverage of every public meeting can be found on the website of United Nations Information Service Geneva. The twenty-first session was held from 10 to 28 September. The twenty-second regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 25 February to 22 March 2013.

Summary of the Programme of Work

Over the course of its twenty-first session the Council heard a number of reports and held interactive dialogues with the Special Procedures presenting them, including from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence, the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, the Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation, the Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and waste, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples and the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia. All presentations were followed by interactive dialogues with States and non-governmental organizations.

The session also included a presentation of an oral update report by the independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria followed by an interactive dialogue with States and non-governmental organizations. The report of the Secretary-General on the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission was also heard, followed by a general debate. The Council held clustered interactive dialogues with the Working Group on mercenaries, the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples, the Independent Expert on international solidarity, the Independent Expert on democratic and equitable international order, the Working Group on right to development, the Working Group on African Descent, the Independent Expert on Somalia and the Independent Expert on Sudan. During the session the Council also held a number of panel discussions and heard the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards. It also held closed meetings under its Complaints Procedure.

The Council also adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Reviews on Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Algeria, Poland, the Netherlands and South Africa.

High-level dignitaries who addressed the Council included the President of Slovakia, Ivan Gašparovič; the Minister of Justice of Sudan, Mohamed Bushara Dousa; and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, Dipu Moni.

Resolutions Adopted by the Council

Resolutions Adopted under the Agenda Item 3 on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L1) regarding the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, adopted without a vote, the Council called upon States to prioritize in an appropriate way funding for safe drinking water and sanitation, and to monitor the affordability of safe drinking water and sanitation in order to determine whether specific measures are needed to ensure that household contributions are and remain affordable. It also requested the Special Rapporteur to continue to report, on an annual basis, to the Human Rights Council and to submit an annual report to the General Assembly.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L2) regarding the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind: best practices, adopted by a vote of 25 in favour, 15 against and 7 abstentions, the Council recalled the important role of family, community, society and educational institutions in upholding and transmitting those traditional values and decided to accord the Advisory Committee additional time to finalize its study on how a better understanding and appreciation of traditional values of dignity, freedom and responsibility can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L5) regarding enforced or involuntary disappearances, adopted as orally revised, the Council called upon all States that have not yet signed, ratified or acceded to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to consider doing so as a matter of priority and to prevent the occurrence of enforced disappearances, to work to eradicate the culture of impunity for the perpetrators of enforced disappearances, to take steps to provide adequate protection to witnesses of enforced or involuntary disappearances, and to address the specific needs of the families of disappeared persons.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L6) regarding the safety of journalists, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council condemned in the strongest terms all attacks and violence against journalists and expressed its concern that there was a growing threat to the safety of journalists posed by non-State actors. It requested the Office of the High Commissioner, in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, to prepare a compilation of good practices in the protection of journalists, the prevention of attacks and the fight against impunity for attacks committed against journalists.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L10) on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council requested all States to renew their commitment to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, including through the allocation of resources and the necessary information and health services addressing the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls. The Council also requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on how the technical guidance has been applied, to be presented to the Council at its twenty-seventh session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L13) regarding a panel discussion on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decided to convene, at its twenty-second session, within existing resources, a panel discussion on the issue of the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L14) regarding business and the human rights agenda, adopted without a vote, the Council requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council at its twenty-sixth session on the challenges, strategies and developments with regard to the implementation of the present resolution by the United Nations system, and to make concrete recommendations for action; also requests the Secretary-General to undertake a feasibility study to explore the establishment of a global fund towards implementation of the Guiding Principles and decides to organize a panel discussion to discuss strategies for advancing the business and human rights agenda by the United Nations system.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L15) regarding the human rights of older persons, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council called upon all States to ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights for older persons, including by taking measures to combat age discrimination, neglect, abuse and violence, and to address issues related to social integration and adequate health care. It requested the Office of the High Commissioner organize, in Geneva, an intersessional public consultation on the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons with the participation of Members States of the United Nations, relevant international organizations, United Nations agencies and other stakeholders.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L16) regarding the right to truth, adopted without a vote, the Council called upon States to work in cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence in accordance with his mandate, including by extending invitations to the Special Rapporteur. It requested the Office of the High Commissioner to collect information on good practices in the establishment, preservation and provision of access to national archives on human rights, and to make the information received publically available in an online database.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L17) regarding the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, 12 against and 1 abstention, the Council urged all States to take legislative measures to ensure that their territories were not used for the recruitment, assembly, financing, training, protection and transit of mercenaries. It called upon all States to become parties to the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries and requested the Working Group on the use of mercenaries to continue its work on the strengthening of the international legal framework.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L18) regarding the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, 12 against and 4 abstentions, the Council called upon all Member States to fulfil their commitment expressed during the World Conference against Racism in Durban to maximize the benefits of globalization and requests the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order to submit to the Council, at its twenty-fourth session, a report on the implementation of the present resolution, with particular emphasis on the fostering of full, equitable and effective participation.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.19) on human rights and international solidarity, adopted by a vote of 35 in favour, 12 against and no abstentions as orally revised, the Council requested all States, United Nations agencies, other relevant international and non-governmental organizations to mainstream the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity into their activities, and to cooperate with the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity in her mandate and to give serious consideration to responding favourably to her requests to visit their country to enable her to fulfil her mandate effectively, and also requested the Independent Expert to submit a report to the Council at its twenty-third session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.20) on Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council adopted the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights as a useful tool for States in the formulation and implementation of poverty reduction and eradication policies. It encouraged Governments and other stakeholders to consider the Guiding Principles in the formulation and implementation of their policies and measures concerning persons affected by extreme poverty and requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner to disseminate them, including to the United Nations General Assembly.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.21) on human rights and indigenous peoples, adopted without a vote, the Council requested the Special Rapporteur to report on the implementation of his mandate to the General Assembly at its sixty-eighth session; requested the Expert Mechanism to continue to undertake a questionnaire survey to seek the views of States and of indigenous peoples on best practices with regard to possible appropriate measures and implementation strategies to attain the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and decides to hold at its twenty-fourth session a half-day panel discussion on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.22) on the World Programme for Human Rights Education, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council encouraged all States, and, where appropriate, relevant stakeholders that have not yet taken steps to implement, within their capabilities, the World Programme and the Plan of Action to do so; and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to seek the views of States, national human rights institutions and other relevant stakeholders on the target sectors, focus areas or thematic human rights issues for the third phase of the World Programme, and to submit a report thereon to the Council at its twenty-fourth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L24) regarding human rights and transitional justice, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council strongly condemned violence against women and girls committed in conflict and post-conflict situations, such as murder, rape including systematic rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy and enforced sterilization and called for effective measures of accountability and redress where those acts amounted to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. It requested the Office of the High Commissioner to submit an analytical study to the Council, prior to its twenty-seventh session, focusing on gender-based and sexual violence in relation to transitional justice.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L25) regarding the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council called upon States to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections and invited the Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly to include, in his next annual report, the importance of the freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to the work of civil society actors. It also requested the Special Rapporteur present an annual report to the General Assembly.

In a resolution ((A/HRC/21/L26) regarding the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, the Council requests the new Special Rapporteur to develop a guide to best practices regarding the human rights obligations related to the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, to be submitted together with his report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-fourth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.27) regarding the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group to consider the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies, the Council requests the Chairperson-Rapporteur to present to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session the report of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group to consider the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L3) regarding the right to development, the Council decides to convene a two-day informal inter-sessional intergovernmental meeting of the Working Group, with the participation of States, groups of States, and relevant United Nations agencies, with a view to improve the effectiveness of the Working Group; and to consider the extension of the meeting time of the Working Group, as appropriate.

Resolutions Adopted under the Agenda Item 4 on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L9/Rev.1) regarding follow-up to the human rights situation in the Republic of Mali, adopted without a vote, the Council condemned the excesses and abuses committed in the Republic of Mali, particularly in the north of the country and repeated its call for an immediate halt to the abuses and all human rights violations and acts of violence. It also called for an immediate halt to the destruction of cultural and religious sites, and renewed its urgent invitation to the High Commissioner to submit to the Council at its twenty-second session a written report on the situation of human rights in the Republic of Mali, particularly the northern part of the country.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.32) on the human rights situation in Syria, decided to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and requests the Commission to present a written report to the twenty-second session of the Council. It also requested the Secretary-General to provide additional resources, including staffing, to the Commission in order to allow it to fulfil completely its mandate in the light of the increasingly deteriorating situation of human rights in Syria; and reiterated its call upon the Syrian authorities to cooperate fully with the Commission, including by granting it immediate, full and unfettered access throughout Syria.

Resolutions Adopted under the Agenda Item 5 on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L8) regarding human rights and issues related to terrorist hostage-taking, adopted without a vote, the Council decided to grant the Advisory Committee extra time in order to allow it to submit an interim report on the subject at its twenty-second session and the final study at its twenty-fourth session, in September 2013.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L23) regarding the promotion of the human rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, the Council decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental Working Group with the mandate of negotiating, finalizing and submitting to the Human Rights Council a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas on the basis of the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/1) on the human rights situation in Eritrea, the Council decides to discontinue reviewing the matter under the confidential complaint procedure in order to take up public consideration of the same; invites the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea to investigate further the allegations contained in the submitted complaints and to report thereon to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-third session; and decides to make public the present resolution.

Resolutions Adopted under the Agenda Item 8 on Follow-up to and Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L12) regarding a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted without a vote, the Council decided to convene, at the first day of the high-level segment of its twenty-second session, a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, with a particular focus on its implementation as well as on achievements, best practices and challenges in that regard.

Agenda Item 9 on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.28) regarding elaboration of international complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Council decides that the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination shall convene its fifth session from 8 to 19 April 2013.
In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.29) from rhetoric to reality, for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, the Council decides that the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action should convene its eleventh session from 7 to 18 October 2013; and decides to transmit the draft Programme of Action for the Decade for People of African Descent to the General Assembly for its consideration, with a view to its adoption, within the context of the International Decade for People of African Descent.

Agenda Item 10 on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L4) regarding technical assistance for Sudan in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert to Sudan under agenda item 10 for a period of one year. It requested the Office of the High Commissioner to provide Sudan with the necessary technical support and training and urged the Government of Sudan to continue its cooperation with the Independent Expert, including by giving him access to the entire country, in particular in Darfur, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L7/Rev.1) regarding technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council called upon the Government of South Sudan to strengthen ongoing cooperation with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan on issues pertaining to the promotion and protection of human rights and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to provide South Sudan with the necessary technical support and training.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L11) regarding the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decided that the theme for an annual thematic panel discussion under agenda item 10, to be held during the twenty-second session of the Council, would be “promoting technical cooperation for strengthening of the judiciary system and administration of justice in order to ensure human rights and the rule of law.” It also requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on activities undertaken by United Nations agencies to support efforts by States to strengthen their judicial systems.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.30.Rev.1) regarding technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council noted with appreciation the efforts made by the Government of Yemen to implement Human Rights Council resolutions 18/19 and 19/29 and called upon all parties to release persons arbitrarily detained by them and to end any practice of unlawful detention of persons, and called upon the Government of Yemen and armed opposition groups to take immediate measures to end the use and recruitment of children. It requested the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance and to work with the Government of Yemen, as needed, and to present a progress report to the Council at its twenty-fourth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/21/L.31) on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the Council decides to reinforce the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia with a view to maximizing the provision and flow of technical assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights in order to support the efforts of the Government of Somalia and sub-national authorities to ensure respect for human rights and to strengthen the human rights regime, including in relation to the post-transition period, as well as other key transitional tasks that must be completed, and to advise the Government on the implementation of technical cooperation inside Somalia.
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