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Council establishes Commission of Inquiry to investigate Human Rights Violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Human Rights Council 
AFTERNOON

21 March 2013

Creates Mandate of Independent Expert on Mali, Extends Mandates on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Myanmar

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted 11 resolutions.  It established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, with a view to ensuring full accountability, and extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Korea.  The Council also established a mandate of an Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

Other resolutions adopted by the Council this afternoon dealt with peaceful protests; human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed; negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin on the enjoyment of human rights, high-level panel discussion on “the question of the death penalty”, the contribution of Parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review, human rights in post-disaster/post-conflict situations; human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan; and technical assistance to Libya.

In its resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one year and established, for a period of one year, a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights, as outlined in paragraph 21 of the Special Rapporteur’s recent report, with a view to ensuring full accountability.

Concerning assistance to Mali in the field of human rights, the Council decided to establish a one-year mandate for an independent expert on the situation of human rights in Mali with a view to assisting the Government of Mali in its efforts to promote and protect human rights.

With regard to the human rights situation in Myanmar, the Council decided to extend for one year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and invited him to include in his next report recommendations with regard to technical assistance and capacity-building. 

On the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, the Council called upon States to avoid using force during peaceful protests and where its use was absolutely necessary, to ensure that no one was subject to excessive or indiscriminate use of force; and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to organize a seminar on effective measures and best practices in this regard.

The Council decided to convene, at its twenty-fourth session, a panel discussion on the human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed; and that the yearly supplement to the quinquennial report of the Secretary-General on the question of the death penalty would continue to inform on this matter.

In its resolution on the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin on the enjoyment of human rights, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 2 against and 13 abstentions, the Council requested the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt to continue his efforts in preparing an in-depth study on the subject, and called upon all stakeholders to extend him their full cooperation.

The Council decided, by a vote of 28 in favour, 10 against and 9 abstentions, to convene at its twenty-fifth session, a high-level panel discussion on “the question of the death penalty”, with the aim to exchange views on advances, best practices and challenges relating to the abolition of the death penalty.

The Council also decided to convene a panel discussion on the contribution of Parliaments to the work of the Council and its Universal Periodic Review, at its twenty-third session.

The Council requested the Advisory Committee to prepare, within existing resources, a research-based report on best practices and main challenges in the promotion and protection of human rights in post-disaster/post-conflict situations, with a focus on human rights mainstreaming in relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts.

In its resolution regarding human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, the Council called upon Israel to comply with relevant resolutions, in particular Security Council Resolution 497, and to desist from its continuous building of settlements and imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan. 

The Council welcomed efforts of Libya in stabilizing security and urged it to maintain this process through arms control and reintegrating armed groups; to continue its efforts to prevent cases of arbitrary arrest and mistreatment of detainees; to take further steps to protect freedom of religion and belief, and to prevent and prosecute attacks against persons belonging to religious or ethnic minorities; and to expedite the return of all persons displaced by the conflict since 2011.

Switzerland, Belgium, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, France, Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Japan, Ecuador, Uruguay, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Gabon on behalf of the African Group, Libya, and Morocco spoke in introduction of resolutions.

Speaking in general comments were Botswana, India, United States, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Pakistan, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Ireland on behalf of the European Union.

Speaking in explanation of the vote before or after the vote were United States, Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Syria and Mali spoke as concerned countries.  Israel was not present in the room to take the floor as the concerned country.

The next meeting of the Council will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, 22 March, when it will continue to take action on remaining decisions and resolutions before closing its regular twenty-second session.

Action on Resolutions Under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights

Action on Resolution on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protests

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.10) regarding the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon States to avoid using force during peaceful protests and to ensure that, where force is absolutely necessary, no one is subject to excessive or indiscriminate use of force; and, as a matter of priority, to ensure that their domestic legislation and procedures are consistent with their international obligations and commitments in relation to the use of force by law enforcement officials.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to organize, before the twenty-fifth session of the Council, a seminar on effective measures and best practices to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, to prepare a report on the deliberations held during the seminar and to submit it to the Council at its twenty-fifth session.

Switzerland, introducing draft resolution L.10, said that the resolution, which enjoyed cross-regional support, related to a better understanding of human rights and fundamental freedoms which needed to be protected in terms of peaceful protests.  Focusing in particular on legislation and procedure governing the use of force and also the conduct of law enforcing officials, the resolution stressed the important role of communication between police officers, other authorities and demonstrators.  

Action on Resolution on a Panel on the Human Rights of Children of Parents Sentenced to the Death Penalty or Executed

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.18) regarding a panel on the human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed, adopted without a vote, the Council acknowledges the negative impact of a parent’s death sentence and his or her execution on his or her children, and urges States to provide those children with the protection and assistance they may require.  The Council decides to convene, at its twenty-fourth session, a panel discussion on the human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to organize the panel discussion, to prepare a report on the outcome of the panel in the form of a summary, and to present it to the Council at its twenty-fifth session.  The Council decides that the yearly supplement to the quinquennial report of the Secretary-General on the question of the death penalty will continue to inform on this matter.

Belgium, introducing draft resolution L.18, said that it was aimed at the organization of a panel during the twenty-fourth session of the Council to enable a calm exchange of views on the issue of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed, and identify tangible recommendations.  The Committee on the Rights of the Child had studied the question during its annual discussion day in 2011 and recognised the need to enhance understanding of this subject.  The draft was extensively discussed in informal and bilateral consultations.  Belgium hoped that it would be adopted on consensus. 

Botswana, speaking in a general comment, said that the well-being of children separated from their parents regardless of the circumstances should be the primary concern of the Council.  However, the resolution in question focused exclusively on one reason for the separation of parents from their children, the death penalty.  Botswana said that all States had the sovereign right to decide whether to abolish the death penalty.  Botswana would dissociate itself from the consensus.  In any case, the death penalty was a criminal justice matter, not a human rights issue.   

India, speaking in a general comment, said that resolution L.37 already provided for protecting children.  Therefore, the draft resolution under consideration duplicated resolution L.37.  Moreover, the proposed resolution ignored the necessity to protect children separated from their parents in all circumstances, not only in cases where the parents had been given the death penalty. 

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it was pleased to join consensus on the resolution.  While the execution of a parent obviously had negative repercussions for his or her children, if carried out in conformity with international law, it was unclear that it would necessarily have a direct negative impact on the child’s human rights.  The United States urged all Governments that employed the death penalty to do so in conformity with their international human rights obligations. 

Action on Resolution on the Negative Impact of the Non-Repatriation of Funds of Illicit Origin to the Countries of Origin on the Enjoyment of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.24) regarding the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to the countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights, and the importance of improving international cooperation, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 2 against and 13 abstentions, as orally revised, the Council requests the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights to continue his efforts in preparing an in-depth study on the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origins on the application by States of the maximum available resources to the full realization of all human rights; and calls upon all relevant stakeholders to fully cooperate with the Independent Expert in this regard.  The resolution requests the High Commissioner to provide all necessary facilities assistance to allow the Independent Expert to carry out the mandate and to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32): Angola, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Against (2): Japan, and United States.

Abstentions (13): Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, and Switzerland.


Tunisia, speaking on behalf of African Group and introducing draft resolution L.24, said that the resolution under consideration aimed to address the issue of legal and institutional obstacles, particularly on the side of financial institutions, to the repatriation of funds of illicit origin.  The resolution highlighted the human rights aspect of the issue and made an appeal for a balance between the State requesting the repatriation of illicit funds and the State on the receiving end of the request.  The fact that the Independent Expert had been unable to obtain the necessary resources to carry out his mandate was worrying.       

United States, speaking in a general comment, said it regretted that the Human Rights Council had chosen to jump into the very technical area of asset recovery in a way that clearly evidenced its lack of expertise and credibility on this subject.  There had been extensive studies conducted on the issue.  By contrast, the study issued in Geneva on this topic, and which formed the basis for the current resolution, unfortunately did not contribute constructively to the current literature.  The United States would vote no.

Ireland on behalf of the European Union, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its view that the resolution covered issues that exceeded the mandate and expertise of the Human Rights Council.  While corruption undoubtedly affected the enjoyment of human rights, its effective elimination lay rather in the sphere of criminal law, including at the international level.  The European Union did not agree that a human rights approach to these issues should always be the primary objective.  The European Union would abstain on the text. 

Action on Resolution on High-Level Panel Discussion on the Question of the Death Penalty

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.28) regarding a high-level panel discussion on “the question of the death penalty”, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, 10 against and 9 abstentions as orally revised, the Council decides to convene, at its twenty-fifth session, a high-level panel discussion on “the question of the death penalty” with the aim of exchanging views on advances, best practices and challenges relating to the abolition of the death penalty.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to organize the panel discussion and to liaise with States, relevant United Nations bodies, agencies, treaty bodies, Special Procedures and regional human rights mechanisms, as well as with Parliamentarians, civil society, with a view to ensuring their participation; and also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on the panel discussion in the form of a summary.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (28): Angola, Argentina, Austria, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, United States and Venezuela.

Against (10): Botswana, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Uganda, and United Arab Emirates.

Abstentions (9): Guatemala, Japan, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, and Thailand.

France, introducing resolution L.28, said that the aim of the initiative was to enable participants to exchange good practices and views on progress made in introducing a moratorium on executions, and to give participants the opportunity to inform others of their views on the abolition of the death penalty.  Oral amendments to the text of the resolution which had been proposed by one State had been accepted and incorporated in the text.    

Botswana, speaking in a general comment, expressed serious doubt about the convening of the high-level panel.  Botswana did not believe resources should be used to convene the panel.  There was no consensus on the abolition of the death penalty or a moratorium on executions.  It was clear that it was not outlawed under international law.  It was the decision of each sovereign State.  Botswana had difficulties with the draft, called for a vote, and said it would vote against it. 

Costa Rica, speaking in a general comment, said that the idea behind the text was to have a human rights-based approach to the discussion on the death penalty, a topic that should be discussed at the heart of the Human Rights Council.  The utmost effort was made to incorporate concerns transmitted by delegations.  Nonetheless, consensus was not reached.   It was important to bring together a panel to discuss sensitive issues.  Costa Rica would vote in favour of the text.

India, speaking in a general comment, said that any discussion of such issues should have a neutral approach.  The proposed resolution did not respect that but, rather, sought to introduce a moratorium on executions with a view to imposing an abolition of the death penalty.  Each State had the right to determine its own legal system and there was no consensus internationally on the abolition of the death penalty.  India would vote against the proposed resolution.   

Malaysia, speaking in a general comment, said that it did not object to dialogue on the issue but there should be a balanced approach to discussions about abolition of the death penalty.  Malaysia would vote against the proposed resolution.

Pakistan, speaking in a general comment, said that every country had the sovereign right to decide on its own criminal justice system.  Pakistan respected the right of States who had decided to abolish the death penalty.  There was no international consensus on the death penalty or imposing a moratorium.  It was the understanding of Pakistan that this was a procedural draft calling for a panel, and not a substantive text.  Pakistan would abstain from voting.

Switzerland, speaking in a general comment, said it supported the draft resolution, a text drawn up in a transparent and inclusive process.  Switzerland recognised the usefulness of organising national and international debates on the death penalty as had been suggested by the United Nations General Assembly and the Secretary-General.  The sovereign right on the part of each State to keep the death penalty in place was covered by preambular paragraph 6, as orally revised.

Spain, speaking in a general comment, said that the death penalty was a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which constituted a serious violation of human rights.  Spain recognized that the view was not universally shared, but said that it was important to have an international debate on the matter.  It was regrettable that consensus on the proposed resolution had not been reached in the Council.     

Germany, speaking in a general comment, said that all European countries but one had abolished the death penalty.  Even though it recognized that its sentiments were not universally shared, Germany said that it was necessary to engage in an open and human rights based debate on the question of the death penalty, for which the Council was an appropriate forum.  Germany wholeheartedly supported the resolution.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the United States was pleased to support this decision.  International law did not prohibit capital punishment when imposed in accordance with a State’s international obligations.  The United States hoped that the high-level panel to be convened would address all aspects of the argument about the death penalty, given the wide divergence of views regarding its abolition or continued use both within and among nations.

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

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.19) regarding the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for one year; and to establish, for a period of one year, a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights, as outlined in paragraph 21 of the Special Rapporteur’s recent report, with a view to ensuring full accountability.  The Council requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Inquiry with all assistance and adequate staffing necessary; and requests the Commission of Inquiry to present an oral update to the Council at its twenty-fourth session and to the General Assembly at its sixty-eight session, and a written report to the Council at its twenty-fifth session.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union and introducing resolution L.19, said that the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was extremely worrying, as was the refusal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to cooperate with the Council and the Special Rapporteur.  Some of the violations of human rights in that country may amount to crimes against humanity, according to the report by the Special Rapporteur.  It was therefore necessary to thoroughly investigate human rights violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. 

Japan, also introducing resolution L.19, said that it remained deeply concerned about the grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including the existence of detention camps, the use of torture, enforced disappearances, the abduction of foreign nationals, systematic violations of the right to food, and continuous violations of the right to freedom of expression.  Japan urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to engage in constructive dialogue with the international community.
      
Switzerland, speaking in a general comment, said that it believed that the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was very worrying.  Switzerland shared the opinion of the High Commissioner, as well as that of several Special Procedures, that a Commission of Inquiry should be established to investigate the grave and systematic violations of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and it strongly supported this resolution. 

Democratic People's Republic of Korea, speaking as the concerned country, said that it resolutely rejected this anti-Democratic People's Republic of Korea resolution.  The draft resolution was the product of political confrontation and plot.  This resolution had no relevance to genuine human rights.  There were serious distortions, fabrications and accusations about the situation of human rights.  As stated time and again, those human rights abuses mentioned had nothing to do with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  Submission of the draft resolution was an extreme manifestation of politicisation, selectivity and double standards which denied dialogue and cooperation.  The most appropriate forum for the debate of human rights situations of countries was the Universal Periodic Review.  The people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea were happy that they had one of the best systems in the world for the promotion and protection of human rights. 

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.20/Rev.1) regarding the situation of human rights in Myanmar, adopted without a vote, the Council welcomes the continued positive developments in Myanmar and the stated commitment of the Government to continue the path of political reform, democratization and national reconciliation.  The Council decides to extend for one year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar; and, in addition, invites the Special Rapporteur to include in his next report recommendations with regard to technical assistance and capacity-building.  The Council calls upon the Government to continue its cooperation with the Special Rapporteur, including by facilitating further visits; and upon the Office of the High Commissioner to provide the Special Rapporteur with all the assistance and resources necessary.  The Council requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a progress report to the General Assembly at its sixty-eight session and to the Council in accordance with its annual programme of work.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union and introducing resolution L.20/Rev.1, said that in recent months important steps had been taken by Myanmar towards political reform and democratization.  The European Union believed that it was important for the international community to recognize the substantial efforts by Myanmar to bring about change.  Nevertheless, serious challenges remained, so it was appropriate that the resolution express concern about human rights violations such as sexual violence, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.   

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in a general comment, said that its members individually and collectively maintained close and friendly relations with Myanmar.  Nevertheless, it registered its concern over the situation of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as well as grave concern over the recent eruption of trouble in March in the Mandalay region.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation hoped that the Government would take effective measures for the promotion and protection of the human rights of its Muslim minority.

Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, reiterated its principled position against country-specific resolutions and mandates in the Council.  However, as a responsible member of the United Nations, it had been engaging with the Council and its mandate holder in a spirit of cooperation.  The Universal Periodic Review was the most appropriate mechanism to address domestic human rights challenges of all countries through international cooperation.  Myanmar would go along with the draft resolution as a whole but this should not construe that everything in the resolution was agreeable to it, as it contained a litany of sweeping allegations, some prescriptive language and misleading wordings, which were unacceptable.  Some may argue that the human rights situation in Myanmar was not perfect but this should not be a legitimate excuse to keep Myanmar permanently on the agenda of the Council.

Thailand, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that given Myanmar’s cooperative approach which had resulted in a more balanced resolution text this year, Thailand would support the resolution.  The Council should consider Myanmar through a new perspective and under a different agenda item next year.  

Indonesia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that as a fellow Asian country it supported the process of democratization in Myanmar.  Having good knowledge of the challenges involved, Indonesia said that positive and constructive engagement was essential in order to enable Myanmar to protect the human rights of its citizens.  Indonesia also said, however, that it was regrettable that the resolution text was too prescriptive.  Nevertheless, it would join the consensus on Myanmar in recognition of the positive developments which had taken place.    

Japan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it would join consensus on the draft resolution as it shared its overall purpose.  Japan welcomed the fact that consensus had been achieved through constructive engagement by relevant stakeholders, including the Government of Myanmar.   Japan believed it was vital for the international community to engage the Government of Myanmar to continue its efforts to address remaining human rights challenges in the country.

Action on Draft Resolutions Under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
 
Action on Resolution on the Contribution of Parliaments to the Work of the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review
    
In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.21)  regarding the contribution of Parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to convene, at its twenty-third session, a panel discussion on the contribution of Parliaments to the work of the Council and its Universal Periodic Review; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to organize the panel discussion within existing resources; and also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a summary report on the outcome of the panel discussion.

Ecuador, introducing resolution L.21, said that a cross-regional group had formulated the proposal under consideration after transparent consultations with a number of States.  The panel would serve to exchange views and experiences of parliaments, which played a fundamental role regarding the implementation of the recommendations made by countries during the Universal Periodic Review.  The important role of parliaments in adopting the budget and public expenditure should also be taken into account.    
 
Action on Resolution on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Post-Disaster/Post-Conflict Situations
   
In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.23) regarding the promotion and protection of human rights in post-disaster/post-conflict situations, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Advisory Committee to prepare, within existing resources, a research-based report on best practices and main challenges in the promotion and protection of human rights in post-disaster/post-conflict situations, with a focus on human rights mainstreaming in relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts.  The resolution requests the Advisory Committee to seek the views and inputs of Member States, relevant international and regional organizations, the Office of the High Commissioner, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, in order to prepare the report.  The resolution requests further the Advisory Committee to present a progress report to the Council at its twentieth-six session.

Uruguay, introducing draft resolution L.21, said that the resolution recognised that the human rights and fundamental freedoms of millions of people had been affected by humanitarian crises, including armed conflicts and disaster situations.  Those working in the field clearly pointed out that during the various stages of the provision of humanitarian assistance violations of human rights also took place.  The text requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a report containing research into best practices and main challenges encountered in the promotion and protection of human rights in post-conflict and post-disaster situations.  It also requested that the final report be presented at the twenty-eighth session of the Council, as well as report on progress made to be submitted at the twenty-sixth session.

Action on Resolution Under the Agenda Item on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

Action on a Resolution on Human Rights in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.3) regarding human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel to comply with relevant resolutions, in particular Security Council Resolution 497, and to desist from its continuous building of settlements.  The Council further calls upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan.  The Council determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel that seek to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void and have no legal effect.  The Council requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Governments, competent United Nations organs, specialized agencies, international and regional intergovernmental organizations and international humanitarian organizations, and to report on this matter to the Council at its twenty-fifth session.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (29): Angola, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (17): Austria, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Montenegro, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, and Switzerland.


Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and introducing resolution L.3, said that since occupying the Syrian Golan in 1967, Israel had committed grave and systematic human rights violations.  Those included the prohibition of visits of Syrian citizens to their relatives in Syria, and torture and arbitrary detention of Syrians, foreign journalists and human rights defenders.  The resolution called upon Israel to comply with the relevant United Nations resolutions and 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.

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that it continued to be deeply troubled by the Council’s biased and disproportionate focus on Israel.  Adoption of the resolution risked undercutting the important work of the Council on other important matters.  The opposition of the United States to this resolution was not an endorsement of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, which the United States did not recognise.  It remained committed to achieving a real and lasting peace in the Middle East. 

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that the Human Rights Council was considering a draft resolution on the violations by the occupying power, Israel, of basic human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan.  With unlimited support from the United States, Israel had continued to violate the human rights of the people of the Golan Heights and practiced inhumane treatment of prisoners.  Citizens were deprived of their right to health and education.  The suffering of prisoners in Israeli jails was of utmost importance.  The draft resolution condemned the practices of Israel against the people of the Golan Heights, called for the stopping settlements, for no harm to agricultural lands and harvests thereof, for the release of prisoners of the Syrian Golan, asked the occupying power to abide by its obligations, and invited the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the prisons to take note of the situation. 

Action on Resolutions Under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

Action on Resolution on Assistance to Mali in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.5) regarding assistance to the Republic of Mali in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council condemns the excesses and abuses committed in the Republic of Mali and decides to establish a one-year mandate for an independent expert on the situation of human rights in Mali with a view to assisting the Government of Mali in its efforts to promote and protect human rights and to act upon the recommendations set forth in resolutions of the Council.  The Council requests the independent expert to work closely with all entities of the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, all other international organizations concerned and with Malian civil society and to report to the Council at its twenty-fifth session.  The Council requests the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to provide the independent expert with all the assistance needed; and the High Commissioner to provide it with an updated report on the human rights situation in Mali for its consideration at its twenty-third session.

Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group and introducing resolution L.5, said that there should be an immediate halt to all human rights violations and acts of violence in Mali, and affirmed its condemnation of the heinous acts in the country, which included the destruction of cultural sites.  The proposed resolution invited Mali to organize free and transparent elections as soon as possible with a view to creating the necessary conditions which would guarantee peace in the country.  Given the continuing humanitarian crisis in Mali, the draft resolution urged the international community to continue to provide humanitarian aid to Mali.  The African Union then made oral revisions to the resolution. 

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, noted the commitment showed by the Malian authorities to promote human rights. Nonetheless it continued to be deeply alarmed at the human rights situation in Mali, particularly in the north.  It was also worrying to see the proliferation of testimonies of heinous crimes committed by Malian soldiers.  In this context the European Union called upon the Malian authorities to implement dynamic and energetic measures to prevent such excesses.

Mali, speaking as the concerned country, said that the adoption of this resolution, the third of its kind, would reaffirm the resolute commitment in the Council to carrying out its mission to promote and protect human rights in Mali.  Mali for its part would spare no effort so that it could play its full part in implementing these resolutions.  The armed groups and drug traffickers who were responsible for the unjustified and unacceptable acts of aggression on Mali had carried out serious human rights violations.  This violence and the climate of terror had triggered a serious humanitarian crisis.  With the strong support of the international community, Mali was now tackling the consolidation of work to liberate occupied zones in full respect for persons living in those regions and in compliance with its international obligations.
    
Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance Provided to Libya in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.12) regarding technical assistance provided to Libya in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council welcomes efforts exerted by the Libyan Government in stabilizing security and urges the Government to maintain this process through arms control and reintegrating armed groups and to continue its efforts to prevent cases of arbitrary arrest and mistreatment of detainees.  The Council urges the Libyan Government to take further steps to protect freedom of religion and belief and to prevent and prosecute attacks against persons belonging to religious or ethnic minorities; and to expedite the return of all persons displaced by the conflict since 2011, according to the national reconciliation and transitional justice law.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a written report to the twenty-fifth session of the Council regarding the technical support and capacity building needs in Libya.

Libya, introducing resolution L.12, said that the resolution reflected the ongoing cooperation between Libya and the United Nations during this difficult time following the Libyan revolution.  The resolution represented an important step forward in building a democratic Libya.  Steps taken by the country to promote and protect human rights included setting up a Human Rights Committee and a Ministerial Committee which received complaints of human rights violations.     

Morocco, co-introducing resolution L.12, said that it was important for the Council to assist Libya in its efforts to consolidate its young democracy and set up the structures necessary to build a State of law and to promote respect of human rights.  Morocco then made oral revisions to the resolution.    

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